More men more problems? Not always + Belief in rape myths tied to media skepticism

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More men more problems? Not necessarily, FSU study finds
https://news.fsu.edu/news/2020/03/24/mor...udy-finds/

RELEASE: Men are more prone to competitive risk taking and violent behavior, so what happens when the number of men is greater than the number of women in a population? According to research by Florida State University Professor of Psychology Jon Maner, the answers might not be what you expect.

“When men outnumber women in a given ecology, intuition might suggest that rates of violent crime would skyrocket, marriages would destabilize and many children would be born out of wedlock,” he said. “Intriguingly, the opposite has been observed.”

Maner’s study, “Ecological Sex Ratios and Human Mating,” was published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. The study was based on a review and analysis of previous work on the topic conducted by Maner and others.

Although ecological sex ratios have been investigated extensively in nonhuman species, they play a crucial role in humans as well. Many factors can produce sex ratio imbalances, including wars, which kill more men than women, and sex-differentiated migration patterns. “One of the central ideas is that when there is an imbalance in sex ratios, whichever sex is in the majority faces a lot more competition when it comes to finding and retaining romantic partners,” he said. “One way in which that competition expresses itself is in the way both men and women shift their overall mating strategy toward the typical mating strategy of the other gender.”

In order to compete, many male species will often resort to competitive risk taking or violent behaviors to attract females. In human males this means attention-grabbing, riskier behaviors like overextending financially to purchase status symbols, riding motorcycles and fighting.

But there are other male responses that are lesser known and, Maner pointed out, more typical of females. “Another way men can compete with one another is by being quicker to settle down with one woman, get married and really devote himself more fully to having kids and being a good parent,” he said. “On the other hand, if he isn’t able to find a partner, he might be inclined to compete in other ways and that’s where you might find increased violence, risk taking and competition with other men.”

Maner said his study also revealed this crisscross of traits works in the opposite direction with women adopting behavior more typical of men when they are in the overrepresented population. “When women are more abundant, they are more open to casual sexual relationships, less likely to get married,” he said. “They are essentially catering to what is often the trait among men, which is to play the field.”

For those in overrepresented populations who might already have trouble finding a mate, competition to win a mate’s affections can get especially difficult. Maner mentioned men of low socioeconomic status as an example. “They are generally less desirable to potential partners and their mating opportunities are limited,” he said. “They face especially fierce competition, so they are especially inclined to find a partner and settle down quickly.”

Associate Professor of Psychology Joshua Ackerman of the University of Michigan co–authored the study.



Lack of media skepticism tied to belief in rape myths
https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/03...rape-myths

EXCERPT: People who tend to recognize similarities between people they know and people depicted in the media are more likely to believe common myths about sexual assault, according to a new study co-led by a Cornell researcher. The data, culled from more than 280 interviews with students at eight community colleges in the southeastern United States, suggests that media literacy education could help raise awareness about sexual violence, and improve sexual violence prevention programs on college campuses.

[...] Kristen Elmore is first author of “Rape Myth Acceptance Reflects Perceptions of Media Portrayals as Similar to Others, But Not the Self,” which published March 23 in the journal Violence Against Women. It was co-authored with researchers at Innovation Research and Training...

[...] They found men were more likely than women to believe three rape myths – that women who are raped were “asking for it”; that men “didn’t mean to rape” but couldn’t help themselves; and that “it wasn’t really rape” unless it was by a stranger. For two of the three rape myths, they found that both men and women were more likely to believe them if they reported seeing similarities between people they knew and people they saw in the media.

The fact that there was no correlation between belief in rape myths and seeing themselves in media could reflect what’s known as “optimism bias,” Elmore said – people’s belief that good things are more likely to happen to them and bad things are more likely to happen to others.

Elmore said that although the study doesn’t show that perceptions of the media cause belief in rape myths, it suggests that depictions of rape in media could shape people’s views.“If I know something about how people interpret media,” Elmore said, “I can at least predict something about their beliefs about rape, though there may be some third variable influencing both of those things.”

Because the survey was conducted before most of the recent revelations arising from the #MeToo movement, future work will assess whether portrayals of sexual violence in the media – as well as people’s perceptions of rape myths – have changed for the better, Elmore said. “We’re at this interesting time where media narratives about sexual assault may be changing in really important ways,” she said, “and there seems to be more space for discussion that challenges common rape myths.” (MORE - details)
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