For those who didn’t know, I’ve signed with a new publisher and my first book out with them, The Think You Do, should be available late Nov-Dec ’22.
- the backstory and Chapter 1 – Manly Men Thinking Manly Thoughts Manickly (and Women Putting Up With Them)
- Chapter 2 – Avoiding Deadly Silences
- Chapter 3 – Romancing Real Women … and I don’t have to write more because I’ve already got everybody’s attention
- Chapter 4 – Change (which is Constant) and Managing the Work-Life Balance
As always, let me know what you think.
NextStage did a bunch of political research during the ’08 Presidential race, and some of which appeared on my BizMediaScience blog. One of the questions that we still get with regularity involves the public’s perception of Senator Clinton versus Governor Palin.
The question being asked was asked about politics and the answer has little to do with politics. It really has to do with how people perceive another person’s hard work, ambition, drive, steadfastness, …, in a word, competitiveness, and especially how these traits are gender-biased. Thousands of years ago when I was in college a fellow told me that I was steadfast. “And that is a quality of the Lord,” he added. I responded, “I’m steadfast, you’re stubborn, and he’s too stupid to know any better.”
My response beyond being glib is a statement of psychological distance.
Let me give you an example. Steadfast, as in “holding to one’s beliefs”, is great when people share your beliefs. But if you don’t share my beliefs and I’m somehow stopping you from achieving your goals? Then perhaps my steadfastness is, to you, stubbornness. What if you have no opinions about my beliefs per se but believe I have no idea what I’m doing? Then perhaps I’m too stupid to know any better.
The above is a demonstration of a given trait being considered as a plus or minus based on psychological distance — how far one person’s beliefs are from another’s.
Competitiveness is interesting because it comes in two forms. Goal-directed competitiveness — where you compete against yourself to achieve a goal — has no psychological distance component. Interpersonal competitiveness — when you want to beat someone else — has a strong psychological distance component attached. Psychological distance comes into play when there’s recognizable winners and losers.
Public perception of an individual’s competitiveness is what gets votes. Both men and women think highly of people who are goal-directed, not so highly of people who are interpersonally competitive (probably because we don’t know when that competitive nature will be directed against us). And both men and women will create extreme psychological distance between an interpersonally competitive female but not so much towards an interpersonally competitive male, which is where gender-bias comes in.
Politicians get votes by demonstrating a balance between goal-directed and interpersonal competitiveness. Both Senator Clinton and Governor Palin are competitive — they are politicians, after all. Senator Clinton’s staff had a difficult task (whether they realized it or not) that they executed well (whether they realized it or not); Senator Clinton had to compete against her Democratic rivals and convince the public that she was goal-directed. Specifically, that her goal wasn’t the Presidency, her goal was to benefit the voters.
Governor Palin’s staff never managed to get her image out of the interpersonal side of competition. People who were undecided knew she was against the Democrats, but once you got past that, what were her goals? There was no goal-direction to balance her interpersonal competitiveness.