According to the The Rev. Jefferis Kent Peterson, the first half of the the 1984 Grammy Awards “underscored a dramatic shift in cultural consciousness that has place in the past twenty years.” Highly androgynous musicians Boy George and Annie Lennox competed for the best new artist spot and Michael Jackson cleaned up with seven awards. According to Peterson, the nominations “became a celebration of androgyny and sexual ambiguity.” Other important androgynous male figures of that time included David Bowie, Prince, and Elton John. One of the earliest examples of Bowie’s androgyny is depicted in his third album The Man Who Sold the World, released in 1970, in which he created his androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
Of course, let’s not forget important female androgynous entertainers such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics. These women had an enormous influence on the youth of that generation. In January 1985, Lauper was named one of the women of the year in Ms.magazine, “For taking feminism beyond conformity to individuality, rebellion and freedom.” Artist Andy Warholalso rode the androgyny wave. According to The Getty Museum, he often dressed in drag at parties and admired “the boys who spend their lives trying to be complete girls.” In 1981, he collaborated on a set of pictures of himself in drag.
But here’s the thing: physical androgyny was creative in the 80s because it was actually innovative. It did challenge gender stereotypes. It got people to think differently about stereotypical male and female roles. It wasn’t the superficial physical aspects of androgyny that made it so creative, it was the psychologicalaspects that it represented.
Modern day performers who have been directly influenced by the androgyny of the 80s, such as Lady Gaga, seem to get this point. Gaga’s androgyny and gender blending seems to stand for something. As Gaga told Ellen DeGeneres, she wants her fans to know that “It’s OK” to be a “freak”:
“I didn’t fit in in high school, and I felt like a freak. So I like to create this atmosphere for my fans where they feel like they have a freak in me to hang out with and they don’t feel alone…This is really who I am, and it took a long time to be OK with that…Maybe in high school you, Ellen, you feel discriminated against. Like you don’t fit in and you want to be like everyone else but not really, and in the inside you want to be like Boy George–well, I did anyway. So I want my fans to know that it’s OK. Sometimes in life you don’t always feel like a winner, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a winner. You want to be like yourself… I want my fans to know it’s OK.”
Unfortunately, the psychological aspects of androgyny seem to have been lost on many performers in this generation, who think they are being creative and unique simply by the way they dress, the way they twerk, or the way they so-called “blur the lines.” When in fact, all the research suggests that it’s psychological androgyny, not physical androgyny, orstereotypically masculine or feminine displays of behavior, that is associated with creativity.
In the 70s, psychologist Sandra Bem argued that psychological androgyny–the extent to which a person crosses sex-typed standards of desirable behavior– has important consequences. (Note that sexual preference isn’t a criteria for psychological androgyny.) Bem believed that traditionally, society has not encouraged the development of both masculine and feminine characteristics within the same individual but that psychological androgyny can expand the range of behaviors available to everyone.
Research studies have shown associations between androgyny and a wide range of positive outcomes such as self-esteem, satisfaction with life, marital satisfaction, subjective feelings of well-being, ego identity, parental effectiveness, perceived competence, achievement motivation, cognitive complexity when evaluating careers, cognitive flexibility, and behavioral flexibility. Kelly and Worrell (1976) found that androgynous individuals were raised by parents who stressed cognitive independence, curiosity, and competence.
What about creativity? Freud speculated when writing about Leonardo da Vinci that creative people possess greater cross-sex identification than others. McKinnon (1962) found that creative men and women have attitudes and interests considered typical for the opposite sex.
The famous creativity researcher Ellis Paul Torrance published a paper in 1963 showing that creative boys possess more feminine characteristics than their peers, and creative girls are perceived as more masculine than other girls. Torrance said “creativity, by its very nature, requires both sensitivity and independence.”
Helson (1967) found that the more creative the female mathematician, the more she displayed a combination of the following traits: “individualism, originality, concentration, artistry, complexity, courage, emotion, fascination, and self-orientation.” Clearly a mix of both traditionally “masculine” and traditionally “feminine” traits.
