If you’re single and searching for your Prince Charming, then take solace. Sure, millennial men more or less invented the d**k pic, but a new study has found that they are more likely to be selfless, socially engaged, and health-conscious.
A survey of more than 600 men between the ages of 15 and 29 found that the most strongly endorsed masculine value is selflessness – 90 percent of men agree that a man should help other people (swoon) and 80 percent believe a man should give back to his community (all the fuzzy feels). An overwhelming majority also believe that a man should be healthy and open to new ideas, experiences, and people.
Traditional masculine values ranked lower, but they are still valued. More than three-quarters of men believe they should be independent and physically fit (yes, please), but that intellectual and emotional strength are also equally as important.
Of course, there is a catch: It could just be a Canadian thing. All 630 participants were from Western Canada and if Canadians are known for one thing, it’s their manners.
"Young Canadian men seem to be holding masculine values that are distinctly different from those of previous generations," said lead author John Oliffe in a statement. "These values may run counter to long-standing claims that young men are typically hedonistic, hypercompetitive, and that they risk or neglect their health."
The findings support a growing body of work about changing gender roles.
"As a millennial myself, I can see these values reflected in the lives of men around me," said study co-author Nick Black. "They want to be both caring and strong, both open to others and self-sufficient, and they see no contradiction in these values."
Two surveys found that men today are less likely than previous generations to describe themselves as “completely masculine” in the traditional sense. Stay-at-home-fathers have nearly doubled since 1989 as women now make up nearly half of the workforce (but still earn less than men). Some even believe today’s culture is moving towards individualism, with more young people rejecting social norms.
But there is a consequence to these shifting values. A concept called gender role conflict (GCR) suggests restrictive definitions of masculinity limit a man’s well-being and human potential. This can lead to behavioral problems in men, who are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide than women, including sexism, violence, homophobia, depression, substance abuse, and relationship issues.
Black and Oliffe believe their results could be used to design more effective healthcare programs and hope to extend their research into other age groups and geographic locations.
"The life expectancy gap is closing between men and women, and I hope that additional gains are mustered through these emerging health-related values – and our continued work in men's health," said Oliffe.
The study was published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity.