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Social Policys - Freese Meland Relationship

Essay add: 15-11-2017, 11:17   /   Views: 20

Freese Meland Relationship

The phenomenon under investigation

The phenomenon under investigation in Freese and Meland research is the waist to hip ratios (WHR) of women appearing in centrefold magazines and American beauty pageant winners, they are interested in the relationship between two variables. For clarity the waist to hip ratios is the measured by the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips. This measurment indicates the proportion of fat that is distributed around the torso. This phenomenon relevent to modern public interest due to the icreaseing media attention, promoting skinny models and size zero celebrities, this type of research investigates why society has a fascination with women of a particular size. Freese and Meland want to discover if there is any variation in correlation between WHR over time, if so; thus demonstrating that WHR are contingent and socially constructed rather than a consistent and supported by evolutionary behavioural patterns, and a demonstration of Darwin’s natural selection.

Hypothesis

Freese and Meland hypothesis is to test the internal and external validity of claims made by Singh (1993) and followers. They also want to test the reliability of Singh’s research process. Singh’s original findings dtermind that woman’s WHR over the past few decades have only ranged between 0.68 - 0.72 over time; thus suggesting there is a consistent relationship between the two variables. The mean number centered in the middle of the distribution is 0.70 over this interval. Singh and others (Buss 1999, Burnham and Phelan 2000, Etcoff 1999, Newsweek and Cowley 2000) have supported Singh’s findings have been used as evidence in some of their publications. Singh’s generalizations have also been used as evidence in evolutionary psychology suggesting that American heterosexual male’s prefer woman of a certain size (an average waist to hip ratio of 0.70) thus supporting the argument for a hard-wired preference. In evolutionary scale, this is not a large time span, but according to singh this ratio has persisted over this period therefore significant, thus; supporting the suggestion that 0.70 preference must be an invariant feature of the human psyche. Freese and Meland want to discover if it is indeed correct to support Singh’s findings and if it correct to accept the null hypothesis as discovered in Singh’s results. They investigate if there is in fact a strong consistent correlation, between the WHR of women appearing in centrefold magazines and American beauty pageant winners (dependent variables) when compared over a period of time (independent variable) thus testing the external validity of Singh’s research. Freese and Meland suggest that the repetition of an astonishingly narrow and invariant convergence to a 0.70 WHR in beauty icons only distracts attention from some of the field's more measured discussions.

Theoretical application

Singh’s hypothesis has been applied theoretically by others to make broader generalizations about the male population; thus suggesting the data supports universality of male’s preference on what male find physically attractive. However Freese and Meland question if the data is representative to the male population. Therefore Freese and Meland wish to test Singh’s hypothesis to discover if these claims are valid and the broader generalizations correct. I will discuss later the problems with the generalizations evolutionary psychologists have made about of Singh’s research.

The type of data used

The type of data used in these studies is interval/ratio continuous data from secondary sources. The independent variable is time and the two dependent variables are the Waist to hip ratio’s of centrefold models and American pageant winners, the data used by Singh (1993) secondary data sets of the recorded WHR for American pageant winners between the periods of 1921 to 1986 was available from Bivans (1991) number of recorded WHR was 59. The data on the WHR of Playboy centrefold models was obtained from the Playboy Corporation’s website. Freeses and Meland’s data came from Atlantic City newspaper in these studies use of previously recorded WHR of women appearing centrefold magazines and American beauty pageant winners.

The validity of the data

The validity of the data used in both studies is questionable. Secondary data has low validity because the researchers do not have fist hand knowledge to how it was comprised and whether or not it was subjected to bias. It is unknown if women were honest about their measurements, or subsequently if they were measured by someone if they lost weight just before the measuring as they did not want to be seen as fat, and therefore they were complying with normative stereotypical ideals. To increase the validity of this research they should have conducted a longitudinal study collecting primary data to ensure that the measurements were correct, however the reality of this not practical because longitudinal studies are time consuming and costly.

