Men Are Less Concerned About COVID-19 Than Women. Is This Due To Reason Or Stubbornness? – Forbes

Posted: April 6, 2020 at 10:54 pm

An elderly woman wears a mask as a precautionary measure against covid-19, as people take their ... [+] daily exercise in Battersea Park in London on March 28, 2020, as life in Britain continues during the nationwide lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic. - The two men leading Britain's fight against the coronavirus -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Health Secretary Matt Hancock -- both announced Friday they had tested positive for COVID-19, as infection rates accelerated and daily death rate rose sharply. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 54% of women said they were very concerned about Coronavirus. For men, this number was only 45%.

And thats just the beginning. The poll also reported men to be less likely to wash their hands and use hand sanitizers frequently, less committed to avoiding public gatherings, less supportive of the closing of public schools, and more likely to believe people were unnecessarily panicked about COVID-19.

Clearly, men are more cavalier in their assessment of the risk posed by COVID-19. But is this reflective of some underlying wisdom or calculated cost-benefit analysis, or is it another case of male stubbornness? Research in gender psychology suggests that there may be truth to both of these ideas. They are discussed below.

Stereotypes abound regarding the stubbornness of men. Men are less likely to stop and ask for directions when they are lost. They are less likely to take the advice of others. They are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

And, where theres smoke, theres fire. Research has found men to be significantly less likely to seek out professional help to address mental or physical health problems. Mens reluctance to visit a doctor may be one of the reasons why they tend to die younger than women and why they have a higher mortality rate for 14 out of the 15 most common causes of death.

Even more damning is the finding that men are more likely to refer others to seek out health-related help; they just tend not to take their own advice.

Why is this the case? Part of it has to do with societal expectations. In cultures around the world, men are expected to be strong, dominant, confident, and unemotional. This begins early in their socialization, when boys are taught that real men dont show emotion or ask for help. Over time, this leads to the development of behaviors that negatively impact their health for example, increased substance use, fighting, and risky sexual behaviors.

It may also have to do with underlying male personality traits. Research has found men to be less agreeable than women, and less extroverted. Women also tend to be more cooperative in social and economic situations. Whether or not these trait differences are due to socialization pressures or genetics is an open debate. The most likely answer is that both factors are at play.

In the case of COVID-19, these traits may explain why men are generally less concerned about the disease. In the face of threat, they are expected to exhibit an air of invincibility; it is a trait promoted by culture and society as much as it may be hardwired into their personality.

Theres also evidence to suggest that men are better than women at tapping into their rational mind. For instance, a recent study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics examined gender differences on three brain teasers used to measure a persons ability to engage in reflective, systematic, and non-intuitive thinking. In case you are curious, the questions are listed below and the answers can be found at the end of the article.

If youve reviewed the answers, youll see how these questions assess a persons ability to forgo intuitive yet incorrect responses in favor of correct answers that require a deeper level of thinking.

The researchers examined over 44,000 responses to these questions from 21 different countries. They found clear evidence of a male advantage. They write, We find that: (i) males perform better in every single question, (ii) females are more likely to answer none of the questions correctly, and (iii) males are more likely to answer all three questions correctly. Importantly, gender differences persist even when we control for test characteristics (for example, monetary incentives, computerized, student samples, positioning of the experiment, etc.).

Again, whether there is a genetic component to this difference, or whether it is based solely on environmental factors, is an open debate (and a controversial one). It does, however, suggest that men might be better equipped to size up the COVID-19 risk for what it is: a threat that, in most cases, is still exceptionally remote.

There is a third factor at play, and that has to do with the finding that men might be less equipped to fight off the disease in the event they are exposed to it. This was discussed in a recent New York Times opinion piece, written by Dr. Sharon Moelem. He states, The disproportionate toll this virus is taking on males isnt an anomaly. When it comes to survival, men are the weaker sex. If true, perhaps this tips the scale in favor of the stubbornness hypothesis.

Brain teaser answers:

Excerpt from:
Men Are Less Concerned About COVID-19 Than Women. Is This Due To Reason Or Stubbornness? - Forbes

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