This article will address the development of a man’s coordination of awareness regarding good skin care and the origins of their belief systems. These systems of accumulated experiences, whether internal or external, support or deter a man’s ability to research, seek out, purchase, utilize, and explore advancements that will improve their visual appearance by engaging in a regimen of consistent proper skin care. So as not to generalize all men as the same, the author supports the hypothesis of central tendency or the middle mass of the bell shape curve when describing average findings for men.
Certainly, not all men are exactly the same in their belief systems and it is the author’s desire to speak to a general understanding that men have about their grooming needs based on inheritability factors, environmental reinforcers, social learning theory, and peer pressure.
To distinguish any foundation of reasoning behind why someone believes certain things and behaves in certain ways, it is important to understand the development of a particular belief or behavior. This is particularly noteworthy if the desired outcome in exploring the system is to induce change to the system. For the purpose of this article, the process of change will be explored as any movement away from a belief system that does not allow for new information. The vast majority of humans, whether male or female, rarely change for less; they may change for the same as, and are most probable to change for more. As an example, most people will hesitate, if not right out refuse, to give up their position in a company for less desirable position. The person may consider a lateral move, and certainly will be very interested in getting a better position with more status in their company. For this reason, it is important to understand the belief system which supports a person’s approach or avoidance to the process of change. Understanding the methodology utilized in a man’s decision making process is particularly significant when researching a man’s belief or behavior systems when considering a product. A product can be considered a person, a place, or a process.
In The Beginning…
In the field of psychology, the effects of positive and negative reinforcement are studied in order to understand how behaviors are formed and reinforced. Positive reinforcement generally indicates that a behavior which created a favorable image enhancement will be repeated. Likewise, a situation, behavior, or belief that creates a feeling of image reduction, will be avoided. This reasoning is why we as a species seek pleasure and avoid pain, which is also referred to as primary process in psychological development. It is only later that we learn to deal with anxiety with a process called “secondary process” which refers to delaying instant gratification and learning to negotiate anxiety.
Through the process of gender role stereotyping and social learning theory, men, as a rule, have been programmed to negatively view what it would mean to “fuss” over their personal grooming needs. Young girls are taught by example of their mothers or peer system the importance of proper skin care. Boys, on the other hand, do not receive the same instructions and are viewed negatively if they take a keen interest in their skin. Peer pressure can solidify early skin care belief systems because children are prone to follow the popular themes to avoid being an outcast. Young boys will watch the behaviors of others in their cohort group to learn vicariously what behaviors are deemed as image enhancing or image reducing. The boys will, almost without exception, follow the behavior of the image enhancing behaviors in order to gain the same desired outcome they noted in the example they were watching. This behavior could be viewed in person, face to face, or on television or other forms of mass communication.
During preadolescent and adole-scent periods of development, young boys and girls advance the founding of their belief systems concerning behaviors and world views. As well, social and environmental variables during this period help to solidify the beliefs and attitudes young people will cognitively, emotionally, and socially have towards behaviors such as grooming and skin care. Young girls are encouraged to ask for assistance with their needs concerning grooming as witnessed in advertising and mass media. Boys, on the other are left to figure out many of the skin care needs on their own. As well, personal skin care needs are not addressed by the majority of fathers with their sons. On the contrary, the “fussing” aspects of taking care of their complexion are often termed as effeminate or vain on the part of boys.
Studies in brain function continue to investigate the difference between the male and female brain. The large mass of white matter consisting of bundles of fibers linking the white matter of the two cerebral hemispheres is a thick band of neural connections called the corpus callosum. This neural pathway is similar to a bundle of wires connecting two computers together so that they may share information. Research studies have shown in most cases that the corpus callosum is larger in females than in males this suggests that women have a tendency to use whole brain functioning, as the “bundle of wires” between the two computers are expanded and strengthened by massive use. Whereas, this same research suggests that men utilize single lobe focus. Single lobe neural firings do not necessitate the use of cross-over messaging in the corpus callosum, which has been advanced as the explanation as to why the corpus callosum of men is smaller.
The primitive biological and neurological brain connections that formed in the human species are the evolutional result of “survival of the fittest”. Prehistoric men’s primary job was to go in search of the buffalo, slay it, and bring it home. During that same day as the man hunted the buffalo, the female’s daily chores were straightening up the cave, taking the kids to the river to wash them, collecting berries to eat with the buffalo, gathering wood to cook the buffalo, washing out the hides, sharpening the blades to skin the buffalo, etc. That is not to say that women do more than men; what is shown scientifically, is that women use a greater number of neural connections in different lobes in the process of a multitasking brain. As men move into an evolutionary shift of using more senses (and therefore different lobes) in the appraisal and evaluation of a product (again, a product is a person, place, or process), the result will be an expansion of multilobal connections and a multitasking brain.
It was just noted, women are more prone to use their “whole brain” when approaching a product. As well, there is a phenomenon studied as a “woman’s intuition”. This sensory impact or sensation may in fact be due to the neural firings that circle the brain, lighting up a spark in each of the five lobes creating a kinesthetic, visual, emotional, and touching perception that “makes sense” due to the various sensations in the different lobes and cortices. Studies in brain mapping with magnetic resonance imaging have shown that men’s brains do not show these same multilobal interactions suggesting that men utilize a single focus, or single brain lobe approach. On a lighter side, it is noted that these primitive neurochemical connections in the brain created by these ancient behaviors help to explain why men are reticent to ask for directions and why women can always find the other lost sock.
