Most people see the image on the left as a woman and the image on the right as a man. But the only difference between them is skin tone.

This study demonstrates the existence of a sex difference in facial contrast. By measuring carefully controlled photographic images, female faces were shown to have greater luminance contrast between the eyes, lips, and the surrounding skin than did male faces. This sex difference in facial contrast was found to influence the perception of facial gender. An androgynous face can be made to appear female by increasing the facial contrast, or to appear male by decreasing the facial contrast. Application of cosmetics was found to consistently increase facial contrast. Female faces wearing cosmetics had greater facial contrast than the same faces not wearing cosmetics. Female facial beauty is known to be closely linked to sex differences, with femininity considered attractive. These results suggest that cosmetics may function in part by exaggerating a sexually dimorphic attribute—facial contrast—to make the face appear more feminine and hence attractive.



“women were more attracted to men when there was a 50% chance that the men liked them than when there was a 100% chance…Uncertainty increased their attraction toward the men”

This research qualifies a social psychological truism: that people like others who like them (the reciprocity principle). College women viewed the Facebook profiles of four male students who had previously seen their profiles. They were told that the men (a) liked them a lot, (b) liked them only an average amount, or (c) liked them either a lot or an average amount (uncertain condition). Comparison of the first two conditions yielded results consistent with the reciprocity principle. Participants were more attracted to men who liked them a lot than to men who liked them an average amount. Results for the uncertain condition, however, were consistent with research on the pleasures of uncertainty. Participants in the uncertain condition were most attracted to the men—even more attracted than were participants who were told that the men liked them a lot. Uncertain participants reported thinking about the men the most, and this increased their attraction toward the men.

Women demonstrated a desire to control their partners & more likely to use physical aggression than men. 1000 students in UK (similar results: Arbach, 2015) Evidence against male control theory, based on the idea of patriarchy.

Women demonstrated a desire to control their partners & more likely to use physical aggression than men. 1000 students in UK (similar results: Arbach, 2015) Evidence against male control theory, based on the idea of patriarchy.,%202014%20Testing%20predictions%20from%20male%20control%20theory.pdf

Happiness regarding marriage

  Save as PDF
Last weekend, @profpauldolan spoke at the Hay festival in the UK, and some of his remarks were picked up by the BBC, the Guardian, and the Independent, and then repeated dozens of times in outlets across the world, including US reporting from FOX News to local TV stations. 1/
I’m no “happiness expert” and don’t have strong ideological feelings about whether everyone should be getting married or not, but I have done a ton of research with the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which he said he based his statements on. And the claims felt weird to me. 2/
First of all, there’s this statement: that when a married woman’s spouse is not “in the room,” she’s “fucking miserable.” I know that this information isn’t included in the ATUS, so I reached out to him. He has since retracted this statement and will correct it in his book. 3/
The Guardian corrected that statement, but didn’t touch the others he made. So I got a copy of his book and looked at the evidence he presents to back these up. 4/
Obviously, he’s taking a bit of license in speaking about men “calming down” when they get married, but the evidence does support significant observed differences between married and unmarried men in terms of health, life satisfaction, and so on. 5/
I can’t tell where the claim that women “die sooner” when they get married originates. In the book, he puts it this way, going from there being evidence of benefits to marriage to saying there “really do not appear to be any health-related reasons to marry if you are a woman.” 6/
The citation in that second paragraph crucially does not say that there are no benefits to women marrying, only that they are *not as large as benefits to men*. An older article he cited earlier claims that unmarried women have 50% higher mortality rates than married women. 7/
Next, the claim that “healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children.” The ATUS lacks data on *ever* having children, but I can compare never/ever married with and without children in the household. This doesn’t back up his claim. 8/
I don’t think that a mean of a 0-to-6 happiness scale is the most meaningful measure, but I use it to be consistent with the data underlying 9 figures in Prof. Dolan’s book. I can more generally look at happiness over the life course by gender and marital status, as I do here. 9/

My overarching observation is that across most categories, people seem to have about the same level of happiness. But ATUS data suggest:

