Shocking Differences between Men and Women
How do you feel when you see somebody cheating?
What goes through your head when a perfectly mobile person parks in a handicapped spot? Do you yell in vain at cars that speed through red lights? Have you gotten angry while waiting behind a 20-item shopper in the 15-item-limit express lane at the grocery store?
Most of us don’t like people who cut corners. Even if we succumb to temptation ourselves and occasionally take the easy way out, we still hate it when others cheat.
But many of us like it—and some of us really, really like it—when those cheaters suffer for their crimes. And most of that “many of us,” it turns out, are MALE.
A new study in the journal Nature studied brain reactions to punishment of cheaters, concluding that women empathize with crooks who receive electric shocks … while men tend to enjoy seeing these bad eggs get cooked.
The study focuses on the feeling the Germans call “schadenfreude,” the enjoyment of another’s misfortune—and, incidentally, the longest German word yet to appear on this blog.
In an experimental game setting, both men’s and women’s brains showed activity in pain-related areas when “fair” players received mild electric jolts. But men’s brains—unlike those of the ladies—showed no such reaction for shocked cheaters. And the males, but not the females, had spikes of activity in their brains’ “reward” area when watching the writhing recreants.
You might think that these results would lead the researchers to speculate whether the difference is due to biology or the sex roles learned in society—and if the results would differ if there were financial or psychological punishments instead of physical ones.
Women familiar with the experiment, however, were asking:
1. Are those cheaters feeling better now--will they be OK?
2. Do they need me to make them some soup?
3. Oh my Gawd ... look at that woman over there—you know, the size 10 in the size 8 dress—can you believe she actually wore those hideous shoes?!?
Meanwhile, men were overheard saying:
1. When do I get to press that button myself?
2. How do we crank that shock higher? Higher, HIGHER!!!
3. I need to go on a quick beer run … can I take this thingee with me to the grocery store express lane?