Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gray Invites Accommodating Change

A recent study to be published shortly in the Archives of Sexual Behavior reveals that women look at issues more in shades of gray rather than black and white.

Men and women were given natural and manufactured objects to classify in particular categories. Is a tomato, for example, a fruit? Subjects could choose "part of," "not part of," or "somewhat part of." The male subjects were far more likely to assert that the objects were completely in or out of a particular category. The women, on the other hand, were more likely to reject absolute answers in favor of the "somewhat" (or "it's not that simple") option.

One researcher associated with the study said, "The more people see the world in black-and-white terms regardless of whether they're on the right or the left, the harder it is for them to change their views on anything. There are only two options for them, and the distance to the other possible viewpoint is too far. People who see the world in shades of gray, on the other hand, can adjust their views more easily, if they get new or conflicting information, because all they have to do is shift to a slightly lighter or darker shade."

One consideration that this study invites is "Does that mean women are more likely to alter their opinions if presented with new information? It's an interesting possibility that has implications in the boardroom, voting booth, and in other daily decisions.

"Successful" CEOs have traditionally been seen as strong, decisive leaders who take charge—very much the commander role. But in a fast-changing, complex and global market, adapting quickly to change and fostering creative innovation are increasingly important survival skills for companies to master. And those strengths often come more naturally to people who are more comfortable with ambiguity and who see the world, or at least CAN see the world, from multiple viewpoints, or in multiple shades of gray."

Perhaps, as stated in the article it's not a matter of people's world views differing between liberal and conservative perspectives but between those who think of issues in terms of black and white and those who think in complex shades of gray.