January 25, 2009

Data: teenagers don't care about dopey stuff white people like

While some may be able to stomach the moral superiority preening contests that are satirized on Stuff White People Like, I have to control the urge to choke the person. You can't even say, "God, you're full of shit" -- at least to those who you're forced to be around regularly. You have to pretend that you're joking, and even then most people will interpret it as one of those faggy meta ironic statements.

Having to tolerate others grates on the nerves, but to avoid SWPL, do we hang out with Blacks instead of Whites, men instead of women, young instead of old?

What nearly no one discusses about Christian Lander's satire is the effect of age: the SWPL group is made up mostly of people aged 23 to 63. After that, people enter their brutally honest, cranky oldperson stage. They no longer hobnob with large parts of their social group, and so don't need to publicly pretend that most of them aren't utter fools. During the second or third year of college, students begin to dabble in SWPL stuff, but it's really after they graduate and have to join the world of 20 - 50-somethings that they preoccupy over whether the rice at their dinner party is organic whole grain or not.

Teenagers live in a world entirely divorced from that. Adults are sort of in the background producing the music they listen to and building the malls they hang out in, but they never interact with any of them. They have their own savage status competitions, but theirs highlight how arbitrary the contest is -- your group wears baggy jeans, but we wear skinny jeans, so you suck. The SWPL crowd, though, believes there's a deeper moral war being fought on the battlefield of things that don't matter. If we don't make our city more bike-friendly, Fascism will win!

So, here are some data to back this up. I didn't need them, but most people have probably forgotten the difference between being in high school vs. college, as far as having dopey views goes -- even though it's incredibly obvious. First, here is how the personality trait Openness to Experience changes across the lifespan *:

Openness increases during adolescence, peaks in college, and declines after. The peak is at age 19 -- I guess they don't call it "sophomoric" for nothing. That's the year I got really into leftist student activism and anarchism. Makes me long for high school, when no one gave a shit about that stuff. During the 1998 election, I wore an authentic Nixon / Agnew pin on my field jacket -- not because I knew anything about them, or cared, but just to be obnoxious and cool.

Speaking of raising awareness, when does sympathy with this crap peak? I checked an online petition site for ones that included the signers' ages. Two are about SWPL causes -- Help Stop Animal Abuse! and Save the Madagascar Rain Forest -- and the third is a control case, Lower Legal Drinking Age. Here are box plots of the signers' ages for each:

The median signer of the two Green petitions is in their early-mid 30s, and the middle half of them are 20-somethings through 40-somethings. Only about a quarter of them are 21 or under. Just to show that this isn't because young people don't visit that website, or don't feel like signing petitions, the plot for signers of the "lower the drinking age" petition clearly shows interest among people in their late teens. And the number of signers is much larger in this case -- 606, compared to 249 and 371 for the "rainforest" and "animal abuse" petitions.

And here are histograms, which are more fine-grained but don't all neatly fit on the same graph. Each bin has 5 years, centered on years ending in 3 or 8.

No surprise that almost all of the "lower the drinking age" people are drawn from such a tiny age range, compared to the other two causes. The two high bars in the "rainforest" graph represent ages 21 - 30. Signers of the "animal abuse" petition are nearly uniformly distributed by age, although there is an increasing trend.

So, when an issue really does appeal to them, adolescents are all over it. It's just that the issues they care about -- like being able to get drunk sooner -- aren't about showing off how morally superior they are. The poor bastards have the idea that once you graduate high school, you putz around for a few years, nothing too different, and then you become a full adult. And they just want to get to that part quickly, as I showed before. Ah, but first they have to waste their 20s "finding themselves," in order to have more ammo in the preening contests:

"Oh, you found yourself in Sydney? That's not too bad -- for me it was Tanzania, but I guess Australia's OK too. I just don't get how you tolerated all those tourists, though!"

Maybe for fun sometime I'll ask one of the girls at the teen dance club how much she's looking forward to finding herself during her 20s. "finding myself? ummmm... idk, sounds kinda gay. but i can't WAIT to get my own place and my own carrr!"

So, while individual females in their 20s and beyond may reject the moralistic status contests, as a group the 20 - 60 year-olds are the worst. Sure, teenagers have their own silly status contests -- just like you do. (No one cares that you know who the "it pianist" is this year, and that you were like totally into them before everyone else found out about them in the New York Times.) Every group of people is annoying, but some are less so -- don't let the best be the enemy of the good. I'll take a skinny vs. baggy jeans debate over a tirade about why iodized salt is evil any day.

* From McCrae, Martin, & Costa (2005). Age Trends and Age Norms for the NEO Personality Inventory--3 in Adolescents and Adults. Assessment, 12(4): 363-73.

January 22, 2009

Katy Perry takes vow of celibacy... lmfao

Yes, that neurotic attention-whore is swearing off sex, at least for the year. Prediction: sometime before autumn, she'll wake up with three dicks in her mouth. "Oh my god, how did these get here?! I must've been drunk -- so I mean, it totally doesn't count!"

Still, let's count our blessings that the psycho-clingy girlfriend song of 2008, "Hot N Cold", was a lot more rockin' than that of mopey 1994, Lisa Loeb's "Stay." And the singer's much better looking. So I guess Katy Perry is a better role model than the average female rock singer.

January 21, 2009

The temptation of Saint Agnostic 4: Hannah

Previous parts. Real name changed.

