Dec 29

Interesting figures have recently been published by the British Home Office: statistics show that young men suffer just as much as women from ‘abuse’ by their partners – at least if forms of emotional violence like harassment or bullying are considered as forms of abuse as well.

Probably because men are usually feeling less self-confident at the beginning of a relationship, especially in the younger age group of 20-24 years a surplus of female violence (6.4% versus 5.4% male) can be found, while in higher age groups, both ratios are increasingly aligning. For 2007/2008, 2.2% of interviewed women of all ages reported about experiences of mild or severe physical violence by their partners, but for men, the value wasn’t much lower with 2.0%. However, the study also found that women are more commonly abused and have to experience more severe and repeated physical abuse. Looking at the quality of the data available to researchers, a report on violence against men of the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs from 2004 and a study by the Criminology Research Institute of Niedersachsen (Germany) conducted similar results for Germany with both reporting that the available data on violence is hardly sufficient to allow reliable conclusions about gender-based violence since domestic violence perpetrated by female partners is still considered a taboo by women, but also men – and social workers.

'Smitten - Engaged - Battered'
Controversial poster that depicted fathers as potential perpetrators of violence, funded by the Austrian Ministry of Women in 2008

In general, there seems to be a growing awareness process regarding the issue of female violence (including domestic violence). In England, for instance, male-specific charities have already been criticizing for some years that while in England and Wales there are a total of nearly 500 women’s shelters to escape from domestic problems and to obtain advice, but only 7 comparable facilities for men. Organisations and research dealing with women’s specific concerns are equipped with significant financial and media resources, while the ones dealing with men’s issues often have to fight for their financial survival every year. The shame of many men to get help for domestic violence underscores the public image (but also the statistics of many counseling services, which are often managed by women) that the perpetrators are usually men, while women are the victims of psychological and physical violence.

Related links and articles:

(Blog entry first posted in German language (‘Weibliche Gewalt – Ein Tabuthema’) in 02/2009; last update: 12/2011)

Dec 27

Many clients tell me of difficulties finding the right relationship partner. Of course such problems almost always have psychological reasons – in one way or another, these persons sabotaged themselves, they suffer from forms of social anxiety or (in my experience, this is the most common reason) have low self-esteem.

The issues around dating, attraction and sexual attraction have inspired researchers and artists since the beginnings of mankind. Under this – rather ironic – article headline, I will summarize the results of relevant studies and research – and continuously expand and update this collection as soon as there are new findings.

But beware: I’ll not guarantee for the plausibility – or especially success – of any of these hints! 😉

Attractiveness and mate selection

  • “Attractive bodies and faces are symmetrical” – when selecting a partner, we jump on aesthetic impressions indicating a good state of health and fitness, including reproductional capabilities (Source).
  • People with symmetrical physique receive more positive attention when dancing and during mate selection” (source)
  • Women without ideal measurements are stronger, tougher and more resistant to crises” – in Western countries, women with a greater waist-hip ratio than 0.7 are considered to be less attractive than in other world regions, but better prepared for times of crisis (Sources: [1, 2, 3])
  • Estrogen makes women’s faces look more attractive.’ –  during their fertile days, the faces of women obviously look more attractive (Source)
  • Women tend to be selected if they are beautiful, men are more likely to be selected if they act dominantly‘ – this actually refers to political elections, but then, maybe not .. if you consider the other research results mentioned in this blog entry (source)
  • Beauty makes insecure.‘ – this, and that attractive men and women usually find it more difficult to find partners than averagely attractive people, would be a possible conclusion from the so-called ‘sidewalk experiment’ by James Dubbs u. Neil Stokes (‘Beauty is Power: The Use of Space on the Sidewalk’, 1975): on a sidewalk, pedestrians altered their walking direction more often to give space to men rather than for a woman, for 2 people rather than for just 1, and for pretty than for  unattractive women. Their theory was that attractiveness, group size and gender are signals of power which involves territorial claims causing the aforementioned evasive behavior (Source).
  • Other attributes for attractiveness will be judged based on attractiveness of the clothing‘ – attractively dressed subjects were judged as more competent and social than non-attractively-dressed individuals, and, as the researchers suspected, probably as physically more attractive as well (source).
  • Taller men are sexually and socially better off than shorter ones. ‘ – men seem to have their greatest difficulties when dealing with strong, attractive and wealthy competitors, but the taller they are, the less of a role these attributes play in dealing with them. Little men tend to be most jealous. In women, however, the taller and shorter ones are more jealous than the ones of average size. Average-sized women are most shaken by tall and socially dominant rivals just as by other women’s  persuasiveness (link)
  • women prefer older men, older men prefer younger women.’ – a possible explanation for the biological causes of this phenomenon was provided by a study that found that women with a four-year-older partner, and men with a six years younger partner show the greatest reproductive success (source).
  • Man perhaps lost his body hair because it was sexy to the opposite sex.’ – new hope for bald people? (source)
  • Results of an econometric analysis of online dating behavior showed that men who reported that they were in search of a long-term relationship achieved much more success in online dating than those who were merely out on an affair. For men, the appearance of women is of outstanding importance; for women, the man’s income is of utmost importance: the richer the man, the more emails he receives. Income increases the attractiveness of a woman for men as well, but only up to a certain height. [..] Men are attracted by female students, artists, musicians, veterinarians, and celebrities, and they avoid secretaries, retired women and women who work in the military or the police. Women prefer soldiers, policemen and firemen as well as lawyers and financial experts in a management position, but they avoid laborers, actors, students [..]. The data analysis of about 30,000 users also revealed that men have significant drawbacks when they are short. For women, obesity is fatal. That’s probably why many online daters ‘adjust’ these parameters relatively often: male online daters are slightly taller than the average man while the typical female online dater is 10 kg lighter than its real counterpart. In the book Freakonomics in which the results can be read in detail, the authors described their findings, obtained by mathematical methods, as follows: ‘In the world of online dating, a head full of blond hair has about the same worth for a woman as a college degree.’
  • “‘Nasty’ men not only get most women, but also the most beautiful ones.” – in most studies on this subject, these men showed distinctive combinations of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy (Sources: [1], [2], [3])
  • Men should not act as if they were ‘carried away’: uncertainty about the feelings of the opponent increases his/her attractiveness (Source: E. et.al in Whitchurch: “Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction”, Psychological Science, 01/2011).


