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In praise of nudity: The nudist beaches of Central and Eastern Europe
"Nothing but naked people: fat ones, thin ones, old, young…"
Deep in thought, they stand up to their knees in the water. Some build sandcastles and collect shells. Others play cards, backgammon, volleyball or badminton. Some are reading. They rub themselves with oils and are damp from the water or bone dry from the sun. The old and middle-aged, young people and children. They nibble on sunflower seeds, slice up watermelon and drink beer. They don't look at each other. They lie beyond a rock, behind a bush or just past the tributary of the river. The other side of some unspoken border.
For now, I just observe them. In order to join them, I have to meet one condition: I must take off my clothes! But I don't have the nerve.
A run-in with nakedness
My tummy's too big and I've got cellulitis and uneven breasts. My swimming costume gives me a sense of security. So I sit on my towel and, from behind the scrawny bushes, I follow the movements of people who don't bother to suntan their clothes. I lie in wait for the first people to leave the naked zone. I still believe I will get away with writing this article fully-clothed.
The first to emerge are two elderly ladies. I pull on my beach tunic and make my way over to them. Poles. Basia and Hanka. Sisters from Warsaw. I've hit the jackpot. We go for a beer.
"But how are you supposed to write about it if you don't know what it's like?" demands Hania, the older one, more as a statement than a question. "It's simply an un-journalistic approach. You have to try it, otherwise it won't be fair."
"It's unlike anything else. It's full-on freedom," adds Basia. "I've been coming regularly to Sozopol in Bulgaria for 10 years. I've got an apartment here. I like it because it's understated. It's mainly Bulgarians that come to our beach. It's quiet and peaceful. Recently, my sister has started coming with me. Our husbands are traditionalists. They don't share our passion. They sit in the café and we're here, the other side of the unspoken border."
But their experience with nudism didn't begin on the Black Sea. Hania saw nudists for the first time on the banks of Lake Balaton in Hungary, and Basia in Sweden. Brought up under the rules of communist Poland's socialist morality, neither of them could get enough of the sight of naked bodies.
"We got to Balaton sometime during the night and I was horribly tired. When I woke up in the morning, I couldn't believe my eyes. Nothing but naked people: fat ones, thin ones, old, young…" recalls Hania.
While Basia reckons her experience in Sweden is one of the funniest.
"I remember the shock. I was sitting by a lake and every so often people in super white swimsuits would jump into the water. And because I'd never seen swimsuits like this, I started looking at them. Well, it turned out that they were naked," she recalls. And after that it just happened. Hanka was living in Sweden, Basia in Canada, and they both understood that there was no need to be ashamed of their own bodies.
"I was surrounded mainly by Protestants," says Hanka. "And they say that God created us in His own image. You are how you are, so just accept it and don't make a fuss. Adam and Eve should be an example to us. And I really like that."
Basia started to appreciate the convenience and the feeling of freedom that you get from being naked.
"I can't sit in a wet swimsuit even for a moment. Straight away I get inflamed ovaries or some other unpleasant ailment. And I want to go into the water often because it's hot. How many swimsuits would I need to take with me? And it goes without saying that taking off that soggy piece of cloth is no fun, because it sticks to the body. And then you have to put on a dry one. And on top of that find a changing room. It's too much work. The whole performance of taking off a wet swimsuit is so unsightly that I don't want to do it."
Moreover, both ladies appreciate the etiquette of the nudist beach: no one stares, nobody makes fun of anyone else, and no one hides behind screens. It's quiet and nobody hassles you.
"Everyone respects each other," says Basia. "A naturist beach is much more civilized than a normal beach. There's no showing off and no public displays of intimacy, which is why there are usually no screens."
"And there's also a rule that we get dressed when we leave the beach," adds Hanka. "You have to respect each other and not cross any lines. Society doesn't accept nudists, so I can't imagine a situation where I'd go stark naked to a restaurant, or even onto a normal beach. That goes for the men as well as the women. When I see a massive, sweaty, sticking out gut in a restaurant it puts me right off my food, and this happens all the time."