At age 24, I'd tutored a few teenagers after graduating college, and had a very lightly flirtatious rapport with one a year earlier, but nothing more. Hannah, 17, was the first one to come right at me, and so the first to re-open my eyes to the nature of adolescent female sexuality. You're aware of it when you're their age, but as the memories fade after college, you imagine them as naive, helpless, passive, and so on. (See here for a reminder of their turbo-charged libidos. Ads NSFW.)

During her junior year of high school -- when girls are at the summit of their girlfriend appeal -- I had just begun working at the place Hannah went to for help with Algebra II. Usually a math-only guy was there to work with her, but several times she had to fend for herself. I remember hearing one of her tutors struggling to recall polynomial long division. I let this tutor go on for a little bit, just because I delight in seeing people paralyzed by their math insecurity, and then stepped in to show Hannah how it works.

It's a very tedious process, so I was writing down quite a bit as I was sitting next to her. After every couple of steps, she interrupted with, "Oh wait, you mean like this?" while moving her pencil far outside her personal space, so that her hand pressed into mine while she finished the step. Her eyes opened wide when I correctly guessed her ethnicity from her last name, which not many people could do. Anytime we worked together thereafter, she'd stretch out her delicate hand the same way. This caught me off-guard at first because she was very quiet, but on reflection, she wasn't mousy -- more like hiding things. Hannah is the type who I wouldn't be surprised to learn has run off to L.A. to do porn -- I mean, it's good money and, y'know, just to keep from getting too bored.

She nearly knocked me over one day in the summer. It looked like she'd just come from the pool or the beach, her skin bronzed and her dark wavy hair spilling down her neck and over her tank-topped chest. I was rummaging through the pencil box to find one with an eraser and saw her walking straight at me -- and not in that Power Bitch stomp way that cougars do, but by gliding as nimbly and purposefully as she would to surprise someone from behind.

When she got within four feet, I looked at her, and she was staring me dead in the eye. With her little hand, Hannah threw back her tawny locks, exposing the top of her breasts, and gave me a suggestive "Hey..." right as she passed by. I didn't flinch, just giving her a neutral "Hey" back, probably with an impossible to conceal smirk.

I think that was the last time she showed up. God knows if she'd returned in the fall, she would have embroiled me in an affair and gotten me fired. (She was above the age of consent, but there was probably a "fuck the students and you're fired" clause in my contract.) There really ought to be some kind of temporary insanity defense in such cases, though, so that I could've kept my job. I mean, Your Honor, are you telling me you wouldn't have hit Hannah?

January 19, 2009

Fat chicks are more likely to cheat

Some numbnuts over at Roissy's claimed that better looking women were more likely to cheat than uglies because they have more guys offering themselves to her. But women are not men: merely being offered a cornucopia of cock doesn't mean she'll consume it. So let's turn to the General Social Survey and see what's up.

They don't have a variable that measures how attractive a person is, but they do record the interviewer's impression of the person's weight. For women, this is closely tied to attractiveness, thin women looking better than seacows. A priori, we expect the moo-moos to cheat more than the lithe-bodied due to having poorer impulse control when tempted. Sure enough, fat women treat dick as a fifth food group:

Now, this subjective rating of weight is based on the population average, and since they're all Americans, the categories are really: thin, fat, obese, and morbidly obese. There is a clear split between thin women and the various types of fat women, so I pooled all of the fatties together. Here is the contingency table for cheating by weight class:

_______ Cheat _ Not cheat _ Tot
Thin ___ 2 _____ 74 ______ 76
Fat ____ 104 ___ 663 _____ 767
Tot ____ 106 ___ 737 _____ 843

Obviously thin women are much less likely to cheat than fat women -- 2.6% vs. 13.6%, resp. A Fisher's Exact Test shows that if there were no difference in cheating between weight groups, the chance of finding a result at least as extreme as this one is p = 0.003.

Yet another reason for men not to settle!

GSS variables used: EVSTRAY, INTRWGHT, SEX

January 18, 2009

Recognizing an Eternal Ingenue heartbreaker from her Facebook or MySpace

The female heartbreakers that Alias Clio has cataloged are pretty easy to recognize in real life, and so to avoid wasting your time investing in them. The exception is the Eternal Ingenue, whose reproductive strategy I analyzed as a form of deceptive signaling -- she looks girly outside, but is masculinized inside. The male mindset and urges allow her to sample lots of males to find the perfect one, while her hyper-feminine appearance disarms men before they would use her.

Because she is the type most likely to enthrall men -- as Clio says, and as confirmed by the gushing commentary about her from guys -- it's important to find at least one or two weak spots in her deception, lest you become blind-sided by her fickle ways.

I've decided on a very simple and broadly applicable method -- looking at her profile on Facebook or MySpace -- based on the ones I've known, including my close friend. All arts and humanities majors -- who are distinct from practicing artists -- fall into two polarized camps: those who identify with the refinement of the upper class, and those who admire the struggle and toughness of the lower class. They see humanity but are blind to people. This is why the world needs cold-hearted science guys.

To illustrate what I mean, Clio describes the Amazonian Alpha heartbreaker as a woman who in social situations is surrounded by men "who may anxiously ask her opinion about public affairs and actually listen to what she says about them." (I find this as cute as Clio must find my use of the phrase "reproductive strategy" in talking about human beings.) Now of course, most people -- even most upper-middle class people -- don't care at all about public affairs, and this is just a humble way for Clio to say, "I hang out with people who do -- so nyah." And so, while true, this doesn't help us to identify her in most contexts.

