Patterico's Pontifications

5/16/2011

Good Lord: Psychology Today Publishes Article Titled: “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:33 pm



They have yanked the article, but they’re running a criticism of it that links the full original text — which is stunning in its cluelessness:

There are marked race differences in physical attractiveness among women, but not among men. Why?

Add Health measures the physical attractiveness of its respondents both objectively and subjectively. At the end of each interview, the interviewer rates the physical attractiveness of the respondent objectively on the following five-point scale: 1 = very unattractive, 2 = unattractive, 3 = about average, 4 = attractive, 5 = very attractive. The physical attractiveness of each Add Health respondent is measured three times by three different interviewers over seven years.

Many pretty little charts and graphs are presented, and then we get this:

It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.

“Objectively”?

Huh?

It gets even more amazing:

What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women? Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women. The mean body-mass index (BMI) at Wave III is 28.5 among black women and 26.1 among nonblack women. (Black and nonblack men do not differ in BMI: 27.0 vs. 26.9.) However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women. Black women have lower average level of physical attractiveness net of BMI. Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women. Black women are still less physically attractive than nonblack women net of BMI and intelligence. Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.

Woo-wee.

Are you starting to get the idea why they pulled it?

Click the link above for the criticism — but, in short, the problem is the word “objectively.” As if physical attractiveness is something “objective.”

It’s a real head-scratcher how this ever saw the light of day. As the critic says, the issue isn’t the data gathered in the study, it’s the interpretation of the data (together with some other rather stunning and unevidenced assumptions). The objection is not really that the article is racist, but that it’s just spectacularly wrongheaded in how it undertakes its analysis — to the point where, when you read the conclusions, you have to rub your eyes to wonder if you are really reading what you’re reading.

Thanks to Nathan Wurtzel on Twitter.

74 Responses to “Good Lord: Psychology Today Publishes Article Titled: “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?””

  1. ah
    so
    it was this guy again
    http://spq.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/02/16/0190272510361602.abstract

    atheists and liberals are smarter than…

    anyway all this proves is that his porn stash goes for boney a** white girls

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  2. Leave it to supposed “academics” to be so totally clueless.

    Icy Texan (be2e2a)

  3. a gem from wikipedia that sorta seems germane

    “Kanazawa uses the term Savanna principle[9]: the theory that societal difficulties are because the human brain evolved in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago, a drastically different environment from today’s urban, industrial society.”

    This guy must be smarter than me, because I probably couldn’t even formulate that thought without help from someone else

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  4. This could get ugly fast. No pun intended.

    I guess I’m wired wrong or something, because I prefer black girls.

    papertiger (e55ba0)

  5. this should be interesting, in a morbidly fascinating way…kinda like sitting up in the front row at a Gallagher show.

    pass the popcorn and a poncho please. %-)

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  6. Ah well, at the risk of fanning the flames I have always felt that psychology is a pseudo-science centered around Marxist social constructs and touchy-feely emotionalism encouraged among the perpetually aggrieved.

    JVW (24ee9a)

  7. Yeah but over at Time magazine he was a non partisan genius before he went off the pc rails

    “But are liberals actually smarter? A libertarian (and, as such, nonpartisan) researcher, Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has just written a paper that is set to be published in March by the journal Social Psychology Quarterly. The paper investigates not only whether conservatives are dumber than liberals but also why that might be so.”

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  8. Maybe he only showed them youtube clips of that evil black lady that ahem..sits on.. the Detroit City Council and they were just scared out of their libidinous mind.

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  9. Looks like SteveG has a handle on this guy’s M.O. Libertarian = “non-partisan”; separate critiques by different ‘researchers’ using multiple choice = “objective.”

    IOW, a complete and total fraud attempting to define people along purely demographic lines. He might as well go around wearing a “bitter clingers” t-shirt.

    Icy Texan (be2e2a)

  10. The Chief Justice has it exactly right: The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

    Did federal funding subsidize this article or the underlying “research”?

