Psychological distress, masculinity ideology, and self-threat: A model of men's attitudes toward help seeking

Jeanine Pirozzi Blake, Fordham University


This study investigated the relations among (a) psychological distress, (b) masculinity ideology, (c) a composite variable termed "self-threat," and (d) attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help in a sample of adult men. Current theory and research findings drawn from diverse literatures, including the study of men and masculinity and the social psychology of help-seeking behavior, provided the basis for the proposed path analytic model of men's attitudes towards seeking psychological help. With men seeking help for emotional/psychological problems at lower rates than women, an explanatory model was proposed. A composite variable termed "self-threat" was created to examine a constellation of beliefs hypothesized to mediate the relationship between traditional masculinity ideology and attitudes toward help-seeking. Psychological distress was hypothesized to moderate the relationship among the variables, such that the phenomenon was expected to be magnified for men experiencing higher levels of current distress. Results were mixed with regard to the main research hypotheses. Path analyses revealed a partially mediated model in which in the influence of masculinity ideology on attitudes toward help-seeking was largely transmitted through self-threat, although masculinity ideology continued to have a direct effect of attitudes as well. Higher traditional masculinity/lower nontraditional masculinity was associated with greater levels of self-threat related to help-seeking and less positive attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help. Contrary to expectations, psychological distress was not found to moderate the relationships among the variables. No differences were found in the path analytic model when the sample was divided into groups of "low" and "high" psychological distress. In addition, ancillary analyses examined the relationships among particular types of male identity and traditional and nontraditional masculinity ideology. Limitations of the current study were identified, and implications for theory, practice, and future research were addressed.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Blake, Jeanine Pirozzi, "Psychological distress, masculinity ideology, and self-threat: A model of men's attitudes toward help seeking" (2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3361369.