Sexuality

  • ‘The mere presence of a woman increases the testosterone levels’ – regardless of her appearance, the testosterone levels in men sitting in the same room as a woman increased by 8% within 300 seconds (Sources: [1],[2])
  • The frequency of female orgasms increases with the income of their partner ‘ – sex with wealthy or powerful men probably feels more exciting by women because it may help to obtain access to wealth and power, or to keep this access up (Sources: [1], [2], [3])
    Addendum 04/2010: a counter study was published that shows different results.
  • The more attractive women consider themselves to be, the greater demands they make on their sexual partners – in men, this correlation doesn’t exist, which could mean that they are less picky or less inclined to enter into permanent relations aiming at reproduction (Sources: [1], [2])
  • (indirect) relationship between voice and sexual activity’ – volunteers with a voice perceived as attractive had about equally long fingers on both hands (reference to the context of attractiveness by symmetry, see above), their first sex at a younger age, more sexual partners and more affairs (Sources: [1], [2])
  • Women respond differently to male body odor.’ – their brains can differ normal male perspiration from perspiration resulting from sexual arousal (Source)
  • Women’s tears put off men and reduce their testosterone level. (Source: Shani Gelstein et.al, “Human tears contain a chemosignal” in: Science 01/2011, DOI: 10.1126/science.1198331)

Family / Children / Fertility

  • ‘Correlation between wealth and reproductive success‘: a British study found higher reproductive success for wealthy men; in women, the number of children declines with increasing education and income (Source)

(First published in German language (‘Wissenschaftliche Aufriss-Tipps’) in 01/2008; continuously updated. Last update: 12/2011)

May 18

A large-scale impact study (n = 1046) of the Institute for Women’s Health Badem-WĂźrttemberg for frequency of sexual dysfunction in women (Female Sexual Dysfunction, FSD) and ways to treat them was recently published in the prestigious journal Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The aim of this study was to find out about the a) frequency and b) different forms of disorders of female sexual function. Also investigated was the relationship between dysfunction and hormonal contraception with the ‘anti-baby pill’, or more precisely, with different forms of hormonal contraceptives. A standardized questionnaire asked specifically about the participants’ sexual activity and possible influencing factors. Regarding a possible use of contraception, the effects of various contraceptive methods on sexual function as well as different hormonal contraceptives was compared.

The analysis shows that of the participating women, 32.4% had a risk for female sexual dysfunction: 8.7% orgasm problems, 5.8% libido issues (hypoactive sexual desire disorder), 2.6% satisfaction problems, 1.2% had decreased lubrication, 1.1% were suffering from pain during sexual intercourse and 1.0% symptoms of a sexual arousal disorder. Smoking and use of contraception had a significant impact on the prevalence of the prevalence of secual dysfunction, hormonal contraception was significantly more often associated with reduced libido and arousal than non-exclusive non-hormonal contraception or non-contraception. Other variables such as stress, pregnancy, relationship issues and a desire to have children also had a significant impact on sexual function.

The authors point out that the study could primarly detect associations, but can’t prove the causality of individual sexual problems.

(Source: Wallwiener CW, Wallwiener LM, Seeger H, Mueck AO, Bitzer J, and Wallwiener M; Prevalence of Sexual Dysfunction and Impact of Contraception in Female German Medical Students ; doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01742.x)

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