How do you look for honest men

In principle, anything can be said about men, only nothing good. However, even the hard-nosed representatives of this sex will at some point be shocked when they are permanently referred to as toxic and otherwise depraved creatures who are responsible for all the evils in the world. So here's a little pacifier for offended guys: Scientists have found that on average men are better at painting than women and are even less likely to lie. So these guys aren't that bad, are they?

But oh, the effect of such news fizzles out immediately. The common reaction to study results like these is to doubt them. Researchers say they have prejudices against women in their hearts, if they have one at all, it is said. The experiments were certainly designed incorrectly, and the data were evaluated sloppily.

In comparison, positive statements about men are considered implausible

As psychologists around Steve Stewart-Williams in British Journal of Psychology report, such positive study results for men are reflexively questioned - by men and women alike. If, on the other hand, a female superiority is revealed in comparable research, a different picture emerges. Such results are trusted more, the methodology is praised and the statements are described as relevant. The same applies here: men and women react equally in this way to statements that make women look superior.

So the sad news for tormented men is: They don't even let positive news from science cheer them up about their own gender. It is therefore a relief that the studies about painting and lying are made up: Stewart-Williams came up with them to present to his test subjects - one in a version that made men appear in a better light, and one in a version that made women appear cheaper got away. The reaction of the sexes differed only in nuances: women even rated results as dangerous if they made men look better. Both genders also assumed that the other preferred their own - which in this case only applied to women.

Are these side effects of a glaring, feminist anger that communicates an image of men that resembles a sinister caricature? Rather no, say the researchers around Stewart-Williams. They repeated the same study again in Southeast Asia, where, from a western perspective, role models that are more traditional are maintained. The same results were obtained in this culture: Positive statements about men are considered unreliable in comparison.

Women are viewed in a more positive light in most cultures, say the psychologists, so comparatively better statements about men aroused rejection. They even support this point with reference to a large number of (real) studies. But presumably they provoke nothing but skepticism: Because it really shouldn't be true that women could somehow have an easier time than men!