Monday, November 28, 2011

Predictors of wanting porn to be illegal

GSS participants were asked if they thought that porn should be illegal. I looked to see which characteristics predict answering yes (sample size = 12,246):

Logistic Regression Coefficients

Age .03
Sex .81
Educ -.04
IQ -.01
Income -.01
Church attendance .19
Conservatism .21
Year -.01

All the relationships are statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level (two-tailed test).  Making porn illegal is favored by people who are: older, female, less educated, less intelligent, poorer, more religious, and more conservative. In addition, support for getting rid of the stuff has dropped over the past 40 years.

The coefficients are not standardized, so don't try to estimate the strength of a relationship from the numbers. Actually, it looks like the most powerful predictors are: age, religiosity, sex, and conservatism, in that order. I was surprised to see that almost half of women support banning pornography, and this number has changed little in 40 years.

Dana Carvey was on to something with his SNL "Church Lady." Funny stuff, but call me crazy: I respect old religious women.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Height and family size

A study reported by the BBC (H/T Jason Malloy) found that, contrary to expectations, tall men do not have the most children. Men of average height do.

I replicated the study with MIDUS data on 2,316 white men, and found the following:

Mean number of children

Tall men 2.43
Average men 2.57
Short men 2.46

The results are similar to the study's (the numbers are high because stepchildren and adopted children are included). The difference is attributed to average men marrying earlier. The thinking seems to be that taller men hold out longer before getting married--because of greater attractiveness--and end up marrying women who are also older and who have fewer married years in which to have children.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Which major has the smartest students?

Using GSS data, I calculated the mean IQ for people who graduated with degrees in popular majors (sample = 855)

Mean IQ

English 112.0
History 111.3
Law 110.1
Art 110.0
Political Science 107.9
Biology 107.1
General Sciences 106.6
Education 106.1
Communications 105.9
Math 105.6
Finance 105.4
Psychology 105.2
Marketing 105.0

Overall average 104.3

Liberal Arts 104.0
Engineering 103.8
Law Enforcement 103.8
Social Work 103.6
Business Administration 102.4
Computer Science 102.2
Health 101.9
Accounting 101.7
Nursing 101.3
General Studies 101.1

Keep in mind that IQ is measured with a vocabulary test which favors verbal intelligence. Notice how the smartest students tend to major in the least practical fields.

I divided majors into practical and not practical, and found a difference:

Mean IQ

Not practical 106.5
Practical 103.4

Smart people tend to choose majors which are least likely to translate into a job. This is another indication of how smart people are not necessarily the most rational.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Regional traditionalism and marriage among black men

Blacks seem to do a little better in more conservative regions.

Using GSS data for the nine U.S. regions, I calculated the Pearson correlations between: 1) the percent of black men who are married, 2) the mean level of church attendance (for all races), and 3) the mean level of political conservatism (for all races).

All correlations are positive and very strong: percent married/church attendance, .84; and percent married/political conservatism, .66. (While we're at it, the correlation between attendance and conservatism across the nine regions is .89. Religiosity and conservatism are, empirically, practically the same thing.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hispanics are now the face of American poverty

This graph from Pew shows that if the poverty rate is adjusted for such items as medical expenses, tax credits, and non-cash government benefits, Hispanics become the poorest large group of Americans. Over the past 45 years, we have imported a population which is now bigger and poorer than the black community. Our worst enemies could never have done this to us.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the measurement of energy

Steve Sailer says, "It's unfortunate that social scientists don't seem to have a reliable quick test of energy the way they have tests of intelligence, since it's obvious that energy differs widely among individuals and is important in influencing life outcomes."

The GSS has asked participants the following: "How much of the time during the past 4 weeks did you have a lot of energy?" Turns out, the answers are roughly normally distributed (sample size = 1,409):

Percent having a lot of energy over the past month

All the time 10.4
Most of the time 34.5
A good bit of time 22.6
Some of the time 18.4
A little biit of the time 9.5
None of the time  4.6

And here are the correlations with several variables:

Age -.18
Education .12
Income .15
Occupational prestige .05

As expected, energy decreases with age, and is associated with more education and income. (The correlation with occupational prestige is trivial).

These findings provide evidence that this single item is not an invalid measure of energy. The correlations are small, but I would expect just that, given that we are measuring a trait at one moment in time that has exerted its influence over a lifetime.  Add to that the fact that energy level is probably not as stable over time as, say, IQ.

