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What The Economist Doesn’t Get About Online Dating

February 23, 2012


photo via flickr

A recent article in The Economist magazine examines a bunch of scientific papers about online dating in an attempt to figure out if any of those fancy matching algorithms are better than old-fashioned matchmakers like your grandmother. Or even if simply all that choice — and all those checkboxes! — improves your odds of finding love. Turns out there’s very little data to support either theory –¬†which leads The Economist to conclude that “love is as hard to find on the internet as elsewhere … you may be just as likely to luck out in the local caf√©, or by acting on the impulse to stop and talk to that stranger on the street whose glance you caught, as you are by clicking away with a mouse.”¬†Well, yeah. As we’ve always said, online dating is a numbers game. But what the math nerds at The Economist seem to have missed is that “acting on the impulse to stop and talk to that stranger on the street” is nothing like clicking on someone’s profile and sending them a quick message.

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We Can Resist Anything Except Temptation – and Twitter

February 22, 2012

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Researchers out of Chicago University’s Booth Business School recently conducted a study¬†on people’s ability to resist their desires. It turns out that people can resist cigarettes, they can resist alcohol, they can resist sex, and they can resist the urge to spend money… but what they really really can’t resist is the urge to engage in social and other types of media. In other words, checking email, browsing Facebook, posting to Twitter, etc.

Unlike most studies of this type, which attempt to recreate temptation in a lab setting, this experiment was conducted out there in the real world. (In the German city of Wurtzburg, to be precise — we’re not exactly sure why this place was chosen to study willpower.)¬†Researchers messaged participants seven times a day for a week to find out if they were experiencing any desires — or had done in the past half hour — and if so, whether these desires conflicted with others, and whether they resisted or gave in. Not surprisingly, willpower waned as the day went on, but at any time of day, the highest¬†”self-control failure rates” were with media. The researchers think that this is because the opportunity cost for each individual occurrence seems so low (compared to, say, having a drink), therefore we give in again, and again, and again. Resisting the desire to work was also way up there, which is unbelievably depressing.

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Given a Free Pass for a Fling, Women Would Call an Old Flame

February 17, 2012


vintage album cover via flickr

We’ve long known that The One Who Got Away makes for great late-night Google fantasies. And that makes sense: you rifle through your memory bank after another bad breakup — or after another inane argument with your spouse — and wonder how life would have been different if you’d stayed with X. Because through your rose-tinted glasses, you forget about how your ex chewed with their mouth open and only remember the grand romantic gestures.

Well, it turns out that women, at least, would turn to an old flame for plain old sex, too. iVillage recently surveyed their married female readers about married sex, and one of the questions they posed was, “If you could have an extra-marital affair with zero chance of your spouse finding out, would you?” (77% said they wouldn’t, 11% said they would, and 13% weren’t sure.) But it was the answers to the follow-up question, “If so, who would it be with?” that really surprised us: more than¬†40% said they’d choose an old flame. That’s five times more than they‚Äôd pick a celebrity, three times more than a complete stranger, six times more than a co-worker, and eight times more than a stranger they see frequently (someone at the gym, coffee shop barista, etc.).

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High Heels Are the Devil

January 30, 2012


photo via Flickr

High heels are an essential part of our fashion-glam culture. Finding a pair of flats at last night’s¬†Sag Awards¬†was like trying to find a vegan quinoa recipe in a Paula Deen cookbook. More common was the doughnut burger of the shoe world:¬†the 29-inch stiletto like Emma Stone wore. What women will suffer for fashion! Personally, the two of us fall into the more utilitarian camp: while Em has been known to rock a sparkly pump at a party, you’ll find her more often than not in the day-to-day dressing up a flow-y, flowery dress with a pair of Converse. And Lo? Nothing comes between her and her Danskos. It may not be pretty, but nothing’s more ugly than her mood after 20 minutes in a pair of uncomfortable pumps (are they even called that anymore?). Which is why we always feel high and mighty in our low flats when a new study about the horrors of high heels comes out: ¬†For a study published in the Jan. 12 issue of the¬†Journal of Applied Physiology,¬†researchers at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia¬†compared the strides of 9 women who wore two inch heels for at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of two years with strides of 10 young women who wore heels less than 10 hours per week, by outfitting them with electrodes and motion-capture reflective markers¬†to study their leg muscles. Here’s what they found happened to high heel wearers:


  • They walk with shorter, more forceful strides
  • They constantly have their feet flexed and their toes pointed
  • The above causes their calf muscles to shorten
  • And shorter muscles means much greater mechanical strain on their calf muscles
  • The strain means walking less efficiently which can lead to muscle fatigue
  • The greater muscle strain as well as the introduction of the occasional flat may mean greater risk of injury

Which is why it’s so nice that there are a few¬†fashion-glam events like the Sundance Film Festival, where comfortable, cozy flats reign supreme. Here’s to more of them!

