Does losing to a girl make men want to lift weights?

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“Threatened masculinity” theory proposes that males have experienced an increased drive for muscularity in recent times as a result of females’ expanded accomplishments among traditionally male dominated domains. We tested this hypothesis experimentally by examining the effects of competitive performance feedback against either a male or female opponent on male’s state self–esteem, body image, and confidence in physical performance. Sixty–six male undergraduate students were given false performance feedback on a competitive task in a 2 (failure versus success feedback) × 2 (male versus female opponent) factorial design. Men felt worse about their appearance and less confident in their physical ability following failure in general. They felt less muscular after failing to a female. These results lend some support to the threatened masculinity hypothesis and demonstrate that failure to a woman, even on a nonphysical task, may elicit compensatory drive for muscularity among men.

Source: “Competition and Male Body Image: Increased Drive for Muscularity Following Failure to a Female” from Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

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