“Boys will be Boys!!”: Understanding Young Male Syndrome 

“Boys will be Boys!!”: Understanding Young Male Syndrome 


Have you ever seen a group of young men speeding down the highway with their bikes as if they were invincible? Or saw a small argument at a party or club escalate into a full-blown fistfight? Both these situations are very different from one another, but these situations showcase a common behaviour pattern called “Young Male Syndrome.” This refers to the increased disposition for violent and highly risky behaviour in males in their mid-to-late teens and twenties. 

However, what drives these young men to do such risky activities, and how can society recognise and resolve this problem more effectively? To find the answer to this, it’s important that we gain insights into the behaviours and underlying causes, and implement strategies that support young men in making positive life choices. 


The young male syndrome was first described in 1985 by Canadian psychologists Margo Wilson and Martin Daly as “the propensity of males in their mid-to-late teens and twenties, and particularly among those who are and not yet employed tend to engage in violent behaviour to resolve trivial matters, to “save face” to harm a rival, or to enhance their social status.

Young men in this age group are also more likely to participate in high-risk behaviours, such as driving at high speeds or taking illicit drugs.” In almost all cultures and age groups, males exhibit more aggressive and competitive behaviour than females. Instead of considering the long-term costs and repercussions of their activities, they frequently concentrate on short-term satisfaction and reward. 

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Historical and Societal Context 

The young male syndrome shows deep evolutionary origins. In prehistoric times, displaying bravery and dominance would be beneficial for a male’s social rank and boost his mating opportunities, thereby increasing the chances for survival and reproduction. These behaviours were, encouraged for survival and the transmission of genes. 

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However, in modern society, these evolutionary urges manifest in some different forms. Young men nowadays encounter certain obstacles like Economic instability. As our society is capitalistic with high unemployment rates and the increasing difficulties of reaching financial independence, many young men feel frustrated and aimless. This lack of economic opportunities might lead to a greater desire to assert oneself in other ways, typically through violent or hazardous behaviour. 

Many cultures also promote aggressive and risky behaviour traits like aggression, competitiveness, and dominance are encouraged in these young boys. Therefore, they engage in these activities as a way of gaining approval in society. These actions are promoted with phrases like “boys will be boys” and “They’re just blowing off steam.” Or “They’re just being young and reckless.” 

Behavioural manifestations of the young male syndrome 

These are some common actions majority of young men: 

  • Violent outbursts: Young males are often caught up in violent situations. They often resort to violent behaviour like street fighting, or brawl, as it’s the only expression that is expected of them, and it is accepted. while any other form of emotional reaction is condemned by the patriarchal society. 
  • Crime: teenagers can start pickpocketing or stealing, this may seem too trivial at the beginning but slowly transition to robbery. An examination of criminal activity in places like Detroit has shown that young, unrelated, unmarried men make up the majority of both victims and perpetrators in robberies, and assaults. Farsang and Kocsor examined homicide data from Hungary and Australia to see if the age and sex distributions of the two sides agreed with the earlier conclusions. Both victims and criminal offenders were found to be primarily male; however, only the offenders fell into the younger age range. 
  • Vehicular accidents: Young men’s risky behaviour is also reflected in their unsafe driving behaviours. Several researchers have found that young men between the ages of 17 and 25 are more prone to accidents, as they tend to engage in risky behaviour. This tendency towards taking risks carries over into other domains, where it results in markedly greater external death rates from accidents as compared to female rates. 
  • Substance abuse: Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a prevalent issue among these males. These actions can provide an adrenaline boost, be a coping mechanism for boredom, or be a means of gaining acceptance from others.

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Psychological and Biological factors 

  • Increased testosterone levels: After puberty, certain hormonal changes can affect the behaviour of the child. Testosterone influences the amount of dopamine released by neurons in the ventral tegmental region, it is therefore expected to have an impact on risk-taking behaviour. 
  • Societal and peer influences: Young men may feel under pressure to fit into aggressive and daring stereotypes due to cultural norms and practices. Teenagers often succumb to peer pressure. Their desire to “fit in” and be accepted by their peers can make them act in an aggressive and risky manner.
  • Brain development: Young males are more likely to act impulsively because the prefrontal cortex, which controls impulse and long-term planning, does not fully develop until the mid-20s. The brain’s reward system gives adolescents and young adults a need for sensation-seeking, which can result in participation in risky activities.

Consequences of risky behaviour 

Certain behaviours have financial and legal repercussions that could affect the person in the long run. The above-mentioned explanation for the young male syndrome is, regrettably, not readily understood by many.

  • Legal consequences: when young men participate in reckless and risky behaviour they immediately face charges, which will lead them to juvenile detention. Shoplifting and bullying may seem minor charges but Once convicted, individuals receive a criminal record. This record is accessible to employers, educational institutions, and other entities, significantly impacting future opportunities. Drunk driving, sexual harassment, and assault are some of the major crimes committed by many young males 
  • Economic consequences: The non-erasable criminal record would prevent, many men from getting proper jobs and education, and this generates a cycle of poverty.
  • Health: High-risk behaviours raise the possibility of mishaps, injuries, and drug addiction problems. These actions may have an impact on one’s long-term health. 
  • Social Stigma: Having a criminal record or history of legal troubles can lead to social stigma, affecting personal relationships and community standing.

Read More: Frustration Aggression Hypothesis

Strategies for Addressing Young Male Syndrome 

We must take some steps to prevent risks and properly address the Young Male Syndrome,

  • Educational Opportunities: Providing young men with education to understand that their bodies are going through certain changes, and helps them understand how to deal with the frustration in an appropriate manner. Proper education regarding their behaviour should be provided, which will make them understand the consequences and the long-term impact. 
  • hobbies Programs: Recreational activities can provide constructive outlets for energy and aggression. Boxing, martial arts, and sports would be beneficial as they can help youngsters to develop a purpose. In these programs competitiveness and aggression of young males can be a positive factor. 
  • Mental Health: Mental health services are crucial. Providing support for anxiety, and depression. These services can reduce the inclination toward risky behaviours.
  • Role Models and Mentors: Connecting them with professional mentors or mature mentors will be required. It can be their father or any other figure.

Young Male Syndrome is a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and societal factors that manifest in high-risk and aggressive behaviours among young men. Understanding the roots and manifestations of this syndrome is essential for developing effective interventions. By providing structured opportunities, positive role models, community engagement, and mental health support, society can help young men navigate this challenging phase of life and steer them towards more constructive and fulfilling paths. 

Reference +
  • Tamás, V., Kocsor, F., Gyuris, P., Kovács, N., Czeiter, E., & Büki, A. (2019). The Young Male Syndrome-An Analysis of Sex, Age, Risk Taking and Mortality in Patients With Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries. Frontiers in neurology, 10, 366. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2019.00366
  • APA Dictionary of Psychology. (n.d.). https://dictionary.apa.org/young-male-syndrome 
  • Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (1985). Competitiveness, risk-taking, and violence: The young male syndrome. Ethology & Sociobiology, 6(1), 59–73. https://doi.org/10.1016/0162-3095(85)90041-X 
  • Farsang, P. & Kocsor, F.: The Young Male Syndrome Revisited 
  • Human Ethology Bulletin 31 (2016)2: 17-29 
  • Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (2001). Risk-taking, intrasexual competition, and homicide. In Symposium on motivation (Vol. 47, pp. 1–36). Retrieved from http://psycserv.mcmaster.ca/bennett/psy720/readings/m2/dalyWilson2001.pdf

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