Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Male answer syndrome

HERE'S a phrase/concept I hadn't run into before: the 'Male Answer Syndrome':

Try an experiment. Ask a male friend a question, something completely outside his sphere of expertise.

Will you get an answer? Chances are, you will. The male friend is exhibiting behavior known as Male Answer Syndrome. It's the compulsion by many individuals (mostly men, but sometimes women) to answer questions readily, regardless of knowledge.

                                                —Jean Godden

I had never thought of this before, but I think it's probably true. It may related to the legendary inability of men to ask for directions when driving. Males have a very hard time admitting to not knowing something, at least not when a female is present.

Why do guys do this?

I wonder if it happens mainly when guys are around women? That it may not be a 'guy thing' per se, but rather a reaction by guys to female presence. To female expectations. I keep hearing from women how they are attracted to guys who are 'confident', or even 'arrogant'. Guys cannot help but be aware of this. Maybe the 'male answer syndrome' is their response, an attempt to live up to women's expectations. Men want women to be cute and sexy, so women dress and make-up to be cute and sexy. Women expect men to be confident, so men act confident even if they don't feel confident. Both are part of the presentation of self, the persona we construct for ourselves for the outside world to view. Both are attempts to accommodate the perceived expectations of others.

I really don't think guys do this as much when they're with other guys, in casual situations. In locker rooms and at Thursday-night poker games, there may be a lot of rooster strutting and trash talk, but if a guy doesn't know a fact, he's as likely to say, "Shit, I dunno. Fred, do you know?" Women don't realize this, of course, because by definition they're not present at such times.

It happens in other situations, too, with both men and women, when they are in the presence of others whom they feel the need to impress. It's part of performance anxiety. No one wants to admit they don't know something when all eyes are looking at them.

I think women feel this is a male trait because, in the presence of women, men feel performance anxiety with respect to factual knowledge, even in casual situations. And so do women, but of another type. No woman would ever admit to a man, for example, that her bountiful cleavage was engineered with duct tape. Maybe that's the female equivalent of the male answer syndrome. It's all part of preserving that image of self that we project to the world.

BTW, the site linked above, The Word Spy, is very interesting. It's another site that collects new words and usages, which I'm always interested in. It seems to be more careful and detailed than most of the other sites of this type (such as Pseudodictionary), which often seem very random and amateurish. A nice resource to have on the web.

Mentioned by mathowie on MetaTalk

ki(ru), ki(rasu), ki(reru)
meaning: cut, cut off, exhaust, hang up (telephone)
taisetsu == important, valuable
kitte == postage stamp
Left radical is 'seven', and right is 'sword'. Henshall suggests remembering this kanji by: 'Seven sword cuts'.
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