It’s a common notion that women live longer than men. The reason behind that is the Young Male Syndrome. It is the tendency of males in the age group of 15-30 to engage in violent or risky acts to resolve trivial issues.
What Is Young Male Syndrome?
Young Male Syndrome is basically the tendency of men, mostly adolescents and young adults, to think and act out on petty matters in a violent manner and engage in forms of dangerous and risky acts. They are more prone to take higher levels of risks than women or even men in their age group 1. Such dominant and aggressive behavior primarily exhibited to establish a respectable social stature or to seek attention from the opposite sex. The experts at MindJournal explain the phenomenon as “A tendency to engage in violence observed in men in their teenage years and young adulthood, especially individuals who are unemployed and/or unmarried. Men with this syndrome tend to act violently and engage in heated arguments to solve the most insignificant issue to boost their social status and self-esteem.”
Males of such age group are more likely to engage in dominating and aggressive acts, such as taking illicit drugs, alcoholism, rash driving, sexual aggression, engaging in brawls and fights, daredevilry, gambling and many more. According to a 2012 study 2 , “From adolescence to adulthood, aggressive behavior may escalate into more serious and violent acts, such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, and homicide.” The researchers also found that young adults between 18 and 24 years of age tend to “have the highest homicide rate.” Aggressive behaviors in young men are generally associated with having masculine attributes and are socially encouraged and endorsed by peers.
Causes Of Young Male Syndrome
Young Male Syndrome mainly stems from the need to find a mate as the intrasexual competition is the strongest in this age group. According to Darwin’s theory of sexual selection, males can go to extreme levels to showcase their physical fitness and agility to be chosen by females. “Sexual selection theory suggests that willingness to participate in risky or violent competitive interactions should be observed primarily in those age-sex classes that have experienced the most intense reproductive competition (fitness variance) during the species’ evolutionary history,” explains a study 3 .
Females are attracted to males with the ability to overcome dangerous situations and the prestige which is derived from such victories. Males with such tendency have always had an advantage in acquiring mating opportunities during human evolution and that continues even in modern society. Apart from competing for female attention, men also tend to take risks together at times, egging each other on. They are more likely to join groups and gangs who engage in risky activities that are regular and ritualized such as gang entry rites, completing dares, and other forms of celebrations. This shared state of danger and resolved social status promotes bonding amongst them.
It has been observed that male adolescents with violent and bullying tendencies, if not checked in time, grow up to commit serious criminal offences like burglary which has roots at unemployment, and homicide which stems from altercations. It may also lead to sexual aggression in young men as well. According to a 2012 study 4 , adolescent delinquency leading to sexually aggressive acts by young men can be influenced by various factors such as personality traits, childhood abuse, alcohol abuse and young male syndrome. However, aggressive behavior among young males can also be an exhibition of physical strength and dominance. “The traditional interpretation is that young men calibrate their attitudes and behaviors to their physical formidability. Physical strength is thus viewed as a causal antecedent of aggressive behavior,” states a 2015 study 5 . Research 6 also reveals that there may be other personal characteristics & environmental factors that influence violent behavior among young individuals.
Demographic Pattern & Extrinsic Mortality
According to a recent 2019 7 research on the Hungarian and Australian homicide data, it was found that both victims and criminal offenders were predominantly males but only the offenders belonged to the young age group of 18-34. Further studies showed that young male drivers in the age group of 17-25 were more involved in road traffic accidents than members of other age groups. Males have a much higher mortality rate than females as a direct consequence of their fitness maximizing behavioral strategy.
Effects Of Young Male Syndrome
The young male syndrome can have some severe and serious consequences on teens and young adults that can negatively affect their lives, such as:
1. Smoking and Alcoholism
Men are susceptible to smoking and consuming alcohol from a very young age and a gesture of physical risk-taking. In spite of it’s known harm to the body, it’s glorified as attractive and is still prevalent in many parts of the world. In many cases, young males have fallen prey to these habits and eventually developed an addiction for them and as a result, promising futures have been destroyed early on.
