Precarious Manhood Predicts Support for Aggressive Policies and Politicians

Sarah H. DiMuccio, Eric D. Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Precarious manhood (PM) theory posits that males are expected to actively maintain their reputations as “real men.” We propose that men’s concern about failing to meet masculine standards leads them to embrace policies and politicians that signal strength and toughness—or what we term political aggression. Three correlational studies support this claim. In Study 1, men’s fear of failing to meet masculine expectations predicted their support for aggressive policies (e.g., the death penalty), but not policies lacking aggressive features (e.g., affirmative action). Studies 2 and 3 utilized Google searches to assess the relationship between regional levels of PM and real-world electoral behavior. The use of search terms related to masculine anxieties correlated with Donald Trump’s vote share in the 2016 general election (Study 2) and, confirming preregistered predictions, with Republican candidates’ vote shares in 2018 congressional elections (Study 3). We close by discussing potential sources of variation in PM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1169-1187
Number of pages19
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • aggression
  • masculinity
  • political attitudes
  • precarious manhood
  • voting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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