❌ married women aren’t “fucking miserable”
❌ women who never married or had children aren’t the “happiest population subgroup”


And there is evidence that marriage is related to health benefits for women (though it’s by no means convincing), contradicting the claim that married women “die sooner.” 11/
So there does not appear to be evidence supporting *any* of the dramatic claims in the press. While one has been retracted, I believe that all of them should be retracted and corrected. And I would be glad to walk @profpauldolan or any journalist through any of this. 12/12
Some more thoughts. First, this figure shows a five-year moving average happiness level for each category by age. One observation is that the lines for married men and women look similar, while unmarried men tend to be a little less happy (on average) than unmarried women. 13/
Marriage decisions are related to other factors, so I’m not sure how useful this comparison is. But also, I think marriage proponents (like @NickWolfinger and @WilcoxNMP) would agree that marriage has changed a lot over the past decades. Like these huge shifts in prevalence. 14/
Given such changes, we probably want to avoid comparing all unmarried women of all ages to all married women of all ages. But even if we deal properly with age, marriage is still endogenous. So are married people happier because they’re married, or for some other reason? 15/

To wrap this up: I didn’t explicitly state this above, but the problem with the “spouse in the room” statement was that it was based on misreading a key variable, as I explained here. In an email, Prof. Dolan said he believes I’m correct about this. 16/16

Gray ‘serial millennial myth debunker’ Kimbrough@graykimbrough

Unlike @NickWolfinger, I don’t have a dog in the fight over whether married people are happier than unmarried people. But building off of what he’s pointed out, Paul Dolan’s argument using ATUS data that many outlets have picked up is even more misguided than I first thought.

View image on Twitter

“women prefer muscles that are hard to build to be larger than muscles that are easy to build.”

Women’s size preferences for muscles on a man’s body: 1. Obliques 2. Glutes 3. Abs 4. Biceps 5. Shoulders 6. Triceps 7. Calves 8. Delts 9. Quads 10. Pecs

Bodily attractiveness is an important component of mate value. Musculature—a crucial component of men’s bodily attractiveness—provides women with probabilistic information regarding a potential mate’s quality. Overall musculature is comprised of several muscle groups, each of which varies in information value; different muscles should be weighted differently by attractiveness-assessment adaptations as a result. In the current study, women and men (N = 1,742) reported size preferences for 14 major muscle groups. Women’s reported preferences provided only partial support for our hypotheses that women will prefer muscles that most reliably differentiate between potential mates to be larger; men tended to prefer larger upper-body muscles. We discuss possible interpretations of these mixed findings. Ultimately, our findings suggest that attractiveness-assessment adaptations are sensitive to the information contained within specific muscle groups and they highlight the potential for additional research on the nuances of bodily attractiveness assessment.


Political psychology overturns another nugget of folk wisdom: Liberals are just as obedient as conservatives, but just to different authorities.

Liberals and conservatives disagree about obeying authorities, with conservatives holding the more positive views. We suggest that reactions to conservative authorities, rather than to obedience itself, are responsible for the division. Past findings that conservatives favor obedience uniformly confounded obedience with conservative authorities. We break down obedience to authority into its constituent parts to test the divisiveness of each part. The concepts of obedience (Study 1) and authority (Study 2) recruited inferences of conservative authorities, conflating results of simple, seemingly face valid tests of their divisiveness. These results establish necessary features of a valid test, to which Study 3 conforms. Conservatives have the more positive moral views of obedience only when the authorities are conservative (e.g., commanding officers); liberals do when the authorities are liberal (e.g., environmentalists). The two camps agree about obeying ideologically neutral authorities (e.g., office managers). Obedience itself is not ideologically divisive.


“College women indicate that their minimal acceptable percentile for a husband on earning capacity is the 70th percentile, or above 70 percent of all other men, whereas men’s minimum acceptable percentile for a wife’s earning capacity is 40th.”

“College women indicate that their minimal acceptable percentile for a husband on earning capacity is the 70th percentile, or above 70 percent of all other men, whereas men’s minimum acceptable percentile for a wife’s earning capacity is 40th.”