Men secretly cry, Grönemeyer, Herbert once sang. That may be the case, and it will probably remain so for one simple reason: if men publicly complain that they have it a bit difficult, at best they will be met with disinterest. Now don’t be so intimidated, it’s often said on social media. A study by psychologists led by Maja Graso from the University of Groningen can also be interpreted in this way in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior have published. If measures from which everyone, or at least many, ultimately benefits, result in collateral damage, this is considered acceptable especially when these disadvantages affect men. And most importantly, they are evident Womenwho think so.
The psychologists working with Graso presented their more than 600 subjects with short descriptions of social interventions, which they were asked to evaluate. For example, it was about improving the working atmosphere in a large company, helping people with chronic pain or supporting weak students. However, the measures always entailed costs, just as it is in real life: Nothing is for nothing and if the price is only increased effort. Finally, the study participants had to state how acceptable the described measures were.
In general, according to the researchers, men should expect little sympathy
On average, the male subjects did not make their judgment dependent on whether the collateral damage affected men or women. As a rule, they found both acceptable if a higher good or a desirable goal was achieved in return. The opinion of the women was different: On average, they found it significantly less acceptable if women had to bear the costs or collateral damage. “Men showed no such gender bias,” write the authors around Graso. Women and men were only largely in agreement in one variant of the experiments: when it came to childcare or caring for the elderly or other vulnerable people, everyone considered it less acceptable on average if women had to bear the costs for something to do with the family positive changes.
Women and children first: So that doesn’t just apply in the case of shipwrecks. In general, according to the researchers working with Graso, men should not expect much sympathy. In studies of the famous trolley problem – in order to save several people, a single person must be actively sacrificed – subjects show less scruples about leaving a man than a woman to die. Other studies show that compared to women, men face harsher sentences for the same offenses and are also less likely to be helped in times of need. All of this suggests that collateral damage is more acceptable even if men have to bear it, according to Graso’s team.
But why is this view held almost exclusively by women in the current study? “Numerous studies show that women show a stronger in-group bias than men,” the psychologists write. According to this, women prefer their own sex more than men do to each other. In addition, the stereotype is widespread, according to the psychologists, that women are more likely to be victims anyway. And anyone who can complain with applause about how difficult it always is is of course not willing to accept restrictions. Not even if this is to be done for a higher purpose.