    Beldar (7c0dd5)

  11. Maybe it’s just the constant and nonstop barrage of “racism” from the media, but I don’t really see anything wrong with this article. Let’s debate the ideas in the study, not who it offends.
    “The physical attractiveness of each Add Health respondent is measured three times by three different interviewers over seven years.”
    Sounds like if a person in the interview is ugly, then there would be a pretty good chance of someone noting that during the seven year study.
    Does anyone here have trouble identifying an overweight, ugly woman? What about one strutting around in a bikini at the beach, and talking to your boyfriend/girlfriend? Maybe all the interviewers are black women? Would that make this “less racist”?
    I’m ready for a study ranking intelligence among ethnicity, personally. This seems to be a fair study, and you people don’t need to do the left’s race hustling for them.

    xamn (433032)

  12. LOL @ Comment by SteveG — 5/16/2011 @ 11:18 pm

    papertiger (e55ba0)

  13. Wow. Just wow.

    Separately, I kinda sorta helped review an article in a different social science, and while I can’t call it pseudo-science a la JVW, it’s certainly not to the standards of hard science. Smaller sample sizes, broader flexibility in conclusions, etc.

    objectively more physically attractive???

    carlitos (0f1a90)

  14. Why would anyone undertake this idiocy and call it research? Where fedral dollars used?

    Bugg (ea1809)

  15. its all pink, I mean good on the inside…

    nome Sane?

    trivia, who was the last white wide reciever to catch a pass in the Superbowl?
    no fair googling

    Frank “I like Dark Meat” Drackman

    Frank Drackman (da969f)

  16. John Elway, I think? He caught a TD in his second Super Bowl appearance, whenever that was.

    John Barrett Jr, (01af66)

  17. The question should be is why are leftys racist?

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  18. Lefties are racist because their ideology causes them to think about people in large groups and categories, and they are at base elitists. The former inclines them to view Race as a legitimate category, and the latter causes them to look at their fellow man and think “What makes me better than this fool?”. Since they by and large AREN’T better than the next person, but are absolutely certain that they are, they tend to seize on fallacious reasons for their supposed superiority. Hence Racism, “Conservatives are stupid”, and so forth.

    C. S. P. Schofield (8b1968)

  19. I mean he was a lefty right?

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  20. Southern women are objectively prettier.

    JD (306f5d)

  21. From Kanazawa:

    “No other criteria besides the truth should matter or best applied in evaluating scientific theories or conclusions,” he wrote in 2008. “They cannot be ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’ or ‘reactionary’ or ‘offensive’ or any other adjective.”

    Would that be an objective truth or subjective truth?

    Dana (4eca6e)

  22. It’s a shame to waste the effort of writing the article. Why don’t they just change ‘black’ to ‘conservative’ and run it next issue? Then the writer they currently have working on the next conseravatives are ? (oh, but it’s bad, really bad) story they plan to publish can be deployed to something useful.

    East Bay Jay (19f566)

  23. Oh no they di’int…

    Bob Reed (5f2db5)

  24. So it’s not good if “baby got back”?

    And here I thought it was all good :)

    Like Pat says, the supposed “objective” rating of attractiveness is like trying to “objectively” rate works of art; it’s inherently subjective, short of adopting airtight standards, which themselves wouldn’t be objective since they reflect the bias of the person who detailed them!

    Even polling among cultural groups is biased. This can be demonstrated by interviewing, say, Norweigans and Polynesians, and comparing the biometric characteristics of folks that were statistically determined to have been found the most attractive by the respondents in the sample population.

    So in this instance there is sage wisdom contained in the aphorism, “Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder”.

    My Regards

    Bob Reed (5f2db5)

  25. I can think of a few ways of attempting to quantify general interracial attractiveness, but it would require altering photographs not conducting interviews.

    For instance, does the same (Caucasian) person get dinged after their image is tinted? Does the degree of tinting matter? How about the reverse, does a black person’s score go up after being given a Caucasian skin tone, and again does the degree of pigment removal matter? I would not be surprised if scores went down at the extremes of both ends.

    You could then try a comparison where a large number of photos are redone so that everyone has the same skin tone. Possibly even an unnatural skin tone like lime green or something else silly. You could also try measuring symmetry on those photos. While not perfect, facial and even whole body symmetry is a generally very good proxy for attractiveness.

    Interviews have the added drawback of hearing the subject speak. Unless, I suppose, you are in fact trying to measure the total package. Unfortunately though, my experience is that people of all types have very unattractive personalities, and that is completely divorced from their body attractiveness.

    Soronel Haetir (b1adf2)

  26. Maybe it’s just the constant and nonstop barrage of “racism” from the media, but I don’t really see anything wrong with this article. Let’s debate the ideas in the study, not who it offends.

    OK. I thought I was doing that. Did you even read the post? Or did you leap to decry political correctness even though it wasn’t there?

    Patterico (c218bd)

  27. Click the link above for the criticism — but, in short, the problem is the word “objectively.” As if physical attractiveness is something “objective.”

    It’s a real head-scratcher how this ever saw the light of day. As the critic says, the issue isn’t the data gathered in the study, it’s the interpretation of the data (together with some other rather stunning and unevidenced assumptions). The objection is not really that the article is racist, but that it’s just spectacularly wrongheaded in how it undertakes its analysis — to the point where, when you read the conclusions, you have to rub your eyes to wonder if you are really reading what you’re reading.

