Six Enviable Traits From Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe shares common positive characteristics that not only distinguish it from Western Europe, but also from most of the world. During the twentieth century, few regions on the planet suffered as much as Eastern Europeans. They endured fascism, communism, corruption, economic chaos, invasion, occupation, famine, war, and genocide. Given that, it’s amazing that Eastern Europeans aren’t more screwed up. That brings us to their greatest trait: resilience.
1. There’s one characteristic that all Eastern Europeans share, from Finland to Macedonia, from Slovenia to Ukraine—it’s toughness. Eastern Europeans are a gritty, intense, and supernaturally sturdy people. Communism, wars, and winters have sculpted their tradition of getting by with little. They may whine and complain, but they’ll endure any hardship and overcome any challenge with a stoic and grim determination.
2. Eastern Europeans excel at having a simplified tax policy. That’s ironic because communist countries were known for their bureaucracy, while capitalist ones were known for their efficiency. However, today, Westerners are saddled with convoluted tax codes, while Eastern Europeans are champions of flat taxes. They’ve fulfilled a capitalist fantasy: simple, predictable taxes. Estonia led the revolution in 1994 and today has a 23% flat tax. Lithuania (33% flat tax) and Latvia (25%) followed. Then, in 2001, Russia adopted a 13% flat tax. Next came Ukraine (15%), Slovakia (19%), Romania (16%), Serbia (14%), Czechia (12.5%), Macedonia (10%), Albania (10%), Montenegro (9%), Bosnia (10%), and Bulgaria (10%). Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Greece, and Slovenia are considering flat taxes. Meanwhile, Americans and Western Europeans are plagued with a Byzantine tax code.
3. Eastern European cities have outstanding pedestrian zones. Europe’s six biggest squares are all in Eastern Europe. Although Western European cities have nice pedestrian zones, because Eastern Europeans don’t have as many cars as Western Europeans, they’re more likely to walk everywhere. In America, the only pedestrian zones are in our spiritless shopping malls. It’s a pity we don’t copy Eastern Europe and seal off vast areas in our city center for walkers.
4. Eastern Europeans share a balanced work ethic. Even with workaholic Slovenians on one extreme and relaxed Bosnians on the other, Eastern Europeans tend to balance work and play better than Americans. In this way, Eastern Europeans are similar to Western Europeans, although Eastern Europeans are one step more in the relaxed direction.
5. Eastern Europeans are less stressed than Western Europeans. When Gallup asked, “Did you experience stress yesterday?” Russians were the most chilled out Europeans, with just one in 10 answering yes. In general, Eastern Europeans are less stressed out than the West. Michael Derrer, a Swiss consultant and translator for Eastern Europe, told me, “Western perfectionism asks for improving situations, which of course is good in the long run, but Eastern Europeans can cope with situations that are not perfect, which is useful for the short-term individual well-being.”
6. Eastern Europe is depopulating faster than any other region. People often describe a decreasing population as a “problem” or a “demographic crisis.” However, a forever-increasing population is a doomed Ponzi scheme. Although Eastern Europeans haven’t learned how to market their declining populations as a positive attribute, they can show the world the vast benefits of everyone getting more elbowroom.
Of course, there are other shared positive traits in Eastern Europe. For example, they maintain their traditions, focus on their families, are well-connected to their history, and are hospitable. However, these aren’t just Eastern European traits; they are human traits. Moreover, Eastern Europe isn’t the global leader on such issues (nor are they the laggard, either).
Michael Derrer observed another common bond that was neither negative nor positive. He said, “Eastern Europe has an untarnished relation to traditional European values. I do appreciate the liberalization in the western world during the past 40 years. But it is useful for us to see the old ideals still alive in the minds of Eastern Europeans. I am thinking of traditional values like progress towards higher well-being, family success, and traditional gender relations.”
In The Hidden Europe, I also examine 17 negative traits that Eastern Europeans have in common. Thus, to claim that Eastern Europe is an antiquated or meaningless term because Eastern European nations have no longer anything in common is wrong. Of course, Eastern Europeans are a diverse bunch, as The Hidden Europe certainly proves.
On the other hand, Western Europeans are also diverse (compare Portugal with Norway), yet that doesn’t stop us from seeing their common traits. Indeed, Eastern Europeans routinely speak about “the West” (clumping the US and Western Europe) as if we’re all the same. That’s natural because there are common bonds, despite the diversity—the same goes for Eastern Europe.
Although there is no longer a physical east-west barrier in Europe, there still exists a faint, but measurable, cultural and economic divide. Yes, it continues to fade, but it hasn’t disappeared yet.
Photo credit: Francis Tapon
Tallinn's Town Hall square - Raekoja Plats - in Estonia during the holidays season in 2008
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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