Study finds male modesty a turn off for women (and men)

July 29, 2010

"Macho, macho man. I've got to be, a macho man. Macho, macho man. I've got to be a macho!" — The Village People

It's more than 30 years since that Disco Era anthem first blared though dance club speakers and into America's consciousness, but does the message still sing true for the 2lst century male? Does he still got to be a macho man? Are there penalties for not being macho enough?

Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, a doctoral candidate in Rutgers' Department of Psychology, explored the consequences for men (and women) when they acted modestly in job interviews. She co-authored, with graduate fellow Julie E. Phelan and Professor Laurie A. Rudman, "When Men Break the Gender Rules: Status Incongruity and Backlash Against Modest Men" in the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity.

According to Moss-Racusin, the applicants in the staged interviews were judged equally competent, but the "modest" males were less liked, a sign of social backlash. Modesty was viewed as a sign of weakness, a low-status character trait for males that could adversely affect their employability or earnings potential. Modesty in women, however, was not viewed negatively nor was it linked to status.

"For men and women, there are things they must and must not be," Moss-Racusin says. "Women must be communal and other-oriented, but they must not be dominant. Historically and cross-culturally, men have been stereotyped as more agentic, that is, more independent and self-focused than women."

In the study, 132 female and 100 male student volunteers (who earned partial academic credit for their psychology course) viewed videotaped, 15-minute job interviews of either males or females All the applicants were paid actors rehearsed to deliver similar, "modest" responses for the gender-neutral position that required strong technical abilities and social skills.

The researchers sought to determine which gender stereotype promote backlash. "Women are allowed to be weak while this trait is strongly prohibited in men," Moss-Racusin said. "By contrast, dominance is reserved for men and prohibited for women. Thus, gender stereotypes are comprised of four sets of rules and expectations for behavior consist of both 'shoulds' and 'should nots' for each gender."

The researchers' prediction that modest male applicants would face hiring discrimination was not supported, however, and she speculates that because men's status is higher than women's, meek men are afforded the benefit of the doubt and are less likely to encounter hiring discrimination than dominant .

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4.6 / 5 (8) Jul 29, 2010
I rated this article a 3, not because it's uninteresting or looks like bad research; but because I believe the correlation between the two "extremes" are completely unrelated.

This is what the article/research assumes, which I alternately presume to be incorrect:

Modest |--------------------------| Macho

Being "Macho" has nothing to do with being "Modest". I could be totally macho, ya' know. The muscle, firmness of character, high self esteem; a "go-getter". But I could also be very modest at the same time, polite in conversation, slow to anger, rational, not acting like a total imbecile when I get a few drinks in me.

Modesty - "The quality of being modest; having a limited and not overly high opinion of oneself and one's abilities; Moderate behavior; reserve; Prudent, prudish avoidance of sexual explicitness"

Machismo - "Machismo is prominently exhibited or excessive masculinity. As an attitude, machismo ranges from a personal sense of virility to a more extreme male chauvinism.
4.2 / 5 (6) Jul 29, 2010
Also, I take the "not overly high opinion of oneself and one's abilities" line to essentially mean that you're "humble"; which is a VERY desirable quality.

On the other hand, excessive pride just makes you look like an ass-hat. Though we all know the hottest women only date ass-hats. Perhaps we should re-name this article to:

"Study finds consideration and selflessness in men a turn-off for women (and men)"
3.5 / 5 (6) Jul 29, 2010
Also, I'd like to add that the ranking system isn't called the "I disagree with you so I'll down-vote you without commenting why" system.
5 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2010
Study finds macho men a liability on roads

'Macho man' heroes created for war: Historian

Does everyone really want to be a macho man?

"If Mexican-American men feel pressure to meet these traditional ideals of masculinity, it can hinder their ability to cope with emotions," said Lizette Ojeda, MU doctoral candidate in counseling psychology.
5 / 5 (4) Jul 29, 2010
I think this article is actually rather confusing.
1/ the last paragraph seems to completely undermine the one potentially substantive proposition amongst the issues canvassed - "... prediction that modest male applicants would face hiring discrimination was not supported, however, ..."
2/ isovine is right that modesty and machismo do not constitute the extremes of a single dimension. Maybe the reviewer has not treated the research as well as they could have. On the other hand it may be that the research [and possibly the whole topic?] is somewhat vacuous.
2.4 / 5 (5) Jul 29, 2010
Macho men are attractive for women before ovulation, after then they're attracted by modest males instead. It's logical, macho have better genes for survival of themselves, modest men have better genes for survival of their offspring.

not rated yet Jul 29, 2010
The article does not detail what is intended to mean modesty. Do they mean fear or shyness?

I like to think I'm a modest person, I fearlessly live for $5 a day on a tropical island and boldly make friends with my new neighbors, including hot tropical island girls. And everyone seems to love my company as much as I love theirs.

I'm pretty sure the article meant shy frightened people which nobody really likes.
5 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2010
This was not a study of (male) modesty. It was a study of the effects of (male) modesty in job interviews.
There are jobs which require a high amount of hierarchical thinking (police officers) and there are jobs where dominant males are of no help. As the study doesn't tell us which kind of job was offered it is worthless.

Modesty is the behaviour of people (female and male) whose self-esteem is high enough not to be in need of any high regard of third persons.
not rated yet Aug 01, 2010
There is so much information missing about how the study was conducted it is hard to give it a fair assessment. However, most humans have a fair sense of discernment, genuine behaviour, truthfulness, lying, falseness, even on video, that one wonders if the viewer may have interpreted other non-verbal cues negatively. It is very difficult to portray emotion, character well and I must wonder about how authentic the mental /emotional / character state of modesty was portrayed by this group of untrained actors.

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