Confrontation and loss of control: Masculinity and men's fear in public space

Kristen Day, Cheryl Stump, Daisy Carreon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Existing research typically examines fear in public space from women's perspectives. To date, environment-behavior researchers have largely overlooked men's fear in public space, and the role of masculinity in shaping men's perceptions of fear and safety. This paper investigates the intersections of traditional, dominant masculinity - or masculinism - and men's fear in public space, based on interviews with 82 undergraduate men students. Masculinism features qualities such as control, competition, aggression, and physical strength. We argue that, for many men, public spaces and situations that challenge this masculinist identity may generate fear. Similarly, spaces and situations that promote feelings of safety do so, in part, by bolstering this identity. We employ the lens of masculinity to explore men's feelings of fear of the unknown, heightened awareness and safety, fear of confrontation, and safety in numbers. Conclusions examine implications for the development of masculinity and recommendations for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-322
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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