But for a brief moment in her discussion of the Eternal Ingenue, Clio submits to the dark side of abstract systemizing and gets right to it:

What makes an ordinary Ingenue into a femme fatale, one who goes through many men and breaks their hearts, is that this is a woman "in love with love"...

Pay attention, guys -- this is her Achilles' heel. Especially when younger, but even still when over 25 or 30, her brain is so awash in hormones that she won't be able to hide her love for being in love. Plainly what this means is that love is addictive for her, so that once she's habituated to the flavor of your love drug, she'll run off to find a guy whose novel taste will excite her like you used to 4 to 6 weeks ago.

Because most of the females who you'd be interested in have a presence in some social network, and because they reveal much more there than they would in person, it's worth looking over her profile before you get too invested in her. Look for quotations, status messages, picture captions, etc., that sound like these:

"Love as a drug." Pretty obvious to spot -- "I've found him, my new addiction." "The heart has its reasons that reason does not know about" -- a typical response that addicts give as to why they keep taking drugs, regardless of what Pascal intended. Etc.

"Live to the extreme." More common, since she'll only have a "love as a drug" message when currently infatuated. Normal people don't talk like that -- "live so hard it hurts," "life is too short for mediocre love," "live each day as though it were the last," and so on. With that mindset, you'd list the 100 things that you just have to do before your life ends, and rush through all of them. That's how she views relationships: they're a whirlwind tour through the 100 perfect guys that she just has to date before she dies -- or, more to the point, before she has kids.

The more frequently she puts out these messages, the more likely she is to be a heartbreaker. Plenty of people feel something like an addiction when they're in love, but to be so extreme about it, and especially to be so public and vocal about it, is what distinguishes an Ingenue femme fatale. If she were planning on being with one or two men for her whole life, she would feel addiction for the first month, and say so in her Facebook status messages. But after that, she would mellow out. Even if she doesn't specify a new name or a new "him," a frequent output of vague "I'm so in love" messages means that she's gone through several cycles of falling in and out of love, each outburst corresponding to a new guy.

Also, by broadcasting how passionately in love she is, she attracts and maintains a large stable of potential suitors. Guys dread the prospect of dating a cold fish, so they quickly pursue any "I'm so passionate" signals that girls give off. If her genes' plan were to fall madly in love with one or two men, she wouldn't seek to keep such a stable. She might rave about it to her friends, but an honest girly girl would be far too bashful to skip up and down all of Facebook singing at the top of her lungs about how madly in love she is.

Because her plan is to cycle through as many guys as possible before settling down, you can't hold on to her for very long, so don't bother. Should you find yourself involved with one, don't get emotionally attached to her -- she's using you as an emotional pump-and-dump, so why not use her as a physical pump-and-dump? A lot of guys will find this too tough, though, since her appearance and girly affectations are so adorable and disarming. If you don't think you could deal with that, just probe her at the outset to see if she's an Ingenue or an Ingenue heartbreaker.

Browsing her Facebook is a pretty good way. Finding some way to introduce one of those sayings about "life is too short for mediocre love" into the conversation is good too. Then gauge her reaction. If she mildly agrees, she's probably being polite and doesn't want to sound boring. If she remarks how stupid those sayings are, there's no chance she belongs to this type. But if her reaction is to emote about how omg, she like totally believes in that, i mean like why wouldn't you live each day like the last day of your life??!?! -- then watch out.

January 16, 2009

San Francisco gives city ID cards to illegal immigrants, after pitiful screening process

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article about S.F. issuing city ID cards to illegal immigrants. Who the hell would think this is a good idea?

But San Francisco officials and recipients of the cards hailed the new program as a way to connect undocumented immigrants with banks, businesses and city services, such as obtaining health care and checking out library books.

Connecting illegal immigrants with banks -- that couldn't possibly go wrong, could it? You hope that these banks won't be stupid enough to give another $720,000 loan to strawberry pickers, but you never know. And helping illegals transfer their earnings back to their relatives in Mexico will be yet another punch in the gut for our sluggish economy.

San Francisco, full of snobs as it is, should require illegals to use the public libraries to read through the entire middle and high school English lit curricula, including the summer reading lists, before they get to burden the health care system even further.

They also said it will encourage card holders to report crimes to the police without fear of being arrested or deported.

Of course, welcoming illegals with open arms will only cause more lower-class Mexicans to flood in, bringing with them even more crime -- but which they'll have an easier time reporting! It's neat how these problems practically work themselves out.

And what rigorous screening process must the crowd, "made up mostly of Latino men," go through?

At the appointment, you will fill out an application, show proof of identity (like a driver's license or foreign passport) and proof of city residency (like a utility bill [or "having a child enrolled in the city's public schools" -- agnostic]), pay $5 to $15, get a picture taken and receive the card within 20 minutes.

If you go to the S.F. County Clerk's webpage for the ID card, you find a list of ways to prove your identity. (Btw, notice the contrast between the portrayed user of the card -- a well groomed, gainfully employed Asian woman -- and the Chronicle's picture of those in line to get the card.) According to this, as long as you have a certified copy of a foreign birth certificate, and a foreign driver's license, you're OK. To prove residency, you just need an "Employment pay stub dated within the last 30 days."

