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Elizabeth II, Queen of the South Pole
To celebrate her Jubilee year, the Queen had a large chunk of Antarctica named after her; possibly upsetting the Argentinians and Chileans.
It’s a question on the minds of many, when the gift-giving season comes around again: What do you get someone who already has everything? The problem gets a bit more pressing if you’re the British Cabinet, and the Queen is coming to visit. Their solution? Clever: two gifts - 60 table mats, and a chunk of Antarctica, henceforth forever known as Queen Elizabeth Land. At least on British maps.
On Tuesday, 18 December 2012, the Queen (86) marked the end of her Diamond Jubilee year with a trip to 10 Downing Street, then-Prime Minister David Cameron's official residence, to attend a meeting of the Cabinet. Despite her six decades on the throne, and the fact that Buckingham Palace, her official residence, is less than a mile away , it was the first time Elizabeth attended a Cabinet meeting.
Two reasons spring to mind for this curious lack of neighbourliness. First, it’s not that she never gets to see her Prime Ministers . Britain’s unwritten constitution dictates that the PM makes his way once a week to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the Queen, during which she may ask questions and express her views on matters of state. To conceal this yawning gap between royal protocol and democratic principle, these meetings fall under the rules of the colloque singulier : they are always private, no records are kept, and the contents remain confidential afterwards. And that explains the second reason: a return visit to a full Cabinet meeting would endanger confidentiality, and thus be much more problematic.
But there’s a third problem: regular visits by the monarch to the Cabinet would leave the door open for their direct influence on the political process, if by nothing else than the compliant fawning of elected officials towards a hereditary figurehead. Some aspects of the Queen’s visit in 2012 did indeed raise the eyebrows of some specialists in constitutional law (though hardly anyone else seemed bothered).
PM David Cameron next to the Queen - sitting in his armchair. (picture: Jeremy Selwyn via news.com.au)
For one, there was the applause and the reverent bows and curtseys  by government ministers as they greeted the Queen. Or the obsequious gifts with which they presented her (more on those below). Or the planned coincidence of Cabinet discussing, among more pressing matters such as Afghanistan and the economy, changes to the rules of royal succession . Or, last but not least, the fact that she got to sit in the Prime Minister’s chair - the only one with arm rests - during her attendance of the Cabinet meeting.
Cameron, seated to the right of the Queen, remarked that “[w]e think the last time a monarch came to the Cabinet [in Downing Street] was in 1781 , during the American War of Independence,” adding: “I’m happy to report that relations have improved greatly since then”.
The interval of almost two and a half centuries between visits stresses the importance to the British constitutional arrangement that the monarch stay aloof of daily (in this case, weekly) politics. Which is why some observers thought Cameron’s invitation for the Queen to attend Cabinet was a constitutional faux pas.
Britain does not have written constitution, but rather has developed a modus vivendi between monarchy and democracy based on the trial and error process of history, and guided by certain key documents like the Magna Carta (1215) and the Bill of Rights (1689). The latter one stipulates the principle of separation of Crown, Government and Parliament. It was brushed aside by Eric Pickles, then-Secretary of State for Local Government, and unofficially David Cameron’s bruiser, in response to questions on the wisdom of the PM’s invitation: "We are her Cabinet, we operate for her. [… G]iven it's her Cabinet, she can come any time she wants".
The Queen for her part seemed more keenly aware of the situation’s potential pitfalls, and marked her status as strictly an observer  to the meeting by demonstratively pushing her chair back a few inches, as if to say: Go ahead without me, pretend I’m not here. She only spoke once at the Cabinet table: to request jokingly that the next Queen’s Speech  be “on the shorter rather than the longer side”.
Some of the 60 table mats gifted to the Queen by her Cabinet. (picture: AP via Metro)
Her Majesty’s visit itself was on the shorter side: after 30 minutes, she left the Cabinet room, where the meeting went on for another hour. Upon leaving, she was presented with 60 lacquered table mats - one for every year of her reign  - emblazoned with traditional scenes from Buckingham Palace. This could be construed as a bit tacky , but apparently the gift, paid for by a whip-round among Cabinet ministers, was suggested by the Queen’s aides. And, as Pickles (again) defended: “One can never have too many table mats”.
After her Downing Street visit, the Queen crossed Whitehall on foot with William Hague - her 22nd Foreign Secretary - to his Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Not to be outdone by his Cabinet colleagues, Hague then presented his sovereign with a gift the size of about 6.6 billion table mats .
He said: “As a mark of this country’s gratitude to the Queen for her service, we are naming a part of the British Antarctic Territory in her honour as ‘Queen Elizabeth Land’ […] The British Antarctic Territory is a unique and important member of the network of fourteen UK Overseas Territories . To be able to recognise the UK’s commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honour”.
