Men less moral than women?

A series of new studies say they tend to ditch ethics when their masculinity is at stake. Lisa Antao explores...

Common stereotypes about men include that they are insensitive, liars, cheaters, immature, commitment phobic, etc. And now there's evidence to prove that they are more likely to trade ethics to prove their masculinity. According to recent studies conducted by American researchers, men have lower moral standards compared to the fairer sex.

Their research showed that men are very likely to minimise the repercussions of moral misconduct, resort to tactics that are ethically questionable, and tell bigger lies more often. Also, they have no qualms to comprise moral ethics in a bid to assert dominance to prove and defend their masculinity. We ask experts why men have fickle relationship with morality.

Upbringing style
Psychologist Chandni Mehta agrees with the study saying, "Generally speaking, men are more immoral than women. This is mostly because they are more casual in their approach in their dealings. For example, a man may have an extra-marital affair and not think of it as a big deal.

In this dog-eat-dog world, they have been brought up to be goal driven and are identified by their accomplishments. Women on the other hand, are viewed as nurturers and are viewed differently. And therefore, women's morals holds more weightage." She cites an example, the idea of a ruthless businessman is more acceptable than that of a ruthless businesswoman and she may often get looked down upon.

Masculinity factor
So what really prompts men to be fierce about protecting their masculinity? Guess it's because a man may prefer to be labelled ruthless as it is often associated with being macho. Sreenivasan Iyer, 23, a technical writer opines, "From the caveman to a senior executive in the modern society, men are more likely to succumb to the pressure of maintaining their perceived masculinity.

The modern society quite often presents a distorted perception of masculinity, one which stresses on success, fame, and too little on ethics and morality. In fact, questioning the masculinity of a man is a bigger insult than branding him a liar or a cheat." However, he adds that since the study has focused on American men, it is not an entirely convincing conclusion.

Women aren't far behind
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Milan Balakrishnan doesn't think there is a gender difference as far as morality is concerned. "Men and women can be equally moral or immoral depending upon the situations that they are put in.

Morality is determined by the values that you have inculcated and which you decide to stick to in a difficult and testing situation. It is similar for all human beings irrespective of gender," he reasons out.

Nowadays with the changing social fabric, both men and women are faced with similar moral dilemmas which makes them equally susceptible to immorality.

Morals are pushed to a maximum when survival is at stake and not necessarily masculinity. Recently, we have heard enough cases where women are arrested and questioned for being middle 'men' in multicrore scams, explains Dr Balakrishnan. In his practice, he says, "I have been coming across more and more women with anti-social personality disorder and the gap between males and females is narrowing rapidly.

Men indulge in more acts of physical aggression while women use manipulation and verbal aggression to meet their needs.