I arrange to meet up with the girls the next day. I'm supposed to practice 'nuding' with them. But I'm really not convinced, although I already know that I won't get out of it.
I am held back by my Catholic family upbringing and a sense of shame, although I know very well that even the ancient Romans had no problem with nudity. I am held back by Chałupy – the mecca of Polish nudists, close to where I was brought up – and the stories of the fines issued to the shameless people there. And the mutiny of the Kaszubian people after Wodecki's hit song brought not just fans of skinny dipping, but also voyeurs with binoculars flocking to the fishing village. And every flavour of pervert too.
But I have no option. It's my job.
The further north one goes, the more the 'hairstyles' of the Black Sea nudists change. It depends which country they come from. So, while in Bulgaria they shave themselves bald, Romania isn't so restrictive and various styles are permitted. Even playful little plaits. Ukraine mixes it up a bit. Sometimes one sees accessories: colourful turbans on the head, bracelets made from shells on wrists or ankles, or long feather earrings. And since Nessebar, my tummy, breasts and the back of my body are less and less pale.
But Rome wasn't built in a day.
Setting aside the health benefits of swimming naked, sunbathing wasn't always trendy. It was generally associated with agricultural work. It was Coco Chanel herself who started the whole fashion for it in 1923 when she skipped off a yacht sporting a golden tan, causing shock and scandal. She surely never imagined that she would launch the trend for the mass rejection of knitted swimming armour.
Beach fashion began to change. Men gave up wearing pantaloons and instead wore vests with swimming trunks, while women went for two-piece costumes. The 1940s saw high-waist knickers and bras from France and, after World War II, the territory occupied by material started to shrink rapidly.
In fashion salons, or rather on the beach, the bikini quietly started to creep in. It was designed by Louis Réard in 1946, but he got slightly ahead of himself because he couldn't find any models for his show. An erotic dancer finally agreed to do it. The bikini caused a furore 10 years later when Brigitte Bardot appeared in one on the French Riviera. And another French star, Simone Silva, was accidentally photographed topless by Robert Mitchum. After that it was a breeze.
"The Yellow Sands", 1888, John Reinhard Weguelin; source: Wikimedia Commons
Yet long before anyone knew about beach fashion, naturism was trendy. Bathing naked in the sea was going on in England as early as 1840. However, during the reign of Queen Victoria, this pleasure was outlawed. But it popped up again among the conservative Germans. In 1898, the first Naturist Club was founded in Essen and in 1900 the Wandering Birds group (Wandervögel) was scouring the country for uninhabited places and naked sunbathing. In the same year, Heinrich Pudor wrote The Cult of the Nude, winning the hearts of contemporary supporters of naturism.
In the 1920s, on the back of this, members of the Movement for Natural Healing (Naturheilbewegung) organized naked sunbathing for the improvement of health. Persuaded by Pudor's theory of the healing properties of the sun and wind, which could be absorbed through the skin, they launched the naked revolution.
Pudor's book became the naturists' manifesto and soon after, not far from Hamburg, the Free Body Culture (Freikörperkultur, or FKK) movement was founded. This spread through other German centres and brought together thousands of people. The FKK still operates under the same name today.
The cult of the naked body even wrote itself into the ideology of fascist Germany, which advocated a pure, Aryan race. But in 1933, Hermann Göring issued an order that defined nudity as "the greatest threat to the German soul" and, with that, criminalized naturist organizations. But this wasn't the end of the movement. The naturists went underground, continuing their activities under the guise of improving physical fitness.
In 1936, the idea was even floated of having a naturist display to open the Berlin Olympic Games. It was quickly dropped. Despite this, in 1939 the naturists managed to organize their own Games in the Swiss village of Thielle.
Not only the rotten West
The first state to see a true revolution in behaviour was the Soviet Union. And this was from the very outset of its existence, as it started to destroy the supposedly prudish, bourgeois order.
Homosexuality was decriminalized, mocking the West for not understanding how such behaviour was natural. It became a mecca for free sex, the results of which were eliminated with abortion – the first country to legalize this – and it welcomed naturists.
