The Link Between Men’s Zero-sum Gender Beliefs and Mental Health: Findings from Chile and Croatia

Zero-sum gender beliefs (ZSGBs) refer to the perception that the advancement of a gender outgroup’s rights (e.g., women’s rights) would be at the expense of a gender ingroup’s rights (e.g., men’s rights). Although it seems obvious that men’s ZSGBs could be harmful to women, the authors of this study propose that such beliefs are ultimately also harmful to men’s own mental health. Using multigroup structural equation modeling, this cross-national study tested the link between men’s ZSGBs and psychological distress.

The results showed that men’s ZSGBs were positively related to psychological distress whereas relationship satisfaction was negatively related to psychological distress. ZSGBs were also negatively associated with participation in domestic tasks and relationship satisfaction, whereas childhood exposure to male role models who participated in domestic chores was negatively linked to ZSGBs. These results draw attention to the pernicious nature of ZSGBs and the need for gender equality programs to include interventions to reduce men’s ZSGBs.