Energy Drinks and Masculinity

As I was perusing Facebook recently, I came across an article shared by a friend, endearingly entitled, “STUDY FINDS PEOPLE WHO ENJOY ENERGY DRINKS ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE ASSHOLES“. Intrigued, I clicked on the link to read more.

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It turns out that the study, published in November 2015 in Health Psychology, was created with the objective of investigating “the relationship between masculinity ideology, outcome expectations, energy drink use, and sleep disturbances.”  Researchers surveyed 467 adult males ranging in age from 18-62 with a series of online questions. The survey focused on three distinct topics, inquiring:

  1. The participants’ belief in or agreement with statements of ‘traditional masculine ideology’, like “‘I think a young man should try to be physically tough, even if he’s not,’ and, ‘Men should not be too quick to tell others that they care about them.'”
  2. How much or little they believed that drinking the energy drink would result in good outcomes for them (good outcomes could be better athletic performance, more energy, increased risk-taking desire, etc.).
  3. Sleep patterns and habits of the participants.

After compiling the data, researchers claimed to have found “associations” between the factors in question. They say that men who endorsed more stereotypically masculine (a.k.a. not always politically correct) beliefs also expected that energy drinks would bring them more positive outcomes (like can be seen on commercials for said energy drinks), which in turn led them to have increased consumption of the drinks, in the end making them more likely to experience “sleep disturbance symptoms”. The researchers conclude the study by suggesting that believing in above-mentioned “traditional masculinity ideology” can have negative health consequences for men.

After reading the conclusion of the study, I realized that the article hadn’t accurately portrayed what was happening in the study at all. While I realize that the article comes from a source whose Facebook description says “We’re not serious”, the title was mostly clickbait, not a good representation of the science being done. In any case, the actual conclusion of the study did not astound me much either. They found a correlation between male beliefs, energy drink consumption, cool. Is this surprising, considering the amount of advertising money spent by energy drink companies to attract a heavily masculine demographic? The study was only correlational, and we’ve been learning all semester how correlation does not equal causation! There is definitely opportunity for reverse-causation here, there is currently no evidence whether drinking energy drinks makes you more likely to believe stereotypically masculine ideas, or if having those beliefs makes you more likely to drink energy drinks. The aspect of sleep disturbance also seemed to be a side-focus of this study. In my opinion, they had too much stuff going on in this research. If they were to do a follow-up experiment, they would need to choose an aspect to focus on, either the connection between thought process and drink consumption or the effect of drink consumption on sleep patterns or health.

Side note: As I closed out of the article, I found myself grateful of the scientific eye I was now observing the world with due to this class. It really reinforced the “don’t believe everything you see on the internet” adage. Stay in school, kids.

4 thoughts on “Energy Drinks and Masculinity

  1. Kendra Hepler Post author

    @Adam Thomas Horst it’s funny that you mention that study in your comment, as I was just going to post about it as well! 🙂

  2. Emanuel Gabriel Mitchell

    As energy drinks are becoming more and more popular in society, I think people should take a step back to look at all the side effects of energy drinks. An increasing amount of children and teenagers are consuming these beverages at an irresponsible rate, which may later lead to many side effects such as heart palpitations, anxiety, painful withdrawal, adrenal fatigue, etc. For more side effects click here . I also believe that people should utilize other methods for energy (i.e. fruit smoothies).

  3. Adam Thomas Horst

    This blog is a great example of how people try to misconstrue data to prove a point that they want to make. I have seen many similar posts on Facebook and Twitter with articles about studies that prove absolutely nothing. Although I tend to unfollow accounts that post clickbait things, many of these correlational study posts still make their way to my news feed. It is clear to see that the study in your example doesn’t really prove anything. Here is one I came across the other day about women with tattoos. It says that women with 4 or more tattoos have higher self-esteem, and it implies that the tattoos cause the high self-esteem.

  4. Taylor Leigh Mitchell

    Just like the article on Facebook caught your attention this blog certainly caught mine! I think it is so great that after you looked through the study you realized that they had manipulated the data to make this claim. I have also ran into serval situations like that with many other studies and i am so happy that we are now happy to determine when a study is reliable and when we should not trust one. Going off of your blog topic I think it would be interesting to find out which gender drinks energy drinks more. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/263924598_The_Achievement_of_Masculinity_Through_Energy-Drink_Consumption_Experimental_Evidence_Supporting_a_Closer_Look_at_the_Popularity_of_Energy_Drinks_Among_Men that is a really good study on why men who feel insecure drink more energy drinks.

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