A Latent Class Analysis of Heterosexual Young Men’s Masculinities

Abstract

Parallel bodies of research have described the diverse and complex ways that men understand and construct their masculine identities (often termed “masculinities”) and, separately, how adherence to traditional notions of masculinity places men at risk for negative sexual and health outcomes. The goal of this analysis was to bring together these two streams of inquiry. Using data from a national, online sample of 555 heterosexually active young men, we employed latent class analysis (LCA) to detect patterns of masculine identities based on men’s endorsement of behavioral and attitudinal indicators of “dominant” masculinity, including sexual attitudes and behaviors. LCA identified four conceptually distinct masculine identity profiles. Two groups, termed the Normative and Normative/Male Activities groups, respectively, constituted 88 % of the sample and were characterized by low levels of adherence to attitudes, sexual scripts, and behaviors consistent with “dominant” masculinity, but differed in their levels of engagement in male-oriented activities (e.g., sports teams). Only eight percent of the sample comprised a masculinity profile consistent with “traditional” ideas about masculinity; this group was labeled Misogynistic because of high levels of sexual assault and violence toward female partners. The remaining four percent constituted a Sex-Focused group, characterized by high numbers of sexual partners, but relatively low endorsement of other indicators of traditional masculinity. Follow-up analyses showed a small number of differences across groups on sexual and substance use health indicators. Findings have implications for sexual and behavioral health interventions and suggest that very few young men embody or endorse rigidly traditional forms of masculinity.

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Correspondence to Erin A. Casey.

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Casey, E.A., Masters, N.T., Beadnell, B. et al. A Latent Class Analysis of Heterosexual Young Men’s Masculinities. Arch Sex Behav 45, 1039–1050 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-015-0616-z

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Keywords

  • Masculinities
  • Sexual health
  • Gender roles
  • Violence against women
  • Latent class analysis