A new study claims that men tend to overcompensate in various areas when their masculinity is threatened.
The study, published in the journal Social Psychology, tricked male college students at Stanford University into believing that they were doing a test about decision-making during physical exertion.
Some of the men were fooled into believing they had scored in a female curve of a handgrip strength test, noted the International Business Times.
The males were then asked to complete questions about height, personality traits, how many prior romantic relationships they had and their interest in products usually associated with women or men.
The men, who got the false low scores, pumped up their height, increased their romantic relationships, self-identified as more aggressive and were less interested in products that were feminine.
However, men who scored average in the male curve did not exaggerate their answers.
Sapna Cheryan, a UW associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study, said in a press release posted on ScienceDaily:
We know that being seen as masculine is very important for a lot of men. We discovered that the things that men were using to assert their masculinity were the very things that are used as signals of identity.
Height is something you think would be fixed, but how tall you say you are is malleable, at least for men.
Benoît Monin, a professor of organizational behavior and psychology at Stanford University, and the study's co-author, added:
This research shows that men are under very strong prescriptive norms to be a certain way, and they work hard to correct the image they project when their masculinity is under threat.