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Politics of Blank Looks - Scientific American

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klewis

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Has any other PSer read this article in January issue of Scientific American? It''s kind of a teaser article and I can''t find a link to the actual study or the article which describes the study conducted by Psychologist Jacob M. Vigil of the University of North Florida who had 740 college students look at 12 photos of faces whose expressions had been digitally blurred so as not to display any clear emotion. The volunteers were asked if the faces expressed sadness, joy, disgust, surprise, fear or anger. The students who identified themselves as Republicans were more likely than those who identified themselves as Democrats to interpret these vague faces as more threatening, and less submissive. The article goes on to say that these findings are consistent with research linking conservative political views on military spending and capital punishment with heightened reactions to disturbing images and sounds and Vigil conjectures that the political ideologies we advocate could be linked with the way we respond to ambiguous details.
I wonder if similar results might be found if the same study were to be conducted in other counties and it would also be interesting to know how the photos were interpreted by the volunteers who identified themselves as Democrats.
 

luckystar112

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I haven't read it yet but I did find the study for you.
Can't link it.

Type "Jacob M. Vigil study" in google and it is the 3rd result. Opens in PDF. Very short. I look forward to reading it later.


ETA: You can try putting this in and see what happens:

precedings.nature.com/documents/2414/version/1/files/npre20082414-1.pdf
 

beebrisk

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Date: 1/31/2009 2:58:33 PM
Author:klewis
Has any other PSer read this article in January issue of Scientific American? It''s kind of a teaser article and I can''t find a link to the actual study or the article which describes the study conducted by Psychologist Jacob M. Vigil of the University of North Florida who had 740 college students look at 12 photos of faces whose expressions had been digitally blurred so as not to display any clear emotion. The volunteers were asked if the faces expressed sadness, joy, disgust, surprise, fear or anger. The students who identified themselves as Republicans were more likely than those who identified themselves as Democrats to interpret these vague faces as more threatening, and less submissive. The article goes on to say that these findings are consistent with research linking conservative political views on military spending and capital punishment with heightened reactions to disturbing images and sounds and Vigil conjectures that the political ideologies we advocate could be linked with the way we respond to ambiguous details.

I wonder if similar results might be found if the same study were to be conducted in other counties and it would also be interesting to know how the photos were interpreted by the volunteers who identified themselves as Democrats.
Oh for crying out loud!

That is the biggest bunch of hooey I''ve ever heard.

Lets hear about the control samples, the conditions of the test, the testers themselves, etc..

Yeah, sounds very "scientific" to me!
 

klewis

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Thank you LuckyStar I will try that link. The article in Scientific American is interesting but the journal article only describes one groups reaction.
 

luckystar112

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Okay I read it. The faces were definitely creepy. haha!!!!
I actually do think this guy has a point....BUT....the only thing that stood out to me was that on the questionaire he used a forced answer that made them choose either Republican or Democrat--no inbetween. So this doesn't say much about those who consider themselves more moderate...Or perhaps those who are 3rd party, or those who are socially liberal but convervative on domestic issues. Hmmmmmm

But I will admit that the opening paragraph described me to a T, especially the part about being more motivated to control uncertain situations. Hence the reason I just turned vegan a couple of days ago. Whoo hoo! That's another story though.
 

miraclesrule

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Oh no you don''t!! You can''t drop a bomb like going vegan without further explanation.
Can''t threadjack, so it looks like you should start a new thread luckystar!!
 

klewis

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Now I have read it too and I agree with you LuckyStar about the forced answer. The photos were too small for me to see at all clearly, but am I right in thinking they all showed faces of people with dark hair - and would the results of the study been any different had some of them had lighter hair? And (kind of tongue in cheek here) if faced with a murderous intruder with ambiguous facial expressions, who would be more likely to survive, the conservative with a gun or the liberal with great negotiating skills?
 

HollyS

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Oh for the love of . . . . . . . .

Does pop psychology hold that much fascination for you?

Yes, we Republicans see threats wherever we go.


What we really see is silly-assed nonsense from psycho-babbling nitwits for what it really is. Crap.
 

klewis

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Date: 2/1/2009 1:09:58 AM
Author: HollyS
Oh for the love of . . . . . . . .


Does pop psychology hold that much fascination for you?


Yes, we Republicans see threats wherever we go.



What we really see is silly-assed nonsense from psycho-babbling nitwits for what it really is. Crap.