    From the post. Since it seems at least one commenter missed it.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  28. Patrick

    well, i think those who say “i am sick of the word racist being thrown around” demonstrate exactly why it shouldn’t be thrown around lightly and for cheap political gain. because when genuinely racist crap like this comes along, alot of people feel like pointing out it is racist is crying wolf.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  29. Truly bizarre. It makes one wonder if the whole thing isn’t a psychological experiment of some kind.

    Kman (5576bf)

  30. A very stupid report, which really needs to be repudiated for it’s shoddy methodology, not for
    asking questions,

    narciso (72470d)

  31. My results are always objective and stunning in the precision of their research and findings… yours are always subjective and thus suspect.
    See.
    It is easy to get a job at the London School of Economics if you are a genius.

    I read somewhere last night in the grips of insomnia that the grand wizard of the social sciences (I believe his peers refer to him as “the idiot of”, I prefer mine) anyway wizard guy came out with some study that a statistician debunked due to multiple errors… my guess is the London School of economics should have a few guys who are good at math around the place… so the wizard kinda goes into “fake but accurate” mode.
    And still has a job.

    There is a youtube of him on that Fox show Redeye.

    I didn’t watch it, but it was on the topic of his paper claiming Liberals are smarter, Japanese are…

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  32. Kman

    look in the new post on this. the guy has a weird obsession on the relation between beauty and intelligence. this isn’t an experiment. its who he is.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  33. Maybe I did leap to decry political correctness even though it wasn’t there. The guy right after you got my core thought, however. If people keep crying racism, then truly racist people can do studies like this one which I happen to agree with. This one counts doubles cuz a black man orchestrated it. Isn’t it weird that the outcome of so much thought policing can be the exact opposite of the intended result?

    xamn (433032)

  34. The LSE, which gave Saif Quaddafi, a Ph’d, and now has had to repudiate it,

    narciso (72470d)

  35. If Psychology Today pulled, I bet the Lancet will publish for the guy.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  36. the guy has a weird obsession on the relation between beauty and intelligence. this isn’t an experiment. its who he is.

    That doesn’t bother me. Academics often have odd little niches within which they build a career. My problem is that the guy really had some questionable methodology. What’s more surprising was that nobody at Psychology Today bothered to question it.

    Kman (5576bf)

  37. kman

    it gets worse. seriously see the new post.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  38. we’re apparently all rushing to decry this report as racist, but it seems like a potentially legitimate line of inquiry even if we are pretty much guaranteed to dislike the answers. All other things being equal, I would expect different population groups to vary in attractiveness because for all that attractiveness is subjective, people seem to have quite a bit of consensus on the question of who is attractive. And attractive parents do tend to have attractive children indicating that it is in part genetic or at least heritable. Now as to the methodology, I just have two coments. First, apparently black people tend to have a higher bmi than whites with similar percentages of body fat. Thus his norming based on BMI is probably not comparing men and women of similar body type. (Though, assuming that skinnier is better, one might expect this to advantage the black women in the comparison since they are being compared to white women who may, on average, be expected to have higher percentages of body fat than they do). Secondly, there is some other research that might be construed to support the conclusion. OK Cupid’s analysis of messaging patterns on the site indicates that black women receive significantly fewer messages than other female demographics. Now there are a lot of reasons that it could be that way, but I don’t think we should automatically assume that beauty is evenly distributed among all populations.

    Annaeus Seneca (b559c6)

  39. If nothing else, this provides proof that the editors of Psychology Today lack the sense to pour pee out of a boot.

    C. S. P. Schofield (8b1968)

  40. For the near future any educational, business or social settings where there are black ladies and any hapless Japanese dude present could be somewhat volatile, I think. (In a turnabout is fair play sense, I mean.)

    elissa (daa903)

  41. Annaeus Seneca thinks there is some kind of subjective consensus that black isn’t beautiful.

    Annaeus Seneca also thinks that this report is being condemned as “racist” when what most of us are really saying is that it’s STUPID.

    Icy Texan (83eb7b)

  42. xamn needs to stop trying to reason this one out and go back to class.

    Icy Texan (83eb7b)

  43. Stupid french journalist he committed the rape gosh someone should tell this bimbo to shut up.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  44. There may be an objective measure of animal physical attraction – statistical data on sexual assaults. The DoJ is supposed to publish data annually in the National Criminal Victimization Survey, but of course, Holder is busy suing state governments. The Bush Administration published the NCVS in 2007.