Method/types of analysis

REWORD

Freese and Meland try to replicate Singh’s research, but they have some problems when comparing the two data sets and by employing more in-depth statistical procedures consisting of a hisotgram and regression analysis. regression analysis is a technique that examines the relation of a dependent variable (response variable) to specified independent variables (explanatory variables). Regression analysis is a descriptive method of data analysis. Regression can be used for predicing causal relationships. A regression equation contains regression parameters whose values are estimated using data. The estimated parameters measure the relationship between the dependent variable and each of the independent variables. When a regression model is used, the dependent variable is modeled as a random variable because of either uncertainty as to its value or inherent variability. The data are assumed to be a sample from a probability distribution, which is usually assumed to be a normal distribution.

The scatter plot’s on the line of regression indicating the relationship between the two variables and a fitted regression line. Linear regression attempts to explain this relationship with a straight line fit to the data. They also used extra data extracted from Atlantic City news paper. This data included WHR of Miss American pageant winners from 1921 to 1922; this data was not previously used in Singh’s original data pool Bivans (1991). Freese and Meland encounter problems when comparing the two sets of data demonstrating the lack of reliability in Singh’s work; they discover the data from Singh’s source Bivans (1991) had rounded the measurements of Miss American pageant winners WHR up to about half an inch in 36 cases; therefore decreasing the data internal validity, the predicted calculations made by Singh of an average waist to hip ratio of 0.70 was not valid. The demonstration of the inconsistencies in Singh’s data pool emphasized the problems that can occur from using secondary data.

Change in WHR over time

Furthermore Freese and Meland Freese discover more inconsistencies in Singh’s research discovered over the short a time span as 40 years, the average WHR has changed in both samples, completely countering Singh’s claim that the women’s were consistent over time. This problem could result of the statistical methods Singh used were insufficient. The statistical evidence provided by Singh is a distribution graph it shows us the distribution of the two dependent variables, However this graphical representation does not indicate the range of the dependent variables and the relationship to the independent variable (duration of time). The correct stastical procedure would be to produce a histogram with a regression line to indicate the relationship between the independent and dependent variables and to enable us to see how the data changes over time; this method was employed by Freese and Meland. They found that the WHR recorded at the centre of Singh’s distribution was incorrect; Singh’s mean WHR was 0.70 however Freese and Meland discovered that the mean is 0.667 indicating Singh’s findings are incorrect this is small however it’s a statistically significant difference when used to calculate predicted WHR of a much larger sample.

Cultural variation

As I indicated above evonutuany psychologists and scientists suggest that WHR is a factor that is attributed to the level of a woman’s psysical attractiveness, it is suggeted by Singh that woman with a waist to hip curcumfrance of 70% is more physicaly attractive to men. However this cannot be gernralized to the whole population as WHR are extreamly dependent on the wetern body type and cannot be used as evluntary evidence as it cannot apply to those from different ethic groups, asian woman are not the same build as western woman so this 70% waist to hip curcumfrance cannot be applied. As personal preference differ significantly among racial and cultural groups therefore I do not support the suggestion that this type of mesurements are good indicator to support the reasurch’s hypothisis as it can not be genralized as WHR are subject to cultural variation.

Conclusion

In conclusion the artice by Freese and Meland, their article did demostrate the importance of using the correct staticical procedures in sociological reasurch

Calculations (mean = 0.677, t = -4.89, p < .001).

Their article

Drawing on an article by Singh (1993), many discussions of the evolutionary psychology of heterosexual male preferences have reported a remarkable consistency in the waist-to-hip ratios of Playboy centrefold models and Miss America pageant winners over time. We re-examine the measurement data on these American beauty icons and show that these reports are false in several ways.

  • the variation in waist-to-hip ratios among these women is greater than reported.
  • the centre of the distribution of waist-to-hip ratios is not 0.70, but less than this.
  • the average waist-to-hip ratio within both samples has changed over time in a manner that is statistically significant and can be regarded as mutually consistent.