If you prefer civil discussion than let me remind you what you posted last week:

"Karen, you know I was not referring to your take on history. Or your objection to my view on history. I''m talking tone. And condescension. And yeah, I''m well aware that because we don''t see eye to eye, you feel exactly the same way about my posts.
I don''t want to be you, Or Moon. I don''t want to discuss books and articles ad nauseum. I don''t want to quote the liberal think tanks, or the conservative die hards. I have at times, but I don''t make a habit of it. And do you know why? Because regardless of where that infomation came from, you or someone else will disagree and disparage it anyway. Really, I don''t see the point. We aren''t capable here on PS of having a civil discussion (unless you are WishfulThinking); we''ve ALL proven that time and again. We''re only civil to the people we agree with. So I''m done on this thread, because as usual, it''s turned into the US vs. THEM debacle it always becomes."
___________________________
 

ksinger

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klewis - this little article was in that same vein and very interesting too. I remember reading about this stuff last year, and posting something about it in ATW, but digging back to find it....eek! Not happenin''!

Anyway, enjoy.
 

beebrisk

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Date: 2/1/2009 11:02:58 AM
Author: starsapphire
Yes, as a Conservative, I am ready to kill anything that moves at any time!!!!

If the sight of "a large spider on someone''s face, a bloodied person and maggot-filled wound" makes my eyes dilate and blood pressure go up a tick, and if it indicates I have conservative leanings, then by all means, hand me the label.

This is what a university such as Rice needs to spend money on? No wonder no one can afford college and no wonder when a student gets there his poor head is filled with drivel.

Utter ridiculousness.
 

klewis

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Date: 2/1/2009 9:10:18 AM
Author: ksinger
klewis - this little article was in that same vein and very interesting too. I remember reading about this stuff last year, and posting something about it in ATW, but digging back to find it....eek! Not happenin''!


Anyway, enjoy.

Thanks for the link to that article ksinger. It was interesting, particularly since it that article it mentions the "mammal-on-the-hot-rock languor"reaction of the liberal participants, something the Blank Faces study doesn''t tell us.
 

ksinger

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Date: 2/1/2009 1:37:18 PM
Author: klewis

Date: 2/1/2009 9:10:18 AM
Author: ksinger
klewis - this little article was in that same vein and very interesting too. I remember reading about this stuff last year, and posting something about it in ATW, but digging back to find it....eek! Not happenin''!


Anyway, enjoy.

Thanks for the link to that article ksinger. It was interesting, particularly since it that article it mentions the ''mammal-on-the-hot-rock languor''reaction of the liberal participants, something the Blank Faces study doesn''t tell us.
Glad you liked it. I thought it was pretty balanced, and empasized that this was preliminary research using a fairly small sample. Did you take the link to the other research, about twins? It was on the first page of the article I linked. It is this: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080206091437.htm Also interesting, although I admit that the modern penchant for linking every human behavior to genetics makes me a bit uncomfortable, even as it fascinates me with its apparent truth. I get all oogy at the idea of the demise of free will.
 

klewis

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ksinger -Oooooo that genetics study is actually quite scary but it doesn''t surprise me. So the next time you see a gun-toting mammal lying languid on the lava, you''ll know there''s been some cross party pollenation?
 

HollyS

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Date: 2/1/2009 3:19:23 AM
Author: klewis

Date: 2/1/2009 1:09:58 AM
Author: HollyS
Oh for the love of . . . . . . . .


Does pop psychology hold that much fascination for you?


Yes, we Republicans see threats wherever we go.



What we really see is silly-assed nonsense from psycho-babbling nitwits for what it really is. Crap.

If you prefer civil discussion than let me remind you what you posted last week:

''Karen, you know I was not referring to your take on history. Or your objection to my view on history. I''m talking tone. And condescension. And yeah, I''m well aware that because we don''t see eye to eye, you feel exactly the same way about my posts.
I don''t want to be you, Or Moon. I don''t want to discuss books and articles ad nauseum. I don''t want to quote the liberal think tanks, or the conservative die hards. I have at times, but I don''t make a habit of it. And do you know why? Because regardless of where that infomation came from, you or someone else will disagree and disparage it anyway. Really, I don''t see the point. We aren''t capable here on PS of having a civil discussion (unless you are WishfulThinking); we''ve ALL proven that time and again. We''re only civil to the people we agree with. So I''m done on this thread, because as usual, it''s turned into the US vs. THEM debacle it always becomes.''
___________________________
I WAS referring to the study, not you personally, but if it makes you feel morally superior to think I trashed you, that''s fine with me.
 

klewis

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Date: 2/1/2009 8:50:40 PM
Author: HollyS
Date: 2/1/2009 3:19:23 AM

Author: klewis


Date: 2/1/2009 1:09:58 AM

Author: HollyS

Oh for the love of . . . . . . . .