    If you download cvus07.pdf and refer to page 118, Table 42, Personal Crimes of Violence and look at the fourth block, Rape/Sexual Assault, you will see that, 185,430 white women were attacked in 2007. 75.5% were attacked by white men, 7.6% by blacks and 3.8% by other. 12,780 black women were attacked, 100% by black men. Ann Coulter mentioned this fact in a discussion about the Tawana Brawley hoax. White men do not rape black women. Why is that?

    Don’t shoot the messenger.

    Arch (0baa7b)

  45. Icy, Kman is crying into his cornflakes.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  46. Physical beauty is not an objectively measured quality. Every culture creates traits which, taken together, are preferred. If you study classical art, you will see wide variations from modern norms, which in their time were considered beautiful. I don’t think I every dated a girl with brown eyes, but I went out with a lot of blue eyed blondes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVWzXuN_J2w

    Arch (0baa7b)

  47. That doesn’t bother me.
    Comment by Kman — 5/17/2011 @ 7:56 am

    Of course it doesn’t. It bothers Aaron, and therefore it must not be very bothersome to Kman.

    Sky is blue in Aaron’s world, so it must be orange in Kman’s.

    And let’s recall how quickly Kman will hyperventilate about anything.

    But this is how he operates.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  48. I’am pretty sure if Bush came to speak wherever he lives at he would be like ZOMG.

    DohBiden (15aa57)

  49. That was a BH Levy reference, in the Daily Beast:

    narciso (72470d)

  50. Let me just make this explicit. I challenge the premise “black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women”. The author is required to show evidence in support.

    Excuse me while I make a batch of popcorn, ’cause this promises to be hilarious.

    And for Annaeus Seneca’s benefit, I’ll point out that western standards of beauty used to prefer women with a higher BMI than the current standard. Objective? Please. Beauty has a biological basis but it still is subjective.

    LarryD (feb78b)

  51. Beauty has no objective standard. It varies widely by culture and individual. Those African tribes that use metal rings to make women’s necks longer (causing there collar bones to be distorted) consider that look beautiful. Tribes in South America that use wooden disks to distort their lower lip consider that look beautiful. And groups is North America and Europe that use silicon to enlarge women’s breasts (often resulting in them being hard, unyielding and insensitive to touch) consider that look beautiful.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  52. It’s obvious, white chicks are hotter. Blacks are hot too but whites are hotter. And I am not a racist.. B)

    The Emperor who is not a racist. (be414a)

  53. Saying that someone is “objectively” attractive is like saying that something “objectively” tastes good. By definition that is impossible.

    Rhymes With Right (7711dd)

  54. even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.
    Wait, so black chicks think they are hotter than the others while they are not. They are not being objective because if they were, they would know they were less attractive than the other races. Hmmmm.. Smacks of racism… So being objective means accepting that others are better than you. Bull shit!

    The Emperor who is not a racist. (8bcf14)

  55. Saying that someone is “objectively” attractive is like saying that something “objectively” tastes good. By definition that is impossible.

    Comment by Rhymes With Right

    But some of those women are simply too attractive for a sane heterosexual male to argue against. Even Robert Byrd would climb out of his white coffin to have lunch with all of these women.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  56. Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.

    That observation alone is so idiotic and peculiar — and contradictory to the rest of the “research” — that it deserves no more than the quip that the entire article must have been written by someone with gay or bisexual tendencies.

    Mark (411533)

  57. Mark, that is really funny.

    He can’t see the beauty in black ladies, but boy he sure appreciates a black man’s appearance. And his conclusion is that black women are simply not pretty, rather than the more obvious conclusion that he’s not heterosexual.

    Hey, maybe Psychology Today put his articles up in hopes that their readers would analyze his mind, rather than taking him seriously?

    How cool would that be? A psychology website offering crazy articles for recreational psychoanalysis. They could have a real field day with Obama’s poetry.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  58. It’s obvious, white chicks are hotter. Blacks are hot too but whites are hotter. And I am not a racist.. B)

    Comment by The Emperor who is not a racist. — 5/17/2011 @ 10:37 am

    Sure
    you
    are. Unless the post’s a sockpuppet.

    Truly bizarre. It makes one wonder if the whole thing isn’t a psychological experiment of some kind.

    Comment by Kman — 5/17/2011 @ 7:45 am

    Seriously. What were they thinking?

    no one you know (325a59)

  59. This so-called researcher is a dunce, at least when it comes to common sense.

    Lee (e6a37d)

  60. He can’t see the beauty in black ladies, but boy he sure appreciates a black man’s appearance. And his conclusion is that black women are simply not pretty, rather than the more obvious conclusion that he’s not heterosexual.

    You are right, Dustin.. Hadn’t looked at it from that angle. LOL!!

