Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Alumni Dollars At Work

Sometime back in pre-history, I took an engineering degree at a college in a town nick-named the Limestone City (which tells you that it was, at least, later than the Paleozoic, or the limestone wouldn't have been there yet). Now from my alma mater comes news of truly ground-breaking research: women do not, repeat NOT, walk more sexily at fertile times of the month than at other times.

Really. They don't. You're astonished, right? I mean, you were lying awake at night, wondering about that, weren't you?

I feel so proud of the dear old place.

In case you were wondering how they figured this out, here is the summary:
[Dr. Provost] analysed the gait of female volunteers, showed video clips to 40 men, asking them to rate the attractiveness of the way the women walked, and then matched the results to the hormone tests.
This being a university, of course the test subjects were no doubt all undergrads recruited to make a few bucks in the cause of science. Think about that one for a minute: you're a 20yo male, and someone asks you to spend a few hours watching videos of campus babes strutting their stuff, and rating them on it.

And for this they're actually going to pay you?

There is of course a postulated explanation:

She now thinks the findings tally with other research suggesting that women want to conceal their ovulation from males other than their chosen partner. A sexy walk would be too obvious, so women are thought to use changes in smell and facial expressions that can be experienced only at close range.

Hmmm...smacks a bit of Evolutionary Psychology to me. I ain't opening that can of worms. Besides, what I really want to know is: why weren't they doing that kind of research when I was an undergrad?


Theo Bromine said...

It could be worse - my alum donations get spent on
bizarrely constructed and now moldy buildings

Jim Lippard said...

Yet competing research from the University of New Mexico says that strippers who are ovulating make more money per shift than strippers who are on the pill or are not ovulating.

TheBrummell said...

Jim, that's not competing research.

1. The two research programs probably are not drawing from the same funding pool. So their grant proposals aren't even competing.

2. Did you miss this part?
A sexy walk would be too obvious, so women are thought to use changes in smell and facial expressions that can be experienced only at close range.

The strippers in New Mexico were conducting lap dances - that qualifies as "close range" in my book.

So there's no conflict between these two sets of results.

And finally, to everyone: this research was both inexpensive and not funded via the alumni association. Unless you're in the habit of donating directly to an individual professor's research funds, none of this was directly your money at work.

Besides, it is an interesting result, even if it is also rather preliminary and possibly supported by dubious Evol Psych theories.