Does pop psychology hold that much fascination for you?



Yes, we Republicans see threats wherever we go.




What we really see is silly-assed nonsense from psycho-babbling nitwits for what it really is. Crap.


If you prefer civil discussion than let me remind you what you posted last week:


''Karen, you know I was not referring to your take on history. Or your objection to my view on history. I''m talking tone. And condescension. And yeah, I''m well aware that because we don''t see eye to eye, you feel exactly the same way about my posts.

I don''t want to be you, Or Moon. I don''t want to discuss books and articles ad nauseum. I don''t want to quote the liberal think tanks, or the conservative die hards. I have at times, but I don''t make a habit of it. And do you know why? Because regardless of where that infomation came from, you or someone else will disagree and disparage it anyway. Really, I don''t see the point. We aren''t capable here on PS of having a civil discussion (unless you are WishfulThinking); we''ve ALL proven that time and again. We''re only civil to the people we agree with. So I''m done on this thread, because as usual, it''s turned into the US vs. THEM debacle it always becomes.''

___________________________
I WAS referring to the study, not you personally, but if it makes you feel morally superior to think I trashed you, that''s fine with me.
or... you could have said ....." I WAS referring to the study, not you personally", and left it at that but you had to add....... "but if it makes you feel morally superior to think I trashed you, that''s fine with me." ....
Now it doesn''t ruffle my feathers that much, but it was YOU that mentioned tone and condescension.
 

HollyS

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What can I say? You do tend to bring out the worst in me. . . .


But you are correct; I didn''t have to say that; and I should not have said that. Please accept my apology.
 

klewis

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Date: 2/2/2009 2:43:12 PM
Author: HollyS
What can I say? You do tend to bring out the worst in me. . . .



But you are correct; I didn''t have to say that; and I should not have said that. Please accept my apology.
Sincere thanks HollyS. I think perhaps we bring out the worst in each other?
 

AllieGator

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I find this very interesting...but I have to agree, that i wish it was backed up more by science. It does seem to make sense...it makes me think of how they found that those who identify themselves as Very Liberal have, on average, a higher IQ than those who identify themselves as Very Conservative, due to the high amount of very liberal academics. It's not that Democrats are more likely to be intelligent, it's just that they are easier to find. (I'm trying to find a link to that particular study, but it's actually from one of my political philosophy text books.

It doesn't seem to be an actual just fact as far as "democrats are smarter", it's just more a product who is in the party. I.E.--Someone who is much more likely to own a gun is more likely to want to defend themselves using it.

(I'm trying to find a link to this study, but I can't find it online. It's in a book for my Political Philosophy class) . It's a not very surprising correlation, but I wish there were more support.

EDITED: I thought I'd add that the study I referred to found that Moderate Democrats and Moderate Republicans have around the same average IQ. I thought I should ad this fact to that i don't look like a Liberal Intellectual Elitist
 

ksinger

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Date: 2/3/2009 7:53:59 AM
Author: AllieGator
I find this very interesting...but I have to agree, that i wish it was backed up more by science. It does seem to make sense...it makes me think of how they found that those who identify themselves as Very Liberal have, on average, a higher IQ than those who identify themselves as Very Conservative, due to the high amount of very liberal academics. It''s not that Democrats are more likely to be intelligent, it''s just that they are easier to find. (I''m trying to find a link to that particular study, but it''s actually from one of my political philosophy text books.

It doesn''t seem to be an actual just fact as far as ''democrats are smarter'', it''s just more a product who is in the party. I.E.--Someone who is much more likely to own a gun is more likely to want to defend themselves using it.

(I''m trying to find a link to this study, but I can''t find it online. It''s in a book for my Political Philosophy class) . It''s a not very surprising correlation, but I wish there were more support.
LOL! Is it Democrats are easier to find, or liberal academics are easier to find? I would say THAT is a function of location, location, location. Liberal ANYTHING is not easy to find where I live.

