Monday, February 28, 2011

The average family size of jail inmates

I found more data (from the Survey of Inmates in Local Jails) on the question of whether criminals have fewer kids than non-criminals because of being locked up. I calculated the mean number of kids--biological, step, and adopted--of jail inmates ages 45-54 (sample size = 537). It's 3.04--not lower than the general population. Let's see if family size falls with a more serious criminal history:

Mean number of children

One lifetime arrest 3.00
Two 2.95
Five 2.86
Ten 3.38

More serious criminals have just as many kids as minor ones, and as many as non-criminals. The correlation between number of offspring and number of arrests is .04--basically non-existent.  Evidently, criminals are sufficiently alpha to have as many kids as anyone else, in spite of their low social status and time behind bars.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Homosexuals and verbal ability

A reader wanted to know in the last post if I had a measure of verbal ability. The Add Health Study gave respondents a vocabulary test. Here are the means by sexual orientation:

Mean vocabulary score (sample size = 6,150, whites only)

Straight males 105.8*
Gay males 104.0
Straight females 104.2
Lesbians 107.7

*significantly higher than straight females

It's unexpected, but straight guys score significantly higher than straight girls. While the mean is low for gay guys and high for lesbians, they do not differ significantly from other groups.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Homosexuality and English class

We saw that gay guys get lower math grades than their straight counterparts. Math is a good example of a "male" subject. Let's look at a "female" course--English--and see how homosexuals perform.

Mean English grade

Straight males 2.64
Gay males 2.53
Straight females 3.03*
Lesbians 2.90*

*significantly higher than straight males

While straight females and lesbians perform better than straight guys, homosexual males do not.  This pattern suggests that gay guys do not have a female academic profile. Gay teens tend to be worse students in general for some reason. Lesbians, by contrast, are similar to their straight counterparts on both math and English.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hispanic underachievement

Here's more evidence that Hispanics are indeed assimilating... to black norms. More of them than ever--61 percent--believe that discrimination is a major problem for Latinos in preventing them from succeeding the U.S. It's just too tempting to put the blame on whitey.

Black finger-pointing has forced us to advertise the fact, no, you're not poor because the White Man hates you; you're poor because you lack general intelligence, probably for genetic reasons. I'd prefer it if this knowledge were implicit and, out of a desire to be considerate, we didn't have to make a big deal about it.  But our hand has been forced.  It is now clear that we are forced to speak out about Hispanic IQ as well (which averages about 90 or so).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Homosexuality and math

Are straight guys better at math than gay guys?  Are lesbians better than hetero females?  The Add Health Study asked teens what grade they earned in math last term. A's were assigned a 4, B's a 3, C's a 2, and D's or lower a 1.  Here are the means:

Mean math score (sample size = 5,863)

Straight males 2.60
Gay males 2.30*
Straight females 2.75
Lesbians  2.67

*significantly lower than straight guys

While lesbians basically earn the same average math grade as heterosexuals, gay guys don't perform as well.

Monday, February 21, 2011

More on racial identification and well-being

As a follow-up to the last post, I wanted to check the race-feeling of other groups. For whites and blacks, I found that measures of psychological well-being were basically unrelated to identifying with your race. Both groups, however, vary little on racial identification: most identify with their race. American Indians, by contrast, identify with their race less. Here is their distribution:

How closely do you identify with your race?--Percent

Very close 37.7
Somewhat close 35.1
Not very close 10.4
Not at all close 16.9

Still skewed, but believe or not, American Indians are less ethnocentric than whites. Here are the correlations between identity and psychological measures:

Correlations (sample size = 77)

Sad .15
Hopeless .06
Worthless .16
In good spirit -.17
Peaceful -.18
Feel belonging -.08
Feel pride .09
Feel confident .04

The correlations are stronger, but they suggest that greater racial solidarity is associated with less well-being.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Racial solidarity and psychological health

The MIDUS Study asked people how closely they identify with their race. Answers ranged from "very strongly" to "not at all." I correlated the answers with various psychological measures about how often you felt a certain way in the past 30 days:


