September 6, 2007

The attractiveness distribution out West and back East

Here in the Mountain Time Zone, I'd say the mean is equal to that of Maryland (or other East Coast places), although the variance is smaller here. You won't find Brazilian supermodel lookalikes, but you also don't see much of what are called "trailer trash" either. There must be greater assortative mating for looks on the East Coast.

Perhaps that is because the Bos-Wash area (and others like it) attracts a disproportionate amount of people who are not just smart and successful but also a bit above-average in looks, since that would give them an edge over the smart but plain (hey, that's how the world works). Normally, good-looking women are fine with marrying down as far as looks go, as long as he's successful, and this tends to erode variance in looks, as pretty and ugly genes are mixed into a given family.

But when the good-looking woman is also very smart and ambitious, I don't think she'd be as willing to marry an ugly guy -- she's got it all, so why shouldn't her husband? And similarly for good-looking successful guys -- why shouldn't he marry a woman who's both smart and sexy? This tendency will tend to preserve variance, as pretty genes get shuffled into the same families, thereby forcing more ugly genes to get shuffled into the same families too.

NB: I'm controlling for other variables, like ethnicity and class. It wouldn't be fair to compare the mostly northern European population here to the beauties of swarthy skin and tawny tresses I was used to seeing in Maryland. And it also wouldn't be fair to compare middle vs. upper class people, since the latter are more likely to show a "trophy wife" pattern.

9 comments:

  1. The gini coefficients for states in Middle America, both in terms of education and income, are smaller than on the coasts. From that, in addition to what you surmise, it seems reasonable to assume that the distributions for intelligence and looks are also narrower in flyover country.

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  2. People in the Mountain West states are the most physically fit Americans, going by surveys of obesity and participation in physical activities. A lean fit body can significantly increase the appeal of an otherwise unattractive woman.

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  3. roissy9:53 PM

    there is something in DC my friends and i call the herb factor -- super hot women with schlumpy looking guys who are shorter than them and who definitely do not give off an air of alpha gravitas.

    we're hard pressed to come up with a plausible explanation that doesn't include the guy bringing massive bling to the table.

    or maybe he has game.

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  4. Re: IQ -- yeah, I'm not surprised by the data. I just met Razib and he said class plays less of a role out West -- that can't be true for most of the West Coast, since it's gruesomely inegalitarian, but the more rural parts of it, plus the Mountains, I could buy.

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  5. New York City = hot, smart man central. It's like paradise over here. These men usually do not breed with very ugly women, so hence NYC is home to some of the most impossibly attractive humans on Earth.

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  6. And it also wouldn't be fair to compare middle vs. upper class people, since the latter are more likely to show a "trophy wife" pattern.

    Unless we're talking about the old, moneyed classes - there proper breeding will trump looks almost every time, as you will notice when you see very wealthy men married to rather plain-looking, but well-bred women from the right family & social milieu.

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  7. I have a broader definition of "upper class" that includes what people usually refer to as "upper-middle" -- doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc. People who run society.

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  8. Time for me to leave NYC and head to DC apparently.

    After checking out the models in midtown, wander into the ghettos in NYC and take a look at some welfare mothers. Talk about a Gini coefficient!

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  9. Big BIll9:11 PM

    You guys aren't responsible for a family yet, are you?

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