Some men try to avoid eco-friendly actions because they do not want to be seen as “unmanly,” according to new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
This finding comes from a team of researchers from various U.S. universities, who found that that those who engage in green behaviors are often stereotyped by others as more “girly” or “feminine.”
To find out why, the group analyzed over 2,000 American and Chinese participants. That revealed a psychological link between eco-friendliness and perceptions of femininity. The so-called “green-feminine stereotype” often causes both men and women to perceive eco-friendly products, behaviors, and consumers as more feminine than their non-green counterparts, Yahoo News reports.
For instance, participants viewed themselves as more feminine when they did something good for the environment versus when they did something bad. They also viewed a person who chose a reusable canvas grocery bag over a plastic bag as feminine.
This is a strange issue, and solving it could help more people aid the environment. Though there is not one solution, the team believes different marketing of eco-friendly products could help reverse the trend. For example, when BMW in China marketed its new hydro car with a masculine term to identify the model, men were more interested in purchasing the car than normal.
“Previous research shows that men tend to be more concerned about maintaining a masculine identity than women are with their feminine identity,” said study co-author James Wilkie, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame, in a statement. “We therefore thought that men might be more open to environmental products if we made them feel secure in their masculinity, so they are less threatened by adopting a green product.”
The marketing plan could work well, but, before such changes are made, it is also important to remind men that there is nothing inherently wrong with being eco-friendly. Helping the planet is not gender specific.