Taken together, the findings undermine some of the evidence given for the repeated suggestion that there is something special-evolutionarily hard-wired or otherwise-about a specific female waist-to-hip ratio of 0.70 as a preference of American heterosexual males.

Aim

We seek to correct what appears to be an emerging "academic urban legend" (Tooby & Cosmides, 2000) regarding the stability and precision of what heterosexual males find sexually attractive. The academic urban legend in question is that there has been a remarkable consistency in the waist-to-hip ratios (WHR) of both Playboy centerfolds and winners of the Miss America pageant. Because these women are taken as representative icons of venerated beauty standards, this supposed consistency has been taken by some authors as prima facie evidence of an evolved basis for this very specific preference, although that claim would seem to be refuted by studies that have failed to find the preference in societies whose conditions resemble those of our Pleistocene ancestors far more closely than our own (Wetsman & Marlowe, 1999; Yu & Shepard, 1998).

There is also dispute about the validity of the arguments that have been made for why such a preference would have been adaptive in the environments of our evolutionary past (Wetsman, 1998). We do not pursue these points here; what we dispute are the empirical assertions that have been made about the WHR of these supposed twin pillars of American beauty: Playboy Playmates and Miss Americas. The data presented below demonstrates both that the WHR has been more variable than others have suggested and that the average WHR has in fact changed in what seems to us to be a consistent fashion over time.

Before presenting these data, however, we need to establish that the incipient academic urban legend does exist. We submit four examples, which in no way should be taken as exhaustive:1. From Buss's (1999) Evolutionary Psychology textbook; virtually the same two sentences also appear in Buss and Kenrick's (1998, p. 1000) review of evolutionary psychology for the Handbook of Social Psychology

(1): Singh's analysis of Playboy centerfolds and winners of U.S. beauty contests over the past thirty years confirmed the invariance of this cue. Although both centerfolds and beauty contest winners got slightly thinner over that period, their WHRs remained exactly the same, at 0.70. (p. 144)

2. From the book Mean Genes, by economist Terry Burnham and biologist Jay Phelan (2000): Although the bodies of [Miss America] winners are sometimes larger and sometimes smaller over the decades, their hourglass shape never varies. In particular, when the waist measurement is divided by the hip measurement for more than sixty Miss Americas from the 1920's to the 80's, the calculation never deviates from the tight range of 0.69-0.72. (p. 142)

3. From psychologist Nancy Etcoff's (1999) Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty: Looking at Miss Americas from the 1920s through the 1980s and at Playboy from 1955 to 1965 and 1976 to 1990, [Singh] found Miss Americas waist-to-hip ratios varied only within the .72 to .69 mark, and Playboy models within the .71 to .68 range. (p. 193)

4. From a Newsweek article by Geoffrey Cowley (2000), which has since been reprinted as part of an anthology for social psychology students: Singh's findings suggest the fashion won't change any time soon. In one study, he compiled the measurements of Playboy centerfolds and Miss America winners from 1923 to 1990. Their bodies got measurably leaner over the decades, yet their waist-hip ratios stayed within the narrow range of .68 to .72. (2) (p. 193)

As for the source of these assertions, all of the above either explicitly cite or seem to be relying on Singh (1993), who writes: WHR for Playboy centerfolds increased slightly from .68 to .71 over the years examined, whereas Miss America contest winners had WHR decrease from .72 to .69 (Figure 1). Thus, WHR of both the Miss America contest winners and the Playboy centerfolds, in spite of reduction of body weight over the years, remained within the .68 to .72 range. (p. 296)

To our eyes, this claim would actually seem to be contradicted by the Figure 1 that is provided in Singh (1993, p. 297); in other words, despite the frequent repetition of Singh's assertion by academics and others, the warrant for it is not even apparent to us from the information available in the original paper. The interpretation of the above statement that makes the most sense to us is that when Singh is talking about increases and decreases over time--as well as about the range--he is talking about the predicted WHR values from a fitted regression line.