From 1924, naked people started appearing all around Moscow, decorated with a ribbon bearing the slogan 'Out with shame!' They travelled on the trams, hung out in the parks and wandered the streets. Riding the wave of enthusiasm to build a new society, they threw themselves into eradicating all the values of the old world: family, marriage, tradition. Everything from the past was stuffed into the same box, labelled 'bourgeois relics' and they enthusiastically put into practice their innovative ideology.
The followers of this new group preached that they were descended from apes, and therefore were animals and so had no need of clothes. "We are the children of the sun and the air! We don't need clothes which conceal the beauty of our bodies. Shame is the bourgeois past of the Soviet nation," they pronounced.
And they created the first Soviet nudist beach – just beneath the walls of the Kremlin, on the banks of the Moskva River. People threw off their workers overalls, exposing their pale bodies to the sun and the water. This allowed them a moment's respite from the grey reality, to liberate themselves from routine and also from the unremitting supervision.
But the story of this intense freedom in the Soviet Union is a short one. Within a few years, the People's Commissar of Public Health, Nikolai Semashko, issued an edict banning such practices, justifying it by declaring that society was not ready for this type of change. For the capitalist 'leftovers' of hooliganism and prostitution still persisted. Sadly, not much documentary material remains from that period. At least officially.
In the Black Sea resorts of Crimea and Georgia, however, they still managed to set up nudist beaches.
But the USSR started to fall into a civilizational coma. Men accused of homosexuality were sent to the gulags and their property confiscated. The same happened with abortion. Kissing scenes were cut from films, and prostitution, being a bourgeois relic of course, no longer existed. In 1986, Lyudmila Nikolaevna Ivanova, on the programme TV Space Bridge Leningrad—Boston, announced to the world that: "There is no sex in the Soviet Union!"
So how could there possibly be any talk about nudists? And yet, there was.
"Here in Odessa, there was always a nudist beach," says Marina. "I'm seventy years old and I've been a nudist all my life. Because one is born naked. I don't think I've ever bathed in clothing. The only thing that bothers me slightly is the fact that there are no beach sellers on our beaches. You can't buy any corn on the cob, or samiczek [sunflower seeds – author's note], and not even a cold beer or an ice cream. You have to get dressed and go somewhere. I don't go to Koktebel in Crimea any longer, because it's difficult for Ukrainians to enter the territory. Only Odessa-Mama beach is left. A year ago, my husband persuaded me to try Georgia. But there's no freedom there anymore. I mutinied and refused to go in the water. Scandal."
But it wasn't always like that.
In the mid-1930s, the towns of Gagra in Abkhazia and Batumi in Adjara got permission to open 'medicinal beaches for women'. These were specially fenced off areas for "the conduct of therapeutic and prophylactic procedures including sun and sea bathing under medical supervision." Ladies were treated here for tuberculosis and anaemia, as well as for vitamin D deficiency. Heliotherapy was considered an excellent treatment for ulcers and wounds, and helped encourage the regrowth of broken bones. Similar beaches were available for men, too. They stopped functioning in the early 1990s. The Batumi beach no longer exists, but the Gagra one is still there, although no one looks after it.
And even though today the Black Sea coast abounds with nudist beaches, it is a waste of time to look for one in the South Caucasus.
That said, despite the strict, puritan bans imposed by Big Brother, nudists were able to penetrate the Iron Curtain.
Naked beauties from East Germany
"I was working as an Orbis tourist guide on Sunny Beach [Bulgaria]," recounts Ivan. "Hell, those East German beauties! At that time the Bulgarians didn't sunbathe nude as often as today. Basically, that fashion came from the West. And it was a sight worth seeing. There were separate beaches for women and for men."
In the 1950s, nudism got a new lease of life in the West, and this exotic wind of change also had an effect on the closed-off region of Central and Eastern Europe. Tourists from France and Germany, choosing cheaper holidays on the Baltic Coast, the Black Sea or Lake Balaton, smuggled nudity onto the beaches of the Soviet bloc. There were fines, obviously, but the wave was unstoppable. It was the call of freedom. An absurd game of cat and mouse; uniformed authority against people without underpants.
