The word asshole (in North American English) or arsehole (in all other major varieties of the English language), is a vulgarism used to describe the anus, and often used pejoratively (as a type of synecdoche) to refer to people.
The word arse in English derives from the Proto-Germanic (reconstructed) word *arsaz, from the Proto-Indo-European word *ors-, meaning "buttocks" or "backside". The combined form arsehole is first attested from 1500 in its literal use to refer to the anus. The metaphorical use of the word to refer to the worst place in a region (e.g., "the arsehole of the world"), is first attested in print in 1865; the use to refer to a contemptible person is first attested in 1933. In the ninth chapter of his 1945 autobiography, Black Boy, Richard Wright quotes a snippet of verse that uses the term: "All these white folks dressed so fine / Their ass-holes smell just like mine ...". Its earliest known usage in newspaper as an insult was 1965. As with other vulgarities, these uses of the word may have been common in oral speech for some time before their first appearances in print. By the 1970s, Hustler magazine featured people they did not like as "Asshole of the Month." In 1972, Jonathan Richman of Modern Lovers recorded his song "Pablo Picasso", which includes the line "Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole."
In 2000, during a Labor Day event, then-candidate George W. Bush made an offhand remark to his running mate, Dick Cheney, that The New York Times reporter Adam Clymer was a "major league asshole." The gaffe was caught on microphone and led to a political advertisement chiding Bush for "using expletives... in front of a crowd of families," produced for Democratic opponent Al Gore.
2. I worked in an academic department at Stanford where we openly talked about the no asshole rule and used it in hiring decisions. It made the old Department of Industrial Engineering & Engineering Management a better place to work.
As Uber gets bigger and more established, its executives can look less like brash upstarts and more like assholes. Moves like hiring former top Obama advisor David Plouffe, show that the company is hardly on the outside looking in. It has a valuation of $18 billion, and clear aspirations to move beyond the ride business to a broader array of "urban logistics" operations.
What's less clear, however, is how the term 'asshole' overlaps with the kinds of personality traits recognized in psychological theory, such as the 'Big Five' categorization of openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, and extraversion.
To explore this, scientists conducted an experiment, seeking to find out what the term 'asshole' communicates about an individual's perceived personality, and to identify the kinds of behaviors people associate with the insult.
A research team, led by first author and clinical psychology researcher Brinkley Sharpe from the University of Georgia, surveyed almost 400 people, with participants being asked to describe the "biggest asshole" they personally knew, and to rate their perception of the individual's personality, beliefs, and behaviors.
People perceived as 'assholes' were associated with 315 categories of offensive behavior across the participants' responses, which the researchers categorized into 14 broad themes: aggression, anger, arrogance, bigotry, callousness, combativeness, domineering behavior, externalization of blame, immaturity, inconsiderateness, irresponsibility, manipulativeness, rudeness, and other (including hypocrisy and playing favorites).
"When we talk about behaviors, the asshole was not necessarily being antagonistic toward people, but they just didn't really care about what others were thinking or how they were perceived by others."
"Overall, the perceived Five-Factor Model profile for 'asshole' in the present study was similar to prototypes of psychopathic, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders," the researchers write.
SUVs are large personal vehicles with big engines and a huge amount of cargo space, and are notorious gas-guzzlers and therefore emblematic of pollution caused by cars. Stereotypically, SUV owners drive them because they're compensating for failures in other parts of their lives, and as an example of conspicuous consumption. Upon hearing Cueball call him an asshole for driving an SUV, Beret Guy, not wanting to appear to be such, trades his SUV in at the dealership for a hybrid subcompact.
The third situation is when two assholes come to a business negotiation. Both sides are totally willing to be disliked. And not only will they push for everything they need for the deal to be advantageous for them, but they will push even further. They will consciously antagonize the other side because they understand that antagonism wears people down and makes them capitulate more easily.
But for those who are agreeable, learning to be an asshole is a skill that must be practiced. The same way an introvert must practice using extraverted skills when necessary, the agreeable person must learn to be disagreeable when necessary, lest they get walked over.