2. Social Conflicts and deaths
Conflicts and altercations manifesting from the law-breaking and indifferent behavior of men have caused and still continue to cause deaths all across the globe. These can range from unintentional murders committed by individuals in the heat of the moment to gang wars and police brutality in various countries. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 200,000 homicides occur among youth 10-29 years of age each year, making it the fourth leading cause of death for people in this age group.
3. Accidental deaths
Acts of daredevilry, gambling and other forms of adrenaline stimulating activities such as racing or doing stunts to gain social stature and respect have more often than not caused severe injuries and deaths that could have otherwise been avoided. “High-risk behaviors leading to traffic fatalities are often a result of severe traumatic brain and spine injuries,” states a 2013 study 8 .
4. Damage to properties
Acts of violence seldom pass without leaving collateral damages. Vandalism and other physically violent acts cause tremendous amounts of damage to public and private properties.
5. Psychological issues
Research shows that exposure to interpersonal violence can cause depression, suicidality, substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). The affected parties are not only the individuals engaged in the act of violence but also the ones caught in the crossfire. An example of this is domestic violence, which could have deep and long-term physical and mental health issues in children.
What Can Be Done
When dealing with young men, it is imperative to understand and accept the fact that they may as well be prone to acting out when provoked to take risks. They may also be volatile when it comes to dealing with anger issues and violence. This behavior is ingrained in their DNA and cannot be completely altered. However, it is advised to deal with them in a manner so as to not cause any kind of provocation. In a heated scenario, it is advised to have an approach to de-escalate the matter.
Parents are advised to take special care of their children that show excessive volatile tendencies in the pre-pubescent or adolescent phase. Excessive levels of emotional volatility and habits of substance abuse can be remedied by therapists and doctors by implementing methods like psychotherapy and medication. A recent scientific analysis 9 explains “High-risk behaviors require psychoeducation, behavioral modification, mental health, and substance abuse treatment.”
Moreover, interdisciplinary collaboration & communication can also be helpful in improving high-risk or aggressive behaviors. In case parents notice such signs in their children early on, it is advised to seek help from a professional.References:
- Baker, M. (2012). Risk-taking behavior (Young male syndrome). Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 276-279. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-375000-6.00307-4
- Liu, J., Lewis, G., & Evans, L. (2013). Understanding aggressive behaviour across the lifespan. Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing, 20(2), 156–168. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2850.2012.01902.x
- Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (1985). Competitiveness, risk taking, and violence: The young male syndrome. Ethology and Sociobiology, 6(1), 59-73. https://doi.org/10.1016/0162-3095(85)90041-x
- Abbey, A., Jacques-Tiura, A. J., & LeBreton, J. M. (2011). Risk factors for sexual aggression in young men: an expansion of the confluence model. Aggressive behavior, 37(5), 450–464. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20399
- Isen, J. D., McGue, M. K., & Iacono, W. G. (2015). Aggressive-antisocial boys develop into physically strong young men. Psychological science, 26(4), 444–455. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614567718
- Office of the Surgeon General (US); National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (US); National Institute of Mental Health (US); Center for Mental Health Services (US). Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2001. Chapter 4 — Risk Factors for Youth Violence. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44293/
- Tamás, V., Kocsor, F., Gyuris, P., Kovács, N., Czeiter, E., & Büki, A. (2019). The Young Male Syndrome-An Analysis of Sex, Age, Risk Taking and Mortality in Patients With Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries. Frontiers in neurology, 10, 366. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2019.00366
- Pakula A, Shaker A, Martin M, Skinner R. The association between high-risk behavior and central nervous system injuries: analysis of traffic-related fatalities in a large coroner’s series. Am Surg. 2013 Oct;79(10):1086-8. PMID: 24160804.
- Tariq N, Gupta V. High Risk Behaviors. [Updated 2020 Jul 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560756/