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Men Feel Worse When Their Female Partners Are Successful

Update Date: Aug 29, 2013 12:21 PM EDT

Due to culture and environment, men and women are brought up with certain concepts and beliefs about gender roles. Although society today is slightly more progressive when it comes to who should be the breadwinner, a new study is reporting that men are still having some difficulty coping with the successes of their female partners. In this study, the researchers found that successes did not have to be tied to monetary gains to affect male partners. Instead, the researchers discovered that men felt worse about themselves more so when their female partners succeeded in an event as opposed to when they failed even if the men never participated in the activity.

"It makes sense that a man might feel threatened if his girlfriend outperforms him in something they're doing together, such as trying to lose weight," Kate Ratliff, Ph.D., the study's lead author, said according to Medical Xpress. Ratliff is from the University of Florida. "But this research found evidence that men automatically interpret a partner's success as their own failure, even when they're not in direct competition."

In this study, the researchers enlisted the help of 896 people with five different experiments. One of the experiments involved 32 couples from the University of Virginia. The couples were given a test that was described to measure "problem solving and social intelligence." The researchers then revealed the scores of one of the partners to the other. The scores were either in the top or bottom 12 percent out of all university students. People who were given the scores of their partners' did not receive their own scores back.

The researchers found that the scores did not appear to affect the partner's explicit self-esteem based on their own self-reports. However, when they were given a test to measure implicit self-esteem, the researchers found that men who had partners scoring in the top 12 percent had lower implicit self-esteem in comparison to men who were told that their partners scored in the bottom 12 percent. Implicit self-esteem test is a computer test that is capable of tracking how fast people associated good or bad words to themselves. The researchers found similar results in the next two studies that were conducted in the Netherlands.

In the last two experiments, the researchers recruited 657 American adults. 284 of them were men. The experiments, which were conducted online, asked the participants to recall a time when their partner was either successful or not. When the researchers looked at the reports, they found that the type of success or failure did not influence whether or not men felt worse about themselves. It did not matter if the successes were social, intellectual or unrelated to the man's own successes or failures, men generally felt worse about themselves simply because their female partners had succeeded. The researchers did find that when female partners succeeded in something their male partners failed at, the men had an even lower implicit self-esteem.

The study was published in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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