Gender in Paranormal Investigation Brandy Stark Florida Ghost Gathering 2008 SPIRITS of St. Petersburg
Why study gender in the paranormal? <ul><li>I have noticed a growing gap between male and female perceptions and behaviors when it comes to paranormal investigation. </li></ul><ul><li>Curiosity leads me to ask if some of these behavioral differences and disagreements relate to biological and societal perceptions as pertaining to gender. </li></ul>
The Study *This is a very informal mixed methods study utilizing SurveyMonkey™. Some questions were simply to obtain demographics, others were to get more in-depth and personal answers to participants’ personal observations. *Participants were obtained using the snowball technique: information was posted on the SPIRITS MySpace account, the SPIRITS webpage, and sent out via 10 group lists on Yahoo.com. I do not know who answered the survey as no names were asked and no data was recorded to track participants. *Primarily, it was a phenomenological study set in the framework of social constructionism. *One survey was a general survey for both genders to answer to obtain demographics. A second survey was created and copied, one for each gender to answer, that related more specifically to gender issues.
Biases *Researcher is female, with a strong background with female networking (family, education, educational programs, Humanities, and paranormal team) *Research believes that she has been affected by gender differences in the paranormal field, and believes that she has observed gender bias. However, for this study, the researcher attempted to simply observe the results and to perform research as applied to this topic, without the nature of bias.
Limitations *Time was a factor. Despite taking two months to perform, this study entailed a greater amount of research than anticipated. I was unable to utilize as much of the information as I had collected and may need to continue to expand this study for future presentations. *Unable to find a concise “gender description list” – research from academic sources supported that this is a weakness in the field. *Baseline for research (gender, psychology and leadership) remains as the white male standard. *Smaller research sample (approximately 26 participants)
Outline <ul><li>What is Gender </li></ul><ul><li>Biology and Behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Sociocultural </li></ul><ul><li>Behavioral </li></ul><ul><li>Paranormal Survey </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Observations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concerns </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for Future Studies </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul>
What is Gender? <ul><li>Biological: Until recently, the differences between the sexes were understood to be [primarily] biological in nature </li></ul><ul><li>Sociocultural: Gender is a social construct referring to the sociocultural differences in roles of men and women in society </li></ul><ul><li>Behavioral: Define how members of each sex behave (as learned behaviors are established by cultural norms) (Thio, 2000) </li></ul>
Biological <ul><li>Men: 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence compared with women </li></ul><ul><li>Women: 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men (Carey, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Men tend to have larger brains, they shrink more quickly as old age sets in </li></ul><ul><li>Women’s brains also operate at a slightly higher temperature </li></ul><ul><li>Men use only the left side of the brain for communication </li></ul><ul><li>Women use both halves of the brain for communication, and have more connectedness between right and left halves of the brain </li></ul>
Biological Differences <ul><li>Women have more developed limbic system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The limbic system is a complex set of structures that lies on both sides and underneath the thalamus, just under the cerebrum. It includes the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, the amygdala, and several other nearby areas. It appears to be primarily responsible for our emotional life, and has a lot to do with the formation of memories” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dr. C. George Boeree, http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/limbicsystem.html </li></ul></ul></ul>
Biological <ul><li>Women are more in touch with feelings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>women are able to feel connected to others more easily </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Smaller limbic systems in males means that they generally do not value intimate conversations the same way as women do (differences in perceptions) </li></ul>
Biological Differences <ul><li>“ These findings suggest that human evolution has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior….” (Patterson, 2008) </li></ul>
Additional Biological differences <ul><li>Recent discovery: women actually have more rods and cones in their eyes than men. </li></ul><ul><li>This allows women to see more detail </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Dust in a room </li></ul>
Sociocultural <ul><li>In western culture, male and female perception may vary because of how each gender is raised, as well as various pressures placed on men and women (Patterson, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological and social differences also have implications for women’s behavior; something called feminine seems to be rooted in sociocultural ideology. </li></ul><ul><li>Values, which may not even be clearly understood or articulated, still have a profound impact upon shaping culture of organization. </li></ul>
Sociocultural *Accepted feminine traits: compassion, gentleness, understanding, excitability, sensitivity, submissiveness, sentimentality, and personal power *Accepted masculine traits: dominant, assertive, autocratic, independent behaviors (Hughes, Kroehler, Bander Zanden, 1999; Rosner, 1990).
