Tough guys, with their broad face and square jaw, may not be completely “bad to the bone.” A new study shows that under the right circumstances, they are more likely to sacrifice themselves for the good of their teammates.
More than just gender stereotypes, previous research has shown that men with very “masculine” faces are seen as unfriendly, less honest and more stubborn than other men. Researchers from the University of St. Andrews, though, suspected that tough guys would change their ways when faced with group rivalries.
What better place to study competition than in college? Researchers asked college students to play games as part of a group. Participants could either take a free ride at the expense of their teammates, or put their own money at risk to help their group.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that men with masculine features were more likely to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the team. This happened, however, only when the students were told that they were competing against a rival university.
The tough guys were actually less cooperative when their group was up against students from their own school.
It’s no shock that masculinity and male behavior is much more complicated than portrayed in the movies. Compared to women, men seem to be more sensitive to relationships between groups, especially when they know they are being watched.
In addition, while tough guys may be antisocial and physically aggressive in some contexts, when it comes to key rivalries, they are more likely to have their teammates’ back.