Taking it Like a Man

Masculine Role Norms as Moderators of the Racial Discrimination-Depressive Symptoms Association Among African American Men

This study discusses everyday racial discrimination and its association with depressive symptoms among African American men and how masculine role norms, such as “boys don’t cry,” factor in this association.

African American men, ages 18 and older participated in the survey from four U.S. regions gathered from barbershops and academic institutions over a seven-year period (n = 674). Two dimensions of masculine role norms, restrictive emotionality and self-reliance were examined using subscales of the Male Role Norms Inventory and the Masculinity Norms Salience scale. A self-report scale of depressive symptoms and sociodemographic and control variables were also analyzed.

Key Findings:

  • Only restrictive emotionality emerged in the positive association between everyday racial discrimination and depressive symptoms, showing only partial support for masculine role norms as moderators. Note that this association was only significant for the older age groups (ages 30 to 39 and ages 40 and older).
  • Across all age groups, racial discrimination was associated with higher rates of self-reported symptoms of depression.

Some limitations to this are notable in that it is plausible “for more depressed individuals to report more discrimination.” Also, this data was not nationally representative and the use of self-reported data may have introduced some bias. Yet this study introduces a unique perspective on depression instigated by racism and masculine role norms encouraging emotional restriction.