Connect the Right Dots! Don’t make unfounded or automatic assumptions. Become more data-driven in your decisions Mohit Malik Businessworldindia.com
Recently, I came across an intriguing study where researchers found that men give a higher rating to sexual traits (like flirtatiousness) than women in terms of perception about themselves and the member of the opposite sex they just interacted with. The authors of the study found that after a five-minute conversation with a stranger of the opposite sex, men were more likely to interpret ambiguous or friendly behaviour as indicating sexual interest. For the study, people of opposite sexes were paired together. Within their brief conversation, partners introduced themselves and talked about college experiences. After the allotted five minutes, each man and woman walked to a separate room to answer questions about their perceptions of their study partner, themselves and the conversation.
The men and the women rated themselves and their partners on personality traits such as extroversion, agreeableness, physical attractiveness, sexual traits and interaction behaviours. They were also asked if they thought the person they'd just talked to was sexy, flirtatious, seductive or promiscuous. As it turned out, men rated their women partners higher in sexuality than the women rated the men. Researchers found that “men generally think in more sexual terms than women.” My colleagues had many interesting observations on these findings (regretfully, none suitable for publication in this site). So what's new, you already knew that?...
All the dots are often not visible, and these are usually the important ones. Researchers also mentioned that “men's ratings of women were also associated with physical attractiveness but unrelated to whether he saw her as agreeable or felt the conversation was enjoyable.” In plain words, if attracted to a woman, men automatically assumed, ‘she is interested in me'. The quality of conversation was irrelevant. Effect begetting the cause? Similarly, we often carry around other such premise of cause and effect, which, sadly, are untrue.
[For more on identifying and using such ‘theories' effectively, read Using Theory to Gain the Edge ] Mohit Malik heads the leadership and strategy practice at Anoova Consulting . The views expressed in this column are his own. If you have ideas or suggestions for future columns or comments on this one, please contact me directly at mohit.malik@AnoovaConsulting.Biz