Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?

Baby blue eyed boozers get bossed


Mexican faceApparently blue eyed people are seen as less dominant than brown-eyed people – regardless of whether or not they are attractive (see my earlier post; Take me to your (tall and probably attractive) leader).

But it’s not just because of the eye colour. Czech researchers think it might be because people with blue eyes are treated as children longer and become conditioned to being more submissive.

And according to economics writer Chris Dillow in The Times (2/6/10): binge-drinking is more common in northern than southern Europe. Researchers at the Universities  of Oslo and Wyoming say that it’s in the genes and because blue-eyed people, more common in the North, are shyer they drink more to loosen their inhibitions.

Back in December 2010 it was reported that Scientists had discovered a gene, HTR2B, which can make people more susceptible to bouts of sudden aggression when under the influence of alcohol. Research with violent criminals in Finnish prisons found they were three times more likely to carry an abnormal variant of the gene than ordinary people.

Although not the full answer as to why people engage in spontaneous and motiveless violence it explains how it can be triggered by other genetic and environmental factors.

This Q20* gene mutation is only found in Finns, and in only 1% of them, and as most of whom are not violent so there is no point in screening for it.

And it doesn’t explain what happens in the UK. But research at the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published in Nature shows that genetic factors coupled with drug and alcohol abuse can lead to impulsivity and spontaneous violence.

The Finns were chosen for the prison study because they are genetically distinct but they also appear to have problems with depression and drinking, maybe due to the long hours of darkness. The first time I was in Helsinki it was still Winter yet there were a number of people lying in the streets in a drunken stupour in the freezing cold. Passers-by just checked to see if they were OK and moved on as if it were quite normal.

And the last time I was in Helsinki wandering round a supermarket I couldn’t find the section for wines and spirits. I eventually asked a local who pointed me to a separate Alco section (the beer was with the bottled water so it shows their take on what constitutes an alcoholic drink)She explained that it was for their own good as alcohol-related problems are in their genes. Seems like she was right.

Despite that particular problem Finland is one of the most highly rated countries in the world on a range of measures and a popular one for people who want to live elsewhere.

First version posted June 2010


Author: mikethepsych

He says he's a psychologist but aren't we all?

8 thoughts on “Baby blue eyed boozers get bossed

  1. I understand that a longitudinal study conducted on a sample of 1000 people by Prof. Ivor Wackadoodle at the University of Kamchatka has found that people with black eyes have a propensity for violence and often get into fights………………..

  2. You are a very capable person!

  3. Pingback: Booze & hangover cures – fact and fiction « Mike the Psych's Blog

  4. Why modest men get the brush-off from women

    Modest? Shy? Reluctant to tell everyone how brilliant you are? If you’re male, you can probably add ‘single’ to that list.
    ‘New men’ beware: Research has revealed women don’t like modesty in a man.
    Instead, cocky types are more likely to win their hearts, with Simon Cowell’s arrogant attitude more appealing than Hugh Grant’s bumbling on-screen behaviour.
    Other men also find male modesty an unattractive trait – perhaps because they believe that bashful boys are letting the side down.
    Research shows that women prefer cocky types like Simon Cowell rather than Hugh Grant’s bumbling on-screen behaviour
    The three female researchers showed more than 200 people videotapes of a man and a woman applying for a job as a computer lab manager.
    The male and female actors both followed the same script in the mocked-up interview and were equally humble about their achievements.
    The volunteers were asked to rate them for modesty, likeability and a range of other factors. Despite the actors being equally qualified for the job, the man was liked less than the woman.
    Meekness makes men seem less confident and ambitious and more weak, uncertain and insecure, the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity reports.
    ‘Modest men were not liked as much as modest women because they were viewed as ‘too weak’ for a man and because they were viewed as insufficiently confident and ambitious,’ the U.S. researchers wrote.
    They said the results showed that while women had been able to change their roles to become more assertive, men still faced prejudice when they tried to change.
    Professor Laurie Rudman, of Rutgers University in New Jersey, said: ‘Our findings demonstrate that men encounter prejudice when they behave modestly.
    ‘They also raise the possibility that men may avoid behaving modestly because they risk backlash when they do.
    Changes in gender roles that have afforded women more financial independence have not yielded relaxed demands for men.
    ‘Men are still required to uphold masculine ideals that require chronic exhibitions of strength while avoiding signs of weakness.’
    Professor Rudman added that pressure to be macho can be bad for men’s health.
    ‘Men are expected to be successful, powerful, and dominant, show no weaknesses or chinks in the armour, and avoid acting in ways that might be perceived as feminine,’ she said.
    ‘Men’s mental and physical health can suffer from adhering to masculine ideals.’

    What does all this mean for us blue eyed modest men????????…………..I am going outside and I may be a while…………..

  5. “Next the researchers used Photoshop to give the brown-eyed men blue eyes and the blue-eyed men brown eyes. The photos were then rated by a new batch of participants. The intriguing finding here was that the dominance ratings were left largely unaffected by the eye colour manipulation. The men who really had brown eyes, but thanks to Photoshop appeared with blue eyes, still tended to be rated as more dominant.”

    Thank you for the reference to the original article which I find extremely interesting, but I am now confused by the above statement from the article which seems to suggest that it is not the colour of eyes which gives the impression of dominance but some other “unknown” factor – but perhaps I am missing something here?

    • I know this is a fascinating piece of research. There is obviously something that the brown eyes have, not measured in the experiment, that correlates with perceived dominance.

  6. The key phrase is “Czech researchers think it might be ……..” which basically means they have no idea but want to get published so they make some unvalidated comments and I am sure the BPS will fully support the writings of an economist about “psychological” assumptions!
    I think I have missed my way of making a living here………concoct some wooly idea, dress it up as some “psychological theory” and then sell it to a gullible market…..and people wonder why I am such a lovable old cynic.

    • If you click on the blogroll “proper psychology” you will find details of the Czech research on the BPS’s own blog. In the article written by the economist on binge drinking he did quote the scientific research to support his views.