The Queen was presented with a stone prised from the frozen wastes that constitute her newest territory, roughly equal to the southern third of the British Antarctic Territory (BAT).
Foreign Secretary William Hague unveiling Queen Elizabeth Land (r.) to Queen Elizabeth (l.) (picture: Alastair Grant/AP via The Guardian)
The BAT is situated south of 60˚S latitude and between 20˚W and 80˚W longitude, with those two meridians converging on the South Pole to give the territory its pizza-slice shape. It includes a handful of islands  and the Antarctic Peninsula  as well as the deep-frozen interior. Measuring 1.7 million km2 (660,000 sq. mi), the BAT is the largest of Britain’s overseas territories, but arguably also its least substantial. As may be gleaned from its main sources of income: a tax on the research scientists in the territory, and the sale of postage stamps.
The BAT was first claimed by Britain in 1908, and transformed into a British Dependent Territory in 1962. But with half a dozen other countries claiming their own slice of the South Pole, the potential for exploration to escalate into confrontation was huge. Hence the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, Article IV of which committed all 7 claimants  to freeze their claims (the legal term is abeyance). They, and the by now 50 signatories, have the right to establish bases anywhere on the continent, but for scientific research only.
The framework of the Treaty has kept Antarctic free from military bases, mineral exploitation and nuclear weapons, and managed fishing and tourism. It has also allowed some signatories to recognise each other’s claims without upsetting the broader agree-to-disagree framework. Notably France, Norway, New Zealand, Australia and the UK recognise each other’s claims - it helps that they don’t overlap, as is the case with the Chilean and Argentine claims , which overlap not just each other, but also the BAT.
Needless to say that Chile, Argentina and the UK do not recognise each other’s claims. Hence the FCO’s rush to point out that providing a hitherto unnamed bit of the BAT with a name did not affect the validity of the British claim either way, and that the status quo would remain as it was.
Map of Queen Elizabeth Land within the British Antarctic Territory (picture: Wikipedia)
Queen Elizabeth Land, at 437,000 km2 (169,000 sq. mi), is twice the size of the UK, and comprises the southern, narrowest third of the pizza slice. Its northern boundary is the frozen coastline, where the mainland touches the massive Filcher-Ronne Ice Shelf; and to the west thereof a latitudinal line separating it from Coats Land to the north. Its main geographic feature, apart from lots of snow and ice, are the Pensacola Mountains, running from north to south across the middle of the territory.
Henceforth, the name Queen Elizabeth Land will appear on all official British maps, but other countries are free to adopt or ignore the new name as they please. It’s highly unlikely that Chile or Argentina will mark the territory as Tierra Reina Isabel. Argentina especially has a bone to pick with Britain - and names are an important element in the dispute.
This year wasn’t just the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it was also the 30th anniversary of the short, sharp war between both countries over a group of islands north of the BAT, and east of Patagonia, Argentina’s Deep South. To the British, and those countries that recognise their claim to the islands these are the Falklands, while the Argentines, and those that support their claim know them as the Malvinas .
The naming of Queen Elizabeth Land prompted Argentina’s Foreign Ministry to lodge a formal complaint with British ambassador John Freeman in Buenos Aires, expressing their country’s "firmest rejection of the recently announced pretension of the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of naming an area of the Argentine Antarctic sector". As far as the Argentines are concerned, the naming is a reflection of "anachronistic [British] imperialist ambitions that hark back to ancient practices", an infringement of the spirit of the Antarctic treaty - and clearly linked to the fight over the Falklands/Malvinas. The previous slight to Buenos Aires regional ambitions was the posting, last March, of Prince William to the Falklands in his role as RAF search-and-rescue pilot.
All this aggravation for - what? Compared to coastal Antarctica, home to penguins, seals, and most of the continent’s research stations , the BAT’s hinterland is a sterile waste, landlocked and covered in a mile of ice. Even now, in antipodean summer, the thermometer struggles to reach -20˚C. Nothing lives here, and nobody survives there for very long. Robert Falcon Scott, who lost the race to the South Pole to Roald Amundsen exactly a century ago this year, died en route back to the coast, but not before exclaiming: “God, what an awful place!” It is so inhospitable that most of it was only charted from the middle of the 20th century, by air photography.
One wonders whether, like his boss David Cameron, William Hague didn’t also make a faux pas by naming such a desolate, uninviting place for the Queen. She could take it as an insult, especially with so many other, nicer places named after her. Earlier this year, also in recognition of the Diamond Jubilee, the British parliament renamed the Clock Tower housing the Big Ben the Elizabeth Tower. Across Parliament Square, the Queen Elizabeth II Centre houses exhibitions, official inquests and press conferences. And around the Commonwealth and beyond, countless schools, hospitals, streets, squares, bridges, buildings and monuments are named after her.