    The Emperor who is not a racist. (670a44)

  61. @NOYK… LOL!! Oh come on, cant a guy have a choice?

    The Emperor (a76824)

  62. He can’t see the beauty in black ladies, but boy he sure appreciates a black man’s appearance. And his conclusion is that black women are simply not pretty, rather than the more obvious conclusion that he’s not heterosexual.

    You are right, Dustin.. Hadn’t looked at it from that angle. LOL!! He prefers them black and male.

    The Emperor (6409a0)

  63. NTTAWWT

    Dustin (c16eca)

  64. Then there’s this story from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

    Golden locks: Waitresses’ tips rose when hair changed from brunet to blond

    By Melissa Dribben, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

    Melissa Galm, a 27-year-old finance student at Holy Family University, has broken new ground in the small but fascinating field of blond studies with research showing that fair-haired waitresses earn more in tips – even when their dark roots are showing.

    During the last few decades, researchers have explored such vital anthropological questions as whether blondes earn higher salaries or are perceived as dumber than brunettes. Galm’s experiment has brought the discipline to a new level by controlling for factors such as age, attractiveness, education, and personality, and changing only one variable – hair color, said Cao Jiang, chairman of the university’s department of business.

    “She’s a star,” Jiang said.

    Galm was a second-semester senior in Jiang’s course in investment analysis and portfolio management last fall, when the class was asked to design a research project. The challenge was to find a correlation between two unrelated modalities.

    For the last two years, Galm had been waitressing at Chickie’s & Pete’s sports bar in Northeast Philadelphia. “I noticed that girls like to go lighter for the summer and darker in the fall,” she said. “And I wondered if the stereotype about blondes being more attractive would make a difference in their tips.”

    Are blondes objectively more attractive than brunettes?

    The Dana who likes redheads . . . REAL redheads (5a4fb2)

  65. Plato’s Theory of Forms holds that even concepts like beauty and justice are objective realities. We, as mortals, can see them only subjectively, but, through critical analysis (which, for Plato, would mean philosophy) we can more closely discern the objective truths of the forms. To Plato, while we might not discern the entire truth, it would be entirely possible that white women would come closer to the objective form of beauty.

    The philosopher Dana (5a4fb2)

  66. Dana, sorry, this is a little stupid to say, but those were great comments.

    As to the tips, my opinion is that there are different kinds of attraction. There’s the kind of woman or man you want raising your kids, and there’s the kind you find attractive in a more base sense.

    BTW, I like your crediting Plato with his own work, rather than Socrates, who I believe was a fictitious character he used to play a role in the discussion of his views. To Plato, to do the right thing is simply a matter of knowing enough. There is objective good, and wrong doers simply haven’t learned it. They wouldn’t do wrong but for their ignorance. It’s the kind of thought that is as interesting as it is impossible to use.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  67. @Dustin, NTTAWWT
    yeah right…

    The Emperor (7e047b)

  68. Actually, Emperor, I would prefer he just come out of the closet and get on with his life. If my theory is correct, that explains his genocidal and racist nonsense. You see people act crazy when they are in the closet. Tom Cruise joins a cult, Knan pretends he went to Oxford or wherever, my cat pretends to be a dog. It’s all very depressing.

    What’s really interesting is to wonder if Andrew Sullivan is straight and in that closet, hence his rage at women he finds attractive.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  69. @Dustin,
    What’s really interesting is to wonder if Andrew Sullivan is straight and in that closet, hence his rage at women he finds attractive.
    Now thats funny.. LMAO!!!

    The Emperor (6c1489)

  70. push me up against the wall

    Shirley Sherrod in a push-up bra

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  71. Some points:

    – Objective attractiveness refers to actual attraction endpoints, I.e. kisses, intercourse, relationships, marriages. Take your pick.

    – That black women are objectively less attractive to men than white or asian women is supported by the fact that interracial marriage is much more common between black men and white women, than between white men and black women. More white women choose black men than white men who pick black women.

    – The same data also supports the relative attractiveness of black men. Black men do well with both white and asian women.

    – These objective attraction outcomes are easily sourced from the census:

    http://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/briefs/phc-t19/index.html

    – That black women are objectively less capable of attracting mates than women of other races in the current environment does not contradict:

    a) That black women could become more attractive, through some hypothetical cultural shift.

    b) That black women could become more attractive through some hypothetical environmental change (I.e. for instance the US beating the obesity epidemic, which has disproportionately impacted black women)

    – But the overall point of the author is supported by pretty much all available objective data. The reaction to his observation is far more interesting than the observation itself.

    kool (4bbbaf)


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