looked at whether boys could resist being tough, emotionally unavailable, and
detached from their friends as they moved from sixth to eighth grade; whether
ethnicity made a difference; whether their relationships with their families and
peer group fostered this resistance; and whether resisting these images affected
their psychological health.
were from different racial/ethnic backgrounds: 20 per cent were African-American,
nine per cent were Puerto Rican, 17 per cent were Dominican-American, 21 per cent
were Chinese-American, 27 per cent were European-American and six per cent were
of another race or ethnicity.
from diverse ethnic and racial groups were equally able to resist these masculine
stereotypes, going against the common belief that certain ethnic minority boys
are more emotionally stunted and hypermasculine, said Santos. Few differences
were detected and most tended to dissipate over the course of middle school.
found that boys were more likely to act tough and detached from their friends
as they got older. But boys who remained close to their mothers, siblings and
peers did not act as tough and were more emotionally available to their friends
compared to those who were not as close. However, closeness to fathers encouraged
boys to be more autonomous and detached from friendships.
the goal is to encourage boys to experience healthy family relationships as well
as healthy friendships, clinicians and interventionists working with families
may benefit from having fathers share with their sons on the importance of experiencing
multiple and fulfilling relationships in their lives" Santos said. He also
found that boys who were depressed had a harder time not acting macho in their
levels of emotional stoicism tended to remain stable throughout the middle school
years and boys who did not adopt these macho behaviors had better psychological
health in middle school, he found.
results show that being able to resist internalizing these macho images especially
aggression and autonomy declines as boys transition into adolescence and
this decline puts their mental health at risk. "Helping boys resist these
behaviours early on seems to be a critical step toward improving their health
and the quality of their social relationships," said Santos.