"The problem here is a totalitarian uniformity, a cult-like mentality such that even allies are enemies if they fail to follow the Exact Party Line. " - Phyllis Chesler

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gender Not Race

I find this article fascinating. Not too long ago I wrote on this very blog that you can't tell me that because I cross the street when I see a black man approach that I am racist. I went on to tell you that the reason is that you aren't with me all the time and don't know that I will do this for a white man, or woman of any race for that matter and that to jump to conclusions is race bating and wrong.

I also mentioned that if I feel that someone is possibly going to hurt me, for whatever reason, I will move to a location I feel better and most of the time I walk in the middle of the street.

Nonetheless I had comments alluding to mine and other's prejudice based on race.

LiveScience posted the results from SCIENTIFIC research showing that we indeed actually feel things from other human beings (surprise surprise...hmmm) and those feelings determine how we react and they are based not on race but gender.

I know, the research is racist and therefore flawed...everything we do bad is because we are racist.

From Livescience

If we see a shadowy figure walking down a dark street, our sense of whether it is coming at us or walking away depends on whether we see it as a he or a she, new research finds.

This new result sheds light on the subtle judgments the brain makes when it notices motion.

In the past, research has shown that people are extraordinarily good at deducing the gender, age, mood and even personality of others based on just a few of their moves.

"Humans are acute observers of each other. We know a lot about each other at first glance. How we do that is an interesting question, especially as some people seem so good at it," said researcher Rick van der Zwan, a behavioral neuroscientist at Southern Cross University in Australia.

To see what other kinds of details people might glean from movements, scientists had volunteers watch clusters of dots shaped roughly like people. These were created by attaching lights on the real people and filming them as they either walked on a treadmill toward or away from a camera.

"If you look at someone with just their joints illuminated when they aren't moving, it's difficult to tell what it is you are looking at. But as soon as they move, instantaneously, you can tell that it's a person and perceive their nature," van der Zwan said. "You can tell if it's a boy or a girl, young or old, angry or happy. You can discern all these qualities about their state, affect, and actions with no cues at all about what they look like - with no form at all, just motion."

As these stylized figures walked, their movements were manipulated to range anywhere from a "girly girl" to a "hulking male." The halfway point was a gender-neutral walker that volunteers judged as male half the time and female the other half.

Oddly, when these ambiguous figures were judged as masculine, volunteers saw them as approaching them, even when the actual people these figures were based on had walked away from the camera. Moreover, when these figures were judged feminine, volunteers saw them as walking away from them, even when in real life the women had approached the camera.

"The thing that most people find most surprising is that the effects are consistent for observers of both genders," van der Zwan told LiveScience. "It does not matter if you are a female or a male observer - male figures of the type we used often look like they are facing the observer and female figures often look like they are facing away."

Apparently, "there is something in the way males and females move that affects the way others see them in terms of their orientation in space," van der Zwan said.

It is "tempting to speculate" that this effect reflects the potential costs "of misinterpreting the actions and intentions of others," he added. "For example, a male figure that is otherwise ambiguous might best be perceived as approaching to allow the observer to prepare to flee or fight. Similarly, for observers, and especially infants, the departure of females might signal also a need to act, but for different reasons."

The scientists will detail their findings in the Sept. 9 issue of the journal Current Biology.

1 comment:

Chat Blanc said...

Fascinating!! I know that for sure I judge someone, whether male or female, regardless of race, to be more potentially threatening based on their stance and walk. There is an aggressive style of movement that some people have that puts me on alert. And it registers in me as a feeling rather than a conscious thought.