Food Psych

Marketers are constantly driving men toward “masculine” food choices—like burgers, steak, potatoes—and deterring them from “girly” food choices such as salad and yogurt. Beverages are no exception. Research[1] from the American Psychological Association found connections between masculinity and energy drink use. Oh, and also sleep problems. 

Part of the reason? “Commercials and ads for [energy drinks] often show men engaging in high-risk, adrenaline-pumping activities such as skydiving or snowboarding,” says a press release[2] published on EurekAlert. “Energy drinks also sponsor many sporting events, such as ultimate fighting leagues, racing, and motocross.”

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Now, while most men who buy and consume energy drinks aren’t race car drivers or martial arts champions, these marketing campaigns are drawing a level of association, the researchers explain; it’s a way for consumers to feel closer to these ultra-masculine sports. 

In the study, the research team collected data from 467 adult men via multiple surveys. The first survey, called the Male Role Norms Inventory short form, developed by lead researcher Ronald F. Levant, was used to measure agreement with traditional masculine attitudes like, “Men should not be too quick to tell others that they care about them,” and “I think a young man should try to be physically tough, even if he’s not.” 

The second survey measured expectations about the side effects of energy drinks and included beliefs like, “If I consume energy drinks, I will be more willing to take risks,” and “If I consume energy drinks, I will perform better.” 

The third survey, modified from a standard sleep quality index, measured disturbances in the men’s sleep patterns, including difficulties falling asleep or getting up to use the bathroom overnight. 

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Ultimately, Levant found “associations between beliefs in traditional masculinity, beliefs in the efficacy of energy drinks, energy drink consumption, and sleep disturbances with a few notable exceptions.” For example, older men were generally exempt from the trend. But for young men in the sample, the connection was very pronounced.

This observation is backed by other research, too. In a University of Manitoba study, 93 subjects asked to classify foods as “masculine” or “feminine” labeled less-healthy items (like fried chicken and potatoes) as manlier and healthier items (like salads and yogurt) as girlier. [5]

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