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What is the strong silent type personality?

Signalers vs. strong silent types: Sparrows exude personalities during fights

Song sparrow on a tree branch..

Like humans, some song sparrows are more effusive than others, at least when it comes to defending their territories. New findings from the University of Washington show that consistent individual differences exist not only for how aggressive individual song sparrows are but also for how much they use their signals to communicate their aggressive intentions.

The findings, published online Dec. 4 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that while many birds signal their intentions clearly, other “strong silent types” go immediately to aggressive behavior and ultimately attack without first signaling their intentions.

“The results are the first to explicitly link individual differences in a personality variable to communication in a wild animal,” said lead author Çağlar Akçay, who did the study when he was a UW graduate student. He is now a postdoctoral associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

As any pet owner can attest, animals have consistent individual differences, or personalities. Some may be more aggressive or bold, shy or laid back. Such personality differences have been noted in a number of species ranging from insects to primates and, of course, humans. But the role of personality in animal communication has not been studied.

“There is a growing realization in the field that factoring in personality variables will help solve many thorny problems in animal behavior, such as do animals signal honestly,” said Michael Beecher, co-author and a UW professor of psychology and biology.

In other words, if a bird knew the personality of its opponent, it would have a better understanding of when to expect an attack.

“The strong silent types are just as assertive as the signaling types, they just don’t advertise their aggressive intentions,” Beecher said. “You want to distinguish strong silent types from true wimps that don’t signal and won’t attack.”

Akçay and Beecher studied 69 male song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) in Discovery Park in Seattle. The birds are year-round residents that spend most of their time in their territory, defending it from intruders.

From September 2009 to May 2010 and again in spring 2011, the researchers observed the birds as part of a larger experiment looking at how sparrows communicate while defending their territories (see previous story).

In the current study, the researchers report their observations of the birds’ behaviors in response to a simulated intruder. They counted:

  • Aggressive behaviors, including how close the bird got to the loudspeaker that played a bird song and how many times he flew around the speaker looking for the simulated intruder.
  • Signaling behaviors, such as the fluttering of a single wing at a time (known as wing waves and considered the bird equivalent of “flipping the bird”) and soft songs (quiet, sweet-sounding yet menacing songs). See wing waving at the 27-second mark of this video:

All of these behaviors are reliable predictors that a bird will attack an intruder.

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Over time, the researchers observed that each bird they studied exhibited a consistent amount of aggressive and signaling behavior.

“Some birds were just more aggressive than others,” Akçay said.

What’s more, when looking at birds that displayed similar levels of aggression, the researchers found that some of these birds consistently used more threat signals than other birds. Some actively threatened the intruder with soft songs and wing waves before attacking, while the “strong, silent types” skipped over the warnings and launched right into attack mode.

“This is an important result since it identifies a potential new dimension of animal personality that plays a significant role in how much a given animal will signal in an aggressive situation,” Akçay said. “This new personality dimension may also play a role in signaling in different contexts, such as courting a female or communicating danger about predators to mates and offspring.”

The researchers plan to test this personality trait, which they call “communicativeness,” in other social contexts.

Elizabeth Campbell, a UW research technician, is also a coauthor of the paper. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation.

For more information, contact Beecher at 206-543-6545 or or Akcay at

Goodbye “Strong, Silent” Type, Hello “Strong, Expressive” Type: Study Reveals the Appeal of Feeling-Sharers

A new study by reveals that people who talk about their feelings are kinder, more sociable, and refreshingly authentic. Contrary to popular opinion, they are also more self-confident and assertive than their non-expressive counterparts.

People who are emotionally expressive possess more positive and healthy traits than people who are reserved.

The “strong, expressive” types actually have more guts than the so-called “strong, silent” types.

When you open up to someone, you create an instant rapport, because you are connecting with the person on a much deeper level.

MONTREAL (PRWEB) November 09, 2019

“Strong, silent” types with their “stiff upper lips” possess an undeniable allure. That’s why it’s the hallmark of much-loved, fictional British characters, like James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, and, let’s face it, pretty much every well-known Brit. After all, what’s not to admire about calm stoicism, even in the most perilous and dire of situations? It’s certainly more attractive than an adult temper tantrum. Nonetheless, recent research from indicates that people who are comfortable talking about their feelings are not just emotional. They possess other unique personality traits that can actually make them more affable than their more reserved counterparts.

Reviewing data from 1,162 people who took Queendom’s Big Five Personality Test, researchers compared the psychological profile of people who regularly talk about their feelings, and those who avoid it at all costs. Here’s how the two groups scored on different personality traits:

(Note: Scores range on a scale from 0 to 100. A high score indicates that the trait is a predominant aspect of the group’s collective personality. A moderate score suggests that the trait only manifests under certain circumstances, while a low score is reflective of a dormant or underdeveloped trait.).

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> Score for emotionally expressive group: 72
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 31

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 56
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 37

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 61
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 38

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 63
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 39

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 73
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 58

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 73
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 56

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 80
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 55

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 73
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 57

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 60
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 48

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 65
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 48

> Score for emotionally expressive group: 65
> Score for emotionally reserved group: 50

“We are often in awe of people who remain stoic in intense situations, but there is much to be admired about people who express their emotions,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests, the parent company of Queendom. “In order to share your feelings, you have to allow yourself to be emotionally ‘exposed’; you have to accept the potential for rejection and even mockery. That means it takes a lot of guts to share your feelings. That’s also the reason why so many people keep their feelings, as well as their problems, to themselves. They think it will make them appear weak. The irony, however, is that you have be strong in order to be vulnerable.”