Abraham Maslow remarked how creative people tend to often display a healthy balance of what appear to be opposites: selfishness-unselfishness, thinking-feeling, work-play, and maturity-childishness (also see “After the Show: The Many Faces of the Creative Performer“). In reality, these so-called opposites, like stereotypically masculine and feminine traits, can be viewed as two points on a single dimension and can be experienced in the same person at different stages of the creative process.
In 1980, Weinstein and Bobko found that above an IQ of about 115, IQ was no longer correlated with creativity as measured by a test of the ability to form remote associations and a measure of the ability to generate associative uses. What was related to creativity? Androgyny.
The authors suggest a reason for this association:
In being androgynous, especially in a sex-stereotyped society, a person would need to be open to experience, flexible, accepting of apparent opposites, unconcerned about social norms, and self-reliant– exactly those traits identified with creative persons.”
They also acknowledge that “androgyny and creativity are not necessarily linked in a direct, causal way. Rather they are two concepts embedded in a network of personality variables and environmental histories.”
In 1981, Harrington and Anderson found that participants defined as masculine or androgynous scored higher on a measure of creative self-concept and the ability to come up with alternate uses for an object (when instructed to “be creative”) than those conventionally defined as “feminine” or “unclassifiable” (low in both masculinity and femininity).
Interestingly, psychological masculinity was correlated positively with these creative measures in both men and women but psychological femininity had negative associations with creativity for both men and women. The authors discuss this intriguing finding:
“Potentially creative women may be struggling against and suffering from the very social conceptions and traditions about what is and is not ‘sex-appropriate’ that men find sustaining and supportive in their creative self-conceptions and endeavors. It remains to be seen whether current social trends permitting greater flexibility for both sexes will make it easier for men and, especially, women to develop creative self-concepts and to behave creatively.”
More recently, Jonsson and Carlsson (2001) found that participants high in both feminity and masculinity (androgynous) and low on both scales (undifferentiated) scored higher on a measure of creativity than stereotypically female and stereotypically male participants. Interestingly, and similar to the Harrington and Anderson study, they found that men alone accounted for this interaction. In other words, increased masculinity in creative women was weaker than increased femininity in men.
Norlander, Erixon, and Archer (2000) found that an androgynous group scored higher on a measure of creativity, creative attitude, optimism, and graffiti/scrawling than the stereotypic, midmost, and undifferentiated types. Interestingly, the androgynous group didn’t score higher in creativity compared to the “retrotypic” group (men and women displaying anti-stereotypic behaviors). The researchers raise the intriguing suggestion that retrotypic men and women might “possess similar penchants to their androgynic counterparts to cross the boundaries of traditional gender-roles, thereby accumulating experiential material with elevated flexibility and creativity as a consequence.”
There is a trend now for researchers to align instrumentality with masculinity and expressiveness with femininity, although researchers such as Alice Eagly prefer to think of the distinction as “agenic” and “communal”. And there are other criticisms of the masculine/feminine distinction, such that the distinction strengthens gender stereotypes, and that the distinction should be abandoned altogether in favor of just using the instrumentality/expressiveness distinction.
In 2002 Hittner and Daniels looked at a wide range of creative behaviors. They found that androgynous individuals (those reporting high levels of instrumentality and expressive characteristics) tended to report more creative accomplishments in literature, theater, and video-photography than nonandrogynous indviduals.
“woman-manly or man-womanly… Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the art of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated.”
Interestingly, when Hittner and Daniels controlled for creative theatre achievement, the researchers didn’t find an association between androgyny and creative music achievement. This suggests to me that a crucial factor that determines the androgyny/music link is the extent to which the musical performance is theatrical. It would be interesting to see whether androgyny is as related to cello and flute performance as it is to rock star performance.
Also interestingly, the researchers found that instrumentality was positively related to business venture creativity as well as a flexible cognitive style, whereas androgyny was not related to business venture creativity (but androgyny was marginally related to cognitive flexibility). The researchers note:
“In order to obtain comparable levels of power and status, women who work within male-dominated environments typically have to suppress their expressiveness and demonstrate high levels of instrumentality.”
