Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Foot In Mouth: Breaking the Rules of Social Behavior

19.07.2005


Some of us can hold our tongues better than others but even the best of us will blurt out the truth when we’re tired, stressed or distracted, according to a new research report.



"The dinner party guest who puts his foot in his mouth could lack a crucial mental ability that stops the rest of us from blurting out our true feelings," according to a report in the July issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society.

But while most people can usually avoid telling painful truths by inhibiting themselves, the results of experiments conducted by University of New South Wales psychological researcher Bill von Hippel suggest that we should be extra wary of making social blunders when we are under strain or fatigued.


The ability to behave in a socially appropriate way was assessed by asking 71 participants to eat a chicken’s foot under conditions of high or low social pressure, von Hippel reported.

People in the high-pressure group were served the foot by a Chinese woman who described it as the national dish of China and her personal favorite, while those in the low-pressure group were served the foot by a non-Chinese woman who had said only that it was Chinese food.

Before the experiment, participants’ ability to hold their tongues — called inhibitory ability — was measured with a test that assessed their ability to suppress irrelevant or inappropriate thoughts.

"People who responded most negatively to the chicken foot dish under high social pressure turned out to be those who also performed worst on the inhibitory ability test," von Hippel said. "They were much more likely to make a disapproving face and a negative statement such as: ’That’s bloody revolting!’ "

"We found that people with poor inhibitory ability were more likely to behave in a socially inappropriate way than people with good inhibitory ability. But even people with good inhibitory ability were likely to behave inappropriately when distracted. This suggests that our ability to suppress our true feelings is disrupted under demanding conditions.

"It’s well established that older people, very young people and some brain-damaged people have less inhibitory control over thought and action. However, this new research suggests that important variations occur in the general population in this inhibitory ability — some of us are naturally better at holding our tongue than others," von Hippel said.

"Many people may be unable to inhibit the tendency to blurt things out even when they know the rules of social behavior and want to behave appropriately.

"It’s likely that people who can inhibit their true feelings in a challenging social situation have a greater chance in succeeding in jobs requiring a high degree of social etiquette, such as international diplomacy. But even experienced career diplomats may find it increasingly difficult to act appropriately if they are distracted or fatigued, or as they grow older. That’s an area of research we’re investigating right now."

Download the article. For more information, contact von Hippel at w.vonhippel@unsw.edu.au or +61 (0)2 9385 1643.

Psychological Science is ranked among the top 10 general psychology journals for impact by the Institute for Scientific Information. The American Psychological Society represents psychologists advocating science-based research in the public’s interest.

Bill von Hippel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unsw.edu.au

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

nachricht Geographers provide new insight into commuter megaregions of the US
01.12.2016 | Dartmouth College

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>