Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 278–289 | Cite as

No country for girly men: High instrumentality men express empathic concern when caring is “manly”

  • Christopher T. Burris
  • Kristina M. Schrage
  • John K. Rempel
Original Paper


Two studies explored the relationship between men’s gender role identity (as measured by the Bem Sex Role Inventory) and their experience of empathic concern (situational empathy). In both, participants read of a man coping with his friend’s death while being exposed to one of three subliminal primes: “real men care”/“caring is strength,” “girly men care”/“caring is weakness,” or “people are walking.” Congruent with previous research, higher femininity (expressivity) predicted greater empathic concern irrespective of prime. The real men/strength primes tended to: (1) increase empathic concern among high instrumentality men; and (2) link empathic concern to predominantly positive projected coping responses when participants thought of themselves in the survivor’s situation, consistent with the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. Thus, subtly framing empathic concern as a positive emotional response that is congruent with an agentic self-appraisal seems to boost traditionally masculine men’s willingness to experience it.


Empathy Empathic concern Masculinity Instrumentality Men 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher T. Burris
    • 1
  • Kristina M. Schrage
    • 2
  • John K. Rempel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySt. Jerome’s UniversityWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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