During a 2000 Labor Day weekend rally at suburban Naperville, Illinois, the then-Republican presidential nominee (and Texas governor) forgot the axiom about treating every microphone as a live mike. Upon spotting a veteran political reporter in the crowd and pointing him out to his running mate, Dick Cheney, as the two stood at the podium waving to the assembled crowd, Bush said, "There's Adam Clymer, major-league asshole from The New York Times." Cheney, also unaware the microphones were turned on, agreed, saying, "Oh yeah, he is, big time."
President Bush was subsequently criticized both for the remark itself and for the way the fallout from it was handled. When his aides were questioned about the "asshole" comment, rather than offering the candidate's apologies for what he had said, they instead defended the remark, attributing it to justifiable ire over particular items Clymer had written about Bush's career as Governor of Texas. "There's been a series of articles [by Clymer] that the governor has felt have been very unfair," said Bush's communications director, Karen Hughes.
In February 2001, President Bush did somewhat ameliorate his "asshole" assessment by commending Adam Clymer to the Washington press corps as a "major league ass . . . et." Humor is often called upon to help smooth ruffled feathers, which is clearly what was intended here. This updated remark was made in a jovial video message to reporters and politicians gathered in Washington for an annual dinner.
Last, there is the matter of the nature of those who drew the "asshole" or "son of a bitch" labels, both in terms of those men's jobs and in regard to what they as individuals might have done to have prompted such characterizations. President Bush's target was a reporter, a member of an occupation traditionally at odds with politicians. Members of these two groups aren't expected to feel great love for one another since the proper conduct of their duties often sets them at counter purposes. The reporter in question had also reportedly provoked his denigrator by writing articles the President didn't care for; whether or not those pieces were "unfair," they worked to add a layer of personal dislike to the equation. Senator Kerry's target was a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the Democratic hopeful, and unlike the inherent adversarial dynamic between reporters and politicians, bodyguards and their charges have a different sort of relationship, one that is generally far more supportive and forgiving. While frustration is part of the deal for both those being watched over and those doing the watching, there is also an presumption of goodwill in that both parties are assumed to want the same thing; namely, the successful protection of the person being covered. As for what the agent did to provoke the invective, he accidentally ran into the Senator during a snowboarding run, sending them both flying. While a reporter who pens articles critical of a politician does so with a keen awareness that what he has to say is not going to endear him to his subject, a Secret Service agent who accidentally careens into his charge does so with no foreknowledge or sense of ill intent.
Asshole is mainly used as a bad word towards someone that the speaker does not like. You could not say "asshole" on normal television in the US until the early 1990s, but it was sometimes in PG-13 and R rated films before this.
Venturing into a predominantly male domain, Walker moves from the frat clubs of elite colleges to the bratty princedoms of Silicon Valley and bear pits of international finance. Why do entitled assholes thrive in certain environments? What explains their perverse appeal and success? And how do they keep getting elected!
A lot has been written about assholes over the years (for example, see Bob Sutton's terrific book on surviving assholes in the workplace). But what is an asshole, really? What are the traits and characteristics of those whom we typically deem "asshole" in polite society? How do we differentiate between different asshole types? Who are not assholes?
In this post, I'll present a framework for answering these questions that I refer to as the "asshole circumplex." This framework will hopefully clarify these issues and allow you to see in a single framework how all different personality types contrast with each other, and the neurobiological substrates that may underlie the different personality types.
First, note that if you lack compassion, that doesn't necessarily make you an asshole. It just makes you "cold-hearted." One surprising large meta-analysis found that a lack of empathy is only weakly related to the presence of aggression. This finding was even surprising to the researchers, but that's the point of science.
In the asshole circumplex, we can actually make some more finely grained distinctions within the asshole space. If you're in the space between cold-hearted and arrogant/antagonistic, you are more likely to be the sort of "callous asshole" who thinks they are entitled to everything good in the world and just doesn't care about the suffering of others. If you're in the space between arrogant/antagonistic and assertive/confident, you are more likely to be the sort of "dominant asshole" who is obsessed with social status, money, power, achievement, and "crushing the competition at all costs." 041b061a72