Blogging requires a curiosity for odd facts, and a passion for reading and writing. This blog is a terrific outlet for our curious selves, where we can spend time monitoring new research and current events, and share it with you. Usually, the items are meaty enough to form a blogpost on the issue. Sometimes, though, we find random factoids that we think you might want to know about and we save them for days like today. Think of these as delectable tidbits of information that bring a smile or a ‘hmmm’ to your day. Or as our Cajun friends would say, “lagniappe”. Enjoy.
Red lipstick and tipping behavior:
You likely recall our posts on wearing red (for both men and women) and the advantage in represents for how others see you. Here’s another twist to that research. Heterosexual men tip more when their waitress is wearing red lipstick! Adding credence to their finding–the research was conducted in France where tips are already included in the total bill, and tipping is not routinely expected. Thus, extra tipping is unusual. And here we find that waitresses with red lipstick got the bonus tips, and waitresses wearing other shades went without. We have no suggestions for any lesson for litigators with this news, but you might want to let your friends who are waitresses know about this. Also note– there is no current indication on what the tipping effect is for men who wear red lipstick. But we’re guessing that in most restaurants it isn’t nearly as helpful.
Is gaydar real?
We’ve blogged about gaydar before but the research on it keeps coming. [Did we need more research?] The Atlantic recently ran an article on the ability of college students to guess sexual orientation after 50 milliseconds to look at a photo of a face. And their accuracy was above chance even when the faces were upside down! It turns out that facial features, pupil dilation, and even right-brain or left-brain orientation has been found to accurately predict sexual orientation–although apparently it’s a bit more straightforward to predict in men than it is in women. (And a co-author of the pupil dilation study even claims their findings could be “used to help people who are confused about their sexuality sort through their desires”. Oy. We wish researchers wouldn’t say things like that. And there is no reason whatsoever for you to search out photos of the authors.)
What percentage of water on their fur can dogs shake off in 4 seconds?
That would be 70%. Now that is news you can use. For something. The Atlantic (again) brings us need-to-know information complete with a video of a wet canine shaking off wetness. Surprisingly, there is not a flexible spine to account for how efficiently dogs shake off water. It has to do with how loose the dog’s skin is and (again thanks to the Atlantic) that loose skin isn’t just so dogs look funny here.
Staying in the ICU? How many medical errors occur there anyway?
Let’s just say you want to avoid the ICU whenever possible. According to the Johns Hopkins Patient Safety Team:
Each year as many as 40,500 critically ill U.S. hospital patients die with an unknown medical condition that may have caused or contributed to their death. In a discussion of their findings, researchers say that diagnostic errors in the intensive care unit (ICU) may claim as many lives each year as breast cancer.
The actual numbers are staggering. Misdiagnosis in ICU patients is as much as 50% more common than it is in general hospital patients. In the US, about half of all deaths occur in hospitals and half of hospital deaths occur either in the ICU or immediately following ICU stays. In fairness, it isn’t called an “Emergency Room” or “Intensive Care Unit” for nothing. But this study controls for life threatening presenting problems (like massive heart attacks and gun shots), and deals with diagnostic errors. You can see a user-friendly interpretation of the study at the Atlantic.
If you walk with a swagger, are you narcissistic?
Maybe. And maybe not. Research Digest recently cited a study looking at how we interpret the personality of someone based on how they walk. That is, we see an expansive, loose walking style as related to adventurousness, extraversion, trustworthiness and warmth while a slow and relaxed walking style was associated with being neurotic. According to the personality questionnaires completed by the walkers, however, their style of walking was not correlated with their personality–but it was in the minds of the observers. We see this sort of assumption operating in our mock juror observations of witnesses. They look at witnesses or parties and “see” drug abuse, liars, conspiracy, jealousy and much more. It isn’t that those negatives are there in truth–but they are there in the minds of the observer.