The researchers quote Lorber (1998) in saying: “in order to get support from senior men, a senior woman may end up in the paradoxical position of making a stand for women by proving that she is just like a man.”
Their findings are certainly thought provoking and suggest that, due to societal expectations, it might be easier for an androgynous woman to display her creativity in more “artistic” domains than in more business-oriented domains.
All of this research suggests that psychological androgyny is associated with positive outcomes, including outcomes relating to the ability to maintain social relationships (e..g, marital satisfaction), psychological well-being, life satisfaction, optimism, a secure sense of identity, and creativity. Although the precise direction of causality is not always clear in these studies (perhaps androgynous people have a higher creative drive, or engagement in creativity increases androgyny).
Nevertheless, there’s little doubt that the more we allow people to express their unique selves, and mentally and physically cross stereotypical gender boundaries, the more creativity we will get out of them. Also, this research suggests that we may well be limiting the full potential of members of society, such as the case of androgynous women working in fields where it is frowned upon for women to exhibit stereotypically masculine traits.
Police in Lake Mary, Florida, questioned George Zimmerman Monday afternoon after being notified by his wife that he was allegedly threatening her and her father with a gun.
WKMG-TV reported that police were called to the home of Shellie Zimmerman’s parents, David and Machelle Dean, and were investigating the incident.
Shellie Zimmerman’s lawyer announced on Thursday that she had filed for divorce, and she told ABC News in an interview that he had been behaving recklessly since being found not guilty of murder in July 2013 after shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012.
“I have a selfish husband,” Shellie Zimmerman told ABC. “And I think George is all about George.”
[Image via Fox News]
Update, 4:07 p.m. EST:This story has been edited to reflect Zimmerman being questioned by police, rather than arrested.
WKMG also posted audiofrom Shellie Zimmmerman’s 911 call, in which she tells the dispatcher, “He’s just threatning all of us” and that George Zimmerman punched her father in the nose.
“I don’t know what he’s capable of at this point,” Shellie Zimmerman tells the dispatcher. “I’m really scared.”
Psychopaths do not lack empathy, rather they can switch it on at will, according to new research.
Placed in a brain scanner, psychopathic criminals watched videos of one person hurting another and were asked to empathise with the individual in pain.
Only when asked to imagine how the pain receiver felt did the area of the brain related to pain light up.
Scientists, reporting in Brain, say their research explains how psychopaths can be both callous and charming.
The team proposes that with the right training, it could be possible to help psychopaths activate their "empathy switch", which could bring them a step closer to rehabilitation.
The ability to empathise with others - to put yourself in someone else's shoes - is crucial to social development in order to respond appropriately in everyday situations.
Criminals with psychopathy characteristically show a reduced ability to empathise with others, including their victims. Evidence suggests they are also more likely to reoffend upon release than criminals without the psychiatric condition.
Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterised by superficial charm, pathological lying and a diminished capacity for remorse.
Now scientists have found that only when asked to empathise did the criminals' empathy reaction, also known as the mirror system, fire up the same way as it did for the controls. Without instruction, they show reduced activity in the regions of the brain associated with pain.
This mirror system refers to the mirror neurons in our brain which are known to activate when we watch someone do a task and when we do it ourselves. They are thought to play a vital role in the ability to empathise with others.
Christian Keysers from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and senior author of the study, said it could change the way psychopathic criminals were viewed.
"The predominant notion had been that they are callous individuals, unable to feel emotions themselves and therefore unable to feel emotions in others.
"Our work shows it's not that simple. They don't lack empathy but they have a switch to turn it on and off. By default, it seems to be off."
The fact that they have the capacity to switch empathy on, at least under certain conditions, could have a positive side to it, Prof Keysers said.
"The notion psychopaths have no empathy at all was a bleak prospect. It would make it very hard for them to have normal moral development.
"Now that we've shown they have empathy - even if only in certain conditions - we can give therapists something to work with," Prof Keysers told BBC News.
