Study: Women keep the peace in marriage

Updated 01 July 2013

Study: Women keep the peace in marriage

NEW YORK: Picture this scenario: You’re on a road trip with your partner, trying to find your hotel, lost in an unfamiliar area and driving in circles. Your partner gets agitated, body and voice tense, and says in exasperation, “We’re never going to find it!“
How do you react? Does the stress rub off on you, or do you try to calm your partner down?
A recent study says your response may well depend on your gender.
Researchers from the University of Arizona found that, for couples who cooperate well, men tend to mimic their partner’s mood while women try to regulate their partner’s emotions.
“Women try to keep the peace,” speculates relationship researcher and lead study author Ashley Randall.
The study, published last week in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, looked at 44 heterosexual couples in the United States who had been together an average of six years. Most were living together or married.
The scientists shot video of each couple conversing about eating habits, exercise and other aspects of daily life. Then subjects viewed the video while rating how positive or negative they were feeling at the time of the conversation. Researchers also looked for signs of cooperation, such as open communication, sympathy, active listening and compromise.
Among those couples who cooperated well, the partners tended to fall into gender-distinct roles, with men following an emotional lead and women seeking to moderate the man’s emotions.
Men may do this simply to appease women. In an example cited in a podcast on the study hosted by the journal, a wife asks her husband what he thinks of her outfit. He says he likes it, but chances are, her husband’s enthusiasm won’t be enough to fully convince her and she will want to try on a few other options.
Stereotypically but also anecdotally, men avoid relationship conflict, says couples therapist Michael Radkowsky, who was not involved in the study.
Randall, in the podcast, suggested that men might be subconsciously syncing their emotions with their partner’s during cooperation in order to avoid a drawn-out discussion.
If the woman suspects that is the case, Randall said, she might become less positive in an effort to determine his true feelings. Or, if he is excessively negative or agitated, she said, a woman might try to temper her partner’s feelings.
In studies examining parents’ interactions with their infants, similar patterns and gender differences arise. Mothers tend to calm their babies when they get excited, while fathers are quick to encourage and even heighten a child’s animated state.
Randall notes a “huge link” between romantic relationships and mental and physical health. Studies have shown that married people are healthier in many ways than singles, particularly singles who have gone through the difficulty of divorce. And relationship conflict can lead to physical disorders such as high blood pressure.
So what can a couple do when working together doesn’t come naturally?
Couples should try to “listen openly to a partner’s perspective, without judgment or defensiveness, and to negotiate — you have to be willing to give to get,” said clinical psychologist Sarah Holley at San Francisco State University.
Radkowsky agrees, and said people often believe it’s the job of their partner to meet their needs, which he calls “the enemy of cooperation.” He said each person in a couple shouldn’t be afraid to meet their own needs, separately.
“People don’t grasp that part of being a happy couple is also being two strong individuals,” he said. “It’s good to be in charge of your own mood no matter how your partner feels.”

Two engineers help fight Lebanese farming foe

Updated 14 min 21 sec ago

Two engineers help fight Lebanese farming foe

  • Early-warning system lets farmers know when to protect their crops from fruit flies
  • Mobile app tells them the best time to spray pesticides to halt their advance

DUBAI: An award-winning startup led by two female Lebanese engineers has created an automated early-warning system that allows Middle East farmers to protect their crops against the Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world’s most destructive pests.

Fruit flies can devastate entire harvests and have infested over 300 types of vegetables, fruits and nuts globally, causing financial ruin to countless farmers in the Arab world.

However, an ingenious system designed by Nisrine El Turky, a computer engineer and university professor, and Christina Chaccour, an electrical engineer, will tell farmers via text messages and mobile app of the best time to spray pesticides to halt the pests’ advance.

“Many Lebanese farmers weren’t able to export apples because the quality of their produce wasn’t good enough,” said El Turky, co-founder of IO Tree.

“So many I met were desperate to sell a crate of apples for $2 (SR7.50), which is nothing. I wanted to help the sector by better integrating technology.”

Farmers were found spraying too much pesticide to try to kill fruit flies. (Shutterstock)

She began by investigating the difficulties that farmers faced, attending workshops and seminars, and visiting farms. She found the main problem was that farmers were spraying too much pesticide to try to kill fruit flies.

“I found a way that could reduce the use of pesticides and increase production.”

El Turky began working on the IO Tree concept in February 2018 and swiftly built a working prototype, which she showed to Chaccour, who promptly joined the company as a co-founder.

IO Tree’s technology is being tested on farms in Lebanon and the Netherlands. There are two prototype machines — one for indoor use and another for outdoor. The machines can be placed in an orchard, field or greenhouse.

“We need to ensure that the prototype functions in all conditions. Outdoors, there is sun, dust, rain and other weather factors that could disrupt its operation,” said El Turky, who still works up to 10 hours a week as a lecturer at Lebanon’s Notre Dame University.

Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, the machine’s sensors monitor indicators such as temperature and moisture, as well as studying plant stress.

The system can detect and identify pests, providing data on the likely scale of an imminent pest invasion and the best action the farmer should take to combat it. Information is conveyed to the farmer via IO Tree’s app.

“If you’re using pesticides, our app will tell you the best pesticide to use to tackle that problem, the quantity you need and when to spray.”

IO Tree’s sensors use machine learning to measure plant stress. (Supplied photo)

EL Turky said her technology had shown over 90 percent accuracy in identifying medflies.

“Machine learning means that every day the system becomes more accurate,” she said.

“We’re also working on identifying other pests, but medfly is our main target. Once medflies arrive at a farm, they will eat everything.”

IO Tree will enable farmers to use fewer pesticides, reducing environmental damage, while produce will be in better condition and can command a higher sales price.

“By using fewer pesticides, farmers will be better able to preserve biodiversity: Spraying kills a lot more insects than just pests,” she said. IO Tree has initially targeted all types of fruit trees, plus tomatoes and cucumbers, and the product will be launched commercially in September.

“We’re aiming at farmers directly,” said El Turky.

IO Tree’s services will be sold via subscription. After a farmer signs up for one year initially, the company will install its machines at the farm. The number of machines required per acre depends on crop type, crop yield, land topography and other factors.

The company’s initial target market is the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, though it also plans to expand to Europe and eventually worldwide.

The product’s potential has helped IO Tree win a string of startup competitions. It was selected to represent Lebanon GSVC 2019 (Global Social Venture Competition) at the University of California, Berkeley.

IO Tree also joined Lebanon’s Agrytech accelerator, which provided $44,000 in funding, and schooled the fledgling entrepreneurs in how to create and manage a startup.


• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.