And what about that grueling application? It's a whole half-page long. All it asks is your name and birth date, and has an optional section on emergency contacts and medical conditions. Not even a criminal background check of some sort? Like, "Have you at any time been convicted of spitting in the Whoppers at Burger King, or of selling bathtub cheese?" Nope -- that would only delay the new peasant underclass in their restoration of California's economy.

These yoga-crazed dumb shits in San Francisco believe so much in karma -- we can only hope that theirs are the first cars broken into, their bodies the first to be violated or cut down. If not, well, that's just another one of those funny externalities that will disappear once an equilibrium is reached.

Demotivational poster 3

Fuck it, it's Friday.

January 15, 2009

Don't let them toy around with you

[Couperin, "Soeur Monique"]

Her friend with the camera isn't quite Fragonard, but they still have lots of time to learn.

Always a good sign if a girl likes cats (unless she's an old cat lady). Some dogs are OK, but never the ones that girls like -- those little yap-yap shits that you have to fight the urge to choke the life out of.

One way to measure how attractiveness rises and falls over the lifespan is to count the number of pictures of herself that get uploaded to the internet per unit of time. The better you look, the less likely the camera is to not like you, no matter if you're still in your night clothes and just goofing around in bed with your cat. It's like, "I dare the camera to catch me looking bad."

January 14, 2009

Are rock stars getting older?

Over two years ago, Steve Sailer wondered whether new rock stars are older today. The trouble with investigating this is defining who counts as rock stars, and when to measure their age. Otherwise, whatever you think, you'll probably end up cherry-picking examples to support your hunch. For example, in his look at young-20s punk rockers, he left out Joey Ramone, who was nearly 25 when their first album came out, and 26 when Rocket to Russia came out. David Byrne was 28 when Remain in Light came out, and Debbie Harry was 33 when Parallel Lines came out.

Using the age at their debut album won't work because they might not be famous until three albums later. To be a bit more precise, I've done the following to measure the age of rock stars in a given year: Look at who was #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart for every week, and see how old the lead singer was. If someone shows up more than once, just count it as the age when they first appeared on the charts that year. Then take the average of every lead singer's age, weighted by how frequently they showed up on the charts that year. (If someone showed up for 30 weeks, and someone else for 1, the former's age should count more.)

Unfortunately, the Modern Rock Tracks only go back to 1988. The Mainstream Rock charts go back to 1981, but I figured I'd start with an easier task first. The 1988 point is iffy since there were only 16 weeks in the first year. At any rate, here is the graph:

Other than noting a decline in the early-mid '90s and an increase since 2001, there doesn't seem to be much of a pattern here. I've only counted those who had a #1 hit, so I'm missing everyone else. If there were a free way to access Billboard's data, I'd look at the top 50 or something. This might also get around artificially lumping everyone into a year, since some bands spanned two years. Taking the average of the top 50 or 100 lead singers for a given week, and then plotting each week instead of year, might give a clearer picture. But then I'd also have to look up a shitload of people's ages, rather than whoever was #1. It could probably be done, but I'd need to find a good database with rock stars' basic info.

Remember not to compare particular ages from earlier times with those in the graph above -- unless they're gotten by the same method, a comparison is pointless. Also don't forget that the ages may not increase or decrease steadily -- the graph above shows something like oscillation with nearly 10 years in age separating highs from lows, spanning only a decade's worth of rock stars. Maybe they really were younger in the first wave of punk rock -- but they may have gotten older in the meantime, then younger in the mid-'90s, then older again.

January 13, 2009

Cheating and age

After noting below that female promiscuity peaks at 22, we predict that they're more likely to cheat than other age groups. The General Social Survey asks if people have ever cheated on their spouse. Looking at unmarried males and females by age, who I've pooled into 3-year age groups, here is the percent who have ever cheated:

If women had only one spouse during their lifetime, then the percent who have "ever" cheated cannot decrease with age. This question was asked from 1991 to 2006, so the ups and downs are probably not a cohort effect. My guess is that people simply don't recall every single time they've cheated over their lifetimes, and "ever cheated" to them means "have recently cheated." Or again, it could reflect women who are married a second time being more likely to cheat.

The two peaks for females are 21 - 23 and 45 - 47, while for males they are 21 - 23 and 57 - 59. This reflects the fact that when young, men and women are both horny and outgoing enough to cheat a lot, and that after young adulthood, men's value declines more slowly than women's -- allowing them to cheat for far longer.

Again we see that 22 year-old women are the least reliable among those who have any looks at all. The 18 - 20 year-olds, by contrast, are remarkably faithful. The ideal seems to be dating a girl who's 16 or 17, marrying her by 20, and getting her pregnant soon thereafter, so that she'll be too occupied with family life to run around in her early 20s.

GSS variables used: EVSTRAY, AGE, SEX, MARITAL

January 12, 2009

Female sluttiness peaks at 22

Now that you've had a chance to guess when women burn through the most partners, let's look at the evidence from the General Social Survey that it's 22. (I would've guessed 24 - 25.) When looking at women by age, the 22 year-olds have the highest average number of sex partners in the past year and the highest chance of having had 4 or more partners in the past year. Also, when we only look at women who've had 4+ partners in the past year, the most common such woman (the mode) is 22. Here are the graphs:

If we restrict the data to only unmarried women, the answer does not change. The only difference is that the decline in sluttiness is a bit slower, since these women are still on the market. There's a blip at age 31 in the "average partners" graph, but considering all the graphs together, 22 remains the answer. Here are the graphs for unmarried women:

The GSS doesn't survey people under 18, but we can infer that sluttiness decreases as we look backward to age of puberty.