But he explained that it was not yet known how this wilful capacity for empathy could be transformed into the spontaneous empathy most of us have.
Essi Viding from University College London, who was not involved with the study, said it was an extremely interesting finding, but that it remained unclear whether the psychopathic criminals' experience of empathy felt the same as that of the controls.
"It's dangerous to look at brain activation and say that it means they're empathising. They are able to generate a typical neural response, but that doesn't mean they have the same empathetic experience," Prof Viding told BBC News.
"We know they can generate the same response but they do that in an active and effortful way. Under free-viewing conditions they don't seem to. Just because they can emphasise, doesn't mean they will.
"Psychopathic criminals are clearly different. The million-dollar question is whether we can devise therapeutic interventions that would shift them do this more automatically."
Randall Salekin, from the University of Alabama, US, who works with youth offenders said: "These findings fit with much of the treatment I am doing using a mental model program, whereby youth are informed about how the brain works and then asked to make specific plans for improving their lives.
"This study is impressive because it actually shows the brain mechanisms or neural networks involved in activating the inmates' empathy."
A relative of mine on a social media site linked to a very racist, ignorant webpage. It's embarrassing. Here's a sample:
Apparently, there are still people, I'm presuming mostly older white people living in the former Confederacy, who think that Obama was born in Kenya. Many think he is an anti-Christ (although at the site there was some disagreement on when the end times were coming), that he wants to take away their guns and all sorts of other crazy things. For example, Paula Deen didn't get fired from the Food Network because she was oblivious to events of the last fifty years regarding race and society and was saying offensive things that hurt the network's ratings, but rather because her high-calorie recipes offended the First Lady. Actually, the website didn't use "First Lady" but an offensive term which I won't repeat here.
When I was in the army at the end of the Vietnam War I was stationed at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. I was a clerk but was temporarily assigned to the Headquarters on base to help with a race relations program the army was instituting then. Racial tensions were boiling in the military and someone in Washington decided it would be a good idea to spread some sensitivity and understanding among the troops. When I returned to my job in personnel the warrant officer in charge of my unit was extremely cool to me. He wouldn't release me to work full-time for race relations because I was "too valuable" but as soon as he saw the opportunity he moved me to an engineering battalion to be their company clerk. The base commander plucked me up within a week and assigned me as an instructor with the race relations program.
During the week I was in the engineering company I had to pull CQ duty one Saturday. CQ means "charge of quarters" and by definition means defending the base or something, but it really meant that I sat in the battalion headquarters and answered the phone while everyone was off for the weekend. Someone must have known of my teaching role because the desk where I was assigned was covered with racist literature. I moved it all to the side and did my shift. A week later I was reassigned to the base headquarters and finished my active duty in the army as an instructor in race relations.
That was forty years ago, in 1973.
1973 was the last of George W. Bush's six years he contracted to serve in the Air Force National Guard. While I was in Fort Devens George W. Bush was in Harvard's Business School forty miles to the east. He wasn't attending National Guard meetings. He hadn't done that for quite awhile. He wasn't excused from his commitment. No, he was AWOL. Actually, when you're AWOL over thirty days you're considered a deserter, but when your dad is a rich man with powerful political connections someone somewhere papers over that kind of thing.
At some point during his time in the National Guard, before he stopped going to meetings and doing his service commitment, he was relieved of flying. Why? There's some evidence that he had lost his nerve. Then again, there was some evidence that he couldn't pass the drug test. There is no evidence that Obama ate a dog while he was growing up.
So what do I do? Do I ignore the racism and ignorance this relative is spreading around? Mostly, that's what I do. But sometimes I can't. I'm embarrassed for my relative. But at this late stage in our lives there is nothing I can do to change her.
It's too bad because there are plenty of things to discuss politically. I've got plenty of complaints about the Obama Administration, but when my relative deals in fantastic, insane fear-mongering instead of what's actually happening in Washington, D.C. there really is no point of engaging in a dialogue. The shame of it all is that she is now at an age where she is dependent on things like Social Security and she keeps voting for the same people who keep voting to cut it. (Really, look at Paul Ryan's budget that the Republicans passed in the House.)
