Even hormone levels may be less preordained than one might suppose: researchers have found that testosterone levels in men decline when they spend more time with their children. School is where many girls are first rewarded for being good, instead of energetic, rambunctious, or even pushy.
They have longer attention spans, more-advanced verbal and fine-motor skills, and greater social adeptness. Soon they learn that they are most valuable, and most in favor, when they do things the right way: neatly and quietly. And yet the result is that many girls learn to avoid taking risks and making mistakes. This is to their detriment: many psychologists now believe that risk taking, failure, and perseverance are essential to confidence-building.
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Boys, meanwhile, tend to absorb more scolding and punishment, and in the process, they learn to take failure in stride. Complicating matters, she told us, girls and boys get different patterns of feedback. Boys also benefit from the lessons they learn—or, more to the point, the lessons they teach one another—during recess and after school.
Similarly, on the sports field, they learn not only to relish wins but also to flick off losses. Too many girls, by contrast, miss out on really valuable lessons outside of school. We all know that playing sports is good for kids, but we were surprised to learn just how extensive the benefits are, and how relevant to confidence. Learning to own victory and survive defeat in sports is apparently good training for owning triumphs and surviving setbacks at work. And yet, despite Title IX, fewer girls than boys participate in athletics, and many who do quit early.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, girls are still six times as likely as boys to drop off sports teams, with the steepest decline in participation coming during adolescence. This is probably because girls suffer a larger decrease in self-esteem during that time than do boys. What a vicious circle: girls lose confidence, so they quit competing, thereby depriving themselves of one of the best ways to regain it.
They leave school crammed full of interesting historical facts and elegant Spanish subjunctives, proud of their ability to study hard and get the best grades, and determined to please. The requirements for adult success are different, and their confidence takes a beating. Consider the following tale of two employees. Our friend often found herself shooting down his ideas, correcting his misperceptions, and sending him off for further research. Rebecca still made appointments to speak with her and always prepared a list of issues for their discussions.
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She was mostly quiet in meetings with clients, focused as she was on taking careful notes. She never blurted out her ideas; she wrote them up with comprehensive analyses of pros and cons. She admired his willingness to be wrong and his ability to absorb criticism without being discouraged.
Rebecca, by contrast, took negative feedback hard, sometimes responding with tears and a trip to her own office to collect herself before the conversation could continue. Which is why any discussion of this subject requires a major caveat. The more a woman succeeds, the worse the vitriol seems to get. Back at the Yale School of Management, Victoria Brescoll has tested the thesis that the more senior a woman is, the more she makes a conscious effort to play down her volubility—the reverse of how most men handle power.
In the first of two experiments, she asked participants, both men and women, to imagine themselves as either the most senior figure or the most junior figure in a meeting. The result: both sexes viewed this woman as significantly less competent and less suited to leadership than a male CEO who talked for the same amount of time.
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When the female CEO was described as talking less than others, her perceived competency shot up. So confident women can find themselves in a catch For now, though, for Rebecca and for most women, coming across as too confident is not the problem. When we embarked on this quest two years ago, we had a slight conflict of interest.
As journalists, we were exhilarated by the puzzle of why high-achieving women were so lacking in confidence, but as women, we grew gloomy. Delving into research and interviews, we more than once found ourselves wondering whether the entire female sex was doomed to feel less than self-assured. But as our understanding of this elusive quality shifted, we began to see the outlines of a remedy.
Confidence is not, as we once believed, just feeling good about yourself. Perhaps the clearest, and most useful, definition of confidence we came across was the one supplied by Richard Petty, a psychology professor at Ohio State University, who has spent decades focused on the subject. Anger, intelligence, creativity can play a role. It is the factor that turns thoughts into judgments about what we are capable of, and that then transforms those judgments into action. The simplicity is compelling, and the notion that confidence and action are interrelated suggests a virtuous circle.
So confidence accumulates—through hard work, through success, and even through failure.
