Ladies, men aren’t happy when you succeed — but they won’t admit it, according to a new study.
Research shows straight men’s self-esteem drops following a romantic partner’s success, while women’s self-esteem remains unchanged after hearing similar news.
Study author Kate Ratliff of the University of Florida explained “there is some evidence that men automatically interpret a partner’s success as their own failure,” in a report published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
In one experiment, college students were told their partners scored in either the top 12% or bottom 12% in a “test of problem solving and social intelligence.”
How their girlfriends performed didn’t affect men’s reported self-esteem — what they told researchers — but when given a test to determine how they felt subconsciously, it was clear men whose partners performed well experienced a drop in self-worth. The subconscious testing involved quizzing participants on what adjectives they use to describe themselves.
But the same didn’t hold true for women, whose self-esteem wasn’t affected by their partners’ success. In fact, women reported feeling happier about the relationship when men succeeded.
This could be because “men tend to be more competitive than women,” Ratliff suggested.
“A similar argument is that self-esteem might be impacted when one fails to fulfill the roles ascribed to one’s gender,” she wrote in the report.
Additional experiments took place in the Netherlands and in online surveys of more than 600 people. In all cases, the findings were similar.