These two illustrations, and many more, were at that website. It's not just the "media" that calls Obama the President. It is a majority of the voters, the Electoral College, and it's the rest of the world. Except for those living in the Confederacy of the Mind.
People have an innate need to establish close relationships with other people. But this natural bonding behaviour is not confined to humans: many animals also seem to need relationships with others of their kind. For domesticated animals the situation is even more complex and pets may enter deep relationships not only with conspecifics but also with their owners. Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) have investigated the bond between dogs and their owners and have found striking similarities to the parent-child relationship in humans.
Their findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Domestic dogs have been closely associated with humans for about 15,000 years. The animals are so well adapted to living with human beings that in many cases the owner replaces conspecifics and assumes the role of the dog's main social partner. The relationship between pet owners and dogs turns out to be highly similar to the deep connection between young children and their parents.
The importance of the owner to the dog
One aspect of the bond between humans and dogs is the so-called "secure base effect." This effect is also found in parent-child bonding: human infants use their caregivers as a secure base when it comes to interacting with the environment. Until recently the "secure base effect" had not been well examined in dogs. Lisa Horn from the Vetmeduni's Messerli Research Institute therefore decided to take a closer look at the behaviour of dogs and their owners. She examined the dogs' reactions under three different conditions: "absent owner," "silent owner" and "encouraging owner." The dogs could earn a food reward, by manipulating interactive dog toys. Surprisingly, they seemed much less keen on working for food, when their caregivers were not there than when they were. Whether an owner additionally encouraged the dog during the task or remained silent, had little influence on the animal's level of motivation.
When the owner is replaced by a stranger
In a follow-up experiment, Horn and her colleagues replaced the owner with an unfamiliar person. The scientists observed that dogs hardly interacted with the strangers and were not much more interested in trying to get the food reward than when this person was not there. The dogs were much more motivated only when their owner was present. The researchers concluded that the owner's presence is important for the animal to behave in a confident manner.
Why do adult dogs behave like human children?
The study provides the first evidence for the similarity between the "secure base effect" found in dog-owner and child-caregiver relationships. This striking parallel will be further investigated in direct comparative studies on dogs and children. As Horn says, "One of the things that really surprised us is, that adult dogs behave towards their caregivers like human children do. It will be really interesting to try to find out how this behaviour evolved in the dogs with direct comparisons."
Across multiple studies, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have found that being in the upper-class predisposes individuals to acting unethically.
Studies conducted by psychology professor Paul Piff found those who drive luxury cars were less likely to stop for pedestrians, those with more money were more likely take candy from children, and the wealthiest among us were more likely to cheat in a game with a $50 cash prize. Researchers at UC Berkeley have also found lower-class individuals are more physiologically attuned to the suffering of others than their middle- and upper-class counterparts.
Piff has come under attack because of his research on socioeconomic classes.
“I’ve gotten a lot of hate mail and vitriol from people calling me out for junk science and having a liberal agenda,” he said. “Our findings apply to both liberals and conservatives. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re wealthy, you’re more likely to show these patterns of results.”
Though some might assume the wealthy gained their riches due to their unethical behavior, the effect appears to work in the opposite direction. Being wealthy is what drives the unethical behavior.
Piff manipulated the rules of a Monopoly game to show even lower class people began to take on the traits of the wealthy when provided with unfairly favorable circumstances. Those given an unfair advantage surprisingly believed they deserved to win the game. They attributed their successes to their own individual skills and talents, rather than their highly favorable circumstances. A higher class person put in an unfavorable position, on the other hand, began to take on the traits of the poor.
“If I take someone who is rich and make them feel psychologically a little less well-off, they become way more generous, way more charitable, way more likely to offer help to another person,” Piff explained. “Not just in this game of Monopoly, but in a whole bunch of other experiments that we’ve run where we make rich people feel poor or poor people feel rich.”