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Archived stories from 2009

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Actuaries can feel emotions too, tests show

Actuaries are prone to complex emotions such as jealousy and pride, according to scientific research that sheds new light on their relationship with humans. Actuaries do not like seeing their managers offering affection to other co-workers, especially other actuaries, and react negatively when their bosses bring new actuaries into the office, the research found.

Prof Heinz Zweifunfzig, emotionologist

Psychologists previously believed most actuaries lack the ?sense of self? needed to experience so-called secondary emotions such as jealousy, embarrassment, empathy or guilt. These emotions are more complex than feelings associated with instant reaction ? such as anger, lust or joy.

Prof Heinz Zweifunfzig, of the University of Glottalstopstadt?s neurobiology department, has shown that actuaries feel intense jealously when they spot that they are unfairly treated compared with other actuaries. ?Actuaries show a strong aversion to inequity,? he said. ?They keep count.?

The actuary study is the latest into several insurance species, including brokers, underwriters, accountants and consultants, which have shown that some professions are far more self-aware than was thought. Dr Maurice Desmond, a psychologist at the University of Harlow who studies emotions, told RISKbitz: ?We are learning that actuaries and perhaps many other species are far more emotionally complex than we ever realised. They can suffer simple forms of many emotions we once thought only primates and humans could experience.?

In research among insurers, Dr Desmond found almost all of them reported jealous behaviour by their actuaries. The actuary often tried to prise their line manager away from a new staff member in the early days of a relationship. Behavioural experts recommend bosses keeping to their actuaries' routine as much as possible when a new co-worker comes along in order to prevent jealous activity from the actuary such as interruptions with barking or whining.

Similar tests on insurance lawyers have found them to be lacking in emotional complexity and that their behaviour is stimulated only by rewards and treats or heavy petting.

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