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Men are less moral than women: studies

Press Trust of India  |  London 

The series of studies show that patterns of male dishonesty can be correlated with socio-cultural contexts in which they are motivated to defend their masculinity.

In an article for Scientific American, Cindi May, Professor of Psychology at the College of Charleston, reviewed a body of research which demonstrates that men have lower moral standards than women.

Studies showed males are more likely to minimise the consequences of moral misconduct, adopt ethically questionable tactics, and lie bigger and more often.

The pattern, Professor May notes, is most pronounced in areas where success has been viewed as a sign of male vigour and competence, and where loss signifies weakness, impotence or cowardice.

"When men must use strategy or cunning to prove or defend their masculinity, they are willing to compromise moral standards to assert dominance," she was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.

Pointing to a series of recent studies by Laura Kray of University of California, Berkely and Michael Haselhuhn of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Professor May argued that the root of the pattern may be socio-cultural.

Kray and Haselhuhn's work suggests that losing battles, especially in areas that are highly competitive and male oriented, presents a threat to masculinity.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers conducted several experiments comparing not only the kinds of moral decisions men and women made, but also the personal and contextual factors influencing them.

In one, participants were asked to evaluate an ethical scenario in which an elderly couple were selling their family home, with the expectation that the buyer would preserve their house.

The buyer actually intended to demolish the building and build a new structure on the site.

Participants had to decide whether the buyer was morally obliged to reveal the conflicting intentions.

Those taking part were also asked to complete another separate questionnaire assessing how far they saw negotiating as a masculine endeavour.

Kray and Haselhuhn found, consistent with other findings, that men taking part in the experiment were more tolerant of keeping information back from the seller.

Moreover, this urge to non-disclosure was also more prevalent among men who saw effective negotiating as a masculine trait.

First Published: Fri, June 22 2012. 18:06 IST