Policing of Masculinity Scale (POMS) and pressures boys experience to prove and defend their “manhood”.

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Despite historical shifts in some parts of the world indicating greater openness to more fluid and less restrictive notions of “manhood,” boys continue to experience significant pressures to conform to dominant masculine norms through policing of masculinity. The Policing of Masculinity Scale (POMS) was developed to measure this pervasive gender socialization process that can impact boys’ functioning and well-being. Prior to the development of the POMS, there had been no quantitative scale through which to measure the range of normative gender policing behaviors experienced by boys during adolescence and other developmental periods. Findings from exploratory factor and other analyses on the POMS (N = 227) demonstrated evidence for validity and reliability with this sample and functional utility for its Agent, Target, and Emotional Impact Scales. For the primary Agent and Target Scales, three factors emerged, including Verbal Policing Epithets, Physical Policing Challenges, and Masculinity Deviations, providing evidence for the range of mediums through which boys receive the message that they are not “man enough.” In support of construct and criterion validity for this study, the POMS exhibited significant relationships with a range of constructs and well-being outcomes including teasing, masculine norms, homophobic and misogynistic attitudes, hyperactivity, school attitudes and performance, and emotional problems. In this time of greater attention to issues facing boys and men, the POMS will enable the exploration of policing of masculinity in new and multidimensional ways, and contribute to more fully understanding the social, developmental, and psychological implications of masculine gender socialization. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved) Public Significance Statement: This measure development study assessed the Policing of Masculinity Scale (POMS) including its factor structure and indicators of validity and reliability. The POMS measures a widespread gender socialization process used by boys to communicate the perception that another boy’s behavior is insufficiently masculine. Findings from this study demonstrated evidence for validity and reliability including significant relationships between policing of masculinity and outcomes for boys pertaining to school performance, interpersonal functioning, and mental health. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

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Psychology of Men and Masculinity

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adolescent boys, gender socialization, peer relationships, policing of masculinity, well-being