Like Steve, I see energy making a big difference. I would be a much more accomplished person if I had the energy. Reading my blog, you might think I have a preference for brevity. Truth is, I'm too lazy to write more. I'd like to do the research to find out how to boost my drive, but it makes me tired even to contemplate it. I'll lie down and let the impulse pass.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I see that the J. Edgar Hoover biopic opens today. Why do I suspect that the Spielberg movie on MLK will not be quite as honest?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The fresh Penn State scandal and the old Catholic priest abuse scandal remind me of an important sociobiological truth: members of a brotherhood protect each other, even when they shouldn't.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Growing up Mormon and marital infidelity

Here are the percentages of Americans who have cheated on their spouse listed by whether or not you grew up as a Mormon (sample size = 1,104):

Percent ever cheating on spouse

Grew up Mormon 4.5
Everyone else 17.6

The difference is not statistically significant because there are only 44 people in the sample who grew up Mormon.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Race and sexual harassment

The Cain sexual harassment scandal makes me wish I had good survey data in order to look, for example, at whether there are racial differences. The Longitudinal Study of Violence Against Women did ask male college students if they have ever used their authority (as boss, teacher, camp counselor, supervisor, etc.) to get a female to engage in unwanted: 1) sexual activities short of intercourse, and 2) intercourse. Here are the percentages of men who answered yes (sample size = 821):

Percent using authority for sex play

Whites 2.3
Blacks 1.4
Others 4.2

Percent using authority for intercourse

Whites 3.0
Blacks 2.8
Others 6.2

None of the differences are significantly different due to the rarity of sexual harassment. Keep in mind that blacks and others (who are mostly Hispanic) are less likely to have positions of authority so their rates would probably be higher if they equaled whites in leadership positions. Plus, validity research has shown that black males are less willing than whites to admit to deviant behavior.

Study: Flynn effect is not caused by hybrid vigor

From Psychological Review:
Mingroni (see record 2007-10421-011) proposed that heterosis or hybrid vigor may be the principal driver of the Flynn effect—the tendency for IQ scores to increase at a rate of approximately 3 points per decade. This model was presented as a resolution to the IQ paradox—the observation that IQ scores have been increasing despite their high adult heritability—on the basis that substantial changes in IQ can only be accounted for by changes in underlying genetic factors. It is here argued that this model is predicated upon a misconception of the Flynn effect, which is most pronounced on the least g-loaded components of cognitive ability tests and is uncorrelated with genetic effects such as inbreeding depression scores (which are correlated with the g loadings of tests). Evidence supportive of the recently proposed life history model of the Flynn effect is presented. In the discussion, other theoretical objections to the heterosis model are also considered. On this basis, it is concluded that the Flynn effect is strongly entwined with developmental status and that heterosis cannot be its principal cause.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Social class, camping, and fundamentalism

Do lower status whites enjoy nature? GSS respondents were asked if they've gone camping in the past year. Based on occupational prestige scores, I constructed 4 classes: lower, working, middle, and upper.

Percent who camp

Lower 41.6 (n = 269)
Working 46.5 (n = 376)
Middle 46.6 (n = 397)
Upper 53.3 (n = 260)

The share goes up a little among higher classes, but the differences are not statistically significant. Enjoying nature is common at all social levels.

While we're focusing on class, let's look at the belief among whites that the Bible is inerrant. In an earlier post, I looked at differences by education, but occupational prestige is a more direct measure of social class. I'm highly educated but far from upper class.

Percent who believe Bible is inerrant

Lower 37.8 (n = 1,345)
Working 34.0 (n = 1,725)
Middle 25.1 (n = 1,318)
Upper 17.9 (n = 751)

The lower and working classes are not significantly different, but all other comparisons are. The claim that Biblical fundamentalism is an middle- or upper-class movement is simply incorrect.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Ethnicity and camping

Half Sigma has observed that black folks don't enjoy nature. The General Social Survey asked Americans if they've gone camping in the past 12 months. Here are the percentages who answered yes by ethnic group:

Percent who camped in past year

Norwegian 66.7*
Dutch 52.9
Irish 52.4
Mexican 50.0
German 50.4
English/Welsh 46.7
Polish 46.2
Scottish 46.0
Italian 45.8
Russian 44.0
Jewish 40.6
Swedish 37.5
American Indian 13.3**
Blacks 10.7**

*significantly above average
**significantly below average

Blacks are at the bottom of the list. American Indians are next which is pretty ironic. Perhaps sleeping in a teepee isn't camping, it's home. 

Half Sigma also claims that working-class whites love nature. I think he's right. (My blue-collar parents practically live in the wild.) We'll look at the data next.

How much evidence of racism?

Herman Cain was asked if racism is behind the story that he may have sexually harassed some employees. He answered yes. His next statement succintly summarized the grounds for the daily cries of racism we hear in contemporary America. When asked if he had any evidence to support his claim, he said no, none.

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 ...