Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

William D. Crano

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Anna Woodcock

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

P. Wesley Schultz

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2022 Cleopatre M Thelus


Experimental Survey Research, Gender, Hyper-Precarity, Intersectionality, Precarious Manhood Theory, Race

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social Psychology


Manhood that is characterized in terms of dominant culture in the United States includes strength, power, status, affluence, and occupational success (Vandello et al., 2008). However, men who are not members of dominant culture, such as Black men in the United States, often are excluded from access to characteristics of masculinity framed by dominant culture due to potential negative consequences that can result when they perform behaviors that symbolize strength and power (Bush & Bush, 2018; Katz, 1995; Staples, 1982). Precarious Manhood Theory (PMT) is a social psychological theory that explores the social category of gender (men/manhood/masculinity) as relates to identity threat. PMT posits that manhood is rooted in the common cultural belief that boys earn their manhood through social efforts that exhibit significant power, strength, and endurance (Gilmore, 1990). However, manhood can be retracted after it is granted if a man commits a faux pas that violates socially prescribed manhood codes, such as aggression, power, and status, and must be restored through social efforts if "lost". PMT may not express itself and be received in the same way when aspects of people's identities are made salient, particularly race and gender intersections. The current research addressed this issue in ways that previous PMT research did not, through the investigation of PMT in cross-gender and cross-racial contexts, and in America's multicultural setting. Intersectionality theory guided the present research's deeper examination of PMT. Three key questions from Cole (2009)'s article, "Intersectionality in psychological research," "Who is included (and excluded)? What role does inequality play? Where are the similarities?,"framed the current research. The present research used experimental surveys to explore PMT with an intersectional lens. Study 1 is a replication of Weaver et al. (2010). In Weaver et al. (2010), participants completed a measure on internal and external attributions of a physical aggressor's behavior after reading a bogus police report of an altercation between two men (physical aggressor and verbal aggressor pair) or two women (physical aggressor and verbal aggressor pair). Study 1 of the present research investigated whether the original study's findings could be duplicated after 10+ years with a more diverse sample, a cross-gender context, and additional outcome variables. Weaver et al. (2010)'s overall findings revealed men participants attributed aggressive behaviors to situational factors that provoke men to engage in such behaviors to defend their gender status more than women participants. Most of Weaver et al. (2010)'s findings were not replicated in study 1 of the present research. Study 2 included and built on aspects of study 1 with the addition of race as a salient manipulation. Most of study 2's hypotheses were not supported, however, findings suggest that Black participants were more sensitive to the presented cross-racial context than white participants. This research adds insight to PMT in regard to useful outcome variables, verbal aggressor impact, cross-gender and cross-racial contexts, a potential hyper-precarious manhood phenomena among Black men, as well as importance of historical and sociopolitical factors in the examination of PMT. Findings from this research can be used to inform policy and practice related to equity, diversity, and inclusion.