"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.