However, saying the predicted values of a dependent variable change little over the range of an independent variable is mainly a claim about the strength of the association and does not necessarily imply anything about the actual range of the dependent variable, even though the latter seems to be the prevailing interpretation that has been made of the results by others.

In any event, to try to clear the matter up decisively, we have independently reassembled and updated data on both pageant winners and Playboy centerfolds; as we explain below, in both cases the data we use can be thought to surpass the quality of that used by Singh. (3) The analysis below provides results that show both the extent of the range of WHR of these putative icons of beauty and provide a different view of how WHR has changed over time.

METHOD

Data for Miss America winners from 1921 to 1986 (when the pageant stopped collecting this information) are available in Bivans (1991), the same source used by Singh (N = 59). We checked Bivans's reported measurements against those of the Atlantic City newspaper accounts of the pageants for the 36 cases in which the paper reported measurements. This was consequential because the Bivans data rounded any half-inch measurements reported by contestants, which is consequential for the computation of waist-to-hip ratio. Moreover, as far as we can tell, Bivans arbitrarily rounded either up or down (usually the latter). In cases where a discrepancy between the newspaper and Bivans's data could be explained by the latter's practice of rounding, the newspaper measurement was used instead. For three cases in which there was a discrepancy that could not be attributed to rounding, we included both sources' measurements in the dataset and used weights so that each source counts for half of an observation in all computed statistics.