"In Romania it wasn't so easy. We had a severe regime," says Gabriel, whose family I caught up with on the most famous nudist beach at Vama Veche. "But at night, a few of us would get together and go skinny dipping. Today it's very easy. We do it because we can. There's no great philosophy behind it."
Gabriel is relaxing with his wife, Maria, their seven-year-old daughter, Cristina and their 16-year-old son, Ioan. I watch the family from my towel. First, they play cards, then the brother and sister play with a beach ball, from time to time going to cool off in the sea. When they head off for lunch, I go after them.
It's awkward chatting with naked people. Even when I'm naked myself. It's easier clothed. We go together, but Gabriel is the only one who speaks some English.
"Every year the whole family comes to Vama Veche," he says. "We can't afford to go abroad, but that doesn't matter. It's fantastic here. We've got freedom and joy. There's nothing to be ashamed of. We've known our children since birth and they know us. A body's a body. Everyone's got the same thing. You can only relax on a beach like this because no strangers watch us."
But this staring business didn't always follow the rules. At least not during the socialist era. Young boys on the beach in Chałupy were normally there out of curiosity.
"As a rule, we lay on our stomachs, because when you are eighteen years old, you tend to overreact," says Irek about his holidays on the Baltic coast. "Once we went to look at the East German girls, obviously, and all of a sudden a clothed one comes onto the beach. And she's got no blanket. She comes past us and sits down right on the sand, not far away. First, she takes her knickers off, then her bra. We invite her to join us, because there's three of us and we're happy to share our space. I don't remember now which of us had to move but we went to bathe. She said she couldn't swim and I promised that I'd rescue her if need be. Well, of course she started to drown. I pulled her out of the water and then my friend turned up. 6'3"… So, she goes off on a date with him."
The milicja [Poland's communist-era police – ed. note] went after the nudists, but today, thankfully, they can sunbathe in peace. As long as they are out of the way. The mayor of Jastarnia, Tyberiusz Narkowicz, claims that he has no intention of playing the role of a gendarme in The Troops of St.Tropez and, as long as the nudists don't breach the conventions, they are quite safe.
"We don't have an official nudist beach, but there's a regular spot they use. Everyone knows about it and if they don't want to go there, they don't. Personally, it doesn't bother me. The nudists normally choose secluded spots. They don't go where the beach is full of people."
"When the Iron Curtain fell, rebellion against the authorities, in all its various forms, ceased," says 69-year old Jerzy, who I'm meeting in Odessa. "Then, I thought that nudity was my way of rebelling, but it turned out not to be so. I'm a nudist because I can be, not because I'm rebel. It's got nothing to do with fighting the system, or the milicja any more. Now we're just left with real nudists. But I don't go to the Baltic. The Poles are very intolerant."
This is true. In 2007, the Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS) conducted a survey among Polish people about their views on nudism and toplessness. Barely 5% of those surveyed are happy with the presence of naked people on the beach, and 96% of them have never tried nude sunbathing.
There are 51 naturist organizations around the world, of which 33 are in Europe. The largest is in Holland. In 2008, the Federation of Polish Naturists was founded. It has 115 members, although they point out that the true number of nudists is much higher.
For the next 11 days, I cast off my embarrassment along with my clothes. Never have I experienced such pleasure from bathing in the sea. What's more, I've never come back from the seaside with such an even tan.
Translated by Annie Krasińska
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Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.