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Toward a 2012 Treaty in the Battle of the Sexes

December 26, 2011


As you may have noticed (we’re not exactly subtle on this point), we don’t buy the idea that men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and shuttles between the two are infrequent at best. We tend to think that women and men are a lot more alike than rumor (or headline) has it — especially when it comes to sex and love. But this is not to say that men and women are alike in all matters of love and lust. We’ll even go so far as to admit that some of the cliches about the gulf between men and women turn out to be true.

For example, we have long preached that women need to be incredibly blunt when it comes to asking men for what they want — or telling them what they don’t want. When rebuffing a guy’s advances, a vague and round-about rejection might seem kind, but ultimate it probably just ends up giving him hope. In our opinion, dudes are just programmed to find the tiniest bit of hope in anything a woman says or does.

And now here’s a survey to prove our long-time, amateur-psych theory: Psychologists at the University of Texas and Williams College recently studied undergrad speed-daters and discovered a number of interesting things:

  • Men who considered themselves attractive overestimated a woman‚Äôs desire for them.
  • The more attracted the man was to the woman, the more likely he was to overestimate her interest in him.
  • Women¬†consistently underestimated men’s sexual interest in them.

Looking for a new year’s resolution? Here are four, inspired by this study:

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Naked News: Rogue Sperm Donation, Teen Group Sex, and the End of Marriage

December 20, 2011


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Naked News: Teen Sexting “Epidemic”? Turns Out We Should All Chillax

December 6, 2011


photo by Joe M500

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How Different Are Girls’ and Boys’ Brains?

November 21, 2011


It’s a favorite question of ours…okay, of mine (i.e. Lo’s). And my personal answer is that yes, there are differences, but not as many or as great as our culture likes to assume or presume. And that bias we have as a society actually influences the development of boys’ and girls’ brains (which are elastic) so significantly as they grow, that by the time they are adults there is much more difference than there needs to be, than there would be if we lived in a much more egalitarian, less Men-Are-From-Mars world. In other words, it’s a self-fullfilling prophecy. So while there are differences, we would do better to celebrate our similarities, or at least our potential for overlapping skills and desires and tendencies, so that both sexes don’t feel so limited by any strict and narrow gender roles…

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Study Links Sex with Animals to Penile Cancer

November 14, 2011


photo via flickr

No, seriously. We know this sounds like something straight out of The Onion, but a team of urologists in Brazil actually studied this. One theory on the connection is that sex with animals could cause micro-injuries to the penis, which are a well-recognized risk factor in the development of penile cancer. You’d think you’d have to survey, like, millions of men to find this kind of connection, right? Turns out, in rural Brazil, not so much. The researchers studied just under 500 men, 118 of whom were penile cancer patients — the rest had healthy schlongs. ¬†And here’s where it gets crazy: 45% of the penile cancer patients reports having sex with animals, and 32% of the healthy men admitted to bestiality. Yes, you read those numbers right: 45% and 32%.¬†For the discriminating zoophilia fan, it turns out that the kind of animal you schtup makes no difference to your penile cancer risk — mares, cows, pigs and chickens, whatever, they all popped up in this survey.

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Benevolent Sexism? Not So Much

October 11, 2011


In case you’ve been hiding under a rock lately — or watching the soon-to-canceled TV show Playboy Club – so-called benevolent sexism is doing or saying nice things for sexist reasons. Killing them with kindness, as it were. For example, holding open a door for a woman (when you don’t do it for men), or offering to install a female co-worker’s computer (again, when you wouldn’t offer the same help to a man). It’s “subjective affection as a form of prejudice,” according to researchers Peter Glick and Susan T. Fiske, who first came up with the term benevolent sexism.¬†So sexism is not always hostile — does that mean that the kinder, gentler version is a good thing? Or, at least, not a bad thing?

The funny part is — or, perhaps, the utterly depressing part — that this debate has been going on for, um, twenty years. Yes, twenty years ago Glick and Fiske¬†developed the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI), which measures both Hostile Sexism and Benevolent Sexism. Since then, thousands of people in dozens of countries have taken the survey. And the results are still in: benevolent sexism sucks. It sucks like sexism. It is sexism. Because in every country where this survey was administered,¬†hostile and benevolent sexism are in a co-dependent relationship. You can’t have one without the other. The only difference is, with hostile (or obvious) sexism you are punished for not behaving appropriately and with benevolent (or old-school or stealth) sexism you are rewarded for behaving appropriately.

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