What type of man are you? Researchers uncover 3 styles of masculinity

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Is the man in your life a progressive or more of a neo-traditionalist? Researchers in Canada are unraveling the mysteries of masculinity, naming and describing three distinct types of masculinities. Their study explains that men navigate their intimate relationships, in large part, according to one of these masculine styles.

Study leader and University of British Columbia health expert Dr. John Oliffe analyzed in-depth interviews with 92 straight men (ages 19 to 43) from diverse cultural backgrounds to reach these findings. The three types of masculinity include:

  • Neo-traditionalists: Men who largely follow traditional gender roles, such as being the provider and protector in their relationship.
  • Egalitarian – Men who seek a more equal partnership, with a particular emphasis on mutuality and measurable give-and-take.
  • Progressive – Men who work on building gender equity in their partnership through regular, purposeful conversations with their partner to adjust who does what.

“We set out to understand how different types of masculinities shape men’s relationships and their mental health. What we found was that these masculine types were associated with different benefits as well as challenges,” says Dr. Oliffe, the Canada Research Chair in Men’s Health Promotion and a professor of nursing at UBC, in a university release.

Couple cooking in kitchen
(Credit: Le Creuset on Unsplash)

For example, men who actively promoted gender equity and social justice reported improved mental well-being. Also, Dr. Oliffe observed that men who challenged these ideals may face isolation or criticism from others, which can consequently impact mental health. Some men with an egalitarian style still struggled to fully grasp the concept of achieving gender equality by splitting domestic tasks 50-50.

“These shifts and stresses have implications for mental health,” Dr. Oliffe notes. “To promote meaningful change, we need to address the structures that influence men’s behaviors.”

This project is the latest from UBC’s men’s health research program to explore connections between masculinity and mental health in men.

“While men are becoming more involved in promoting gender equity, little is known about how younger men work to build partnerships in their private lives,” Dr. Oliffe comments. “With this research, we hope we have helped map that uncharted space and point a way forward for healthier relationships that promote the health of men, their partners and families.”

To share their findings, the research team has launched an online photo exhibition titled Men Building Intimate Partner Relationships featuring 120 photographs selected from over 700 submitted by study participants.

“There are photos depicting neo-traditional, egalitarian or progressive masculinity, and visitors are invited to take a quiz to decide which images fit with each masculinity. We’re not only highlighting our research outcomes, we’re also inviting input from visitors about how they see themselves—and how they build gender equity in their intimate partner relationships,” concludes Dr. Nina Gao, research manager for the men’s health research program.

The study is published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

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John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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