I saw this writeup about a week ago, copied it (because it smelled off), and finally had the time to look at the surveys.
So here we go! A new survey! Comparing men and women! Based on self-selection! And I'm showing you even more fun later on. But first, the blurb:
Men are more concerned with their partner's body type than women but they also seem to value family more highly, according to a new survey released on Tuesday.Never mind all those other fascinating tidbits in that quote. Concentrate on the status symbol findings:
Nearly half of men questioned in the poll of 70,000 people said they would ditch a partner who gained weight, compared to only 20 percent of women.
Two-third of men also said they had fantasized about their partner's friends, while only one-third of women had done so.
"Even as men are getting more comfortable with meeting their girlfriends online and less anxious about who she's 'friending' there, other romantic behaviors have proven to be timeless ones: chivalry isn't dead, size matters, and women forgive while men forget," said James Bassil, editor-in-chief of AskMen, which conducted the poll jointly with Cosmopolitan.com.
While only 18 percent of women said they would want their mate to be better endowed, more than 51 percent of men said they wished they themselves were.
But the survey also found 39 percent of men chose family as their top choice of the ultimate status symbol. By contrast, 43 percent of women selected a beautiful home, compared to only 6.5 percent of men. One-quarter of women named a successful partner as a top status symbol.
Thirty-nine percent of men chose family as their top choice of the ultimate status symbol. By contrast, 43 percent of women selected a beautiful home, compared to only 6.5 percent of men. One quarter of women named a successful partner as a top status symbol.
And from this the summary concludes:
Men are more concerned with their partner's body type than women but they also seem to value family more highly, according to a new survey released on Tuesday.
So I went and looked at the original questions and answer summaries.
The first odd thing about the questions is this: They are not necessarily the same for men and for women. Men are asked more questions and the phrasing also varies.
The status symbol question for men is this one:
Of the choices listed below, what is the ultimate male status symbol?
A family. (37%)
A high-profile career. (30%)
A beautiful wife or girlfriend. (21%)
A beautiful house. (6%)
A beautiful car. (3%)
A membership to an exclusive club (like a country club). (1%)
The status symbol question for women is this one:
For women, which of the following is the ultimate status symbol?
A beautiful house (41%)
A very successful husband or boyfriend (26%)
A beautiful wardrobe (22%)
A huge engagement ring (7%)
An expensive car (4%)
Notice something really funny? Men are offered six alternatives, women five alternatives, and they are mostly not the same alternatives!
But more importantly, the list for women DOES NOT HAVE FAMILY AS AN ALTERNATIVE. No wonder that men would pick that option much more often, given that women did not have the opportunity to pick it at all!
It could be that I'm not understanding the questions correctly. But the response percentages add up to 100% in both cases, so it's unlikely that the family option was deleted from the women's list because so few people picked it, say.
Is it even worth saying that you cannot do surveys in this way? Or rather, you can do them this way if you promise to throw them into the shredder right when you finish.
You cannot compare response rates between two groups when one group wasn't asked the same question, and it's really bad practice to frame the questions differently for men and women and THEN use the answers to deduce differences between men and women.
I know that these surveys are not meant as "real" research. But why make unreal research? Why write about it?
I'm also saddened by the fact that the rough survey material shows many similarities between men and women which the summary ignores. Because it's much more fun to focus on differences, even made-up differences. Likewise, the survey ignores the questions which show men as enlightened human beings.
As an example, the survey asked which gender is winning. The majority of men said that it is not a competition. And when asked what defines "a real man", the majority chose the alternative "Being a great father and husband who takes care of his family" over options such as being a great leader.
Then there are the questions about dumping a girlfriend or a boyfriend due to fat and the divorce question. These do show a gender difference. But the poor quality of the general research (and its obvious commercial goals, as shown by all sorts of shopping questions) makes it difficult to analyze them any further. The divorce question for men is this: Do men get screwed by the courts in divorce? The divorce question for women is: Do you think women get screwed in divorce court? These are not the same question.
All this waste of resources! These surveys could have been a contender with very little extra work.