Predicting Anxiety from the Complex Interaction Between Masculinity and Spiritual Beliefs

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Boxer, Andrew ORCID: 0000-0003-2390-0776 and Gill, Peter ORCID: 0000-0001-7772-4849 (2021) Predicting Anxiety from the Complex Interaction Between Masculinity and Spiritual Beliefs. American Journal of Men's Health, 15 (5). ISSN 1557-9883


Research suggests that adherence to traditional and hegemonic masculinities can be detrimental to men's mental health. In particular, anxiety can result from the incongruence between idealised and lived experiences. Emerging research suggests that holding spiritual beliefs may protect against such anxiety. This Australian study investigated whether two aspects of spiritualism (Spiritual Openness and Spiritual Support) could moderate the relationship between four stereotypical masculine behaviours (Success Dedication, Restrictive Emotionality, Inhibited Affection and Exaggerated Self-Reliance and Control) and anxiety. A cross-sectional, correlational design, with a heterogeneous, Western community sample included 331 male participants aged 18-67 (<i>M</i> = 24.57, <i>SD</i> = 10.37). In partial support of the hypotheses, two significant moderation models were found. Both Spiritual Support and Spiritual Openness moderated the relationship between Exaggerated Self-Reliance and Control and anxiety. There were no significant moderations for Success Dedication, Restrictive Emotionality, and Inhibited Affection. Masculinity and spiritualism did not have significant direct effects on anxiety. These findings suggest that when working with men and their mental health, it may be important to consider the congruence between their behaviors and belief systems, as spirituality was only protective against anxiety where these beliefs were congruent with masculine self-reliance and control. It appears that the potential benefit of spirituality in reducing masculine anxiety is dependent on the man being more open to external supports, and having a lower need for control.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1177/15579883211049021
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5205 Social and personality psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords identity, men, masculinity, masculine behaviors, spirituality, anxiety, gender, power structures
Citations in Scopus 0 - View on Scopus
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