The Precariousness of Manhood and Womanhood in the U. S.

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Megan R. Yost




Manhood and masculinity have been studied extensively in psychology and related disciplines and one focus of this work has been the way in which men must achieve their manhood and the precariousness of that achievement. Research shows that people perceive manhood as being more precarious than womanhood. However, research has not demonstrated what makes manhood and womanhood precarious separately or what factors may moderate peoples’ judgments of precariousness such as age or gender role beliefs. The purpose of the current study was to replicate previous research on manhood and womanhood with a more diverse sample, examine the influential roles of age and gender role beliefs, and examine specific transgressions that may cause manhood and womanhood to become threatened. Three-hundred seventy-four participants from 5 age groups (18-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60+) were surveyed using Mechanical Turk. Results supported previous research in that participants consistently rated manhood as being more precarious on a greater number of items than they rated womanhood. In addition, age did not predict precariousness, but gender role beliefs did. Participants who showed greater endorsement with traditional gender roles thought that manhood and womanhood were more precarious. Future research should examine the mechanisms behind these beliefs and the effects that these beliefs may have on thoughts and behaviors.

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