“When you open up to someone, you create an instant rapport, because you are connecting with the person on a much deeper level. We all have feelings. We all go through difficult times. This is why, as our study revealed, emotionally expressive people are so likeable — because they are real. They are their true selves, in all their vulnerability, yet still amazingly confident. So while ‘strong, silent’ types do have a certain allure, emotionally expressive people have a certain warmth and charm that is more likely to endear them to others.”

Professional users, such as coaches, athletic directors of scouts, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery:

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook:

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see

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Does the ‘Strong, Silent Type’ Still Exist?


Once defined as the perfect form of masculinity by Tony Soprano, the ‘strong, silent type’ is now fading from public view. Or is it?

  • Text Thomas Hobbs

There was a time where men moulded themselves on Hollywood figureheads such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. These were actors who epitomised the idea of ‘the strong, silent type’ – a very specific breed of masculinity, which illustrates a man’s power through a deliberate, steely silence.

“The idea of the strong, silent type really started in the workplace, if men were too emotional then they could lose their jobs,” recalls Cary Cooper, an American-born professor at the Manchester Business School. “This is what separated men from women, who, back then, were perceived as far too emotional to lead a business. The unflappable nonchalance of Gary Cooper felt like the ideal role model for men of the 1950s, who couldn’t afford to show any kind of weakness.”

Due to the rise of awareness around mental health, men are now encouraged to openly share their emotions, with outdated phrases such as “man up” becoming frowned upon. Consequently, stoic figures such as Gary Cooper feel outdated. Felix Economakis has been a psychologist for 17 years and over this time he says the strong, silent type has “more or less evaporated” from public view.

Economakis believes the “feminisation of the education system” has completely changed the way men define power. “Rugged individualism just isn’t needed anymore,” he explains. “We now live in an age where men are required to be androgynous. There’s less of a survival demand for male superiority as it isn’t physical skills that are desired but cerebral skills.

“When the strong, silent type was prominent, men had far more heart attacks than women because they bottled everything up” – Felix Economakis

“When the strong, silent type was prominent, men had far more heart attacks than women because they bottled everything up – but this is a health trend that’s now reversing, and that’s telling.”

According to Cooper, the death of Princess Diana was a “pivotal moment” for pushing out this breed of masculinity as it gave men a public platform to cry. “There were video images of both men and women crying in the streets that were pumped out across the world. It started the process [of the strong, silent type fading out]. Science always taught us women had more emotional intelligence than men, but when Diana died people started questioning why men couldn’t express their feelings as well.”

But has the strong, silent type really disappeared from view? William Kaufman, professor of American literature and culture at the University of Central Lancashire, credits the second wave of feminism in the 1970s for pushing out the “toxic masculinity” of Cooper and Wayne. However, he doesn’t believe their way of thinking has completely left popular culture.

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“It’s just evolved to a place where violence has taken the place of silence,” he says. “In Hollywood, men don’t talk with their emotions, they let their guns do the talking. Stallone and Segal are pretty much the pop culture extension of the strong, silent type. And in 2017, you can see this mentality with Ryan Gosling, whose quiet rage [in films such as Drive] is seen as a desirable quality.”

“In Hollywood, men don’t talk with their emotions, they let their guns do the talking” – William Kaufman

Men in the UK, aged 20 to 49, are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death. Some have called this a crisis and believe it’s being driven by a whole generation of young men bottling up their emotions. And, according to Cooper, the world of politics is largely responsible for this culture, with men simply emulating the behaviour of those in power.

During last year’s general election, prime minister Theresa May was roundly criticised for a robotic campaign, where the words of “strong and stable” were repeated over and over. Sound familiar? “Theresa May is the modern personification of the strong, silent type,” insists Cooper, who believes politics is one place where this breed of masculinity still thrives. “She believes showing emotion is a weak quality. Politicians think if they show any weakness then they will never get re-elected. Could you imagine what would happen if anyone in the UK parliament took time off for depression? It would be a scandal in the tabloids.”

There’s a pivotal scene in The Sopranos, where Tony Soprano berates Dr Melfi, his female psychiatrist, about the decline of American masculinity. “What happened to Gary Cooper?” he aggressively asks. “The strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn’t in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See, what they didn’t know was once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings that they wouldn’t be able to shut him up!”

The fact Soprano, a self-pitying, violent sociopath, harbours these views is telling, with the show’s writer David Chase making a clear message on how the strong, silent type often goes hand-in-hand with a toxic masculinity. Equally, there are enviable characteristics of a Gary Cooper, with the idea of putting your head down, not complaining and getting things done synonymous with British culture and our country’s dogged spirit during the Blitz.

However, there’s a reason why this spirit is written about in the history books; it’s no longer fit for purpose. It fuelled a whole generation of men who had problems emoting. Men who wrongly believed keeping their cards close to their chest reinforced a superiority over loud, inferior women. As Kaufman puts it: “If there’s any chance of inarticulate men once again baring our standards for masculinity, then we are all fucked.”

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