New Worlds: Clear vision summary

Study finds that scarcity of women leads men to be more impulsive, spend more and save less.

By
February 25, 2012 22:37
4 minute read.
Gender differences

Gender differences 390. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

 
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The average person with a digital camera and a computer is used to cropping or scaling down photos and clipping video segments.

But these processes can result in the loss of important information; scaling down an image, for example, sacrifices resolution. Now the YEDA Research and Development Company Ltd. – the commercial arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot – has entered into a license agreement with the well-known Adobe Systems Inc. on a “bidirectional similarity measure” to summarize visual data.

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The new method produces a complete and coherent visual summary – a smaller or shorter version of the original that retains the most relevant information. The bidirectionality of the method ensures that the resulting image is visually coherent, YEDA says. In addition to telling the same “story,” it is as visually pleasing as the original. As opposed to cropping or clipping or scaling down, the summarizing technique manages to maintain both relevant information and resolution details, despite the decrease in size.

In addition to summarizing images and videos, the method may have a number of other applications, including completing missing parts in images and videos; creating montages out of separate images; photo reshuffling (in which elements may be moved around the image/video); automatic cropping; image synthesis (in which an image might be expanded, rather than summarized); and image morphing (generating a video sequence displaying a smooth transition from one image to another, possibly unrelated image).

The bidirectional similarity method was developed by Prof. Michal Irani and Drs. Denis Simakov, Yaron Caspi and Eli Shechtman of the Rehovot institute’s computer science and applied mathematics department. It is based on eliminating redundant information from the image/video.

Video summarization works in a similar way, only the program exploits redundancy in space-time. Gradual resizing and rechecking ensures that the final result is seamless and coherent, the Weizmann team says.

EFFECTS OF GENDER IMBALANCE

According to a University of Minnesota study, sex ratios influence financial decisions. The study found that scarcity of women leads men to be more impulsive, spend more and save less.

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“What we see in the animal [world] is that when females are scarce, males become more competitive. They compete more for access to mates,” says marketing Prof. Vladas Griskevicius, who was the lead author of the study. “How do humans compete for access to mates? What you find across cultures is that men often do it through money, through status and through products.”

To test their theory that the sex ratio affects economic decisions, the researchers asked participants to read news articles that described their local population as having more men or more women. They were then asked to indicate how much money they would save each month from a paycheck, as well as how much they would borrow with credit cards for immediate expenditures. When led to believe women were scarce, the savings rates for men decreased by 42 percent. Men were also willing to borrow 84% more money each month.

In another study, participants saw photo arrays of men and women that had more men, more women or were neutral. After looking at the photographs, participants were asked to choose between receiving some money tomorrow or a larger amount in a month. When women were scarce in the photos, men were much more likely to take an immediate $20 rather than wait for $30 in a month. According to Griskevicius, participants were unaware that sex ratios were having any effect on their behavior. Merely seeing more men than women automatically led men to simply be more impulsive and want to save less while borrowing more to spend on immediate purchases.

“Economics tells us that humans make decisions by carefully thinking through our choices – that we’re not like animals,” he says. “It turns out we have a lot in common with animals. Some of our behaviors are much more reflexive and subconscious. We see that there are more men than women in our environment, and it automatically changes our desires, behaviors and entire psychology.”

While sex ratios do not influence the financial choices women make, they do shape their expectations of how men should spend their money when dating. After reading a news article informing women that there are more men than women, women expected men to spend more on dinner dates, gifts and engagement rings. When there’s a scarcity of women, they felt men should go out of their way to court them, adds Griskevicius. In a male-biased environment, men also expected they would need to spend more in their mating efforts.

The researcher says the effects of sex ratios go beyond marketing and influence all sorts of behavior. He cites other studies showing the strong correlation between male-biased sex ratios and aggressive behavior.

“We’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to financial behavior. One of the troubling implications of sex ratios for the world in general is that it’s about more than just money. It’s about violence and survival,” says Griskevicius.

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