Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Foot In Mouth: Breaking The Rules Of Social Behavior

Date:
July 19, 2005
Source:
American Psychological Society
Summary:
While most people can usually avoid telling painful truths by inhibiting themselves, the results of experiments conducted by University of New South Wales psychological researcher Bill von Hippel suggest that we should be extra wary of making social blunders when we are under strain or fatigued.

Some of us can hold our tongues better than others but even the best of us will blurt out the truth when we're tired, stressed or distracted, according to a new research report.

"The dinner party guest who puts his foot in his mouth could lack a crucial mental ability that stops the rest of us from blurting out our true feelings," according to a report in the July issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society.

But while most people can usually avoid telling painful truths by inhibiting themselves, the results of experiments conducted by University of New South Wales psychological researcher Bill von Hippel suggest that we should be extra wary of making social blunders when we are under strain or fatigued.

The ability to behave in a socially appropriate way was assessed by asking 71 participants to eat a chicken's foot under conditions of high or low social pressure, von Hippel reported.

People in the high-pressure group were served the foot by a Chinese woman who described it as the national dish of China and her personal favorite, while those in the low-pressure group were served the foot by a non-Chinese woman who had said only that it was Chinese food.

Before the experiment, participants' ability to hold their tongues — called inhibitory ability — was measured with a test that assessed their ability to suppress irrelevant or inappropriate thoughts.

"People who responded most negatively to the chicken foot dish under high social pressure turned out to be those who also performed worst on the inhibitory ability test," von Hippel said. "They were much more likely to make a disapproving face and a negative statement such as: 'That's bloody revolting!' "

"We found that people with poor inhibitory ability were more likely to behave in a socially inappropriate way than people with good inhibitory ability. But even people with good inhibitory ability were likely to behave inappropriately when distracted. This suggests that our ability to suppress our true feelings is disrupted under demanding conditions.

"It's well established that older people, very young people and some brain-damaged people have less inhibitory control over thought and action. However, this new research suggests that important variations occur in the general population in this inhibitory ability — some of us are naturally better at holding our tongue than others," von Hippel said.

"Many people may be unable to inhibit the tendency to blurt things out even when they know the rules of social behavior and want to behave appropriately.

"It's likely that people who can inhibit their true feelings in a challenging social situation have a greater chance in succeeding in jobs requiring a high degree of social etiquette, such as international diplomacy. But even experienced career diplomats may find it increasingly difficult to act appropriately if they are distracted or fatigued, or as they grow older. That's an area of research we're investigating right now."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Society. "Foot In Mouth: Breaking The Rules Of Social Behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050719002131.htm>.
American Psychological Society. (2005, July 19). Foot In Mouth: Breaking The Rules Of Social Behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050719002131.htm
American Psychological Society. "Foot In Mouth: Breaking The Rules Of Social Behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050719002131.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins