In Showdowns Between Sexes, Male Ego Bruises Easily

When wives or girlfriends succeed, men's self-esteem sags, study contends

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Martin Ford, a professor of education at the George Mason University College of Education and Human Development, called the findings "fascinating and somewhat disconcerting."

"Many of us have known men who seem to want to turn everything into a competition, so it is not hard to imagine that this evolved motivational tendency might be rather widespread among males at some level, even if it is not so dramatic and often outside awareness," Ford said. "Yet it is unclear from this study if the inclination to frame social comparison information in terms of 'winners and losers' is unique to one's romantic partner. Would the same tendency apply to male buddies? Or work acquaintances? Or total strangers?

"But perhaps that is the point," he added. "If seeing things in competitive terms is such a powerful motivational orientation for some men that they can't get past that even with a romantic partner, how are they going to sustain relationships based on principles of equity and concern for others' welfare?"

More information

To learn more about differences between men and women, visit the American Psychological Association.

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