Machismo and Caballerismo Linked with Perceived Social Discrimination and Powerlessness in U.S. Latino Men

Helen M. Hendy, S. Hakan Can, Hartmut Heep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concepts from the Threat Appraisal and Coping Theory, Precarious Manhood Theory, and Ambivalent Sexism suggest that U.S. Latino men who perceive social discrimination and powerlessness may respond with machismo beliefs that serve as coping responses to empower themselves and reassert their manhood. Machismo beliefs include both aggressive “traditional machismo” and gentlemanly family-focused “caballerismo.” Because past research has revealed that individuals respond to social abuse with anger, prompting them to feel empowered but less empathetic, we hypothesized that Latino men who perceive social discrimination combined with a sense of powerlessness would report more traditional machismo and less caballerismo. We also hypothesized that this three-variable sequence would be stronger for men with high rather than low in Latino identity, since discrimination would be a more personal threat to their identity and manhood. Participants included 1,530 U.S. Latinos who completed online surveys to report demographics (age, education, employment, sexual orientation, partner status, household size), perceived social discrimination, powerlessness, traditional machismo, caballerismo, and Latino identity. Mediational analyses confirmed the three-variable sequence in which powerlessness mediated associations between social discrimination and (more) aggressive machismo, and (less) gentlemanly caballerismo. Also as hypothesized, moderated mediational analysis revealed that these three-variable sequences were stronger for men with high rather than low Latino identity. With recent increases in social discrimination against U.S. Latinos, present results caution that men may respond to these challenges with increased aggressive patterns of traditional machismo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

Cite this