As for prominent geographic features, there are the Queen Elizabeth Range and the Queen Elizabeth Islands , both in Canada. Curiously, and this might explain the apparent lack of enthusiasm on the monarch’s part, two segments of Antarctica already bears her name. In 1931, when her grandfather George V was still on the throne, a piece of Antarctica was named Princess Elizabeth Land by Sir Douglas Mawson. It is now in the Australian sector of the frozen continent. And then there’s another Queen Elizabeth Range, also in Antarctica, named by J.H. Miller in 1957.
A map of the 7 claims on Antarctica, frozen since 1959 (picture: Mount Holyoke College)
But maybe what the Queen wants, and feels, doesn’t enter into it. As Klaus Dodds, professor of geopolitics at Royal Holloway , remarked: “Place-naming is one of the most powerful ways of reinforcing sense of your ownership of a territory”. According to Dodds, the naming is part and parcel of Britain’s assertion of its ‘strategic presence’ in the most contested part of the Antarctic: “With the absence of an indigenous human population, maps and charts have always been instruments of power in the polar context.”
“According to the Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica, Britain was responsible for nearly 5,000 names, with the US leading the pack with over 13,000. New Zealand put Maori place names on its maps of its polar territory, the Ross Dependency. Even smaller polar operators such as Bulgaria are responsible for hundreds of place names.”
Argentina's postal assertion of possession, not only of a slice of Antarctica, but also of the Malvinas and other islands. (picture: 123RF)
“However, there are 3,000 places that have multiple names through translation/transliteration, or different names. The Antarctic Peninsula is called Graham Land (UK), Tierra San Martin (Argentina), Palmer Peninsula (US) and Tierra de O’Higgins (Chile). In 1964, the UK and US agreed to a new strategy, which effectively divided the peninsula into two parts and named accordingly. The northern section was called Graham Land and the southern portion became known as Palmer Land on their maps. So agreement is possible – but the US and UK were, and remain, close allies.”
The term ‘Queen Elizabeth Land’, however benevolently approved by the (British) Antarctic Place-Names Committee, won't get such a warm welcome in Argentina or Chile.
So perhaps the Queen now has a few more reasons never to visit a Cabinet meeting again: not only would you might risk having some horrible part of the world named after you - in the process further upsetting an already unfriendly nation - it also turns out you can have too many place mats.
A set of stamps released by the BAT, showing the British claim (picture: Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch of NOAA/NESDIS)
Strange Maps #591
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
 Under five minutes in a chauffeur-driven, police-escorted royal Bentley. ↩
 Twelve Prime Ministers in all have served Queen Elizabeth II, beginning, incredibly, as far back as Winston Churchill (1951-’55), followed by Anthony Eden, (1955-’57), Harold Macmillan (1957-’63), Alec Douglas-Home (1963-’64), Harold Wilson (1964-’70, and again 1974-’76), Edward Heath (1970-’74), James Callaghan (1974-’79), Margaret Thatcher (1979-’90), John Major (1990-’97), Tony Blair (1997-’07), Gordon Brown (2007-’10) and David Cameron (2010-). ↩
 Strict confidentiality such as it exists between doctor and patient, or between penitent and confessor. ↩
 by the gentlemen and ladies, respectively. The female curtsey (from courtesy) involves a bending of the knees as well as a bow of the head. ↩
 The new law will allow the as yet unborn child of Prince William and Kate Middleton, now in her third month of pregnancy, to remain third in line to the throne - even if it is a girl. Under current rules, a subsequent son would overtake an older girl in the line of succession. ↩
 That monarch was George III (r. 1760-1820), who on that occasion also was attending rather than presiding the Cabinet. The last monarch to chair a meeting of his ministers was George I (r. 1714-’27). Another George, Elizabeth’s father George VI (r. 1936-’52), on one occasion attended a War Cabinet meeting, which was held outside Downing Street. ↩
 As part and parcel of her political neutrality, the Queen can neither vote nor stand in elections. ↩
 Read each year by the monarch at the opening of Parliament but written by his or her government. ↩
 The Queen is at present the second-longest reigning British monarch, after Queen Victoria (r. 1837-1901, or 63 years and 216 days). Elizabeth will break the record on 9 September 2015. ↩
 I guess it’s not tacky if you actally live there. ↩
 Until 2002 called British Dependent Territories, these fragments of Empire remain under British rule, without being part of Britain proper. They are (in Europe:) Gibraltar; Akrotiri and Dhekelia; (in the Caribbean and North Atlantic:) Anguilla; Bermuda; the British Virgin Islands; the Cayman Islands; Montserrat; the Turks and Caicos Islands; (in the South Atlantic:) the Falkland Islands; St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; (in Oceania:) Pitcairn; (in the Indian Ocean:) the British Indian Ocean Territory; (in Antarctica:) the British Antarctic Territory. ↩
 The South Orkney Islands, the South Shetland Islands, and Alexander I Island - all also claimed by Argentina, and the latter two also by Chile. ↩
 The northernmost protrusion of the Antarctic land mass, and the place where most visitors to the area make landfall. It in fact consists of several islands, linked by frozen ice. ↩
 Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Norway, New Zealand and the UK. Together, they lay claim to about three quarters of the Antarctic land mass. The US, Peru, South Africa and Russia reserve the right to stake a claim at a later time. ↩
 Called, respectively, Provincia de la Antártica Chilena and Antártida Argentina. ↩
 The name Falklands was given to the islands by the British captain John Strong after a visit in 1690, for Anthony Carey, 5th Viscount Falkland, who was Lord of the Admiralty for a few years at the end of the 17th century. The Spanish name Malvinas derives from a French original, Malouines, given in 1764 by the French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville, for the island’s first settlers, fishermen from the French port of Saint-Malo. Each side considers the other side’s name a propaganda term. ↩
 A total of 30 nations operate about 70 research stations in Antarctica, with personnel numbering about 1,000 in winter and up to 4,000 in summer. ↩
 Formerly the Parry Islands, this archipelago was renamed after Elizabeth upon her coronation. Located at the very north of Canada, they are almost the antipodes of Queen Elizabeth Land, on the opposite side of the planet. ↩
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>
It's hard to stop looking back and forth between these faces and the busts they came from.
