Suffice it to say that
(X + Y+ Z) * (A*B)= This
X = Sci
Y = Cold
Z = Migrain
A = cold medication
B = Migraine medication
This = Annnnnnd WHEEEEEEE!!!!!!
And you know, that’s good. That’s good because Sci had to go and see THIS first thing in the morning.
Ouchie. First off, Sci has to correct some major misconceptions here on behalf of teh blonde ladiez everywhere (though others have come before me, and verily, they are awesome). And then Sci has to go on a minor rant. Hopefully the cold medications will last that long.
So here we go.
Sell, Tooby, and Cosmides. “Formidability and the logic of Human Anger”. PNAS, 2009.
First, I’d like to talk about your feelings of anger.
So as we are all probably aware, anger is a perfectly natural phenomenon. All people get angry (though they might express it in different ways). There have been various hypotheses as to what purpose anger might serve in the field of evolutionary psychology, and the hypothesis that this paper addressed was the idea that anger is useful for winning conflict (no, really, how shocking). The idea is that the person who is angry is more likely to win the fight, through things like physical intimidation, threat of withholding resources, etc.
So the idea behind this study was to see how various factors in people influenced whether they got angry, how entitled they felt to be right, and whether they won the argument in question. Through a series of tests they found two major points which were extremely significant:
1) Men who are physically stronger (presumably this means bigger as well, they tested lifting strength and bicep circumference), and have a history of fighting are more prone to anger, and feel entitled to better treatment.
2) Women who believe themselves to be physically attractive (regardless of strength) are more prone to anger and feel entitled to better treatment.
Basically what this study found out what that people who think themselves attractive feel more entitled, and thus may be more likely to get angry in an attempt to get their own way. Like this:
So why does attractiveness (or perceived attractiveness) have a strong effect on entitlement and anger? The authors hypothesize that it has to do with social networks. Men who are strong and women who are…hot…attract people to them, men because they can protect people and because you don’t want to get in their way, and women because you want a piece of that. The attractive people can then draw on these social networks in the event of a fight, which might make them more likely to pick one, and therefore to get angry. Whether this is correct or not, I cannot say, but I do find it interesting that perceived attractiveness has a lot to do with a sense of entitlement (thought I also find it somewhat obvious).
But here’s where Sci gets into a minor rant.
This study was interesting RIGHT THERE. Hot people might have a bigger sense of entitlement and get angry easier. The number of references to reality shows in the mainstream media could have been staggering. They could have devoted an entire article on this to the reality show “Bridezillas”. This paper was headlines NO MATTER WHAT.
But what did they do? Observe the headline:
Blonde women born to be warrior princesses
I mean, REALLY!?
Ok, let’s just break down what the wrong assumptions were in this story.
1) The article assumes that blonde women are more aggressive. They apparently asked the study author to break down the results for women by hair color, he got no differences, so that’s a right out lie right there. And also a rather nasty thing to say about those of the light-haired persuasion. Princesses? Thanks a lot. Warrior’s not so bad, though.
2) The article assumes that blonde women are HOTTER. Or more attractive, or whatever feature might make them more aggressive. Let’s do a little google image search for “most attractive woman”:
Result number 1:
Result number 2:
Result number 3:
Blonde ladies aren’t exactly winning out here. Now don’t get me wrong, blonde women are lovely. Many of them are extremely gorgeous. But I don’t think many people would say that blonde women are objectively more attractive than brunettes or redheads. The study CERTAINLY did not say so. Not only that, the study explicitly stated that it is people who found THEMSELVES more attractive that exhibited more anger. This doesn’t necessarily mean that other people found them attractive (there are some delusional people out there, see reference to Jersey Shore above).
So do we mean that only blonde people find themselves attractive? Surely you jest. In fact blonde women do not in general feel more attractive than women with other hair colors (though I don’t know about the effect of women who dye their hair, which I imagine might be excluded from this assessment).
3) The number of things this article claims the study found are…fantastic. It claims that the authors found that blondes had a “warlike” streak, and that those who dyed their hair would begin to exhibit it, as well. Umm…I do not recall the study saying any of these things.
Here, let’s just go ahead and quote the abstract, why don’t we:
Individuals with enhanced abilities to inflict costs (e.g., stronger individuals) or to confer benefits (e.g., attractive individuals) have a better bargaining position in conflicts; hence, it was predicted that such individuals will be more prone to anger, prevail more in conflicts of interest, and consider themselves entitled to better treatment. These predictions were confirmed. Consistent with an evolutionary analysis, the effect of strength on anger was greater for men and the effect of attractiveness on anger was greater for women.
Anything about blondes in there? Anything??? No? Huh…could have sworn they were more warlike.
So really, Mainstream Media, let’s you and I have a brief sit down:
WTF with the way you covered this paper. This paper was plenty interesting all on it’s own, but you had to go and say some rather false things about it that in no way made the story more or less interesting. This is some truly massive reporting fail. It makes Sci sad that people will read this, and they might very well believe it. There are lots of people out there that believe silly things without adding another thing onto the pile, yes? So I want you to go away and sit in the corner, TimesOnline, and think about what you’ve done. And then I want you to report sensibly next time. Mkay? Be good, now. Sci is watching you.
Sell A, Tooby J, & Cosmides L (2009). Formidability and the logic of human anger. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106 (35), 15073-8 PMID: 19666613