The horror flick. Meant to terrify, torture, disgust, and delight. Love them or hate them they are difficult to escape this time of year. In the coming weekend there are at least four horror/thrill movies to be released including the latest in the Saw series (Saw VI, if you’re keeping track), Antichrist, The Stepfather, and The House of the Devil. While some people are always up for a good scare, others are adamant about avoiding anything even remotely gory. But why? Johnston (2006) has highlighted four possible motivations for viewing graphic horror (gore watching, thrill watching, independent watching, and problem watching). Her study found these distinct motivations to be associated with fearfulness, empathy, and sensation seeking as well as the viewer’s level of identification with the killers vs. the victims of the films.
Adolescents’ Motivations for Viewing Graphic Horror (Johnston, 2006)
Understanding the most effective ways to respond to and cope with stress has important implications for our longevity and well-being. Acute stressors are immediate and temporary while chronic stressors are more prolonged and involve ongoing threat and arousal. With regard to acute psychological stress, past research has indicated that those who exhibit large physiological reactions (i.e., cardiovascular responses) are more susceptible to negative health outcomes such as hypertension. New evidence, however, casts doubt on the assertion that large physiological reactions to stress are always bad for health. Carroll, Lovallo, & Phillips (2009) have shown that low reactivity to acute psychological stress is associated with a diverse set of negative outcomes including depression, weight gain, and compromised immunity. These findings make it much more difficult to label stress responses and coping strategies as “good” versus “bad” given that each seems to have both positive and negative consequences for one’s physiological and psychological well-being.
Carroll, Lovallo, & Phillips (2009)
Yesterday Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa L. King was made commandant of the drill sergeant school at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and is the first woman to fill such a position in any of the Army’s schools across the country. According to a recent article by James Dao of the NY Times women constitute a very small percentage of Army personnel in general (13%) and an even smaller percentage of the Army’s highest-ranking enlisted soldiers in active-duty (8%). The lack of female personnel and those in high-ranking positions has been attributed to “pregnancy, long hours and the prohibition against women serving in frontline combat positions” by the Army. Experimental research, particularly in the areas of gender and stereotyping, indicates that women are evaluated differently than men in military training which may also explain the lack of women in higher-ranking positions.
Boldry, Wood, and Kashy (2001) found that although there were no actual performance differences between male and female cadets men were perceived as having the motivation and leadership to succeed in the military while women were thought to have more feminine attributes that would impair performance. Other research has shown that the proportion of women in a given unit is related to performance evaluation such that when women represent a smaller/token portion of the unit their performance is rated lower than men, but when there was a higher proportion of women performance was rated higher than men (Pazy & Oron, 2001). It seems that perception, not performance, contributes to the maintenance of gender barriers in the military among other domains for both men and women. Hopefully, one day more of us can see the world and ourselves as Sergeant Major King does: “When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a female, I see a soldier.”
First Woman Ascends to Top Drill Sergeant Spot
Gender Stereotypes and the Evaluation of Men and Women in Military Training
Sex proportion and performance evaluation among high-ranking military officers