She’s Just Not That Into Me: Sexual Self-Concept Among Heterosexual Men Who Identify as Involuntary Celibates
Emerging adult men experiencing involuntary celibacy are increasingly self-identifying as “incels.” Popular culture has painted a negative view of incel men. Nonetheless, almost no research has addressed the experiences of incels or systematically compared incels to their peers to identify whether actual differences exist in psychological functioning. In this study, we surveyed a total of 129 emerging adult men (75 incels and 54 non-incels) to determine if and how incels differ from their non-incel peers. MANOVA results indicated that incels disproportionately struggled with low self-esteem, social anxiety, difficulty approaching women, and optimism about partnered sexual experiences compared to their non-incel peers. Incels also endorsed concepts related to social hierarchies, which suggested a vulnerability to gender role strain related to current hegemonic notions of masculinity. Such concerns have implications for psychotherapeutic intervention and may additionally facilitate understanding of how hegemonic masculinity may impact sexual self-concept.
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