Friday, June 20, 2014
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
"Viewing women only as victims of men's sexual dominance fails to hold women accountable for the roles they play in reproducing social inequalities," said lead author Elizabeth A. Armstrong, an associate professor of sociology and organizational studies at the University of Michigan. "By engaging in 'slut-shaming' — the practice of maligning women for presumed sexual activity — women at the top create more space for their own sexual experimentation, at the cost of women at the bottom of social hierarchies."
Titled, "'Good Girls': Gender, Social Class, and Slut Discourse on Campus," the longitudinal ethnographic and interview study, which appears in the June issue of Social Psychology Quarterly, considers a cohort of 53 women (51 freshmen and two sophomores) who lived on the same college dorm floor in the 2004-2005 academic year at a large, moderately selective university in the Midwest. As part of their analysis, Armstrong and her co-authors supplemented data on cohort members accumulated over the course of their college careers with data from individual and group interviews with other female students.
"Fear of being judged often constrains women's sexual experimentation," Armstrong said. "However, we found that high-status women worried less than low-status women about being judged negatively. High-status women conveniently defined the criteria of judgment among women in ways that defined the sorts of sexual exploration they sought as acceptable."
According to Armstrong, participation in the Greek party scene was the most widely accepted signal of peer status on campus, and status fell largely along economic lines as high-status women were primarily from upper and middle class backgrounds while low-status women were from lower-middle-class and working-class backgrounds.
"Surprisingly, women who engaged in less sexual activity were more likely to be publicly labeled a 'slut' than women who engaged in more sexual activity," Armstrong said. "This finding made little sense until we realized that college women also used the term as a way to police class boundaries. High-status women, who were from affluent families, defined themselves as classy compared to other women whom they viewed as trashy or slutty. Less affluent women — and others excluded from high-status circles — equated 'sluttiness' with exclusivity, materialism, and shallowness."
When low-status women attempted to participate in high-status social worlds by attempting to befriend and go out to parties and other social events with high-status women, they risked public humiliation.
"One of the ways that high-status women signaled to those trying to break in to their social groups that they did not fit in was by engaging in public 'slut-shaming,'" Armstrong said. "This often took the form of calling other women out for their dress or deportment, as a way of making it clear that they did not fit in with the high-status group."
Low-status female college students also engaged in "slut discourse" in an effort to level differences between them and their high-status peers, but this behavior had little impact. "High-status women barely recognized the existence of those they considered low-status," Armstrong said.
In terms of the study's policy implications, Armstrong said it is important to recognize that "slut-shaming" is a form of bullying. "In a few recent cases, 'slut-shaming' has played a role in the suicides of girls and young women," Armstrong said. "We hope that our findings are constructively used in campaigns against bullying. We suspect that these campaigns are more likely to be successful if they help young people arrive at deeper understandings of the social processes involved in this type of bullying."
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Premature ejaculation is one of the most common sexual disorders in men. But it is not just the men who suffer; it also causes increased psychological strain and stress in women, as a new survey conducted by Andrea Burri, a clinical psychologist at the University of Zurich, reveals. Around 40 percent of over 1,500 women polled from Mexico, Italy and South Korea indicated that ejaculation control is very important for satisfactory intercourse. It is not the short duration of the act of lovemaking that is primarily regarded as the main source of sexual frustration by the majority of women, but the fact that the man is focused too strongly on delaying ejaculation. As a result, he ignores the sexual needs of the woman and is unable to satisfy her individual desires.
Women who rarely climax suffer more
For the majority of the women polled, satisfying sexuality does not only consist of sexual intercourse, but also includes kissing, caressing and other forms of sexual stimulation, which are considered equally important. If the man is primarily preoccupied with his problem, premature ejaculation and thus his performance, these needs are ignored. Sexual intercourse is increasingly determined by time and not "how we like it and what is good for us". "In the long run, the woman becomes distressed and frustrated. Much like the man, she avoids sexual contact for fear of rejection and the resulting trauma for her own sexuality," explains sex researcher Andrea Burri. The woman thus suffers a loss in quality of life and ultimately calls the relationship into question.
It is mainly women who do not perceive intercourse as the central aspect of sexuality, but prioritize sexual creativity that suffer from the man's one-sided attention. "Interestingly, lengthy coitus is primarily important for women who do not have any trouble climaxing," says Burri. For women who rarely reach orgasm – if at all – how long coitus lasts is not central. Instead, the sexual act serves to establish and experience intimacy and commitment. Although premature ejaculation is also regarded as exasperating by women, the short duration is deemed less problematic than the partner's inattentiveness towards their other sexual needs.