I've provided evidence on this blog that female sex-bomb-ness peaks at age 23 (see here and links therein). And if you've been here for longer than a week, you know I find girls younger than that very attractive too. The same is true for any red-blooded guy -- his guess won't be very far off from another, unless he's trying to curry favor with over-25 women. (Hint: they won't fuck you just because you repeatedly stood up for them, which only makes you look like a doormat.)

Females need to sample the pool of mates before they have a child, to ensure they don't have a loser's child. In developed countries this is around 25, maybe a little earlier in good times and a little later in bad times. So, they're going to be increasing slutty after puberty and up until a year before they tend to have their first kid. Their good looks at these ages are adaptations to help them play the field -- it would be tough to make the rounds if you were wrinkled, saggy, and slothlike. Their high levels of androgens during this time helps them have the more guy-like urges necessary to go out and make the rounds.

On a practical level, it's probably best to avoid marrying or investing seriously in a woman who's about 20 to 23, since they're the sluttiest and thus most likely to cheat on you. (I'll post another graph soon on how cheating varies across the lifespan -- 21 to 23 is a high point there too.) If you want a serious relationship with someone who's good-looking and not likely to sleep around, your best bet is teenagers, or if that's not possible, women in their mid-20s who happen to have aged very well.

When I noted that you need to keep watch over your young wife, the girl in that episode was about the age of peak sluttiness. Although 15 to 19 year-olds in a club will dirty dance with me or, at the most risque, spank my ass, a very quick progression to kissing and grabbing her thigh that's wrapped around my torso is just not going to happen (let alone while she asks her friends to take pictures of it). So, if you're too busy with other things to closely monitor your gf's or wife's behavior, investing in a teenager or mid-20s girl is ideal. A high school sweetheart may have a high libido, but compared to women in other good-looking age groups, she's too chaste to date around or betray you.


January 10, 2009

Guess when female sluttiness peaks

I already know, but before I put the graphs up sometime soon, let's hear from the peanut gallery. Try to say just 1 year, though a range of 3 years is OK too. Anything more than that and it's pretty easy to guess right. "Sluttiness" here means burning through lots of guys in a given time.

For any age between 15 and 55, there's a megaphone-grabber in popular culture that is certain that such women are on a cock-gobbling rampage, so that won't help. Time to put on your thinking caps.

January 9, 2009

What's up with the teen birth rate?

Over at Gene Expression, I review the new data on birth rates. Basically, birth rates are up across the board by age and race, and the closer you get to the female fecundity peak in the early 20s, the stronger that signal is. There's nothing special, that is, about births being up among young people. The changes among 15 to 17 year-olds isn't very dramatic, and it's hardly visible compared to the long-term downward trend. The only young group that's shown a pretty steady increase in recent years is 18 to 19 year-old Hispanics, whose birth rates have been increasing since 2000.

Yak over there. Comments closed here.

Data: going out more to bars = more sex partners


I thought of starting this with "no surprise," but that's only true for girls who live in bars -- we already think of them as promiscuous. A lot of people, though, are skeptical that guys who go to bars a lot actually end up in bed with more girls. The General Social Survey asks people how often they go out to bars, and how many sex partners they had in the past year. Here's a graph of the relationship for males and females (the pattern is the same when only unmarried people are counted):

Sure enough, female bar flies are sluts. (I left out the "goes almost daily" group because they were a small sample compared to the rest.) That's yet another reason to approach "the new girl" at your favorite clubs and bars -- aside from novelty value, if you rarely see her there, she probably doesn't frequent bars so often, and won't cheat on you. Unless she goes to every single bar in the area, coming back to one only after a month's cycle -- but you should be able to tell which case she is.

And in case you were skeptical, guys who go out to bars a lot do bed more women. Really, where else would you go to boost the notch count? Maybe the skepticism is based on the image of the group of doofuses who go out frequently yet do all the wrong things. (See any TGI Fridays commercial.) And yet, as goofy as these guys may be, at least they're out and about playing some kind of numbers game -- they've got more promise than if they'd stayed home the entire year.

Correlation isn't causation, as they say, so it could just be that extraverted people both go out more and are better at persuading others into the bedroom. Still, don't forget what Woody Allen said: "Eighty percent of success is showing up."

Update: Instead of looking at average number of partners, here is the percent who had 3+ and 4+ partners in the past year, by how often they go to bars.

For males who go almost daily, 20% had 4+ partners, and 35% had 3+ partners, vs. 2% and 5%, resp., for males who never go. For females who go several times a week, 6% had 4+ partners and 13% had 3+ partners, vs. 0.4% and 0.9%, resp., for females who never go. Basically, by going a lot instead of not at all, the chances of having several partners per year go up by an order of magnitude. The data don't tell us anything about how many times the person has sex with each partner -- for all we know, they had 3 or 4 semi-steady relationships with people they met in bars.

GSS variables used: PARTNERS, SOCBAR, SEX

January 8, 2009

Latin teen booty or Asian MILF boobies? Trends in porn over the past 20 years

One feature of the mid-late '90s that I've always found bizarre was the brief rise of Asian girls as sex symbols, despite having no ass or breasts, flat and fat faces, and a cold demeanor (Lucy Liu on Ally McBeal). This was an on-the-ground phenomenon too, with guys saying things like, "Dude, did you see her roommate? She's ASIAN!" Other aspects of female sex symbols -- the ones that aren't so central to her value -- go through fashion cycles, such as the recent domination of the ass over the boobs.