- A quarantine project gone wild produces the possibly realistic faces of ancient Roman rulers.
- A designer worked with a machine learning app to produce the images.
- It's impossible to know if they're accurate, but they sure look plausible.
How the Roman emperors got faced<a href="https://payload.cargocollective.com/1/6/201108/14127595/2K-ENGLISH-24x36-Educational_v8_WATERMARKED_2000.jpg" ><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ2NDk2MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTUzMzIxMX0.OwHMrgKu4pzu0eCsmOUjybdkTcSlJpL_uWDCF2djRfc/img.jpg?width=980" id="775ca" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="436000b6976931b8320313478c624c82" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="lineup of emperor faces" data-width="1440" data-height="963" /></a>
Credit: Daniel Voshart<p>Voshart's imaginings began with an AI/neural-net program called <a href="https://www.artbreeder.com" target="_blank">Artbreeder</a>. The freemium online app intelligently generates new images from existing ones and can combine multiple images into…well, who knows. It's addictive — people have so far used it to generate nearly 72.7 million images, says the site — and it's easy to see how Voshart fell down the rabbit hole.</p><p>The Roman emperor project began with Voshart feeding Artbreeder images of 800 busts. Obviously, not all busts have weathered the centuries equally. Voshart told <a href="https://www.livescience.com/ai-roman-emperor-portraits.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Live Science</a>, "There is a rule of thumb in computer programming called 'garbage in garbage out,' and it applies to Artbreeder. A well-lit, well-sculpted bust with little damage and standard face features is going to be quite easy to get a result." Fortunately, there were multiple busts for some of the emperors, and different angles of busts captured in different photographs.</p><p>For the renderings Artbreeder produced, each face required some 15-16 hours of additional input from Voshart, who was left to deduce/guess such details as hair and skin coloring, though in many cases, an individual's features suggested likely pigmentations. Voshart was also aided by written descriptions of some of the rulers.</p><p>There's no way to know for sure how frequently Voshart's guesses hit their marks. It is obviously the case, though, that his interpretations look incredibly plausible when you compare one of his emperors to the sculpture(s) from which it was derived.</p><p>For an in-depth description of Voshart's process, check out his posts on <a href="https://medium.com/@voshart/photoreal-roman-emperor-project-236be7f06c8f" target="_blank">Medium</a> or on his <a href="https://voshart.com/ROMAN-EMPEROR-PROJECT" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">website</a>.</p><p>It's fascinating to feel like you're face-to-face with these ancient and sometimes notorious figures. Here are two examples, along with some of what we think we know about the men behind the faces.</p>
Caligula<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ2NDk4Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MzQ1NTE5NX0.LiTmhPQlygl9Fa9lxay8PFPCSqShv4ELxbBRFkOW_qM/img.jpg?width=980" id="7bae0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ce795c554490fe0a36a8714b86f55b16" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="992" data-height="558" />
One of numerous sculptures of Caligula, left
Nero<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ2NTAwMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTQ2ODU0NX0.AgYuQZzRQCanqehSI5UeakpxU8fwLagMc_POH7xB3-M/img.jpg?width=980" id="a8825" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9e0593d79c591c97af4bd70f3423885e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="992" data-height="558" />
One of numerous sculptures of Nero, left
A new study proposes mysterious axions may be found in X-rays coming from a cluster of neutron stars.
Are Axions Dark Matter?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5e35ce24a5b17102bfce5ae6aecc7c14"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/e7yXqF32Yvw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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.