I have always hated the saying “you throw like a girl," but now it seems to be influencing science. A new psychology study at UCLA found that people associate anger with men and sadness with women. Even stranger, sometimes individuals wrongly assume that a sad person is a woman when, in fact, there are no clues regarding gender. The best part of this study, however, is the fact that the data was based upon throwing a baseball.
For the study, researchers recorded male and female actors throwing baseballs in a way that conveyed a specific emotion. Then, volunteers watched the videos (technology was used to disguise the thrower’s gender) and were asked to guess both the throwers’ gender and emotion . . . The researchers chose baseball throwing because it is easily recognizable and gender neutral but lends itself to a wide range of variations.
Interestingly, people nailed the throwers’ emotion; they could easily discern whether the thrower was acting “sad” or “angry.” On the other hand, they totally sucked at predicting gender. They substantially (and erroneously) identified “sad” throwers as women and “angry” throwers as men. Similar studies have also illustrated gender biases in connection with emotion. In one study, for instance, people frequently identified a baby’s crying as “angry” when told it was a boy, but when they were told that the baby was a girl, they labeled the crying as “sad.”
Obviously this means that everyone is sexist, including UCLA, and no one should ever go to school there or you will automatically also be known as a sexist and woman-hater forever and ever. I think it also means that society has deeply embedded stereotypes that affect even basic decision-making and judgments, including something seemingly factual like gender. We expect women to express unhappiness by acting upset or “sad,” while it is much more likely that a man will respond negatively through anger. Just look at the general public’s reaction to the Miami Heat crying in the locker room. We think they are total pussies now. Men “should not” act like those douchebags (um, regardless of the crying).
My question is: how do you throw like a “sad” person? I understand how you can act “angry” and hurl the ball like you want to murder someone. But how do you throw sadly? Do you let your lip quiver and sniffle a bit? I don’t get it. Nevertheless, the biggest flaw that I see in this study is the perception (and reality) that females, on the whole, throw weaker/softer than males. A weak toss would more likely be associated with sadness than anger. Thus, the force of the throw could have influenced the subject’s prediction of gender even more than the fake “emotion” behind it. Basically, the sexist UCLA study seems to be somewhat worthless, because they forgot that there is at least some truth behind the saying, “you throw like a girl.” Dumbass scientists.