Real men cry! And guess what? They have higher self esteem and are more satisfied with their lives too.
College footballers who are at ease with tears have higher self-esteem, research shows.
Although players feel pressure to conform to some male stereotypes, those who feel it’s fine to cry after losing a game are happier than those who think emotions should be kept in check, the study discovered.
The findings come from Psychology of Men & Masculinity, published by the American Psychological Association.
‘Overall, college football players who… are emotionally expressive are more likely to have a mental edge on and off the field,’ said psychologist Jesse Steinfeldt, PhD, of Indiana University-Bloomington, a co-authored of the study.
In one part of the study, researchers surveyed 150 college football players from two universities with an average age of 19.
The players in the experiment were mostly white and played for one of two teams, one from the NCAA Division II and the other at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics level.
They were randomly assigned to four groups to read different vignettes about ‘Jack’ – a football player who cries after a football game.
In the short stories, Jack either sobs or tears up after his team loses or wins.
Those who read about Jack tearing up after losing thought his behaviour was appropriate, but drew the line at his sobbing.
The players also said they were more likely to tear up than sob if they were in Jack’s situation.
Players who read scenarios in which Jack sobs after losing a game said his reaction was more typical among football players than the players who read that Jack sobs after his team won the game.
‘In 2009, the news media disparaged University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow for crying on the sidelines after losing a big game, even labeling him Tim ‘Tearbow,” said psychologist Y. Joel Wong, PhD, the study’s lead author.
‘However, the college football players in our study who believed Jack’s crying was appropriate had higher self-esteem.
In contrast, players who believed Jack’s crying was inappropriate yet felt they would likely cry in Jack’s situation had lower self-esteem.’
In another experiment at the same colleges, researchers surveyed 153 football players, also mostly white and with an average age of 19.
The researchers asked the players if they felt pressured to act a certain way because society expects men to be powerful and competitive, and to show little emotion and affection in front of other men.
Other studies have shown that this type of pressure to conform can lead to poor self-esteem and disruptive behavior.
The researchers also asked the players about their overall life satisfaction and how they expressed emotions on and off the field.
The study found players do feel pressure to conform to these gender roles. But players who were never affectionate toward their teammates were less satisfied with life.
Mr Steinfeldt said that the footballers ‘acknowledged some masculine stereotype pressures, and previous research has shown that can have a negative impact on a player’s psyche.’
This is pretty much what women have been saying for the longest about men — shutting down emotionally is BAD for you all around!