April 11, 2007

In which I make $146,000 more than someone 4 inches taller than me.

Or something like that. Actually I don't make $146,000 more per year than anyone, unless he's draining money. But this is the dubious statistic I just read in John Tierney's article about contemporary dating preferences. It seems that some researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago have joined forces to set up their own speed-dating service wheere they can count customers' clicks and snoop at their messages in order to analyze the psychology of attraction. (Sounds like a Big Store game to me, but it's all for science...)

These intrepid explorers of the Country of the Mind have arrived at some astounding discoveries:

• that people are picky about who they go out with
• that women are pickier than men
• that men are more interested in prospective partners' appearance than women, who are more interested in income, profession, education, and ... height.

In addition:

• People like to feel that they're unique and special.
• People sometimes pair up with others when they find that the other looks down on the same people they themselves look down on

Well, some foundation sure got its grant money's worth with that one! Tierney has fun with the study, but it seems to me he's a bit credulous about statistics. That height thing is what bugs me, if you really want to know. The article, along with Tierney's accompanying blog post, tells you how much extra money you need to earn per year in order to make up for a height disadvantage in dating. In you're only five feet four, you need to make $229,000 more than your six-foot cubicle neighbor in order to equal his dating success. (Oddly, for a woman the height disadvantage goes in the opposite direction. A five-six woman needs to make $50,000 more per year than a five-four woman to match her theoretical attractiveness.)

How am I supposed to get a date if I have to rustle up an extra $146,000 first? That's more than any restaurant I've ever eaten at. Am I going to be left at the back of the pack when all those six-footers steam ahead toward the nubile finish line?

Fortunately, however, I rely on a more accurate measuring tool than voyeuristic pseudoscience: experience. So I'm not worried.

I can't imagine why I'm thinking about this stuff at this point in my life.

UPDATE: A notorious typo has now been corrected from "a five-dix woman" to "a five-six woman." The s and d keys being right next to each other, you know...