Men who worry about their masculinity more are more likely than others to vote for Trump and support aggressive politics.
According to research published in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, masculine insecurity predicts support for Donald Trump and endorsement of aggressive politics. Researchers suggest that masculine insecurity may lead men to take up aggressive politics, such as those of Donald Trump, in an attempt to affirm one’s masculinity.
According to the study’s authors, Sarah H. DiMuccio (author) and Eric D. Knowles (author), scholars have been observing overt displays masculinity in men in politics for a long time. According to some studies, male politicians may try to be masculine to win voters by advocating tough policies such as harsh punishments for criminals. Right-wing politicians seem to have a greater sense of masculinity than the left, and this may be particularly true for Donald Trump.
“Perhaps more than any politician of recent history, Donald Trump has rooted himself in traditional notions masculinity,” DiMuccio & Knowles state. They note that Trump has been “dominant and unyielding” and “virile.”
Researchers suggest that precarious manhood (PM) may partly explain the attraction to uncompromising politics. This theory posits that men want to maintain their masculinity. Men will do certain things to prove that they are real men when their masculinity is under threat. One way is to increase their support for aggressive policies. The researchers tested the idea in three studies.
The first study, which surveyed more than 500 men in America, found that precariousness was a predictor of support for politically aggressive policies such as increased military spending or enhanced interrogation techniques. The GRDS was used to measure precarious manhood. It is a subscale from the Masculine Geender Role Discrepancy stress (MGRDS), which evaluates men’s concerns about not adhering to masculine norms. The GRDS scores were associated with increased support for aggressive policies even after taking into account conservatism, social dominance orientation, and right-wing authoritarianism.
A second study was conducted by DiMuccio, Knowles, and aimed to identify search terms that are most popular with precarious men (e.g. how to get girls). The researchers then obtained Google Trends data on searches for these terms during the year prior to the 2016 presidential election. Researchers found that Trump received a greater share of votes in countries with more PM-related Google search searches. This relationship was not observed when the researchers performed a similar analysis with the vote percentages for 2012 Republican candidates John McCain or Mitt Romney.
A third study compared popularity of PM-related search words to the success of Republic U.S. House of Representatives candidate in the 2018 midterm elections. Researchers found that Republican candidates received higher vote share percentages from districts where PM-related search terms were frequently searched. Knowles and DiMuccio point out that the link between precarious malehood and Republican support seems to be a new phenomenon. This is despite not finding such links in 2008 or 2012. This could be due to Donald Trump’s increased power as the standard-bearer for the Republican Party, according to the researchers.
According to the authors, all three studies have shown that precarious menhood is associated with support for political aggression. This was measured as support for Donald Trump’s aggressive policies and Republican U.S. House of Representatives. They state that their findings “support the idea that men who doubt their masculinity might support aggressive policies and politicians, as well as parties, possibly to affirm their manhood.”
Knowles and DiMuccio stress that the results of their research do not indicate that precarious malehood is relevant only when it comes aggressive policies or support for GOP. Future research should examine whether PM is included in the political left through support for “hardball” policies, they suggest.