Whites (sample size = 3,530-4,354)
Sad -.02
Hopeless -.01
Worthless -.01
In good spirits -.01
Peaceful .00
Felt belonging -.02
Felt proud -.05
Felt confident .02

All emotions are unrelated to race loyalty. Your first reaction might be that there is not enough variation in white identity to allow a correlation: few whites identify with their race. I was surprised myself at the distribution:

Percent who identify with race

Very closely 46.2
Somewhat close 36.1
Not very close 8.2
Not at all 9.5

All I can say is, wow.  I say wow because the GSS has led me to believe that whites don't care about race. When asked if they identify with their ethnic group versus just being an American, 95 percent of whites answer just American. But when asked about race identity without opposing it against an American identity, 82 percent of whites say yes (very close or somewhat close). A very different picture. Anyway, getting back to the previous issue, there is plenty of variation here.

Perhaps the absence of correlations is due to the fact that white consciousness is currently stigmatized. Let's look at blacks:

Blacks (sample size = 141-225)
Sad -.04
Hopeless -.04
Worthless .06
In good spirits .13
Peaceful -.08
Felt belonging -.07
Felt proud .09
Felt confident -.01

Basically the same story. According to MIDUS, there is no psychological payoff to racial solidarity.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hispanics are fine with family decline

Pew asked a sample of Americans if they were accepting of all the changes in the family over the past four decades; for example, more gay couples raising kids. They then used the answers to categorize people as accepters, skeptics, or rejecters.

Any enlightened conservative knows that pro-family Hispanics are more alarmed by these trends than anyone else, and that their mass migration to the country will save the American family. Just look at the table:

Oops--my mistake. Among racial/ethnic groups, Hispanics are the least concerned about family decline.

It's a win-win for liberal immigration enthusiasts. Not only are the ranks of loyal Democrats swelling. The new folks will put up absolutely no fight as the American family is gutted.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Workplace sex desegregation and marital infidelity

While it is not easy to find good ideas in sociology, it's not impossible. One useful concept is called "exposure" (I'm not sure a discipline really invented it. It's common sense). It's simple: behavior depends a lot on ease and opportunity. Why am I good friends with the professor next door, and not the guy down the hall? Simply because I bump into my neighbor all the time. Why are children often beaten by women--the less aggressive sex? One reason is because men are around kids less.

This truth has conservative implications. For example, it suggests that if you want to reduce the frequency of marital infidelity, reduce the number of men and women who work together.

The GSS asked: 1) have you ever cheated? and 2) what is your work status?  Here are the percentages who have ever been unfaithful:

Percent ever unfaithful (sample size = 7,890 white women--married or previously married)

Works full-time 16.9*
Part-time 13.0*
Homemaker  8.3
Retired 8.5

*significantly higher than homemaker

Full-time working women are twice as likely as those keeping house to cheat. In this respect, sex desegregation in the workplace is anti-family.

Does being a parent make you tougher on crime?

Having children has made me more concerned about issues of safety, and protection from criminals is part of that.

The GSS (2008) asked respondents if the courts are too easy on criminals. 62.1% of non-parents think so; 71.4% of parents do (sample size = 1452, whites only). The difference is statistically significant.   

I suspected that having a daughter might have an additional effect, but I didn't find a difference.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Race and creativity

If I understand Dr. Charlton correctly from the last post (he can correct me if I'm wrong), complex agricultural societies selected against creativity, so levels should be depressed among, for example, the Chinese compared to, say, American Indians.

Allow me a weak attempt at testing this. GSS asked people how much do they agree that they have an active imagination. Here are the means by race:

Mean creativity scores (sample size = 1,500)

Whites 3.96
Blacks 3.99
NE Asians 4.10
American Indians 4.09
Jewish 4.23
All Americans 3.96

While American Indians have a mean that is a bit above average, so do Northeast Asians (Japanese and Chinese) which is not expected. Whites and blacks are also basically the same which would not be predicted. Jews, I think, should also have low scores, but theirs is the highest.

It's dangerous business comparing racial/ethnic groups on self-reported traits, so take these numbers for what they are worth (perhaps nothing).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How are IQ and creativity related?