And thank you for commenting after actually reading. I didn''t see that the studies, as written up, had so much value judgements in them to elicit the responses they did. A honed fear response can be pretty useful, as they scientist interviewed pointed out, and lack of it can be not so good, as was also pointed out. Hardly a concerted liberal swipe at conservatism, although it seems to have been filtered as such. That and it was noted more than once that this was not anything but interesting, and P R E L I M I N A R Y. Not a final word on anything, as if any study of this nature could purport to explain human behavior so simply.
 

HollyS

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Date: 2/3/2009 3:33:22 AM
Author: klewis

Date: 2/2/2009 2:43:12 PM
Author: HollyS
What can I say? You do tend to bring out the worst in me. . . .



But you are correct; I didn''t have to say that; and I should not have said that. Please accept my apology.
Sincere thanks HollyS. I think perhaps we bring out the worst in each other?
You''re welcome.

Now, let me clarify my first response:

I don''t think the study was a good solid indicator of anything, and I''ll tell you why . . . real people are not devoid of emotion, body language, the use of their eyes, etc. No one in real life has a ''blank'' countenance. In any situation. They may have a ''poker face'', but it is not completely devoid of expression or emotion. Therefore, people shown photos of digitally altered faces must attribute to that ''face'' an emotion, purpose, thought behind those blank eyes. That would be human nature to do so.

I would feel a bit unnerved if ever I actually encountered someone who was completely and totally impassive, who failed to register the slightest human expression. Wouldn''t you? Who wouldn''t be uneasy when confronted with a Pod Person or Stepford Wife?? I probably would not think they were harmless. I doubt many people would.

And yes, I know I''m projecting what I think on this situation, rather than having solid scientific reasoning behind what I say. But do I not make sense?
 

zhuzhu

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I think everyone is taking this study too seriously.

This is actually a well-conducted study with established hypothesis and large sample size. However it is an exploratory study for future hypothesis generation: ie, what aspects of one''s emotional response or emotion interpretation later link to political association.

It is by no means conclusive and it is not MEANT to be conclusive. So please, those of you who are offended take a chill pill.
 

HollyS

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Date: 2/3/2009 7:51:16 PM
Author: zhuzhu
I think everyone is taking this study too seriously.

This is actually a well-conducted study with established hypothesis and large sample size. However it is an exploratory study for future hypothesis generation: ie, what aspects of one''s emotional response or emotion interpretation later link to political association.

It is by no means conclusive and it is not MEANT to be conclusive. So please, those of you who are offended take a chill pill.
Who''s offended? I don''t think we''re offended, just dismissive of ''studies'' with skewered results, or easily manipulated results, silly-assed assumptions for results, or just plain old badly conducted experiments that don''t have enough variables to be conclusive of anything. Except that they were badly conducted.

It wasn''t klewis I was fussing about; it was just my ''oh, geez'' reaction to another example of psycho-babble as science. IMO. I know it won''t be everyone''s opinion.
 

klewis

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Date: 2/3/2009 1:42:50 PM
Author: HollyS
Date: 2/3/2009 3:33:22 AM

Author: klewis


Date: 2/2/2009 2:43:12 PM

Author: HollyS

What can I say? You do tend to bring out the worst in me. . . .




But you are correct; I didn''t have to say that; and I should not have said that. Please accept my apology.

Sincere thanks HollyS. I think perhaps we bring out the worst in each other?
You''re welcome.


Now, let me clarify my first response:


I don''t think the study was a good solid indicator of anything, and I''ll tell you why . . . real people are not devoid of emotion, body language, the use of their eyes, etc. No one in real life has a ''blank'' countenance. In any situation. They may have a ''poker face'', but it is not completely devoid of expression or emotion. Therefore, people shown photos of digitally altered faces must attribute to that ''face'' an emotion, purpose, thought behind those blank eyes. That would be human nature to do so.


I would feel a bit unnerved if ever I actually encountered someone who was completely and totally impassive, who failed to register the slightest human expression. Wouldn''t you? Who wouldn''t be uneasy when confronted with a Pod Person or Stepford Wife?? I probably would not think they were harmless. I doubt many people would.


And yes, I know I''m projecting what I think on this situation, rather than having solid scientific reasoning behind what I say. But do I not make sense?

But how would you explain the other reactions to the images? Not all of the participants saw the images as threatening.
 
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