Holding the door open for a man lowers their self-esteem and self-confidence compared to those who open the door themselves, a recent study has found. Yes, men really are that fragile. Simple courtesies for your fellow man are slowly breaking his spirit.
The study by Purdue University researchers, which appeared in Taylor & Francis Online and was highlighted by Pacific Standard magazine on Monday, mixed a field study with a self-reported survey to come to the results. In the experiment, researchers walked with a subject into a building with a double door. In half, the researcher opened the door for the subject; in the other half, both opened their own door at about the same time. In follow-up questions, men who had the door opened for them reported a lower self-esteem and self-confidence than men who opened it themselves. Women did not show any significant response to this traumatizing experience.
The fragility of manly egos has been shown in other studies related to how men react to mild emasculation. A study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, for example, found that male self-esteem dropped when men were told their wives performed better on a test than they did. Being told they were outsmarted and in the less-superior position had a real effect on their confidence. Women were not affected either way. The door-holding authors noticed that same effect. "This work also finds that brief, seemingly inconsequential but unexpected helping behavior that violates gender norms can have unforeseen negative consequences," they write.