(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the American College of Arts and Sciences have found that women are more likely to receive the so-called white lie (“an innocent lie”, that is, an untruthful answer masking with pleasant words the true unflattering opinion of a person lying about the subject under discussion) than men. An article about this was published in the publication Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
All people from time to time use such a lie – for example, when they tell someone that the interlocutor looks normal after a stormy party the day before or that a failed haircut looks good. In some situations, such a distortion of reality will just reassure a person one time and will not bring much harm.
However, regular lies of this kind may have completely different consequences if it occurs at work where honest feedback is important, even if it is unpleasant. Here, an “innocent lie”, designed to maintain a relationship, to avoid harming another, or to present oneself in a positive light, prevents a person from drawing adequate conclusions and improving their competencies. As a result, contrary to the good intentions of the person who is telling the truth, the employee cannot grow and develop, and the common cause suffers.
To find out how the employee information is distorted by gender, scientists conducted two series of tests. In the first, they measured the participants’ perception of the actions of another person. The subjects were given a hypothetical assessment of the manager about the poor work of the employee and showed what feedback he chose to transmit directly to the employee. The reviews were distributed randomly – from the truthful, which were the toughest, to the least truthful, which were the mildest. Then the participants had to guess based on the selected feedback the gender of the employee.
“The participants in the vast majority of cases guessed that the ineffective employee who was given the“ white lie” the least truthful, but the most pleasant feedback – was a woman,” says one of the authors of the work, Lily Jampol. According to scientists, this conclusion indicates that participants consider this provision of feedback the most mundane and likely.
The second part of the study examined the likelihood that participants themselves would behave in a similar way. The subjects were asked to rate two poorly written essays, signed only by the initials of the authors: AB or SB. Their gender was not known. Given that the participants did not know the gender of the authors and the assessment was conducted secretly from others, the results showed that they actually thought about the essay.
After presenting their assessments, the subjects were asked to provide feedback directly to each writer in the chat so that the author could improve in the future. At this point, their names (Andrew or Sarah) were revealed, discovering that one was a man and the other a woman. Participants presented an assessment to each author, and also gave them informative comments to improve future essays.
It turned out that, on average, participants were inclined to “approve lie” to a woman writer: her grades, when they were given, already knowing the gender, turned out to be much higher than with a secret grading. Also, Sarah was given more positive comments than Andrew. At the same time, personal feedback for a male writer was statistically indistinguishable from secret ratings that he was given without knowing the gender.
The study complements earlier works, which, for example, showed that women are generally described “warmer” and in more positive terms than men when evaluating workers, while their objective, quantitative performance indicators are described more negatively (with the same levels of real productivity and personal competencies of workers of different sexes). Such distortions interfere with both the employees themselves and the real results of the company, the researchers note.
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