- The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
- Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
The value of forecasting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA0Njk2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzM2NDQzOH0.rid9regiDaKczCCKBsu7wrHkNQ64Vz_XcOEZIzAhzgM/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bb93" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31345afbdf2bd408fd3e9f31520c445a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1546" data-height="1056" />
Northwell emergency departments use the dashboard to monitor in real time.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One unique benefit of forecasting COVID-19 hospitalizations is that it allows health systems to better prepare, manage and allocate resources. For example, if the tool forecasted a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks, Northwell Health could begin:</p><ul><li>Making space for an influx of patients</li><li>Moving personal protective equipment to where it's most needed</li><li>Strategically allocating staff during the predicted surge</li><li>Increasing the number of tests offered to asymptomatic patients</li></ul><p>The health-care field is increasingly using machine learning. It's already helping doctors develop <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/06/09/dc19-1870" target="_blank">personalized care plans for diabetes patients</a>, improving cancer screening techniques, and enabling mental health professionals to better predict which patients are at <a href="https://healthitanalytics.com/news/ehr-data-fuels-accurate-predictive-analytics-for-suicide-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevated risk of suicide</a>, to name a few applications.</p><p>Health systems around the world have already begun exploring how <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315944/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">machine learning can help battle the pandemic</a>, including better COVID-19 screening, diagnosis, contact tracing, and drug and vaccine development.</p><p>Cruzen said these kinds of tools represent a shift in how health systems can tackle a wide variety of problems.</p><p>"Health care has always used the past to predict the future, but not in this mathematical way," Cruzen said. "I think [Northwell Health's new predictive tool] really is a great first example of how we should be attacking a lot of things as we go forward."</p>
Making machine-learning tools openly accessible<p>Northwell Health has made its predictive tool <a href="https://github.com/northwell-health/covid-web-data-predictor" target="_blank">available for free</a> to any health system that wishes to utilize it.</p><p>"COVID is everybody's problem, and I think developing tools that can be used to help others is sort of why people go into health care," Dr. Cruzen said. "It was really consistent with our mission."</p><p>Open collaboration is something the world's governments and health systems should be striving for during the pandemic, said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's president and CEO.</p><p>"Whenever you develop anything and somebody else gets it, they improve it and they continue to make it better," Dowling said. "As a country, we lack data. I believe very, very strongly that we should have been and should be now working with other countries, including China, including the European Union, including England and others to figure out how to develop a health surveillance system so you can anticipate way in advance when these things are going to occur."</p><p>In all, Northwell Health has treated more than 112,000 COVID patients. During the pandemic, Dowling said he's seen an outpouring of goodwill, collaboration, and sacrifice from the community and the tens of thousands of staff who work across Northwell.</p><p>"COVID has changed our perspective on everything—and not just those of us in health care, because it has disrupted everybody's life," Dowling said. "It has demonstrated the value of community, how we help one another."</p>
Scientists used CT scanning and 3D-printing technology to re-create the voice of Nesyamun, an ancient Egyptian priest.
- Scientists printed a 3D replica of the vocal tract of Nesyamun, an Egyptian priest whose mummified corpse has been on display in the UK for two centuries.
- With the help of an electronic device, the reproduced voice is able to "speak" a vowel noise.
- The team behind the "Voices of the Past" project suggest reproducing ancient voices could make museum experiences more dynamic.
Howard et al.<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"While this approach has wide implications for heritage management/museum display, its relevance conforms exactly to the ancient Egyptians' fundamental belief that 'to speak the name of the dead is to make them live again'," they wrote in a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-56316-y#Fig3" target="_blank">paper</a> published in Nature Scientific Reports. "Given Nesyamun's stated desire to have his voice heard in the afterlife in order to live forever, the fulfilment of his beliefs through the synthesis of his vocal function allows us to make direct contact with ancient Egypt by listening to a sound from a vocal tract that has not been heard for over 3000 years, preserved through mummification and now restored through this new technique."</p>
Connecting modern people with history<p>It's not the first time scientists have "re-created" an ancient human's voice. In 2016, for example, Italian researchers used software to <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/hear-recreated-voice-otzi-iceman-180960570/" target="_blank">reconstruct the voice of Ötzi,</a> an iceman who was discovered in 1991 and is thought to have died more than 5,000 years ago. But the "Voices of the Past" project is different, the researchers note, because Nesyamun's mummified corpse is especially well preserved.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It was particularly suited, given its age and preservation [of its soft tissues], which is unusual," Howard told <em><a href="https://www.livescience.com/amp/ancient-egypt-mummy-voice-reconstructed.html" target="_blank">Live Science</a>.</em></p><p>As to whether Nesyamun's reconstructed voice will ever be able to speak complete sentences, Howard told <em><a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Weird/wireStory/ancient-voice-scientists-recreate-sound-egyptian-mummy-68482015" target="_blank">The Associated Press</a>, </em>that it's "something that is being worked on, so it will be possible one day."</p><p>John Schofield, an archaeologist at the University of York, said that reproducing voices from history can make museum experiences "more multidimensional."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"There is nothing more personal than someone's voice," he told <em>The Associated Press.</em> "So we think that hearing a voice from so long ago will be an unforgettable experience, making heritage places like Karnak, Nesyamun's temple, come alive."</p>
New research suggests you can't fake your emotional state to improve your work life — you have to feel it.