Sociocultural <ul><li>Masculine lifestyle is objective and instrumental </li></ul><ul><li>Feminine one is emotional and expressive (Kon, 1988). </li></ul><ul><li>Men like to be informed, have freedom of action, and independence of judgment (Tannen, 1991). </li></ul><ul><li>Women strive for intimacy with their partners and reinforce close relationships (Tannen, 1991). </li></ul>
Biological/Behavioral <ul><li>Men tend to do better with tasks requiring more localized processing (mathematics) </li></ul><ul><li>Women are better at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray matter regions (language skills) </li></ul><ul><li>Women are much better at multitasking than men </li></ul>
Sociocultural/Behavioral <ul><li>Sociocultural: Traditional American gender roles indicate that women develop different expectations for behavior than do men. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women are more likely to be passive, to express feelings of sadness and sympathy, and to suppress anger (Thio, 2000) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>While gender roles are not universal, anthropologists report that behaviors consistent with traditional American gender roles can be observed in most societies worldwide: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Men have the dominant public-oriented breadwinner roles with women having the more supportive, nurturing, homemaking roles (Thio, 2000) </li></ul></ul>
Behavior and Leadership <ul><li>Women tend to be “transformational” (group oriented leaders) </li></ul><ul><li>Men, “transactional” (hierarchically- oriented) </li></ul><ul><li>Women are more effective leaders in female-dominated or female-oriented settings </li></ul><ul><li>Men were more effective leaders in male-dominated or male-oriented settings </li></ul><ul><li>Not socially acceptable to have women act in a male leadership style, or men to act in a female leadership style </li></ul>
Behavioral <ul><li>Women are more likely to want to discuss problems and issues </li></ul><ul><li>Men generally deal with the problems directly. </li></ul><ul><li>Women enjoy the social aspect of problem solving </li></ul><ul><li>Men view problem solving to be done quickly and cleanly </li></ul>
General Participant Information <ul><ul><li>Gender ratios: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>30.8% Male </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>69.2% Female </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Do you think that ghost hunting techniques vary depending on if the investigator is male or female? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yes 57.7% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No 42.3% </li></ul></ul>
Observed Gender differences <ul><li>Three grouped observations: Most seemed to side with the first conclusion (women are sensitive, men are technical). The next level was that both sexes are equal and that investigation varies to individual, not to gender. The third most common answer was that it makes a difference on some cases. Answers as from survey below. Highlights are from the researcher. </li></ul><ul><li>Think most females will rely on the data from electronic equipment as well as human input. Males tend to rely generally on the equipment , giving little credence to the human side of things. </li></ul><ul><li>No I don't believe gender plays a part in Ghost 'hunting.' I believe both sexes vary in their individuality towards ghost hunting not their sex. </li></ul><ul><li>It can indeed make a difference in SOME cases. I have found that in, let's say, the prominent Ghost being that of a woman long ago murdered by a gang of men, she in all probability will be frightened by the presence of all males and no female. On multiple occasions, when I've had no luck in capturing her Ghost in any way other than recordings of terrible screaming. I ask a female associate to give it a shot and she obtains some very good results where I had been unable to. </li></ul>
