Masculine discrepancy stress and psychosocial maladjustment: Implications for behavioral and mental health of adolescent boys.

Gender role discrepancy (GRD), or nonconformity to socially prescribed gender roles, has been linked to a multitude of adverse mental and behavioral health outcomes. Masculine discrepancy stress (MDS), stress about being perceived not to conform to one’s gender role, may explain the relationship between GRD and deleterious health outcomes. However, research on MDS has primarily been restricted to adult males. This leaves a critical gap pertaining to the potential effect of MDS on adolescent boys, who may be more malleable and susceptible to the influence and pressures of gender socialization. In the current study, data are drawn from a sample of adolescent male students (N = 592) who completed self-report questionnaires. We employed structural equation modeling to test the effects of GRD and MDS on psychosocial maladjustment measured via sexual behavior, substance use, violence, mood disorder symptoms, and hopelessness. In addition, we controlled for critical risk factors including sociodemographic characteristics, adverse childhood experiences, trauma symptoms, and neighborhood disorganization. Findings indicate significant potentiating effects of MDS on maladjustment while there were direct protective effects of GRD. These data suggest that developing prevention strategies that incorporate social norms pertaining to gender socialization may have an impact on multiple behavioral and mental health problems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)