The survey reveals that an essentially harmonious relationship often ends in a split due to the woman's psychological strain and bottled-up frustration. The majority of the women indicated having been considerably more satisfied in previous relationships with partners who did not suffer from a sexual problem. This was primarily linked to the fact that too much importance is attached to the problem of premature ejaculation in the current relationship. Moreover, a quarter of the respondents had already experience a breakup in the past because of this sexual problem. "After all, the consequences are often more far-reaching than simple sexual dissatisfaction as, in extreme cases, it poses a threat to the desire to have children if the man already ejaculates prior to actual intercourse," Burri concludes.
Friday, May 2, 2014
This is because of what's known as the “framing effect,” a principle that new research from Concordia has proved applies to mate selection, too.
The study — co-authored by Concordia marketing professor Gad Saad and Wilfrid Laurier University’s Tripat Gill, and published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior — shows that when we choose a partner, the framing effect is even stronger in women than it is for men.
“When it comes to mate selection, women are more attuned to negatively framed information due to an evolutionary phenomenon called ‘parental investment theory,’” says Saad, who has done extensive research on the evolutionary and biological roots of consumer behavior.
“Choosing someone who might be a poor provider or an unloving father would have serious consequences for a woman and for her offspring. So we hypothesized that women would naturally be more leery of negatively framed information when evaluating a prospective mate.”
To prove this, Saad and Gill called on hundreds of young men and women to take part in their study.
Participants were given positively and negatively framed descriptions of potential partners. For example:
“Three out of 10 people who know this person think that this person is not kind.”
- Attractive body (more important to men)
- Attractive face (more important to men)
- Earning potential (more important to women)
- Ambition (more important to women)
- Kindness (equally important to both)
- Intelligence (equally important to both)
Participants evaluated both high-quality (e.g. seven out of 10 people think this person is kind) and low-quality (e.g. three out of 10 people think this person is kind) prospective mates for these attributes, in the context of a short-term fling or a long-term relationship.
More often than not, women said they were far less likely to date the potential mates described in the negatively framed descriptions — even though in each instance, they were being presented with exactly the same information as in the positively framed descriptions.
Women also proved more susceptible to framing effects in attributes like ambition and earning potential, while men responded more strongly to framing when physical attractiveness was described.
This research highlights how an evolutionary lens could help explain the biologicial origins of seemingly “irrational” decision-making biases like the framing effect.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Assortative mating is the process by which people of similar backgrounds, such
as educational attainment or financial means, select a partner. Over the past
half-century, there has been an increase in positive assortative mating within
the marriage market. In Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality (NBER Working Paper No. 19829), authors Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih
Guner, Georgi Kocharkov, and Cezar Santos document this pattern and consider how
it has affected income inequality across households.
To study this question, the researchers employ a large dataset of hundreds of
thousands of households from the U.S. Census Bureau for the period 1960 to 2005.
They find that more formally educated people are increasingly likely to marry
those with similar educational attainment. Those with less formal education are
also increasingly likely to marry those with lower education levels. Since
household income is strongly correlated with the partners' level of formal
education, the tendency for increased stratification has contributed to greater
inequality over the study period. This pattern has been compounded by growing
disparities in the earnings of those with high and low levels of education.
The authors illustrate this with some examples. In 1960, if a woman with a
less-than-high-school education married a similarly educated man, their family
income, based on the average of individual incomes for those with their
education levels, would have been 77 percent of the national mean household
income. This number dropped to 41 percent in 2005, a fall of 36 percentage
points. Likewise, the income for a married couple consisting of two individuals
with a high school education, relative to national mean household income, fell
by 20 percentage points from 1960 to 2005, from 103 to 83 percent. At the
opposite end of the spectrum, the relative income of a couple consisting of two
college graduates rose by 7 percentage points, from 153 to 160 percent, over
this period. The income of a married couple in which both partners had
post-college education moved up from 176 percent of mean income to 219 percent.
In summary, the authors attribute the growth of household inequality to three
interacting forces. The first is rising returns to education. Earnings across
educational classes have become more polarized. The second factor is increased
positive assortative mating. People with similar socioeconomic backgrounds tend
increasingly to marry each other, exacerbating income inequality. Third, the
increase in married female labor force participation has heightened inequality,
and has also made women's earnings an increasingly important determinant of
household income inequality.
