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Women dress modestly to avoid aggression from other women, study suggests
Attractive women are especially likely to dress modestly, but only in certain scenarios.
- Psychologists have long studied male intrasexual aggression, but women's is relatively understudied.
- Past research shows that women tend to be more aggressive toward women who are attractive or who display signs of sexual permissiveness.
- The results of a new study suggest that women make strategic decisions on what to wear in order to minimize aggression from other women.
When women choose what to wear, how much of that decision is based on how other women might perceive them in public? That's the main question of a new study, which found that women tend to strategically dress modestly in order to avoid intrasexual aggression.
Publishing their findings in Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers wrote that relatively little is known about women's intrasexual aggression, though men's has been studied for more than a century.
"Even less work has focused on how women actively defend themselves against such aggression," the researchers wrote. "Yet, we should expect that women can (a) grasp which cues/signals evoke same-sex aggression and (b) strategically damp (some of) those cues/signals when aggression risk is heightened, thereby avoiding the potentially high costs of victimization."
It's well known that women tend to socially exclude or be indirectly aggressive toward women who are desirable or show signs of being sexually permissive. They're seen as threats. For example, studies show that women who wear red are more likely to attract men, as well as aggression from other women.
In the new study, the researchers tested how intrasexual aggression would likely play out in various scenarios. One scenario went like this: Sara (a woman who recently moved to a new city) used a friend-finding app to meet Carol (a prospective new friend) and Martha (Carol's coworker) at a Starbucks.
The scenario included three variations of Sara: dressed modestly and average weight (T-shirt and khakis), dressed revealingly and average weight (short skirt and knee-high boots with a low-cut top), and dressed revealingly and average weight. The participants were shown one of these three versions of Sara, and then they predicted how Carol would behave toward Sara. Behavior was divided into three categories: indirect aggression (e.g. "acting bitchy"), social distancing (avoiding Sara), and direct aggression (insulting Sara to her face, physical harm).
Krems et al.
The participants predicted that Carol would be most aggressive (primarily in the form of social distancing) to the version of Sara who was traditionally attractive and wearing revealing clothing. Interestingly, there was no difference between the predicted levels of indirect aggression toward Sara at either weight when she wore revealing clothing.
"This pattern of findings suggests that women might incur such aggression when they are perceived as intending to seek male attention, regardless of their capacities to successfully do so."
But that didn't hold true for social distancing: Participants thought that Carol would be more likely to avoid the attractive-revealing version of Sara in the future. Almost nobody predicted that Carol would be directly aggressive in any scenario.
In three more experiments, the researchers asked women which type of outfit they'd wear to different kinds of social events. Some of the hypothetical events were same-sex, others mixed. The researchers figured that women would strategically change their sartorial strategies based on whether men attended, considering that dressing revealingly around men might be beneficial.
Krems et al.
In general, women said they'd dress more modestly when attending a same-sex event, no matter whether it was a professional or social gathering. But attractive women were even more likely to dress modestly at same-sex events. (Particularly, attractive women were especially likely to dress modestly when meeting a prospective female friend, but not when meeting an existing female friend.)
The researchers said this was consistent with past studies that found attractive women are especially vulnerable to aggression from other women, and suggested that dressing modestly is likely a strategic defense against such attacks.
"Like men, women can and do compete — over friends, status, romantic partners," study author Jaimie Arona Krems (@JaimieKrems), an assistant professor of psychology at Oklahoma State University, told PsyPost. "Once we acknowledge the reality that women are active agents who compete and aggress against one another, we can generate so many questions about how women defend themselves against this aggression."
"More specifically, women are deeply rational and strategic; women are aware of the threats posed by others and act in ways to avoid those threats. Here, for example, we show that women are aware that appearing and/or dressing certain ways make them more likely targets of other women's aggression, and that, in situations where this knowledge is salient, and for women most at risk of incurring aggression, women then choose to dress in ways might help them avoid others women's slings and arrows."
Krems et al.
Still, the researchers noted that there are multiple reasons why women choose to dress how they do, and avoiding intrasexual aggression is only one.
"...because attracting and maintaining same-sex friends can confer numerous important benefits for women, future work could benefit from exploring how women might manipulate their appearances to establish and maintain same-sex friendships—as well as to avoid same-sex aggression," the researchers wrote. "For example, donning the baggy sorority t-shirts and short shorts common to young women on some college campuses may communicate not only the wearer's on-campus status but also her dedication to her coalition."
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
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