NYTimes: More Than Just a Pretty Body...err I Mean Face?

NYTimes: More Than Just a Pretty Body...err I Mean Face?

Now I understand some of you in the Internet world might be led to believe I'm...let's say, less than learned, and would rather read the back of a cereal box than finish Dostoevsky's "The Idiot." (It's still on my shelf, AV Flox, and there's a crease in the binding. So suck it.)

But it's OK if you think I'm dumb, cuz the bimbos score the hot douchesdudes, right? Right, let's just run with that.

I happen to have a particular fondness to the New York Times (I'm an east-coaster) in PRINT form and look forward to Sundays so I can have an excuse to get a double Americano, the newspaper, and hop back into bed for a few hours. Cuz I read good.

A particular article caught my eye this morning, the headline of which essentially saying that if you've got a pretty face, you're "in" with the male folk who don't just wanna bang you, cum on your face and maybe text you a week later.

At first thought, this is great news for me. Sure, no one knows what my face looks like, but I assure you it's a work of art. And no, not Picasso's.

But then I read further and felt neutral. Let me explain.

The short article (in the Sunday Styles section...my go-to fold) told of a recent study completed at the University of Texas in Austin...

SIDENOTE: What's with Texas and sexuality studies?

...by two grad students and a psych professor called "More Than Just a Pretty Face: Men's Priority Shifts Toward Bodily Attractiveness in Short-Term Versus Long-Term Mating Contexts."

The small-scale study involved interviewing 375 hetero college students and showing them photos of people with their heads and bodies concealed, giving each subject the option to choose to see the face or body -- but not both.

Each was then asked whether or not he/she viewed the person to be a good short- or long-term mate candidate.

The results showed men considered women with prettier faces to be better long-term relationship candidates, while the supermodel bodies were best for short-term trysts.

Twenty-five percent chose to see the figure when considering a long-term partner, while 51 percent selected the full-facial view in order to make their selection for a shorter-lasting partnership.

Don't worry about my face. Just do me and leave.
Don't worry about my face. Just do me and leave.

Women apparently showed no preference between face and body when evaluating the male photos.

Sure this is an interesting study to reference, especially in a Sunday news section devoted to all things visual and hip/cool. But there are factors that affect not necessarily the veracity of the study, but certainly the numbers of salt grains with which readers should take it.

No, I haven't been enlisted by the folks at Equinox health clubs or Nutrisystem, nor has PrettyThin.com knocked on my knees. Just don't put away your Nordictrack before thinking about the following factors.

1. This small handful of folks were college age. Not typically the age of which people are most hungry for a potential long-term breeding partner.

2. These folks currently reside in Austin. It's a southern city, albeit a more progressive and liberal southern city. But as we all learned during last week's election, different U.S. regions have distinct ideals. Results from subjects who currently all reside in one region with the same environmental stimuli will likely have similar responses during testing.

3. Studies involving college students are common, possibly because they're often convenient and willing test subjects. But though of legal voting/warring age, half of the college population still needs a fake ID to get into a bar, and mentally are still developing, with various atmospheric and experiential factors affecting what they consider appropriate, desirable, "cool" and important in life.

And often those opinions change from year to year (or sooner), and it might yield more reliable results to test a group of individuals who've already completed that part of the mental maturation process.

Or at least perform the same experiment using a 375 35-year-olds and compare both results to rule out (or confirm) age and/or maturity level as a variable.

The most glaring omission, however, was admitted by the team that performed the social experiment.

"One of the biggest limitations is we didn't ask participants why they chose face or body," [grad student] Ms. Confer said. "We just assumed they were looking to evaluate attractiveness, but it could have been many other things -- personality type, whether there would be a connection. We didn't even think of it afterward -- it was an oversight."

Assumptions are easy to make but hard to justify, especially when it comes to psychology and science.

But my main question is what was it about this study that made it NYTimes.com material over any other grad-school-level psych study with less-than-complete results?

Read the full article here, and tell me what you think.


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