Monday, March 10, 2014
What makes a person more likely to marry versus cohabitate?
When it comes to romantic relationships, attributes such as health, kindness, and social status have been shown to be important qualities in choosing a partner. It may be surprising to learn, however, that certain personal traits predispose a person towards either getting married or forming a cohabitating relationship.
According to a study recently published in the journal Social Science Research, scoring high on attractiveness, personality, and grooming is associated with a greater probability of entering into a marital relationship for both men and women, but it does not collectively have a significant influence on entering a romantic cohabitating relationship.
The findings suggest that individuals consider multiple personal characteristics when seeking a long-term partner. Under this scenario, what one finds lacking in a specific area could be overcome with strength in another area.
"The findings highlight that Aristotle's famous quote 'The whole is more than the sum of its parts' is pertinent when it comes to personal characteristics and marital arrangements," says Michael T. French, a professor of Health Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami (UM), and corresponding author of this study.
The study accounts for cohabitation and marriage as competing events in contrast to being single and living without a romantic partner. The project examines three possible outcomes: marriage with or without prior cohabitation, cohabitation without subsequently getting married, and neither marriage nor cohabitation.
The results show that 52 percent of married respondents and 51.7 percent of those in cohabiting relationships ending in marriage were rated as above average in physical attractiveness, whereas 45.9 percent of those in a cohabitating relationship without subsequent marriage and 43.6 percent in neither marriage nor cohabitation scored above average on the attractiveness scale. Similar results were found for personality and grooming.
Other interesting findings from the study include the following:
- Women with above average grooming are less likely to cohabit without subsequent marriage.
- For men, having an above average personality has the strongest association with the likelihood of getting married.
- Men with above average physical attractiveness have a greater chance of cohabitation without subsequent marriage.
"Thus, we have the somewhat curious finding that men with above average looks tend to be more likely to cohabit, while men with above average personalities tend to be more likely to marry (but less likely to cohabit)," the study explains.
The study is titled "Personal traits, cohabitation, and marriage." Co-authors are Ioana Popovici, assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University; Philip K. Robins, professor, School of Business Administration at UM, and Jenny F. Homer, senior research associate for the Health Economics Research Group at UM.
The study analyzed a sample of 9,835 respondents that participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The analysis period of the study covers about eight years. That is the interval of time between when interviewers rated the personal characteristics of respondents and when questions about marriage and cohabitation were asked.
At the time the questions about individuals' romantic agreements were asked, the respondents were 24-34 years old. The researchers plan to follow the sample as they enter adulthood to determine whether the same results hold when the individuals are older.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Horan is coauthor of a new study, “Love at the Office? Understanding Workplace Romance Disclosures and Reactions from the Coworker Perspective,” which was published online Feb. 5 in the Western Journal of Communication and will be printed in the March issue. The research explores the effect of workplace romances on coworkers and whether responses are primarily influenced by how the relationship is disclosed to them.
“I was interested in studying workplace romances because they are incredibly common yet, across social science, there is little research in the area,” said Horan.
Horan, along with coauthor Renee Cowan, assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, discovered that if coworkers found out from the couple personally, there tended to be a more positive reaction than if they found out via office gossip or catching them “in the act.”
“Individuals had much different reactions based on how they learned of the romance,” explained Horan. “Being honest and upfront was better received than, let's say, walking in on your coworkers kissing in the parking garage or hearing it via office gossip.”
How people personally perceived individuals in the relationship also plays a key role in their reaction. The titles of those in the workplace romance also affected their reaction, Horan said.
For example, in Horan’s previous research in this area, he found that when a coworker dates a superior, they are likely to be lied to more, trusted less and viewed as less credible. One participant in the current study noted, “I was just taken aback because I knew he was pretty high up with the company and she not so much.”
Additionally, the study found that company culture contributes to how coworkers view workplace romances. The authors propose that, often, more relaxed office environments don’t have official policies on interoffice relationships, making them more acceptable, while more formal offices have strict policies in place, which distinguish them as inappropriate and unprofessional.
“It (the organization environment) kind of seemed like a college so it didn't seem too unprofessional,” said another participant.
This is the fourth study in an ongoing series by Horan on workplace romance.
“I've concluded a couple of my studies the same way by saying ‘date at your own risk,’” he said.
“Employees need to be aware that their peers will communicate with them differently if they have a workplace romance. Importantly, such differences can influence productivity and performance,” Horan explained.
“It's always awkward seeing your ex. Now imagine having to see them all day, every day at work.”