Doctor of Philosophy
Sara K Bridges
Research has demonstrated that men have markedly worse health outcomes than women and have higher rates of death from all 15 leading causes of death except Alzheimer's disease. Little is known about the cause of this discrepancy, except that in evaluations of lifestyle choices and preventive health factors, men engage in far more health-defeating behaviors than women, including diets significantly lower in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and micronutrients, and higher in fat and cholesterol. One theory proposed to help explain this discrepancy is that of hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is a form of masculine identification associated with cultural dominance and subordination of women and other, less idealized forms of masculinity, such as stoicism, the primacy of work, a presupposition toward violence, and a disdain of homosexuality. This dissertation examined the links between hegemonic masculinity, social physique anxiety, and poor dietary choices in men. Social physique anxiety was defined as the result of self-objectification that creates insecurity and anxiety in men around how others might view their bodies. Specifically, I hypothesized that adherence to hegemonic would predict higher rates of social physique among American men that, in turn, would predict worse dietary habits and patterns. The current study examined survey responses from 313 male participants living in the United States. A multiple regression indicated that the total masculinity scale score was not significantly related to food choices, nor to social physique anxiety. Social physique anxiety, however, was found to be highly predictive of dietary choices and beliefs. Specific male role norms of risk-taking and self-reliance did indirectly predict dietary choices via social physique anxiety. The study sample of men was roughly 76% non-heterosexual-identified (i.e., gay, bisexual, pansexual) although heterosexual and non-heterosexual identified men did not differ on the measures of masculinity or dietary choices. The sample composition limits the generalizability of the findings. These results have implications for how mental health professionals may assist men in making more healthful and conscientious choices, including helping men examine how they have internalized ideas about how to be masculine, and how that, in turn, influences lifestyle choices related to health.
Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Cox, Ryan S., "Hegemonic Masculinity and Health Outcomes in Men: A Mediational Study on the Influence of Masculinity on Diet" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1199.