By the time a young man is ready to break out on his own, he really has not received enough incoming social, emotional, or educational information on proper skin care. Although times are changing and the stigmas around “fussing” over their skin needs are less toxic than for earlier generations of men, they still may be uncomfortable asking questions that are image reducing in nature and are hesitant to go against their social norms. Because young men have not been taught the proactive essence of good skin care, they tend to be more expeditious and practical than indulgent. For example, if they are showering and a bar of soap is available and it suds: suds clean the body, face, and hair, in and out, no big deal. As well, single lobe focus suggests that if it works, don’t fix it. Because men are viewed as more practical than indulgent and more content oriented than process oriented. As boys become men, the process of neurological and psychosocial development as well as the findings listed above, often they are genetically more interested in the outcome or content of a task rather than the process of being in the task. Men generally are more comfortable with the lead position and are uncomfortable with being taken care of, especially in settings where they either feel vulnerable or appear to be in a vulnerable situation. If any woman has approached a man during his viewing of the Super Bowl, the mental process of the male is glaringly apparent. Men cannot shift brain processing to accommodate the discussion about vacation plans or where to go for dinner when their occipital lobe (vision) is on overload with the action plays of the fourth quarter. As a matter of fact, the other lobes that process hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching will show minimal activity in comparison to the lobe that processes vision, men’s most used sense.
The foundational beliefs and behaviors just reviewed help one to understand the manner in which males approach the topic of skin care. It is not as if men are not wanting to take care of their skin, rather, it is shown that they do not have the “hard wiring” in the brain, nor the social support system to approach a process they consider image reducing. On some level, asking a man to jump at the opportunity for a facial or spend time examining different products on the shelf, is a kin to asking him to speak Greek. The male desire typically is just not there, and forcing the issue will only raise the level of confusion and image reducing anxiety. Keeping in mind the pleasure principle and primary process, such expectations will actually turn a man off to the prospect of proper skin care rather than exciting him to approach the product. It is not the fault of the male brain that they are not into “fussing” over their skin; said more appropriately, men have not been exposed to the stimuli that fire certain neurons that are then supported by positive reinforcement and psychosocial encouragement.
In any research, it is always best to begin with that which is known. Knowing that men are not necessarily hard wired to get excited about skin care is important in understanding how to make the product more appealing (pleasure principle) and less image reducing (reality principle). Many wives or partners of men will attest to the fact that men will freely use a woman’s product in the shower, but won’t go into the store or spa to replenish what they used. Men are not being stubborn, rather they are most uncomfortable when entering an environment that is image reducing and produces great anxiety.
Go With What You Know
So how is it that a product can create a sense of less anxiety in males, so that they may induce the reality principle to receive the benefits of a process? If we understand the product to be a person, place, or process, I suggest to begin with what is known. Because men use their visual cortex and the sense of sight as their primary processor, keep it simple and don’t reinvent the wheel.
Follow proven strategies for success by reviewing your potential male client and the visual aspect that your product produces. Ensure that you acknowledge the male sensitivities and sensibilities regarding your product. Review the local social and economic status of the male population to price your product correctly. Engage in effective marketing of your product by recruiting family, friends, staff, focus groups, and random samplings to ensure you are aiming at the male needs, wants, and ideas of your community.
Men enjoy earth colors like brown and blue and dislike flowery colors such as purple, lavender, and the worst offender: pink. Check to ensure the outside of your product matches the inside of the product. For example, if the product is a spa, ensure that once a man has made it past the exterior to enter the establishment that the color scheme, furnishings, magazines, and products offer a consistent image.
Men enjoy signature services and the offering of more “athletic” types of processes. Different colored robes for the sexes as well, help the male lessen their anxiety as well as a mixture of male and female employees. Neutralize the environment of your product by assuring that it is not offensive to the male psyche. This would include revising the names of the processes you offer as a treatment. For example, men will feel uncomfortable with a word such as manicure or pedicure because they may be identified as feminine. Challenge your staff to create new terms such as “Hand Detailing” or “Foot Repair” which will not only lower a male’s anxiety, but peek their interest as well. Create separate spaces for your male clientele to receive certain services such as pedicures (if possible); men will be very uncomfortable in such an image reducing position. Men will not speak their discomfort with a product as readily as women will; they just won’t purchase the product or approach the establishment again.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects by businesses wishing to include the burgeoning male market in their profit center is the exclusion of a male product line. If you consider what this article has addressed, it will make sense that men are not comfortable approaching, touching, or purchasing a product that looks like one a woman may buy as well. Men want products that are made for men. They want the product in blue, brown, white, or neutral. They do not want to be confused with a large amount of verbiage, either from the salesperson or from the product itself. Men want the information in a straightforward and non-complicated manner.
Men are different from women. They have different sensitivities, neural reactions, brain functioning, and psychosocial needs. Therefore, I suggest that in order to be successful with your product in the male market, understand the needs of your male client before imposing what you think they “should” react to. As noted above, the behavior of men is dictated by belief systems stored in the primordial and historical brain. Don’t take offense; take advantage of the research and watch your profit center grow. Stay abreast of recent research findings and make the changes necessarily to receive your share of the market. The male market is not a “trend” market. It is a growing market that with new generations of thinking and acting are changing the market by driving the need for products that cater specifically to males. Trends come and go, men are here to stay.
Guy Lewis was raised on an Indian reservation in Northern California and learned great respect for the Earth and her healing properties. He received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with specificity in Behavioral Medicine and continues to pursue studies in the relationships between Mind, Body, Psyche, Self Perception, and Affect. He joined Sixto in founding issimo international for he believes in utilizing natural ingredients and returning to basic elements to provide the consumer with quality products, born from intense research and proven constituents, without creating a great deal of mythology around personal skin care. He endorses the same ethos and credo of Sixto, in that they believe in selling reality, not hype and myths