He was testing a couple of things—the idea that confidence can be manipulated and the idea that, in some areas, women have less of it than men. When Estes had the students solve a series of these spatial puzzles, the women scored measurably worse than the men did. So he repeated the experiment, this time telling the students they had to at least try to solve all the puzzles. Yet also hopeful. Using a different test, Estes asked everyone to answer every question. Both the men and the women got 80 percent right, suggesting identical ability levels. He then tested the students again and asked them, after each question, to report their confidence in their answer.
Just having to think about whether they felt certain of their answer changed their ability to do well. Finally, Estes decided to attempt a direct confidence boost. He told some members of the group, completely at random, that they had done very well on the previous test. On the next test they took, those men and women improved their scores dramatically. It was a clear measure of how confidence can be self-perpetuating. These results could not be more relevant to understanding the confidence gap, and figuring out how to close it.
They were as able as the men were. What held them back was the choice they made not to try. The advice implicit in such findings is hardly unfamiliar: to become more confident, women need to stop thinking so much and just act. And yet, there is something very powerful about this prescription, aligning as it does with everything research tells us about the sources of female reticence.
Almost daily, new evidence emerges of just how much our brains can change over the course of our lives, in response to shifting thought patterns and behavior. If we keep at it, if we channel our talent for hard work, we can make our brains more confidence-prone. What the neuroscientists call plasticity , we call hope. Giving out your number may seem fairly innocuous, but it can have big consequences.
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The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?
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F or most of the past two decades, American troops have been deployed all over the world—to about countries. During that time, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have experienced combat, and a generation of officers have come of age dealing with the practical realities of war. They possess a deep well of knowledge and experience. For the past three years, these highly trained professionals have been commanded by Donald Trump. To get a sense of what serving Trump has been like, I interviewed officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees.
Among the officers I spoke with were four of the highest ranks—three or four stars—all recently retired. All but one served Trump directly; the other left the service shortly before Trump was inaugurated.
The arguments build a steel hull around the president, attempting to keep the rising tide of probes from getting him wet by closing off every angle for investigation. But like the similarly unsinkable Titanic, this legal edifice hit an iceberg on a trip to Manhattan. Last Thursday, Donald Trump said something that, on its face, seemed inexplicably self-defeating. Already under attack for having asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, he publicly asked China to do the same. The majority of Republican voters and politicians still oppose his impeachment.
His China comments may even prove politically shrewd. Research into the psychology of secrecy and confidence helps explain why. On the latest episode, the show departed from its dependence on guest stars to deliver a fresh, hilarious take on stereotypes. When the perpetrator of a gas-station robbery turned out to be white, the black anchors cheered.
The newscast then swiftly turned into a ferocious competition: With every crime, the foursome anticipated the race of the culprit. And with every reveal, the group found their expectations subverted. On a third-down play last season, the Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith stood in shotgun formation, five yards behind the line of scrimmage. As he called his signals, a Houston Texans cornerback, Kareem Jackson, suddenly sprinted forward from a position four yards behind the defensive line.
Geopolitics is a contest of bad ideas. The great virtue of Twitter is that it forces users to be concise. One downside is that when an extremely powerful crazy person —the president of the United States, say—uses it, he can sound a bit like the Abrahamic God in one of his more wrathful moments. The subject of this tweet, Turkey, had just hours before been the unconditional beneficiary of a sickening desertion by the United States. Late last night, the White House issued a statement confirming that the United States would stand by while Turkey asserted control over northern Syria—including territory controlled by the Kurds, who have been integral to the anti—Islamic State coalition.
Turkey has consistently promised to strangle any Kurdish state before it becomes permanent. Apparently Trump assented to the Turkish position, and in a hurry to extricate America from northern Syria, abandoned the Kurds to the mercies of their most powerful enemy.
In its new season, the Netflix animated comedy untangles the influences that can lead young men to embrace sexist ideas. But early in the first episode of the newly released third season, the series presents a more shocking visual than usual. Starting with his debut in Batman No. While always sporting his signature clown makeup, he functioned first as a gangland spree killer in the s, and was then softened to more of a gimmicky nuisance in the s.
In the s, when the Adam West—starring Batman TV series aired on ABC, the Joker was a goofy sideshow, a cackling trickster played by Cesar Romero who famously refused to shave his mustache for the role, instead painting white makeup right over it. Middle school. The very memory of it prompts disgust.