A man’s self-esteem is likely to suffer the most and he is filled with insecurity if he finds his female partner getting more successful than he is, a new study suggests.
According to the researchers, men take the success of their female companions as their own personal failure, which makes them feel insulted, demoralized and frustrated. However, the women’s self-esteem was seemingly unaffected, study found.
“There is an idea that women are allowed to bask in the reflected glory of her male partner and to be the ‘woman behind the successful man,’ but the reverse is not true for men,” wrote lead author Kate Ratliff, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Florida.
The researchers discovered that there was a dip in a man’s mood when their partner was successful. They took the success as their own failure.
The study was published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It was based on heterosexual couples in the U.S. and the Netherlands.
The researchers surveyed five experiments, which included about 500 men and women online and on college campuses. On some occasions, the couples were also asked to write about specific examples of when their partner was either successful or when they failed. After, they had to complete a word-association test that was aimed at assessing their self-esteem. Students in the Netherlands were included in the study to counter the cultural differences in the U.S.
“From a very young age, boys’ playtime interaction tends to be marked by dominance-striving,” the authors wrote. “Young girls also pursue individual goals within social groups, but tend to do so while simultaneously striving to maintain group harmony.”