Good ol' boys: masculinity and stress in southern males

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University of Alabama Libraries

Culture is not a haze that hangs about people as they go about their lives, nor is it a biological imperative that drives a person's thoughts and behaviors. The shared knowledge of a group forms schematic outlines or cultural models of how life should be lived and these models, if not followed or lived out, have been found to be associated with symptoms of psychosocial stress such as depression and high blood pressure. The hypothesis in this research was that there are shared models of masculinity in the southern region of the United States and that men who live out these models will have fewer symptoms of stress than men who do not live out these models in their daily lives. In-depth interviews were conducted in order to identify and outline important elements of models of Southern masculinity. Methods from cognitive anthropology including freelisting, pile sorting, and ranking activities were utilized to enumerate and define important domains of life for men. Cultural consensus and cultural consonance analyses were used to determine if participants shared a model of masculinity and the degree to which each man was living out this shared model. Statistical analyses were used in conjunction with cultural consensus and cultural consonance analyses to determine if there was a relationship between cultural consensus and/or cultural consonance and symptoms of stress (depressive symptoms and high blood pressure levels). While no significant relationships were found between cultural consensus or cultural consonance and blood pressure levels, findings indicate that there is a significant inverse relationship between both consensus and consonance scores and the presence of depressive symptoms.

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Cultural anthropology