To investigate how real these apparent trends were, and when they started and stopped, I searched for certain keywords within the titles of porn movies at the Internet Adult Film Database. This can't tell us what percent of porn chicks were Asian in a given year, but it at least tells us about the strength of the niche market for Asian videos (or whatever), where the word appears right there in the title. Most of the keywords show up around 1988, so I started all of them there to make the graphs comparable.

I looked up three trends: Latin vs. Asian ethnicity, teen vs. MILF ages, and emphasis on asses vs. boobs. The number of titles in each year is standardized by dividing by the number of titles with "the," a neutral word to compare against. I've plotted the trend for each of the two types on the same graph, as well as another graph with the difference between the two. First, the ethnic groups (click to see full-size):

In the trend graph, we see that an increasing fraction of porn movies have either an Asian or Latin focus -- the titles are no longer vague, like "Sexual Inferno," but explicitly name the type of girl and act you're looking for, like "Latin Booty Worship 2." This trend begins in the mid-'90s. The Latin - Asian gap favored Asians from '92 to '99, though not by a lot. After being neck-and-neck in 2000 and '01, Latins have taken over since then, peaking in 2004.

And now for trends in unusual ages (young or old):

Teens became a popular niche in 2000, and MILFs in 2003 or '04. Looks like teens have stalled out as a niche, while MILFs are still rising in popularity. There wasn't much difference between the two age groups throughout the '90s, but from 2000 to '06, teens blew MILFs out of the water, peaking in '03. For the past two years, though, MILFs have been a stronger niche than teenagers -- a sure sign that civilization is doomed.

Lastly, the trends in focus on the ass or breasts:

These two increase throughout the '90s, but at the turn of the millennium both increase even faster. It seems that the late '90s was when porn changed from movies with acting to an unconnected series of scenes on the same theme. Booty movies have always been more popular than boob movies, which I wouldn't have guessed would be true before 2000. Either there are more assmen than boobmen, or even boobmen become more interested in asses when they need to get the job done. The ass - boob gap was greatest in 2006, but has declined somewhat in the past two years. Has the booty bubble burst? Let's hope not. But Congress can always break it off a piece of its big stimulus package to keep it floating.

So, along with rock music, we can add "porn" to the list of pop culture things whose most recent peak was around 2003 - '06.

Guys like to think that they're largely immune to fashion changes in female sex symbols, and to a great extent, we're right -- short of driving a spike through our brain, you can't convince us that Sarah Jessica Parker is sexy. But for traits that don't matter so much, we may go along with whatever's cool at the moment, like a J-Lo booty. I've been a fan of that shape ever since my first girlfriend in sixth grade, a Central American with a full rump and the largest breasts in the entire middle school. But for others, it may be like the Asian craze of the mid-late '90s.

January 7, 2009

A deceptive signaling theory of The Eternal Ingenue

Alias Clio made up a list of female heartbreaker types, one of whom is The Eternal Ingenue. Almost everyone who's read that description, including me, was confusing this type with a girly girl -- one who just happened to be a heartbreaker. But I've come to realize that she is really a wolf in sheep's clothing, and there are key points in Clio's description that support this.

All animals signal information to other animals. Biologists debate whether a signal is honest or deceptive -- does a deep, resonant voice mean he's big, and therefore could probably kick our ass, or has a non-threatening creature found a way to fake us out? (See Maynard Smith & Harper's book Animal Signals or Oren Hasson's articles on signaling.)

When we use appearances to divine the hidden essence of someone's personality, we rely heavily on the face. Sure, there are other parts that tell us about their behavior, but the face is always visible and doesn't move inconveniently when we're talking.

There's one known example of deceptive signaling involving the face -- namely, that babyfaced men tend to have more dominant personalities than maturefaced men, and tend to excel more at whatever they do. For example, high-IQ babyfaced men achieve more in school than their maturefaced counterparts, while low-IQ babyfaced men commit more crime compared to their gangmates. (See Leslie Zebrowitz's book Reading Faces, or her articles.) People expect these guys to be innocent, harmless, and docile, but they've been fooled. *

Most men don't have babyfaces because, otherwise, it would be very clear to people that an innocent-looking face didn't mean innocent behavior, and the jig would be up. But there clearly is an open niche to be filled. So, there will be a small but persistent fraction of men who fool others this way. The cost to others isn't so great because they will rarely encounter such a man, and there would be huge costs to ignoring the face when it was accurate -- that is, in most cases. So, there's no selection pressure to ignore what the face claims lies inside.

I think the same is true of the Eternal Ingenue type. Whether this is true of the exact type Clio had in mind isn't important -- that's just a matter of terminology and classification. Here is what she looks like, according to Clio:

She has a superficial physical resemblance to the Waif, in that she tends to have big eyes, small features, and a rather boyish body, thin and not voluptuous. (This is not invariable: there are curvy ingenue heartbreakers.)

How can it be that a girl with such a super-feminine face can have so masculine of a body shape, assuming she's past puberty? Based only on personal experience, I also contend that these women have masculine digit ratios (ring finger of right hand noticeably longer than the index finger). ** It shouldn't be hard to check this for the women Clio mentions, though.