Participant Information <ul><li>Greatest number of participants were team founders (41%), followed by solitary investigators (36%). </li></ul><ul><li>Most participants followed the blended investigation approach utilizing both sensitive and technical aspects (96%; only 4% claimed sensitive/psychic based only and 0% went with equipment based only). </li></ul><ul><li>The majority did investigations with 1 or 2 others in an informal setting (31%) followed by those that were members of small groups containing 5 – 12 members (27%). 23% investigate alone, 19% are in groups larger than 12, and 0% attend only public investigation opportunities. </li></ul>
Participant Information <ul><li>80% considered themselves sensitive, while 20% did not consider themselves sensitive. </li></ul><ul><li>The majority (35%) have been investigating 1 – 5 years, 27% over 30 years, 15% have 10 – 20, 11% 6 – 10, and 11% are just starting (under 1 year). </li></ul>
Proof in Paranormal <ul><li>5. What is your ghost hunting philosophy regarding "acceptable proof" of the paranormal? Please identify your gender and what paranormal proof you consider valid in identifying a location as haunted. </li></ul><ul><li>Most agreed that “acceptable proof” is hard to define. A surprising amount of women listed EVPs as their “hard proof” to defining a location haunted. </li></ul><ul><li>Does the EVP relate to the communicative aspect ? </li></ul><ul><li>Few men or women listed “sensitivity” (or intuition) as proof that a location was haunted. </li></ul>
Proof in the Paranormal Female: (Note: Quotes as taken from survey are corrected for spelling. Highlights are from the researcher): 1) To me if I get an EVP that is interacting with me and talking back, I am willing to say, Yes there is something here. I am female and have done this for 30 years . Photos mean nothing to me, but video evidence I consider more valuable when determining a place to be haunted. But EVP is my number one thing that I go by. 2. Events captured on film, digital or hi 8, audio, high reading on EMF, EVP . Female 3. I'm female. Personally, I go with my gut, since I am sensitive . I can usually walk into a place and "feel" if something is there. However, I do have a bit of healthy skepticism about myself, so unusual pictures/video and EVPs (especially clear answers to questions)that cannot easily be explained away (like the usual dust in a video or on a picture) serve to "back myself up”. 4. Female. I personally consider EVP to be the most acceptable "proof ". Some photos can be valid, but I'm not big on orbs. EMF, Temp readings, etc are documented, but to be "proof" I would like to see several different types of fluctuation at once.
Proof in the Paranormal Male: 1) My name is [removed], Ph.D. I'm a Paranormal Psychologist/Investigator with 40+ yrs. experience in many countries in the world. I currently live in New Orleans, LA. where I conduct Investigations in the ante-bellum and Victorian mansions in Historic Garden District of the city. This is a very difficult question to answer, and a very controversial one, also. "Acceptable proof" itself is extremely vague, indeed, as it covers an enormous spectrum of definition. However, the standard thought is: If there is no possible means of the effect being "natural", then it is very probably Paranormal. Many of us with years of experience have developed a particular "sense" pertaining to "evidence" which we've garnered by whatever means and are acutely discerning of what is true evidence or natural phenomena. True evidence is real, regardless of blind skepticism . 2) EVPs are reliable but are open to interpretation. I am male. 3) Male. To me, paranormal and haunted are two separate things. Paranormal proof is unusual noises and sights. Haunted must be paranormal occurrences that can be only be attributed to a human or demonic entity. Both must have objective evidence. Feelings or experiences don't count as proof, just help guide me to actual proof.
Proof in the Paranormal 4) I am male. I feel there has to be more then still pictures of orbs. A moving object that shows a path might be acceptable. Anything on video that cant be explained, might be. Any physical contact, other then just cold spots. Pushing, marks and anything that can be captured on video or other capture devices, are great proof.
