In search of positive masculine role norms: Testing the positive psychology positive masculinity paradigm

Ryon C. McDermott, Kipp R. Pietrantonio, Brandon R. Browning, Daniel K. McKelvey, Zachary K. Jones, Nathan R. Booth, Todd D. Sevig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Researchers using the positive psychology positive masculinity paradigm have advanced several aspects of masculinity that, in theory, represent socialized beliefs linked to healthy personal and relational outcomes in men. However, investigators have yet to explicitly test whether positive masculinity constructs capture broader societal messages dictating positive masculine thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (i.e., male role norms). The present exploratory study created an online survey informed by literature and informal focus groups/interviews to explore how 79 potential positive masculinity attributes were perceived as both positive and socially expected of men. Using Internet and community samples of men and women (N = 1,077), descriptive statistics and paired-sample t tests identified which attributes were rated as positive and statistically expected of men more than they were expected of women. Of the 79 items, all but 3 were strongly rated as positive, 32 were expected more of men, 36 were expected more of women, and 11 were gender neutral. Many definitions of positive masculinity in the extant literature correctly represented thoughts, feelings, and behaviors viewed as positive and socially expected of men, particularly male provider and protector roles. However, some attributes identified as both positive and masculine in the present study may represent moderate expressions of traditional masculinities. Findings were also consistent with gender role stereotypes feminizing relational variables, suggesting that some interpersonal characteristics labeled as positive masculinity in previous research may not represent gendered expectations of men in the broader culture. Implications for the future measurement of positive masculine role norms are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Men and Masculinity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Expectations
  • Male role
  • Norms
  • Positive masculinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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