Where’s the Beef: How Masculinity Exacerbates Gender Disparities in Health Behaviors
Men in the United States have higher rates of life-threatening diseases than do women, in part due to behavioral differences in health practices. We argue that men’s enactment of masculinity in their daily lives contributes to health behavior differences. We focus on meat consumption, a masculine-stereotyped dietary practice that epidemiological studies have linked to negative health outcomes. In study 1, nationally representative survey data indicate men report less healthy lifestyle preferences than do women, including less willingness to reduce meat consumption. In study 2, an internet-based experiment shows that experiencing a masculinity threat leads men to express more attachment to meat consumption. In study 3, lab experiment data with a different experimental manipulation and study population again indicate that threats to masculinity influence men’s meat preferences. These results support the claim that men’s masculinity maintenance may be one factor contributing to gender differences in meat consumption and health disparities related to overconsumption of meat.