Males believe discussing problems is a waste of time, MU study shows
A new University of Missouri study finds that boys feel that discussing problems is a waste of time. "For years, popular psychologists have insisted that boys and men would like to talk about their problems but are held back by fears of embarrassment or appearing weak," said Amanda J. Rose, associate professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. "However, when we asked young people how talking about their problems would make them feel, boys didn't express angst or distress about discussing problems any more than girls. Instead, boys' responses suggest that they just don't see talking about problems to be a particularly useful activity."
Rose and her colleagues conducted four different studies that included surveys and observations of nearly 2,000 children and adolescents. The researchers found that girls had positive expectations for how talking about problems would make them feel, such as expecting to feel cared for, understood and less alone. On the other hand, boys did not endorse some negative expectations more than girls, such as expecting to feel embarrassed, worried about being teased, or bad about not taking care of the problems themselves. Instead, boys reported that talking about problems would make them feel "weird" and like they were "wasting time."
"An implication is that parents should encourage their children to adopt a middle ground when discussing problems. For boys, it would be helpful to explain that, at least for some problems, some of the time, talking about their problems is not a waste of time. Yet, parents also should realize that they may be 'barking up the wrong tree' if they think that making boys feel safer will make them confide. Instead, helping boys see some utility in talking about problems may be more effective," Rose said. "On the other hand, many girls are at risk for excessive problem talk, which is linked with depression and anxiety, so girls should know that talking about problems isn't the only way to cope."
Rose believes that the findings may play into future romantic relationships, as many relationships involve a "pursuit-withdraw cycle" in which one partner (usually the woman) pursues talking about problems while the other (usually the man) withdraws.
"Women may really push their partners to share pent-up worries and concerns because they hold expectations that talking makes people feel better. But their partners may just not be interested and expect that other coping mechanisms will make them feel better. Men may be more likely to think talking about problems will make the problems feel bigger, and engaging in different activities will take their minds off of the problem. Men may just not be coming from the same place as their partners," Rose said.
The paper, "How Girls and Boys Expect Disclosure About Problems Will Make Them Feel: Implications for Friendships," will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Child Development. The study was funded by the National Institute for Mental Health and was co-authored by current and former MU psychology graduate students Rebecca Schwartz-Mette, Rhiannon Smith, Lance Swenson, Wendy Carlson, and Erika Waller and Rose's colleague Steven Asher.
Source: University of Missouri-Columbia
- Males believe discussing problems is a waste of time, study showsfrom Science DailyMon, 22 Aug 2011, 22:30:33 EDT
- Males believe discussing problems is a waste of time, study showsfrom PhysorgMon, 22 Aug 2011, 15:30:40 EDT
- Alok Jha looks at mammalian extinctions and malarial resistancefrom The Guardian - ScienceSun, 21 Aug 2011, 19:30:23 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Caltech chemists solve major piece of cellular mystery
- Future climate models greatly affected by fungi and bacteria
- Researchers use DNA 'clews' to shuttle CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool into cells
- Moffitt makes important steps toward developing a blood test to catch pancreatic cancer early
- Sir Elton John is the inspiration behind the name of a new coral reef crustacean species
- Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in 3 decades
- Want a better relationship and a better sex life?
- Unlike boys, girls lose friends for having sex, gain friends for making out
- Massive study reports challenges in reproducing published psychology findings
- Record-high pressure reveals secrets of matter
- Gravitational constant appears universally constant, pulsar study suggests
- Robotic insect mimics Nature's extreme moves
- California 'rain debt' equal to average full year of precipitation
- Special issue: Philae results shed light on the nature of comets
- Researchers find that Earth's magnetic shield is much older than previously thought