Study: Women keep the peace in marriage

Updated 01 July 2013
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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.”


Microsoft urges regulation of face-recognizing tech

Updated 15 July 2018
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Microsoft urges regulation of face-recognizing tech

  • Microsoft and other tech companies have used facial recognition technology for years for tasks such as organizing digital photographs
  • While the technology can be used for good, perhaps finding missing children or known terrorists, it can also be abused

SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft’s chief legal officer on Friday called for regulation of facial recognition technology due to the risk to privacy and human rights.
Brad Smith made a case for a government initiative to lay out rules for proper use of facial recognition technology, with input from a bipartisan and expert commission.
Facial recognition technology raises significant human rights and privacy concerns, Smith said in a blog post.
“Imagine a government tracking everywhere you walked over the past month without your permission or knowledge,” he said.
“Imagine a database of everyone who attended a political rally that constitutes the very essence of free speech.”
It could become possible for businesses to track visitors or customers, using what they see for decisions regarding credit scores, lending decisions, or employment opportunities without telling people.
He said scenarios portrayed in fictional films such as “Minority Report,” “Enemy of the State,” and even the George Orwell dystopian classic “1984” are “on the verge of becoming possible.”
“These issues heighten responsibility for tech companies that create these products,” Smith said.
“In our view, they also call for thoughtful government regulation and for the development of norms around acceptable uses.”
Microsoft and other tech companies have used facial recognition technology for years for tasks such as organizing digital photographs.
But the ability of computers to recognize people’s faces is improving rapidly, along with the ubiquity of cameras and the power of computing hosted in the Internet cloud to figure out identities in real time.
While the technology can be used for good, perhaps finding missing children or known terrorists, it can also be abused.
“It may seem unusual for a company to ask for government regulation of its products, but there are many markets where thoughtful regulation contributes to a healthier dynamic for consumers and producers alike,” Smith said.
“It seems especially important to pursue thoughtful government regulation of facial recognition technology, given its broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse.”
Concerns about misuse prompted Microsoft to “move deliberately” with facial recognition consulting or contracting, according to Smith.
“This has led us to turn down some customer requests for deployments of this service where we’ve concluded that there are greater human rights risks,” Smith said.