Observable Concerns/Gender interaction <ul><li>Do you feel that there are challenges in ghost hunting that relate to gender differences? If so, what are they? Have you experienced any of these issues yourself? Please identify your gender and give specific examples when appropriate. </li></ul>
Observable Concerns/Gender Interaction <ul><li>Men “belittle” women as using feelings, men rely on equipment </li></ul><ul><li>Men are seen as “right” </li></ul><ul><li>Women are willing to give up their power/findings to men to have them proven right </li></ul><ul><li>Men are more competitive/aggressive </li></ul><ul><li>Men see no real discrimination </li></ul><ul><li>Men see the need to protect women </li></ul>
Survey Answers continued <ul><li>I say this only due to personal experience, but the men that I've met so far are much more into the "toys" --the technology--and a couple have actually called me "fluffy" because I integrate more intuition. </li></ul><ul><li>I think a lot of men are more likely to try to provoke a spirit into action. Women are in my experience more patient to wait for an action. </li></ul><ul><li>it is a fact that men and women have different fillings on things and look at life and death differently. so its good to have both we (men / women) also operate equipment differently and except information in or on ways </li></ul>
Survey Answers continued <ul><li>I believe that females are more sensitive and are there to show that there are spirits or ghosts, and males are there to prove that there isn't any. </li></ul><ul><li>Some men aren't as open minded to the paranormal as women seem to be </li></ul><ul><li>females are more tuned into the psychic aspect of it then men are. </li></ul><ul><li>In my experience, women tend to do more of what I do--go with their gut. Men are more apt to put their faith totally in scientific equipment. I will say the longer I've investigated, the more the men are starting to go with their gut, too. They start to have more personal experiences and realize there are things out there that can't be caught on a camera. </li></ul>
Survey Answers continued <ul><li>I believe that more women than men believe in the "not seen ". The guys I've dealt with have been more into going into a place and things NOT existing , until they've been proven wrong . Men seem to be fine for the most part into going into something alone rather than with a partner. They also seem to think that women will shriek and run before getting to the root of the unknown. </li></ul><ul><li>I think it varies more from individual to individual than from male to female. </li></ul><ul><li>Only with the newer "boys-club" mentality that has developed in the past few years. Plus, male dominated groups tend to lessen the impact of intuition during investigations that female investigators innately use as guide posts to the paranormal. </li></ul>
Gender doesn’t matter <ul><li>I still have limited experience on this subject, but it seems little if any difference. </li></ul><ul><li>Depends on the group/leader what the techniques are used. The training program that was followed </li></ul><ul><li>I believe everyone has their own ways of investigating but regardless if you are male or female I personally do not believe it varies based on gender. </li></ul>
Other issues found in surveys <ul><li>Women and men agree that TV shows present men as leaders, women in support roles. One person described the relationship as a lawyer to a legal aid. </li></ul><ul><li>Women are shown on TV as weak and needing protection. </li></ul>
TV/Gender <ul><li>Women (from survey, highlights are researcher’s): </li></ul><ul><li>Men aggressive, women passive. Men trying to incite or anger a spirit, women tend to invite caring contact. </li></ul><ul><li>2.I feel women are portrayed as sensitive and less aggressive than the men . The women seem to be given more positions involving research and development. The men are seen as believing in the paranormal, but highly skeptical . They don't seem to be as interested in the back story or the "why" of a haunting. They just want to run out and catch some ghosts. </li></ul>
TV/Gender <ul><li>3. I feel as far as TV goes, most paranormal investigators are men the shows I watch are groups led by men . They are portrayed as strong, no fear, let’s get this done, straight forward. The woman I see on the same shows are strong and ready to jump in, but I feel their weaknesses are thrown in to the mix as a laugh factor. </li></ul><ul><li>4.I have actually not noticed any differences in the shows I have seen between genders BUT I do notice at times that the women are more the 'weaker' sex. </li></ul><ul><li> 5.The men are shown as the hunters and women as only helpers . </li></ul><ul><li>6. Men seem professional and creditable ...if somewhat hippie looking.... Women seem "cute" ...as compared to the men...didn't realize that before....hmmm </li></ul>
TV/Gender <ul><li>Men (highlights are researcher’s) </li></ul><ul><li>there seems to be a separation in how the genders react to phenomena . </li></ul><ul><li> 2. men or shown to be more leading and the women are secondary and more timid </li></ul><ul><li>3. men in control, women to the side. Sometimes women are the token members of the team </li></ul><ul><li>4.ABOUT EVEN. TAPS IS ALL MALE BUT OTHER SHOWS SEEM TO BE EVEN (PARNORMAL STATE) </li></ul><ul><li>5.in the shows I see the men seem to be more skeptical and the women seem to be more sensitive . </li></ul>
