It’s a known fact that men are more attracted to danger than women are. As a result, they’re more likely to need the services of a personal injury lawyer or even a mortician. People often dismiss this as mere stupidity – “men will be men.” However, this is more likely rooted in men’s evolutionary instinct. Evolution dictates not only how men perceive themselves but also how others perceive them. So men participate in more life-threatening situations to prove their strength to others and find a mate.
One study looks at the data on winners of the Darwin Awards from the years 1995 to 2014. The Darwin Awards is a tongue-in-cheek award-giving body named after Charles Darwin, the proponent of the theory of evolution by natural selection. The organization, which emerged from Usenet discussions in the 1980s, awards individuals who have sterilized or eliminated themselves by their own actions. The researchers reported that males are much more likely to receive Darwin Awards than females and why that is the case.
Men take more risks, which may be for many reasons: they’re more likely to work in high-risk jobs and more likely to engage in high-risk sports and activities. It’s the same thing with driving. More men drive than women, and male drivers tend to cover more mileage than women drivers, so there’s much more opportunity for accidents. Men also drive more powerful cars.
The only exception would be in sports-related injuries, where researchers have found that injuries in women are more common than in men. But rather than differences in behavior, this is mainly due to biological differences between females and males. For instance, they have less muscle mass – and thus, they have less muscle power than their male counterparts and are more likely to have less vitamin D and calcium in their bodies.
There are also marked gender differences in injury mortality. Not only are men more likely to get injured, but they’re also more likely to die from injury and illness than women. Men are more likely to die than women from both unintentional and violence-related injuries. The gender difference was widest in males in their early twenties, indicating that men in that age bracket are more reckless.
Why do men take more risks?
Men are more susceptible to enjoying danger and the feeling of power that comes with doing something dangerous such as driving faster or getting into fights. This is part of an explanation for Male Idiot Theory (MIT).
Social and cultural expectations of men
But part of the reason is also rooted in how society views men. In settings that are more injury-prone or perhaps even life-threatening, they feel more pressured to bolster their image. As evolution would explain it, this is to help them find a mate.
For example, in driving and car shopping, men are more likely to choose a car for their image that it helps create. Buyers of luxury car brands such as Porsche, Jaguar, and Ferrari were largely male. Women tended to prefer more affordable brands such as Kia, Honda, and Nissan. They were also more likely to consider a car’s safety features and fuel efficiency and affordability.
A particularly noteworthy finding is that a woman’s perception of a man increases positively if the man drives a high-status car. On the flip side, men didn’t perceive women who drove high-status cars to be more attractive than those who drove neutral cars. There’s more pressure on men to choose high-status cars to bolster their image, while women mostly choose cars based on affordability, functionality, and safety.
Men also tend to approach sports in a more competitive way when they’re participating in it, though this isn’t the smartest approach. For example, in running, men running to win are more likely to burn out more quickly. On the other hand, women were smarter and maintained a more sustainable pace throughout the run. Perhaps the same could be said about other accident-prone activities, such as driving. Because men tend to be more focused on their image than fellow male competitors, they’re more likely to take risks and get hurt. It’s not so much idiocy as it is an evolutionary instinct.
Men see things more as a competition than women do. But though this competitive instinct can lead to injury and even death, it’s not a product of idiocy but evolution. And evolution doesn’t just shape how men want to be perceived, but also how others perceive men. As a result, men are more likely to get involved in accident-prone and life-threatening situations.