Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Author:Malcolm Gladwell [GLADWELL, MALCOLM]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
ISBN: 9780316040341
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: 2011-06-06T16:00:00+00:00

It had only been about twenty minutes since they had arrived at the party when Jill pulled Steve aside, obviously bothered about something.

“What’s wrong?” asked Steve.

“It’s Larry. I mean, he knows that you and I are engaged, but he’s already made two passes at me tonight.”

Jill walked back into the crowd, and Steve decided to keep his eye on Larry. Sure enough, within five minutes, Larry was reaching over and trying to kiss Jill.

If you’ve been insulted, are you more likely to imagine Steve doing something violent to Larry?

The results were unequivocal. There were clear differences in how the young men responded to being called a bad name. For some, the insult changed their behavior. For some it didn’t. The deciding factor in how they reacted wasn’t how emotionally secure they were, or whether they were intellectuals or jocks, or whether they were physically imposing or not. What mattered—and I think you can guess where this is headed—was where they were from. Most of the young men from the northern part of the United States treated the incident with amusement. They laughed it off. Their handshakes were unchanged. Their levels of cortisol actually went down, as if they were unconsciously trying to defuse their own anger. Only a few of them had Steve get violent with Larry.

But the southerners? Oh, my. They were angry. Their cortisol and testosterone jumped. Their handshakes got firm. Steve was all over Larry.

“We even played this game of chicken,” Cohen said. “We sent the students back down the hallways, and around the corner comes another confederate. The hallway is blocked, so there’s only room for one of them to pass. The guy we used was six three, two hundred fifty pounds. He used to play college football. He was now working as a bouncer in a college bar. He was walking down the hall in business mode—the way you walk through a bar when you are trying to break up a fight. The question was: how close do they get to the bouncer before they get out of the way? And believe me, they always get out of the way.”

For the northerners, there was almost no effect. They got out of the way five or six feet beforehand, whether they had been insulted or not. The southerners, by contrast, were downright deferential in normal circumstances, stepping aside with more than nine feet to go. But if they had just been insulted? Less than two feet. Call a southerner an asshole, and he’s itching for a fight. What Cohen and Nisbett were seeing in that long hall was the culture of honor in action: the southerners were reacting like Wix Howard did when Little Bob Turner accused him of cheating at poker.


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