What is deep acting?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDk2OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTY5MzA0Nn0._s7aP25Es1CInq51pbzGrUj3GtOIRWBHZxCBFnbyXY8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=333%2C-1%2C333%2C-1&height=700" id="ddf09" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9dc42c4d6a8e372ad7b72907b46ecd3f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Arlie Russell Hochschild (pictured) laid out the concept of emotional labor in her 1983 book, "The Managed Heart."
Credit: Wikimedia Commons<p>Deep and surface acting are the principal components of emotional labor, a buzz phrase you have likely seen flitting about the Twittersphere. Today, "<a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/5ea9f140-f722-4214-bb57-8b84f9418a7e" target="_blank">emotional labor</a>" has been adopted by groups as diverse as family counselors, academic feminists, and corporate CEOs, and each has redefined it with a patented spin. But while the phrase has splintered into a smorgasbord of pop-psychological arguments, its initial usage was more specific.</p><p>First coined by sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild in her 1983 book, "<a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520272941/the-managed-heart" target="_blank">The Managed Heart</a>," emotional labor describes the work we do to regulate our emotions on the job. Hochschild's go-to example is the flight attendant, who is tasked with being "nicer than natural" to enhance the customer experience. While at work, flight attendants are expected to smile and be exceedingly helpful even if they are wrestling with personal issues, the passengers are rude, and that one kid just upchucked down the center aisle. Hochschild's counterpart to the flight attendant is the bill collector, who must instead be "nastier than natural."</p><p>Such personas may serve an organization's mission or commercial interests, but if they cause emotional dissonance, they can potentially lead to high emotional costs for the employee—bringing us back to deep and surface acting.</p><p>Deep acting is the process by which people modify their emotions to match their expected role. Deep actors still encounter the negative emotions, but they devise ways to <a href="http://www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu/perch/resources/what-is-emotion-regulationsinfo-brief.pdf" target="_blank">regulate those emotions</a> and return to the desired state. Flight attendants may modify their internal state by talking through harsh emotions (say, with a coworker), focusing on life's benefits (next stop Paris!), physically expressing their desired emotion (smiling and deep breaths), or recontextualizing an inauspicious situation (not the kid's fault he got sick).</p><p>Conversely, surface acting occurs when employees display ersatz emotions to match those expected by their role. These actors are the waiters who smile despite being crushed by the stress of a dinner rush. They are the CEOs who wear a confident swagger despite feelings of inauthenticity. And they are the bouncers who must maintain a steely edge despite humming show tunes in their heart of hearts.</p><p>As we'll see in the research, surface acting can degrade our mental well-being. This deterioration can be especially true of people who must contend with negative emotions or situations inside while displaying an elated mood outside. Hochschild argues such emotional labor can lead to exhaustion and self-estrangement—that is, surface actors erect a bulwark against anger, fear, and stress, but that disconnect estranges them from the emotions that allow them to connect with others and live fulfilling lives.</p>
Don't fake it till you make it<p>Most studies on emotional labor have focused on customer service for the obvious reason that such jobs prescribe emotional states—service with a smile or, if you're in the bouncing business, a scowl. But <a href="https://eller.arizona.edu/people/allison-s-gabriel" target="_blank">Allison Gabriel</a>, associate professor of management and organizations at the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management, wanted to explore how employees used emotional labor strategies in their intra-office interactions and which strategies proved most beneficial.</p><p>"What we wanted to know is whether people choose to engage in emotion regulation when interacting with their co-workers, why they choose to regulate their emotions if there is no formal rule requiring them to do so, and what benefits, if any, they get out of this effort," Gabriel said in <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200117162703.htm" target="_blank">a press release</a>.</p><p>Across three studies, she and her colleagues surveyed more than 2,500 full-time employees on their emotional regulation with coworkers. The survey asked participants to agree or disagree with statements such as "I try to experience the emotions that I show to my coworkers" or "I fake a good mood when interacting with my coworkers." Other statements gauged the outcomes of such strategies—for example, "I feel emotionally drained at work." Participants were drawn from industries as varied as education, engineering, and financial services.