Dennis Mangan is skeptical of Bruce Charlton's claim that IQ is inversely related to creativity. Dr. Charlton makes the reasonable argument that centuries of civilization selected for intelligence and docility, traits which have become the mark of a civilized man.

A 2005 meta-analysis estimated that the correlation between intelligence and creativity is .17--weak but positive.

Much of the old research did not use structural equation modeling--an advanced method that allows one to estimate g (general intelligence). Using this method, Silvia (2008) found a moderate-to-strong positive association which is reduced some when openness to experience is controlled. In other words, part of the reason why IQ and creativity tend to go together is that the trait of openness is linked to both.

Caveats: The sample was of college students--mostly women--of unidentified race (it's not unusual for race-o-phobic psychologists to treat race/ethnicity as unimportant). The results would probably be stronger if the sample were more diverse on IQ and creativity. Of course, the results do not necessarily apply to other populations.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do prisoners have fewer kids?

I finally found some data on the question of the family size of people who have served time in prison. (Reader Mark Wethman e-mailed me about this a few weeks ago). I suspect that the hope is that ex-cons have fewer kids, so that America's current practice of mass incarceration has an unintended eugenic effect. 

The MIDUS Study asked people how many children they have, and if they have ever served time in prison. The problem is that researchers wanted to know how the number of biological, adopted, and step-children all added up. These days quite a few people have non-biological children, and I would expect ex-cons to have more because of greater relationship instability. Here are the means:

Mean number of children (sample size = 1,937, ages 45+)

Served time 2.71
Did not 2.62

Served time 2.79
Did not 2.70

Men and women who have been in prison have slightly higher means, but notice how the means are high for all groups. The numbers are inflated by non-biological children. I suspect that the means for ex-cons would drop more if we could pull out the stepkids, but there is little evidence here that prison reduces one's number of offspring.    

Friday, February 11, 2011

Religiosity and liking Muslims

Using GSS data, I showed that religious Christians like Jews more than their irreligious counterparts.  Next, I want to see how religiosity is related to warmth toward Muslims. Here are the correlations:

Pearson correlations

White Protestants -.05
White Catholics -.03
Jews -.86 (n = 8)
Black Protestants -.13

Religiosity is either unrelated to liking Muslims, or it predicts dislike.


White Protestants 45.7
White Catholics 51.5
Jews 21.9
Black Protesants 52.7

Not surprisingly, Muslims get lower warmth scores than other groups, especially from Jews.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Religiosity and liking Christians among Jews

As a follow-up to the last post, I wondered what the relationship is between religiosity and warmth toward Christians among Jews.

Pearson correlations (sample size = 83)

Religious attendance-warmth toward Catholics .05
Religious attendance-warmth toward Protestants .02

While more religious Christians tend to like Jews more, religiosity among Jews does not predict liking Christians.

While we're at it, let's look at means among Jews:

Mean warmth

Protestants 60.1
Catholics 61.9

The mean for white Protestants toward Jews is 61.9; it's 65.4 for white Catholics. So Christian-Jewish warmth is similar in both directions.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Is Christianity the source of antisemitism?

The source of antisemitism is Christianity, right? Just look at medieval Europe.

GSS respondents were asked on a scale of 0 to 100 how warmly do they they feel toward Jews. I correlated this measure with frequency of church attendance for various race-religion combinations:

Pearson correlations

White Protestants .12
White Catholics .17
White Christians .23
White Others .20
Black Protestants .14
Black Catholics -.20
Mexican Catholics .10 

Greater religiosity is associated with greater warmth. Another approach is to compare means:

Mean warmth toward Jews

White Protestants 61.9
White Catholics 65.4
White Christians 57.5
White Others 53.6
Black Protestants 60.4
Black Catholics 57.1
Whites--no religion 51.2
Blacks--no religion 46.0
Other race--no religion 50.0
Mexican Catholics 55.1

Same story. The fact is that irreligiosity predicts antisemitism. It ain't the 12th century.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Bias among psychologists

Music to my ears:

Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this year’s meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new “outgroup.”
It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three. 
“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.
“Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”

Monday, February 07, 2011

Religiosity, impulsivity, and jail

Biology matters, and it seems to me a reasonable claim that the link between irreligiosity and bad behavior is due to impulsivity. An impulsive person, for example, is more likely to get into trouble with the law and will probably not enjoy a boring sermon in church.

