You know a guy who’s sort of a big talker—he can bench a lot, dates all kinds of cute girls, and can drink you under the table, bro. What’s his deal?
That dude’s just suffering from a diminished sense of masculinity so he’s trying to compensate in dumb ways, according to a study in Social Psychology.
Participants, all men, were told that they were in a study that had to do with how excursion influenced decision making. Participants had to do a handgrip strength test, and then researchers show half real results, and half fake results.
The researchers had a graph with two bell curves, one male and one female, with the female noticeable less than the men’s. Which you’d expect. Some men were shown false scores that put their handgrip strength as more comparable to the women’s average than the male average.
Participants then had to fill out a questionnaire, which catalogued their height, number of relationships, some personality traits, and their interest in products that might be considered more masculine or feminine. There were also some “distracter questions”, like stuff about their college majors, to distract from the true nature of the study.
Men shown the false results that indicated their grip strength was womanly consistently exaggerated their height, claimed they had a higher number of romantic partners than the other men, and had an overwhelming preference for the ‘masculine’ products over the ‘feminine’ ones.
Of course, it’s tough to be mindful of overcompensation—you might not eve know you’re doing it. But it’s a good thing to keep in mind. For one, overcompensation is pretty transparent. Two, no one likes it. And three—is it really so hard to admit that sometimes, you’re not good at something? Yes, dammit—but we’re working on it.