Data on the waist-to-hip ratios of Playboy centerfold models was obtained from the Playboy corporation's website. Singh (1993) reports that "bodily measurements for centerfolds were not published between 1966-1975" (p. 296) and were not available for data analysis, but data are available on the website for almost all centerfolds during these years. Measurements were only provided sometimes prior to September 1959, when Playboy apparently began its practice of presenting a data sheet on each Playmate, and there were also still a few subsequent instances in which the body measurements were not listed. Data for the years 1966 to 1975 do not appear to be confined only to the website, as they also appear to be used in Garner, Garfinkel, Schwartz, and Thompson (1980). while Singh's analyses only use centerfolds through 1990, we also collected measurements on centerfolds through May 2001 (N = 524).We note that these are, to our knowledge, self-reported measurements, and one can imagine reasons why either Playboy models or pageant contestants may intentionally misreport their measurements. Of course, one could argue that this might be even more ideal for the topic of inquiry because we might expect errors in self-report to be biased in favor of what would be seen as more desirable. In any case, since this has not been raised as an issue when these data have been used to support the idea of WHR exhibiting a consistent and time-invariant (programming) invariant - A rule, such as the ordering of an ordered list or heap, that applies throughout the life of a data structure or procedure. Each change to the data structure must maintain the correctness of the invariant. pattern among these women, we see no reason for it to be seen as any more compromising in a study that challenges this conclusion.RESULTSVariation in WHRFigure 1 presents the distribution of waist-to-hip ratios for both samples. This figure makes plain that the preceding assertions that all Playboy centerfolds or Miss Americas fall into a narrow range of WHR values are erroneous. Not only is the actual range of WHR values much wider than what is claimed above, but the narrow ranges reported do not even encompass most of the members of either sample. For the Miss America sample, the WHR of winners have ranged from 0.61 (Mayer, winner in 1963, W = 22/H = 36) to 0.78 (Gorman, winner in 1921, 25/32). (4) Only 9 of the 59 winners have WHRs between 0.69 and 0.72 (15%). The median for the Miss America sample is 0.667. The mean WHR value is not 0.70, as someone reading Buss (1999) or Buss and Kenrick (1998) might think, but in fact the mean is significantly less than 0.70 (mean = 0.677, t = -4.89, p < .001).One could protest that the difference between 0.70 and 0.677 is substantively small, even if statistically significant. We do not necessarily disagree, but we also believe that evolutionary psychological writings on WHR do not give one much sense of how the magnitude of differences in WHR should be substantively regarded. In the face of repeated assertions that the WHR of beauty icons seems to cluster invariably and tightly around 0.70--as well as that the evolved WHR preference is tuned precisely to 0.70 as the optimum (e.g., Alcock, 2001)--a statistically significant difference in a sample of modest size would seem substantively consequential.For the sample of centerfolds, the overall range is even wider: from 0.529 (Winters, appeared in Sept. 1962, 18/34) to 0.788 (Fare, appeared in Aug. 2000, 26/33). Again, contrary to what has been reported, only 31.4% of these women have WHR values between 0.68 and 0.71. The median for the sample is 0.676, and, as with the Miss America sample, the mean is significantly less than 0.70 (mean = 0.677, t = -4.89, p < .001).Consider that low variation in waist-to-hip ratio would also seem to imply a very high zero-order correlation between waist size and hip size, given the existence of variation in the two variables from which the ratio is constructed. The zero-order correlations between these two variables are only r = .29 for the Miss America sample and r = .38 for the Playboy sample.Change in WHR over TimeSimple correlations between WHR and a linear measure of the time of pageant victory or magazine appearance show that the WHRs of Miss American winners and Playboy centerfolds have changed over time. The correlation coefficients indicate that the WHR Miss America winners have decreased over time (r =.-55, p < .001) and those of Playboy centerfold models have increased over time (r =.46, p < .001). One might take this as evidence of an invariance in the underlying preference over time; the opposing trends, while significant, could reflect idiosyncrasies of using self-reported Playboy and Miss America measurements as measures of indicators of male preferences at a given point in time. In other words, because the trends are in opposite directions, they can be thought of as canceling each other out, allowing the conclusion that reflected WHR preferences have effectively been temporally invariant despite evidence of change in both samples.A more satisfactory answer, we believe, is found when we investigate models that allow for a curvilinear relationship between WHR and time. As shown in Table 1, the Miss America data are better fit by a model that includes a quadratic quadratic, mathematical expression of the second degree in one or more unknowns (see polynomial). The general quadratic in one unknown has the form ax2+bx+c, where a, b, and c are constants and x is the variable. A quadratic equation ax2+bx+c=0 always has two roots, not necessarily distinct; these may be real or complex (see number). term, while the Playboy data are not (Figure 2 provides a scatterplot of the data with the fitted regression lines). (5) If we use the results to compute the point at which the slope changes from negative to positive, we find that it is approximately 1969, which is still only about of a third of the way into the corresponding time series of Playboy model data (which runs from 1953-2001). In other words, if we are willing to make the assumption that these self-reported measurements are indicators of male WHR preference, then the combined results from the Miss America and Playboy samples can be interpreted as suggesting that the preferred value in the United States may have decreased in the early through mid-20th century and then increased in the mid- to late-20th century. In any case, the claim that the WHR for these samples has displayed a remarkable constancy over time is plainly unsupported by an examination of the actual data. WHR has changed in both samples, and not in a contradictory way.

Note. Significance levels in parentheses. Coefficients are unstandardized. "Year" is year of pageant victory or month/year of magazine appearance.

(1) The sentences are identical except the "got" above is changed to "became" and the "at" above to a colon in the Buss and Kenrick article.

(2) More casually, we mention the following from a magazine reporter covering an evolutionary psychology conference for Health magazine: "Waist-hip ratio of 1.0 or over? Nah. Waist-hip ratio of, say, 0.6? Nah again.... Waist-hip ratio around 0.7? Mmmmm, baby, iola guapa!" (Mestel, 1999).

(3) The dataset used for these analyses is available on the first author's website: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~jfreese/whrdata.htm.

(4) For reasons not explained in the article, Singh's analysis begins with the 1923 winner instead of 1921, even though the latter is available in Bivans (1991).

