Steinmetz Spotlight: Molly Rusgrove (’24)


Image provided by Molly Rusgrove (’24)

Avanti Khare, Sci-Tech Editor

This week’s Steinmetz Spotlight is  Molly Rusgrove ‘24, a Neuroscience major with a minor in Science, Medicine, Technology, and Culture. Her research focuses on the effects of masculine honor beliefs and mortality salience on risk-taking behaviors.

She writes about her project, “Masculine Honor Beliefs comprise an ideology whereby men prove their masculinity through risk-taking and avoiding “weak” behaviors especially when threatened. One thing that can threaten their feelings of self control is the thought of dying. Mortality Salience research focuses on the behaviors exhibited after their awareness of mortality is made salient. Our study aimed to connect these fields and examine how masculine honor beliefs and mortality salience interact to predict behaviors such as risk taking. We hypothesized that men higher in masculine honor beliefs would report more risky and less healthy behaviors. We predicted that these effects would be especially pronounced when men are primed with mortality salience due to lost control. Specifically, we predicted that when men are primed to think of their own death, they would report significantly higher masculine honor beliefs and accompanying risk-taking behaviors because it would exaggerate the threat of losing control in the pandemic. Ultimately, we found that mortality salience actually decreased masculine honor beliefs, likely because the men lost control they could not gain back. These findings show how men’s behaviors, such as risk taking, are related to traditional masculine values and how control is possibly a dominating factor of masculine honor beliefs.”