Most acts of sexual assault and gun violence are perpetrated by men, yet most men are not violent. How then do we explain the connection between men and violence?

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#1. Violent boys and men are mentally ill.

There is no evidence that serious mental illness plays any role in violent crime. In fact, persons suffering from mental illness commit substantially less violence that those who are not. 

#2. Violent boys and men have a lot of testosterone.

Boys and men have both testosterone and estrogen circulating in their blood stream, as do girls and women. While some testosterone is needed for aggression, there is no evidence that testosterone has a major influence on violent behavior. 

#3. It has to do with masculinity.

The data indicate that men who score very high on various measures of masculinity account for that scale’s correlation with harmful outcomes, such as violence.


The Tough Standard connects the dots between masculinity and the present moment in American culture (defined by high-profile movements such as Me Too, March for Our Lives, and Black Lives Matter), synthesizes over four decades of research in the psychology of men and masculinities, and proposes solutions to corresponding social problems.

“In their book, The Tough Standard, Levant and Pryor practically rip the topics from today’s headlines and situate the troubling events of men’s violence in a strong theoretical and empirical body of work, bringing light—instead of just heat—to the issues they address.”

James R. Mahalik, PhD, Professor, Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College

Ronald F. Levant, EdD, ABPP, is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at The University of Akron; Past President of the American Psychological Association (APA) and APA Division 51; and two-term Editor of APA Division 51’s quarterly journal, Psychology of Men & Masculinities.

Shana Pryor, MA, is a doctoral student of Counseling Psychology at The University of Akron. She has spent the majority of her career focusing on issues surrounding men, masculinity, and sexual trauma.