The MIDUS Study measured self-control versus impulsivity with an index and also asked if the respondent had ever been in jail. First, I estimate the effect of religiosity alone, and then along with impulsivity in order to see how much impulsivity shrinks the religiosity--jail link. Here are the logistic regression coefficients:

Logistic regression coefficients (sample size = 2,119, whites only)

Church attendance -.35*

Church attendance -.33*
Impulsivity .12*

*statistically significant

Impulsivity does raise the risk of jail, but it only reduces the impact of religiosity a little bit.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Data from the World Values Survey (2008) makes me nervous. Ninety-three percent of Egyptians say they are religious. Fifty-six percent attend religious services at least once a week. And the gender difference is huge, but not like you might expect: 87 percent of men but only 23 percent of women attend at least weekly (sample size = 3,039). 

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Whites who don't feel close to blacks are not more likely to vote Republican

Liberals have been claiming for decades that conservative concern about crime is just a euphemism for anti-black sentiment. Whites who vote Republican are not preoccupied with being victims of crime; they are preoccupied with blacks.

The General Social Survey asked respondents how close they feel toward blacks, with answers ranging from  "not at all" (1) to "very warm" (9). They were also asked if the courts are too easy on criminals.

Let's estimate the logistic regression coefficients of these two predictors on voting for Bush in 2004 separately and then in combination:

Logistic regression coefficients (sample size = 1,629, whites only)

Closeness to blacks -.02

Courts too lenient .67*

Closeness to blacks -.02
Courts too lenient .66*

*statistically significant

When analyzed individually, closeness to blacks is unrelated to voting for Bush. The idea that whites who don't like blacks are more likely to vote Republican is simply wrong. Thinking the courts are too soft, by contrast, strongly predicts casting a ballot for Bush. The results don't change when we calculate the net influences of each factor.

So liberals have created the myth the Republicans win because they have tapped into anti-black sentiment. We can only hope that liberals keep congratulating themselves on their goodness, while we keep winning elections on the crime issue. (Of course, it's not the issue it used to be because conservatives have won for the moment--2 million criminals are currently behind bars).   

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Church attendance, the Big Five, and support from friends

A reader in the comments of the last post suggests, reasonably enough, that the link between church attendance and number of friends might be due to extraversion.

The MIDUS Study has measures of Big 5 personality traits, but the closest I can find for friends is the extent to which one gets support from friends. Here are the OLS regression results:

OLS Regression Coefficients (standardized, sample size = 3,885)

Church attendance .09
Extraversion .21
Agreeableness .17
Negative emotionality -.06
Conscientiousness .06
Openness to experience .04

All relationships are statistically significantly, and all except negative emotionality are associated with more support from friends. Even after we adjust for Big 5 traits, attendance predicts more support. It is the strongest predictor after extraversion and agreeableness.

Church attendance and number of close friends

Since beginning to go to church in 2004, I find that I have a lot more friends. By nature, I'm a lone wolf who would spend all my time in a corner with a book if I had my way. Church pushes me to be social which is good for me. Heck, I'm even on the parish council now, so I can pretend to have leadership skills. Plus my friends are always hooking me up with great stuff. Even liberals admit that this form of non-governmental social capital is good for society. 

But is this a general phenomenon?  My situation is peculiar because most of my colleagues (professors) are not my kind of people, so I don't make many friends at work.   

As usual, the GSS enlightens us. Here are the mean number of close friends by church attendance:

Mean number of close friends (sample size = 1,463)

Never attends 6.44
Less than once a year 7.25
Once a year 7.21
Several times a year 5.83
Once a month 6.74
Two to three times a month 7.49
Nearly every week 9.89
Every week 7.90
More than once a week 9.25

Number of close friends tends to rise with attendance. I'm not alone.

Are gun owners mentally ill?

  Some anti-gun people think owning a gun is a sign of some kind of mental abnormality. According to General Social Survey data, gun owners ...