So. Just because you walk with a swagger or a strut doesn’t really mean you are truly a narcissist–but if you’re being observed by someone prone to sensitivity to that trait, you could get tagged with it. Not sure what you should do about it, but don’t be surprised. People are constantly judging…
Nicolas Guéguen, & Céline Jacob (2012). Lipstick and tipping behavior: When red lipstick enhances waitresses tips. International Journal of Hospitality Management DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhm.2012.03.012
Rieger G, & Savin-Williams RC (2012). The eyes have it: Sex and sexual orientation differences in pupil dilation patterns. PLoS ONE, 7 (8) PMID: 22870196
It’s an interesting question. We know from recent research that black criminal defendants who wear glasses may be viewed as less threatening (and therefore more likable). And we’re guessing that gay black men may also seem less threatening than heterosexual black men.
By now you likely know we wouldn’t muse on this sort of question unless there was research to ponder. Recently researchers in Canada looked at the question of whether ambiguous categories (being gay) and obvious categories (being Black) both contribute to how we evaluate others.
They gathered 104 headshots of men from internet dating sites. The photos included 26 straight White men and 26 gay White men as well as 26 straight Black men and 26 gay Black men. (All men self-identified their sexual orientation.) Thirty-one participants reviewed the photos on a computer screen and then responded to the question: “To the average Canadian, how likable would this person seem?”
In this study, researchers found that:
White straight men were seen as more likeable than Black straight men.
White straight men were more likable than White gay men.
But Black gay men were perceived as more likable than straight Black men.
The researchers saw this as reflecting positive stereotypes of the gay Black male. Specifically, they assert there are some positive stereotypes that go along with being a gay Black male—such as, for example, having “warmth”. While the researchers do not address stereotypical fears of heterosexual black men, we would think this finding is, at least to some extent, likely a result of stereotyped beliefs that heterosexual black men are dangerous sexual predators.
“Likeable” is a vague concept, deliberately selected to allow people to avoid being clear about why they feel as do. In a way, this is an analysis of the interaction between racism and homophobia. Scientific American ran an article on this ‘unconscious gaydar’ in 2009 and we blogged about the inexplicable ability to identify Mormon faces even if you don’t live around Mormons earlier this year.
It’s a strange thing. What it infers is, there are some things you likely cannot hide about your client (or yourself) even though jurors may not be consciously aware of how those unknown but known factors are figuring into their decision-making. And you have to weigh them carefully.
If your client is Black and gay should you let the jury know s/he is gay?
Our gut reaction to this one is that it depends on whether your jury is mostly Black or not. Being a gay male remains a stigma in the Black community and you could end up with a very different result than these researchers achieved. And you would also have to consider level of religiosity, conservatism and more. It probably is not an area to leap into without extensive research pretrial.
If your male client appears more feminine but is actually heterosexual, should you let the jury know he is straight? Or if your female client appears more masculine, should you let the jury know she is heterosexual?
Again, it depends. There are certainly family photos that could tell this story. Significant others in the courtroom day after day can make a silent statement.
Overall, researchers concluded that we are somehow aware of sexual orientation and use that to guide our conclusions as to likability (and presumably trustworthiness and attractiveness as well). In this way, stereotypes inform our impressions in ways of which we remain unaware. More cynically, perhaps what they are tapping is a crossroad of bias that (consciously or not) allows Black men to be viewed as less frightening if they are seen as gay. While it can be useful insight when evaluating the possible impact of witnesses and clients, it is a sad reflection of biases, even in friendly Canada.
Our general sense is that you cannot simply say “Gay + Black = Likable”. In this research, it seems possible that (although it wasn’t asked in these terms) that the issue is whether subjects feel less threatened by a Black man if he is gay. Likability is a uniquely individual thing. You can teach a witness (or yourself) to be more likable but it isn’t something you can simply count on. So just like “women are better for plaintiffs”, the idea that “black + gay = likable” is simply not one to bet on.
Remedios, JD,, Chasteen, AL,, Rule, NO,, & Plaks, JE (2011). Impressions at the intersection of ambiguous and obvious social categories: Does gay + Black = likable? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.