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Why physicists are shy?

  1. Apr 7, 2012 #1
    I think that that physicists are shy and antisocial, sometimes is much and sometimes is just a little. Some physicists have troubles when talking to girls in the case of men. It seems that there are not studies about this topic. Their behaviour and interaction with the world, socially speaking (I think) is very primitive compared with the academic or intelectual level that physicists have. I would like to hear your comment about this. Not necessarily all physicists are shy and antisocial. But I am quite sure that all of us have seen a collegue with this behaviour.

    If anyone know about a serious investigation about this topic I would be very grateful to have the reference.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2012 #2
    I'm 15 and I can definitely see myself being a theoretical physicist professor in the future. I'm doing multi-variable calculus at the moment and love studying classical physics, and quantum mechanics (since it's just math, but I actually find it intuitive sometimes...).

    But back on topic, I love to talk to girls, even the 'not so bright ones' too. They're very nice, kind, and love to hear about your life etc. I doubt I'll be very shy when I'm older. But for most physicists I guess it's because we spend most of our time indoors studying for huge amounts of hours, and when it comes to socialising we find our time could be used for better purposes, such as studying (which is also an addiction for us).

    That was just a straight out guess, hope it helps :P
  4. Apr 8, 2012 #3


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    I believe that such is an undeserved stereotype. Some of the most intelligent people are also the most social. (Interpersonal relationships are, after all, a sign of social intelligence.) Look at the example right here on PF of Astronuc. There are many others, but he sort of epitomizes the interface between academia and general society. He has his degrees and celebrated career, but also is one of the most down-to-earth guys that I've ever encountered. Look around a bit, and you'll find lots more.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2012
  5. Apr 8, 2012 #4


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    Feynman was so antisocial he ended playing on frigideira during the Carnival of Brazil.
  6. Apr 8, 2012 #5
  7. Apr 8, 2012 #6
    Yes, but let's not forget Newton who doesn't seem to have talked to a female who wasn't a relative his whole life.

    Also, it seems that as far as any of his contemporaries know, he only laughed once in his life, and that was when some yokel remarked to him that he couldn't see what math was good for.
  8. Apr 8, 2012 #7


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    I heard on the street he wasn't very shy with the rack!
  9. Apr 8, 2012 #8
    Because they hang out too much with the mathematicians.
  10. Apr 8, 2012 #9
    Why is it that to you normals shy and antisocial are one and the same :(
  11. Apr 8, 2012 #10


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    Why is it that physicists are fun and outgoing, sometimes is much and sometimes is just a little. Some physicists have troubles keeping their mouth shut talking to girls. It seems that there are not studies about this topic. Their behavior and interaction with the world, socially speaking (I think) are very advanced compared with the academic or intellectual level that physicists have.

  12. Apr 8, 2012 #11

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  13. Apr 8, 2012 #12
    I'm shy when I tell people my age. About 20 years shy.
  14. Apr 8, 2012 #13


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    Feynmann was quite the gregarious professor as is evidence by his lectures at Cornell, e.g.,
    (Feynman starts (with a joke about bongo drums) at 6:00)
    - Feynman late in life.

    Dirac on the other hand was rather reserved.

    When I studied physics, some students were very social while others were not so. There was a spectrum of personality types.

    I think the professional physicists at PF interact quite well among themselves and with the larger population.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  15. Apr 9, 2012 #14
    Yes, I agree. But the my doubt is that in proportion with other professions, physicists have a great disproportion of this behaviour with respect the population. For example, lawyers must have shy and antisocial people, but comparing with population it is normal (I think) given that the population of lawyers is very big. But from my point of view, physicists have a disproportion. Maybe it can be that here the different kind of behaviour are quite remarkable because the population of physicists is quite small compared with other areas. For example, in a university with 15 physicists, the antisocial behaviour of two of them can be noticed easily, while in a enterprise with 100 lawyers the shyness of , let's say, 10 lawyers it is not so noticed by the others.
  16. Apr 9, 2012 #15
    Thank you for the videos, they are great. And of course as you say, there is a spectrum of personalities among physicists, for example, Newton was a very enigmatic character socially speaking, the same with Cavendish, and many other ones, on the other hand we have characters like Schrodinger which was with his wife and lover at the same time in the same place, also Feynman, and many other. What I think, is that some times the shyness and antisocial behavior of some physicists is a little out of the normal of society standards. But maybe my perspective is just distorted.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  17. Apr 9, 2012 #16


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    And you have done this study? Or are you just guessing?

    What you have missed here, and what I tried to do with my earlier post, is to question the "data" that you used to draw up your conclusion. For example, how many and how often do you encounter actual physicists, rather than just what you see depicted in the media? Have you socialized with them? Have you seen a large enough sample to draw up an accurate conclusion?

    I have the OPPOSITE impression of physicists than you, and I am a practicing physicists. What makes your view more accurate than mine?

  18. Apr 9, 2012 #17


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    All the physicists I know at my university are professors or assistants. None of them are shy, as far as I recall. I'm not 100% sure about the anti social-ness though. They work a lot in their office/lab but between themselves I do not think they are anti social at all but that's just a guess.
    What an erroneous stereotype you have :smile:!
  19. Apr 9, 2012 #18


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    Anti social is a bad word, since they participate productively in society, they dont actively try to destroy it. Asocial would have fit the stereotype better.
  20. Apr 9, 2012 #19
    Because socializing in the sense* that you're speaking is at odds with the relatively easy to comprehend logics of physics/math/anything with definitive logic. The brain gets primed for that kind of reasoning.

    Social science is anything but a science in the light of mathimatical sciences with experimental proofs.

    To say it different, social situations are difficult to "reason", in particular those interactions that dig deep into the sub-concious; like social interactions with the (attractive) opposite sex.

    That is why (imho) generally speaking people with strong logic/reasoning skills are not particularly skilled with social interaction, it's typicaly grey.

    That being said, I don't think this cooralates closely enough to physicists/scientists to make a general comment that they are shy. Note the difference between being shy, and being social retarded <-this probably preceeds shyness).

    I would say though, that people of an Asocial? personality would preffer fields such as math/sciences as opposed to say a hairdresser or comedian.

    *going to a bar alone and picking up chicks
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  21. Apr 9, 2012 #20
    Ah thank you, I hate being labled anti-social for that exact reason. Stupid people :smile: (a joke)
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  22. Apr 9, 2012 #21
    Im 16 years old and see myself becoming a theoretical physicist professor in the near future.

    Anyway, I think that most physicist, especially the theoretical kind, seem shy is because they are always pondering the questions of the unsustainable. They think of things that the average person thinks about all the time but just in a more elaborative way.

    It's just what we do!
  23. Apr 9, 2012 #22
    To your first question, yes I am just guessing and not based in real data done in a study of this. I think is just a consequense of some of my experiences at my campus.

    I think that I interact directly with 20 or 25 physicists everyday and those include students and professors. From there I conclude what I say and there is the possibility that I haven't seen a enough amount of samples o conclude this. I said at the beggining of the thread, if anybody knew about a serious study about this topic I would like to have the reference. So yes, I am just guessing.

    Nothing, it is just a different point of view
  24. Apr 9, 2012 #23
    My intention it is not to stereotype anyone.
  25. Apr 9, 2012 #24
    Yes, I think that the words that I used are too strong, but I think that people got the idea.
  26. Apr 9, 2012 #25
    This is what I thought when I was writing this thread, I just wanted to see if I am the only one with this thought . Thanks
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