</p><p>The results, <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fapl0000473" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">published in the Journal of Applied Psychology</a>, revealed four different emotional strategies. "Deep actors" engaged in high levels of deep acting; "low actors" leaned more heavily on surface acting. Meanwhile, "non-actors" engaged in negligible amounts of emotional labor, while "regulators" switched between both. The survey also revealed two drivers for such strategies: prosocial and impression management motives. The former aimed to cultivate positive relationships, the latter to present a positive front.</p><p>The researchers found deep actors were driven by prosocial motives and enjoyed advantages from their strategy of choice. These actors reported lower levels of fatigue, fewer feelings of inauthenticity, improved coworker trust, and advanced progress toward career goals. </p><p>As Gabriel told <a href="https://www.psypost.org/2021/01/new-psychology-research-suggests-deep-acting-can-reduce-fatigue-and-improve-your-work-life-59081" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">PsyPost in an interview</a>: "So, it's a win-win-win in terms of feeling good, performing well, and having positive coworker interactions."</p><p>Non-actors did not report the emotional exhaustion of their low-actor peers, but they also didn't enjoy the social gains of the deep actors. Finally, the regulators showed that the flip-flopping between surface and deep acting drained emotional reserves and strained office relationships.</p><p>"I think the 'fake it until you make it' idea suggests a survival tactic at work," Gabriel noted. "Maybe plastering on a smile to simply get out of an interaction is easier in the short run, but long term, it will undermine efforts to improve your health and the relationships you have at work. </p><p>"It all boils down to, 'Let's be nice to each other.' Not only will people feel better, but people's performance and social relationships can also improve."</p>
You'll be glad ya' decided to smile<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="88a0a6a8d1c1abfcf7b1aca8e71247c6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QOSgpq9EGSw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>But as with any research that relies on self-reported data, there are confounders here to untangle. Even during anonymous studies, participants may select socially acceptable answers over honest ones. They may further interpret their goal progress and coworker interactions more favorably than is accurate. And certain work conditions may not produce the same effects, such as toxic work environments or those that require employees to project negative emotions.</p><p>There also remains the question of the causal mechanism. If surface acting—or switching between surface and deep acting—is more mentally taxing than genuinely feeling an emotion, then what physiological process causes this fatigue? <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00151/full" target="_blank">One study published in the <em>Frontiers in Human Neuroscience</em></a><em> </em>measured hemoglobin density in participants' brains using an fNIRS while they expressed emotions facially. The researchers found no significant difference in energy consumed in the prefrontal cortex by those asked to deep act or surface act (though, this study too is limited by a lack of real-life task).<br></p><p>With that said, Gabriel's studies reinforce much of the current research on emotional labor. <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2041386611417746" target="_blank">A 2011 meta-analysis</a> found that "discordant emotional labor states" (read: surface acting) were associated with harmful effects on well-being and performance. The analysis found no such consequences for deep acting. <a href="https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0022876" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Another meta-analysis</a> found an association between surface acting and impaired well-being, job attitudes, and performance outcomes. Conversely, deep acting was associated with improved emotional performance.</p><p>So, although there's still much to learn on the emotional labor front, it seems Van Dyke's advice to a Leigh was half correct. We should put on a happy face, but it will <a href="https://bigthink.com/design-for-good/everything-you-should-know-about-happiness-in-one-infographic" target="_self">only help if we can feel it</a>.</p>
Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.
- Archaeologists find a cave painting of a wild pig that is at least 45,500 years old.
- The painting is the earliest known work of representational art.
- The discovery was made in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.