To me, this suggests that she has a higher-than-average level of testosterone, which is reflected in her body overall, but which is disguised by her facial features. Why just the face? Because that's primarily where people -- the suckers -- are going to look when predicting personality from appearance, not her waist-to-hip ratio, digit ratio, boob size, or whatever else.

This high-T view also explains why these women tend to be heartbreakers, going from one man to another without feeling very bad about it -- that's a guy's way. I'm sure they rationalize it in a girly way, like they're just in love with the ideal of being in love (as Clio says). But regardless of how they spin their roving eye and wandering ways, in the end they do show fairly masculine dating behavior. It's also no accident that these women do well in highly competitive jobs like acting or dancing -- you don't climb to the top of anything without a fair amount of balls.

If this is correct, then the genes of an Eternal Ingenue have found some way to allow testosterone to affect most of her body -- including parts of her brain -- but to cut it off before it reaches the skull proper, where it would masculinize her face and let everyone know what her personality is really like. It also seems to preserve the girliness of the parts of the brain responsible for giggliness and extraversion.

I know almost nothing about molecular biology, but there could be some gene or team of genes that get testosterone where it needs to go, or that are local receptors for androgens. These genes would be expressed everywhere where testosterone typically has an effect -- but they're switched off when they're in the skull.

If altering her biology incurs some cost, in the same way that it takes more resources to partially dam a river rather than let it run totally free, then only females with lots of bodily resources to invest could afford the cost and still get by. If her genes were so great that she had to deal far less with infection, stress, random insults, and so on, that would free up resources to block a high flow of testosterone from reaching her face. So, if the deception is costly, a further prediction is that Eternal Ingenue types will be better looking than the average female. Maybe not Louise Brooks, but still.

This type of woman gets the best of both worlds: she gets to fall deeply in love with person A, who because she seems so innocent will actually slow the courtship down, so much so that she moves on to person B before having to give it up, though she may be physical with him. And so on, always having a steady supply of new flavors of her love-drug, which she hardly has to pay anything for. And of course, when she wants kids, she gets her pick, and all the while many men will continue investing resources in her. This is the female version of Genghiz Khan or Wilt Chamberlain, who get to plow through thousands of nubile women with nary a rejection to slow them down, and without having to stick around either.

When a guy sees an Eternal Ingenue, he's going to get completely suckered, just like those who interact with babyfaced men. But as with the latter, being fooled by her won't cost you so much because you so rarely run into them -- unless you go where they tend to congregate, such as among ballet dancers or actresses. Just make sure not to go with your gut the next time you see a girl with a mega-cute face and bubbly mien -- check her for boyish hips and a masculine digit ratio, as well as other tells such as a lowish voice, and doing anything competitive (including performing, since she had to beat out many others to get that spot).

It's not that there really aren't girly girls out there -- but the most captivating, inside and out, will tend to be these wolves in sheep's clothing. If you're after one for the long-term, you'd do better to look for one who has a wallflower's job and who blushes or turns shy easily, although not one who's depressive like the Waif / Neurotic. She'll be less of a rush to be around -- girls are more boring than boys -- but then she won't quickly skip away in search of another fairy tale boyfriend.

* Needless to say, this means that if a guy is babyfaced, then he's more likely than not to have that personality -- not that if a guy has that personality, then he's more likely than not to have a babyface.

** I base this on the ones I've known, including this enchantress from the teen dance club. My 19 y.o. close friend, who I initially thought was an Amazonian Alpha (in Clio's terms), I know recognize as someone whose delightfully girly face only fools men into thinking she's a non-threatening girly girl. Her masculine digit ratio and waist-to-hip ratio say otherwise. And she is most definitely a heartbreaker. (Fortunately I never fell for her, since as such a close friend I saw early how competitive and dominant her personality is -- which I don't mind in friends, but is a turn-off in girlfriends.)

For an example to check yourselves, see this video. Everyone is falling for this girl on YouTube because of her bursting-open brown eyes, delicate features, and uber-girly demeanor. (Just as in the lonelygirl15 hoax.) But she has a masculine digit ratio (pause that video at 6:10), a low voice, and (in some other video) very boyish hips. Plus she performs in front of a global audience without cracking, something a true girly girl would be too shy and nervous to get through -- let alone time after time.

January 6, 2009

Data show we imprint on music from our teens and don't budge

Lots of people suspect this, but here's some hard data to back it up. In 1993, the General Social Survey asked people whether they like various types of music. There are three that are somewhat similar but that came out decades apart: big band, oldies, and contemporary rock.

To look for a cohort effect, I pooled people into three-year age groups, from 18 - 20 to 72 - 74, to get decent sample sizes. Then I took the year that a group turned 15, as a guess of when your mind is most impressionable to popular culture. Here are graphs showing what percent of an age group "likes very much" the three music styles, according to when they turned 15. Click to see full-size:

People who were 15 in the late '30s like big band music the most, while those who turned 15 around 1960 like oldies the most, and those who turned 15 in 1989 like contemporary rock the most. "Contemporary rock" in 1993 likely meant alternative rock. In all cases, the year when the music style peaked is the year when its greatest fans were 15. This isn't so clear in the contemporary rock graph since alternative rock peaked around 1994, so that those who were 15 then were not covered by the survey. You can tell, though, that it's still going up in popularity after 1990.