(5) For drawing the regression lines in the scatterplots in both Figures 2 and 3, we use the Model 2 results for the Miss America sample and the Model 1 results for the Playboy sample because of the differences in the comparative fit of the two models across the two samples.

(6) Some of the points in the Playboy scatterplot have values that are not half-or full-inch increments. These are not errors in the data but instead reflect that the body measurements of European models were often presented in centimeters, which we of course converted to inches for these analyses.

A change in the waist-to-hip ratios of these cultural beauty icons over time can imply (a) a change in waist size, but not hip size; (b) a change in hip size, but not waist size; or (c) an imperfectly and/or negatively correlated change in both. Given that we are dealing with a dependent variable that is a ratio, the obvious next step in the analysis is to consider the numerator and denominator of this ratio separately. The results of the regression analyses are presented as waist sizes and hip sizes in Table 1, while scatterplots of these relationships are shown in Figure 3. (6) Waist sizes in the Miss America sample appear to have decreased over the years, while those of the Playboy models have increased. However, including a quadratic term improves the fit of the model for the Miss America data, and this term implies increasing waist size in the later years of the sample as it overlaps the years reported by the Playboy data. Moving to hip size, in the Playboy data we have evidence suggesting a linear decrease in the hip size of centerfold models over time. Meanwhile, we do not have any real indication of a systematic relationship between time and hip size for the sample of pageant winners, as even for the quadratic model the F test that the coefficients are simultaneously equal to zero is not significant (p = .15). Of course, the much smaller sample size should be noted, as should the fact that the basic pattern of coefficients again does not contradict the Playboy data when a quadratic term is included in the model.

CONCLUSION

Whether regarding sexuality or other aspects of social life, evolutionary psychological explanations have sparked considerable debate across various disciplines. While we have no quarrel with evolutionary psychology per se, one claim that has been repeatedly advanced by some of its more ardent practitioners and popularizers is that the perspective offers a more scientific approach than its alternatives in the behavioral sciences. (For a particularly strident presentation of this claim in a work addressing sexuality, see Thornhill & Palmer, 2000.) We believe that science is much more, however, than simply drawing connections to theories in the natural sciences, and we remind readers of the first maxim of Galileo's Discors: "description first, explanation second" (see Pearl, 2000, pp. 334-335). The oft-repeated claim about the stability and time-invariance of the waist-to-hip ratio of Playboy centerfolds and Miss America winners has been used to support a theory about a highly specific and unmalleable preference built into male psychology through evolution by natural selection. As already noted, there are other reasons to be skeptical of the Darwinian explanation. Yet, regardless of its apparent merits, this paper shows that the empirical description of the self-reported WHR among these two sets of American beauty icons is not correct. For both groups, there is more variation in WHR than has been suggested and a more specific pattern of change over time.

Whether regarding sexuality or other aspects of social life, evolutionary psychological explanations have sparked considerable debate across various disciplines. While we have no quarrel with evolutionary psychology per se, one claim that has been repeatedly advanced by some of its more ardent practitioners and popularizers is that the perspective offers a more scientific approach than its alternatives in the behavioral sciences. (For a particularly strident presentation of this claim in a work addressing sexuality, see Thornhill & Palmer, 2000.) We believe that science is much more, however, than simply drawing connections to theories in the natural sciences, and we remind readers of the first maxim of Galileo's Discors: "description first, explanation second" (see Pearl, 2000, pp. 334-335). The oft-repeated claim about the stability and time-invariance of the waist-to-hip ratio of Playboy centerfolds and Miss America winners has been used to support a theory about a highly specific and unmalleable preference built into male psychology through evolution by natural selection. As already noted, there are other reasons to be skeptical of the Darwinian explanation. Yet, regardless of its apparent merits, this paper shows that the empirical description of the self-reported WHR among these two sets of American beauty icons is not correct. For both groups, there is more variation in WHR than has been suggested and a more specific pattern of change over time.

Article name: Social Policys - Freese Meland Relationship essay, research paper, dissertation