Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Priming with Energy Drinks May Promote Men's Tolerance of Social Pain

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Priming with Energy Drinks May Promote Men's Tolerance of Social Pain

Article excerpt

Since the manufacture of the caffeinated energy drink Red Bull began in 1997, energy drink consumption has become increasingly popular among adolescents, college students, and young adults (Malinauskas, Aeby, Overton, Carpenter-Aeby, & Barber-Heidal, 2007). Indeed, revenue from sales of energy drinks in the US was forecasted to approach $20 billion by the end of 2013 (Azagba, Langille, & Asbrigde, 2014). In energy drink advertising, masculine identification is consistently emphasized (Chiou, Wu, & Lee, 2013; Miller, 2008). In prior research, there has been a focus on the link between energy drink consumption and problem behaviors, such as substance abuse, violence, law breaking, unsafe sex, and reckless driving (see Miller, 2008, for a review). However, to our knowledge, no studies have been conducted in which the researchers have addressed the priming effect of energy drinks on the particular masculine characteristic of tolerance of social pain. In one meta-analysis, the findings indicated that men typically tolerate more pain in experimental settings than do women (Riley, Robinson, Wise, Myers, & Fillingim, 1998). A viable explanation for these gender differences in pain tolerance is men's conformity to masculine norms (i.e., the ideal, masculine man tolerates more pain than women do; Pool, Schwegler, Theodore, & Fuchs, 2007). We conducted an experimental study to show that priming with energy drinks may heighten men's conformity to masculine norms and, thereby, increase men's tolerance of social pain because of concern about possible social exclusion.

Toughness appears to be the trait in which men show the greatest difference from women (Feingold, 1994). People tend to bring extremes of this trait to mind when they think of men as tough and women as tender (Feingold, 1994). According to traditional gender norms, men should show greater pain tolerance for the sake of maintaining their masculine image (Bendelow, 1993). In self-categorization theory (Terry & Hogg, 1996) it is also posited that men are expected to conform to gender norms and, therefore, they tolerate more pain than women would. Previous researchers have revealed that participants who reported more masculine than feminine traits had higher pain tolerance (see Myers, Robinson, Riley, & Sheffield, 2001, for a related review). Energy drinks are typically marketed to adolescents and young adults, particularly males (Reissig, Strain, & Griffiths, 2009). In energy drink advertising, there is usually an emphasis on, and reinforcement of, the masculine image of the brand (De Mooij & Hofstede, 2010; Miller, 2008; Wimer & Levant, 2013). Previous researchers have demonstrated that perceived masculinity is associated with masculinity-related behaviors, such as individuals' behaviors of help seeking (e.g., Addis & Mahalik, 2003) and violence (e.g., Cohn & Zeichner, 2006). Recently, Chiou et al. (2013) showed that energy drink consumption is associated in men's minds with the achievement of a masculine sense of self. Building on recent advances in behavioral priming and the link between energy drinks and masculine self-completion, we contended that energy drinks may prime men for heightened conformity to masculine norms and help generate greater tolerance of social pain, which is defined as the distressing experience resulting from the perception of actual or potential psychological distance from others in a social group (i.e., social exclusion; Eisenberger & Lieberman, 2004). We tested this hypothesis by examining whether or not mere exposure to energy drink primes would strengthen men's conformity to masculine norms and, thereby, promote pain tolerance in the face of social exclusion experienced in playing Cyberball (Eisenberger, Lieberman, & Williams, 2003). Cyberball is an online ball-tossing game that has been widely used to study the social pain of exclusion (Eisenberger & Lieberman, 2004).

Method

Participants

Via campus posters, we recruited 93 men ([M. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.