These cohort effects are not merely due to young people trying to distinguish themselves from old people -- "ew, that's like my dad's music" -- but also about older people trying to distinguish themselves from younger people -- "these kids these days don't know what good music is!" Middle-aged people hate both their parents' music and their kids' music. So, the simplest explanation has nothing to do with family dynamics or anything like that -- only that generations try to distinguish themselves from other generations.

People my age got lucky and experienced two waves of good popular rock music during their formative years -- I was 14 in 1994 and 24 in 2004. I hate on a lot of the mopier, brooding stuff from the alternative rock period, but to be fair, there was some cool stuff too, especially Dookie by Green Day. I can still play that all the way through several times, moving around to it non-stop. Its stripped-down sound and short songs make it more like the Ramones era of punk rock, and not at all like the overwrought stuff that was popular on MTV's 120 Minutes.

The graphs show that some people from the following cohort like music from before their time, probably because they don't care for most of what's being played when they're 15. Aside from Green Day and maybe a few other current bands, I spent most of my time around that age digging into the mid-late '80s "underground / college radio" stuff: Dead Milkmen, Camper Van Beethoven, They Might Be Giants, Big Black, Mojo Nixon, etc.

I tried going back further to experimental '70s music -- The Residents, Captain Beefheart, Talking Heads, Frank Zappa -- but in hindsight, it was mostly a pose that I struck, and I don't like it nearly as much now as I thought I did then. Except for Frank Zappa's Waka/Jawaka and Grand Wazoo. Snakefinger's music has also left a more lasting impression than The Residents'. The coolest thing I remember about this music is buying it on vinyl, when CDs had become standard. (Joe's Record Paradise in Maryland and Orpheus Records in DC -- are they still surviving?)

Popular rock music has sucked for the past two years -- I have more graphs that show that, just wait (in fact, for several types of music). Probably the last good rock album was My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade in late 2006. By the time another new wave surges, I'll be about 33 or 34, so enjoying it won't be a problem. The real test will be the one after that, when I'll be in my mid-40s. If history is any guide, styles will have come full circle many times by then, and it won't sound so queer to my fuddy-duddy ears.


January 5, 2009

Liberal and feminist women more likely to want kids to be popular

Liberals and feminists are supposed to transcend competitive status games, and value people for who they truly are, right? Yeah, just as soon as they start sending their kids to mediocre public schools, rather than one-up the neighbors in number of Ivy League decals on their car.

The General Social Survey asks people how important certain qualities are "for a child to learn to prepare him or her for life" -- basically, traits you want your kids to have: obedience, courteousness, etc. One is "to be well liked or popular." So let's see who really moves beyond popularity. Here is the percent of women who rated popularity the least important quality, by political orientation and whether or not they consider themselves feminists:

Not caring about kids' popularity increases as you go from extremely liberal to conservative women, with extremely conservative women scoring about what moderates do. Spearman's rank correlation is +0.78, p two-tailed = 0.058 (due to the extremely conservative women being marginally lower than conservatives). The same holds for feminist vs. non-feminist women. (Two-proportion z-test, equal variances, gives z = 2.52, p two-tailed = 0.012.)

So, the more liberal and feminist a woman is, the more likely she is to value popularity -- i.e., high status or dominance -- in kids. Interestingly, men are also more likely than women to value popularity in kids. * So we have yet another case of liberal, feminist women resembling men. You can imagine what it would be like to have one as the mother of your kids, constantly breathing down their -- and your -- necks to make sure they dominate everything. Little do they know that parental pressure won't make a kid any more popular -- although if your friends and schoolmates found out that your mom's a fucking psycho, it could certainly lower your popularity.

Final judgement: good for a screw or two, but after that, someone else can keep 'em.

* Data not shown, as they say, but easy to check for yourself.


January 4, 2009

She's too cute to be a minute over seventeen

Not being much of an oldies buff, I was surprised to see how many oldies songs there are about 16 and 17 year-old girls. Chuck Berry was 32 or 33 when he released "Little Queenie." Looks like there's not too much after 1990, and even by the mid-'80s there isn't a lot. Instead we got "Hot for Teacher" and "Stacy's Mom." Of course, this trend in music parallels the trend toward older female sex symbols.

Rock lyrics sure have become more adolescent, treating a 14 year-old's desperation-driven fantasies about his teacher or friend's mom, rather than a mature adult's pursuit of elusive16 year-old hearts and bodies. This has obviously ruined most of the aging women of today -- popular culture is now the mirror that flatters Snow White's wicked stepmothers, who have only managed to kill her off by forcing everyone to consider her a child, and so unable to be thought the most beautiful.

Reality check: if she can fall deeply in love with you, fuck your brains out, and bear your child, she's no kid.

January 2, 2009

Liberal women are more likely to be bar-hounds

No real surprise, but the General Social Survey shows that the more conservative a woman is, the more likely she is to never go to bars (Spearman's rank correlation is +0.96, two-tailed p = 0.018).

On the liberal side, a majority of women go to bars, while only a minority of fence-sitting and conservative women do. This backs up the conventional wisdom that if you want a long-term girlfriend or wife, you'd better look some place other than the nightclub scene. Either that, or invest in a liberal woman and suffer the consequences, like getting cheated on. It also supports the conventional wisdom that scoping for flings works best in bars and dance clubs.

GSS variables used: POLVIEWS, SOCBAR, SEX.