Men less likely to recycle because they may be perceived as gay, study finds

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
The study found environmentalism is seen as feminine because it fits in with women's traditional role as caregivers

Men are less likely to recycle because they are worried people will think they are gay, according to a study published in academic journal Sex Roles.

The research from Penn State University, USA, found that men and women were more likely to question a man’s sexual orientation if he engaged in ‘feminine’ pro-environmental behaviours such as using a reusable shopping bag.

They were also more likely to question a woman’s sexual orientation if she undertook typically masculine jobs such as sealing windows.

Researchers said the three studies of 960 participants concluded that environmentalism is seen as feminine because it fits in with women’s traditional role as caregivers

Janet K. Swim, professor of psychology and lead researcher, said it is important to understand these social consequences because they may hold people back from engaging in behaviours that could help the environment.

“People may avoid certain behaviours because they are managing the gendered impression they anticipate others will have of them. Or they may be avoided if the behaviours they choose do not match their gender.

“Behaviours don't just help us accomplish something concrete, they also signal something about who we are.”

The researchers said that activists and policymakers trying to promote positive behaviour change may want to take these pressures to conform to gender roles into account as possible barriers.


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