Masculinity and Health: A Multiple Method Examination of a Sample of African-American Men

Waverly Duck, Yale University
Juho Härkönen, Stockholm University

We research links between masculinity and physical and mental health using qualitative and quantitative data of a sample of 192 African American men. We examine the ways in which these men construct their masculine identities and analyze the associations between these identities, a standardized measure of sex roles (BSRI), and physical and mental health. Many men define masculinity with reference to social institutions such as the family and work. Some definitions refer explicitly to mental and physical health, whereas others may have indirect health consequences. In quantitative analysis, we do not find significant associations between an index constructed from the masculinity items of the BSRI. However, we find that the number of masculinity accounts mentioned by the men in open-ended questions predicts better mental health but worse physical and self-rated health. This suggests that narrow conceptions of masculinity get rewarded in American culture, although they might compromise health.

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Presented in Session 93: Race, Gender and Health Outcomes