May 27, 2008

A second shot at girliness: measuring it

Awhile ago, I suggested considering a composite of the Big Five personality traits Neuroticism and Agreeableness as an index of a feminine personality, since these two traits show the largest sex differences in all cultures. Thursday's typology of females is fairly similar.

Here I will take the sum of the two traits, but give different weights: I'm giving greater weight to Neuroticism to emphasize the part of female personality that makes her vulnerable, conscious of being evaluated, and lacking control over her emotions -- that is, what makes a girl most likely to fall head-over-heels in love. Specifically, I'm adding 4 parts Neuroticism and 1 part Agreeableness. If you wanted to emphasize the nurturing aspect of female personality, you would give greater weight to Agreeableness.

My aim is to help women approaching or over 30 snag a man, appealing to him on a romantic level, hence the emphasis on Neuroticism, which also signals youth. If you want to appeal to him on an "I'd be a great mother of your children" level, then you'd want to play up your Agreeableness -- and if you're 30 or older, you probably don't have to worry in this case, since the nurturing aspect of female personality increases steadily as the woman ages (I'll show the data for this some other time).

Still, I think the nurturing appeal is unlikely to help most women who need help: some do not want children anytime soon, some may be interested in a man who is unlikely to want to have children with them anytime soon, and so on. Unless he's a single father or both of you want kids right now, you'll have to appeal to him on a romantic level.

In the next part, I'll present some data on how this index of girliness changes across the lifespan. There are some obvious patterns (take a wild guess which age range shows the highest score), but there's also quite a surprise, one that may be good news for the women who need help.


  1. "My aim is to help women approaching or over 30 snag a man, appealing to him on a romantic level, hence the emphasis on Neuroticism, which also signals youth."

    How did you arrive at that conclusion?

    Every guy I've ever known is sick to death of neuroticism. I've never met a guy yet that wants to have a relationship with a "nutbag" or someone who is high maintenance.

    They may want to sleep with them but that's as far it would go.

    Neuroticism is very un-attrative.

  2. I'm using Neuroticism in a technical way, as it's used in the personality literature, not in the far-out Woody Allen sense. Click on the first link to see what facets of personality it measures.

    Scoring high in Neuroticism doesn't mean you're a nutbag or high-maintenance. It means you're more emotionally unstable. Lacking control over your emotions is one of the requirements for falling hard for someone.

    Put another way, it measures how high of a threshold the stimulus must be to get a person excited or on-edge. A person low in Neuroticism needs an awful lot to get them excited, and will not have that bubbly, youthful personality.

    Plus being emotionally fragile attracts guys, as long as she isn't constantly weeping. It forces us to assume a protector role, and guys really respond to girls who make them feel worthwhile that way.

  3. What about Mapquest directions to sperm banks and Chinese adoption agencies?

  4. Isn't this all far too compartmentalized? I doubt I would register on the feminine or masculine scales. These sorts of surveys have to be taken with a very hefty dosage of salt as well. Males and females generally are the same, social conditioning dictates otherwise.


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