Other Issues found in survey <ul><li>Men see women as emotional, less rational </li></ul><ul><li>Men do not see gender discrimination </li></ul><ul><li>Men see women as needing protection and two (of 5) commented that women are more prone to demonic, and must watch their monthlies/pregnancies (see: 1300 CE Catholic Church/repression of women) </li></ul>
Other issues/responses <ul><li>Male responses: </li></ul><ul><li>Women have a tendency to get more emotional while men usually are more analytical. It is an observation I have seen over the years. </li></ul><ul><li>2.interpretational differences ???? not sure </li></ul><ul><li>3.no </li></ul><ul><li>4. men for the most part are more rational and try to figure things out. </li></ul>
Other issues/responses <ul><li>Male: </li></ul><ul><li>women need to be aware of there condition (time of month, if pregnant, etc..) this can be important. I have seen things happen and would be worried for the pregnant woman on a demonic site . all need to be in a less inviting mined set on each case </li></ul><ul><li>Male. Again, as I'm solitary, I don't have any experience hunted with women, but it seems to me that women may more approachable by human spirits and demons may consider them easier prey . </li></ul>
Other issues found in survey <ul><li>Women see other women as weak in leadership; needing approval of men or giving away their studies to men for verification. Not enough hierarchical structure or organization </li></ul><ul><li>Women often see men as competitive, interpret that men see themselves (or are) better at technology, and assertive/aggressive. </li></ul><ul><li>Women feel isolated by men and male leaders. Feel discrimination and sometimes leave male-lead groups out of frustration of treatment. </li></ul>
Other issues/responses <ul><li>Female: </li></ul><ul><li>There does seem to be more personality conflicts within female dominated groups as opposed to a male dominated group that sets up a clear and concise hierarchy. This hierarchy tends to be more functional in terms of getting the job done in an orderly fashion , not just with investigations but when promoting their organizations. Men will tend to take swift advantage of "potential" situations where female teams tend to adopt a "let's wait and see" approach that does the female group more harm than good. </li></ul>
Other issues/responses <ul><li>Female responses: </li></ul><ul><li>As a female I find that men are less likely to listen to what I might suggest , and not take me as seriously as they do other males. Also men seem to be more competitive in this field . </li></ul><ul><li>Female. Males tend to have to overcome the need to be in charge and aggressive with the activity. Females tend to rely upon feelings as well as any activity going on at a location. </li></ul><ul><li>I'm female--I think sometimes (not always, by any means, but again in my personal experience) women are not taken as seriously by those in the field. That's one of the reasons I'm a loner. The main groups in my area are founded by and led by men and there are hardly any women in them at all. I've discussed it with a couple of other women who'd tried to "break in" to their ranks and our experiences were the same--we were basically brushed off as not being "serious" enough. </li></ul>
Conclusions <ul><li>I found only one article on women in the paranormal: </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.ghostvillage.com/resources/2008/features_02162008.shtml </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews Lorainne Warren </li></ul>
Conclusions <ul><li>"When I first started to see women in the field, they were usually women who were into just the psychic aspect, not so much the research,” Warren notes. </li></ul><ul><li>Over time, this has changed. Women are now investigators. </li></ul>
Conclusion <ul><li>So is there an equal footing for men and women in paranormal research? "No, oh my God, no, honey," Warren said. "There's far from an equal footing. Most of the women’s groups are sticking with the women. They really are.” </li></ul>
Conclusions <ul><li>Observed how many women have gotten involved with research groups, but in recent years some have left to form their own </li></ul><ul><li>Women have strengths: closure, helping families </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages religious beliefs (other studies show that women are now the spiritual center of the homes) </li></ul>
Conclusion <ul><li>All-female groups are forming </li></ul><ul><li>Fears that may also be missing the point considering both men and women bring different abilities to the research. </li></ul>
Remember…. <ul><li>“ Men and women are equally effective in settings that match gender roles” </li></ul><ul><li>Men and women perform equally well on broad measures of cognitive ability (intelligence tests) (Carry, 2006) </li></ul>
Final Remark <ul><li>All things being equal, men and women are equally effective (Carry, 2006) </li></ul>
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