“He’s Too Much of a Man to do That”: The role of Masculine Identities and Self-Conscious Emotions in Men’s Help-Seeking in Preventative Health
Despite lower life expectancy than women and higher likelihood of premature death from disease, men are reluctant to access preventative health services (AIHW, 2017, 2019; Baker et al., 2014). Such services are transformative and aim to improve consumer well-being, usually through the co-creation of value between the service and the consumer in an interactive process, such as consumer attendance at a cancer screening clinic and participating in a screening procedure (Anderson et al., 2013; Vargo, Maglio, & Akaka, 2008; Zainuddin, Previte, & Russell-Bennett, 2011). However, the potential value of some services is not always realised, for example when men reject bowel cancer screening services (Leo & Zainuddin, 2017; Plé & Chumpitaz Cáceres, 2010). Gender literature theorises that men demonstrate their masculinity through their health beliefs and behaviours, which are usually unhealthy or risky (Connell, 2005; Connell, 2012; Courtenay, 2000). Health literature has found that male consumers cite threat to masculinity and emotions like embarrassment and guilt as barriers to help-seeking and accessing preventative health services (Consedine, Ladwig, Reddig, & Broadbent, 2011; Harmy, Norwati, Noor, & Amry, 2011; Leone, Rovito, Mullin, Mohammed, & Lee, 2017). Emotions such as embarrassment, guilt and shame are examples from a set of emotions known as self-conscious emotions and are usually triggered by self-representations or identity goals (Lewis, 2000; Tracy & Robins, 2011). Self-conscious emotions are important in social marketing for transformative services as they motivate people’s feelings, thoughts and behaviours (Lewis, 2000; Tracy & Robins, 2011). To date, there is sparse literature that examines the role of different masculine identities for men’s help-seeking and the role of self-conscious emotions and masculine identities in mature men’s help-seeking for preventative health. Through thematic analysis of five focus groups with mature men (N=39), this research identified seven key masculine identities for men’s help-seeking from 12 Jungian male archetypes, particularly the Thinker, the Caregiver and the Innocent for positive help-seeking, and the Outlaw, the Ruler and the Explorer for negative help-seeking, while the Regular Guy could have both positive or negative help-seeking (Mark & Pearson, 2001). Three key themes of masculinity for the key masculine identities and their help-seeking behaviours were identified: role in family, normative influences and stoicism and self-reliance. The research also found three themes of masculinity that triggered self-conscious emotions for the key masculine identities: head of family role, agency and power, and toughness and stoicism. The themes of masculinity also lead to regulation of self-conscious emotions through either positive or negative help-seeking behaviours. The contribution of this research includes traditional masculine identities that: obstruct or promote healthy men’s help-seeking behaviour, regulate self-conscious emotions for men’s positive or negative help-seeking, and regulate self-conscious emotions through negative help-seeking behaviours because of masculine ideals of agency and power.