Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Men, women still want you – but only if you are perfect!

Women only want Mr Perfect!

If you thought the chick-lit era was over, with no more searching for Mr Right a la Bridget Jones or Sex in the City; or that WAGS were now irrelevant –  then you were right, but oh so wrong! At least according to Amy Turner’s piece in the Sunday Times a while ago (which I just found in my draft box); “Mr So-So has no chance with the SAS girls”. That was 7 years ago; has anything changed?

Because it seems that then women still wanted to meet the man of their dreams – Civitas think tank found that 70% of women aged 20 – 35 want to get married – but only if they found Mr Right. In particular so-called SAS women: successful, attractive and single – say they are happy enjoying themselves.

As one SAS women, described as having “endless legs and sparkling repartee” (sycophant-speak for skinny public school girl) said; “I’m fabulous and I want someone equally as fabulous to join my party“. Not much narcissistic self-referencing there then and hardly suggesting an equal partnership (see “Princess on board…”).

Not for them Lori Gottlieb’s advice in; “Marry him: the case for settling for good enough”. As my management consultant colleagues might say, SAS women are taking a “six sigma” rather than just a “fit for purpose” approach and as one of my guest bloggers pointed out recently; “Male modesty doesn’t pay”.

But why should women settle for less now that they are increasingly holding the purse strings? Experts  in the USA think that by 2024 women will be earning more on average than men , particularly in Law, Medicine, and in academia.

There are already more females than males graduating and higher education is the best predictor of future financial success. And the trend is pretty much the same in the UK with more females than males graduating in Law and Psychology for example.

In America five years ago only 1 in 4  women in dual-income households earned more than the men; now it is up to a third and if that trend continues more women in middle-income jobs like teaching and healthcare will overtake men.

In America female graduates have flocked into cities such as New York and Dallas to find “gender-blind” jobs with the result that women in their 20s are now earning 20% more than their male counterparts.

A number of factors have influenced these trends: a sharp decline in the birth rate in cities where more women go to college, more men losing their jobs than women (women occupied more part-time jobs) in the recession (the “mancession“), and an increase in family-friendly – which usually means women-friendly – jobs.  And you could probably add to that the feminising of education.

So what do you think? Will women today settle for second best?


Facebook is for losers

figure_bed_computer_1600_wht_14033Most people who use Facebook do so to add positive updates but generally people who use Facebook tend to be more frustrated, angry and lonely.

This might be because positive updates from their “friends” make them feel inadequate.

Now researchers at Ohio University have discovered that people in a bad mood turn to social network sites and look up people less attractive or less successful than themselves rather than those more attractive and more successful.

Given a choice of profiles to look at on a new social networking link called SocialLink participants who had been put in a negative state of mind – by being given poor feedback on a test – spent more time looking at the profiles of people who were less attractive and less successful.

The message is if you’re feeling bad look for someone who’s feeling even worse and regain your emotional superiority.


It’s been over a year since I posted about Facebook but my 4 year-old post “So many friends but still lonely” still regularly appears in my top 5 most-read posts so clearly strikes a chord..

My previous post about Facebook was eighteen months ago when I summed up the uses (or mis-uses) of Facebook in “Facebook Follies“.

But there’s so much stuff out there about Facebook it’s hard to keep up.



Baby blue eyed boozers get bossed

Mexican faceApparently blue eyed people are seen as less dominant than brown-eyed people – regardless of whether or not they are attractive (see my earlier post; Take me to your (tall and probably attractive) leader).

But it’s not just because of the eye colour. Czech researchers think it might be because people with blue eyes are treated as children longer and become conditioned to being more submissive.

And according to economics writer Chris Dillow in The Times (2/6/10): binge-drinking is more common in northern than southern Europe. Researchers at the Universities  of Oslo and Wyoming say that it’s in the genes and because blue-eyed people, more common in the North, are shyer they drink more to loosen their inhibitions.

Back in December 2010 it was reported that Scientists had discovered a gene, HTR2B, which can make people more susceptible to bouts of sudden aggression when under the influence of alcohol. Research with violent criminals in Finnish prisons found they were three times more likely to carry an abnormal variant of the gene than ordinary people.

Although not the full answer as to why people engage in spontaneous and motiveless violence it explains how it can be triggered by other genetic and environmental factors.

This Q20* gene mutation is only found in Finns, and in only 1% of them, and as most of whom are not violent so there is no point in screening for it.

And it doesn’t explain what happens in the UK. But research at the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published in Nature shows that genetic factors coupled with drug and alcohol abuse can lead to impulsivity and spontaneous violence.

The Finns were chosen for the prison study because they are genetically distinct but they also appear to have problems with depression and drinking, maybe due to the long hours of darkness. The first time I was in Helsinki it was still Winter yet there were a number of people lying in the streets in a drunken stupour in the freezing cold. Passers-by just checked to see if they were OK and moved on as if it were quite normal.

And the last time I was in Helsinki wandering round a supermarket I couldn’t find the section for wines and spirits. I eventually asked a local who pointed me to a separate Alco section (the beer was with the bottled water so it shows their take on what constitutes an alcoholic drink)She explained that it was for their own good as alcohol-related problems are in their genes. Seems like she was right.

Despite that particular problem Finland is one of the most highly rated countries in the world on a range of measures and a popular one for people who want to live elsewhere.

First version posted June 2010

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Best looking people live in…

Sweden. According to a survey by Sunshine holidays reported in today’s i newspaper.

The survey of almost 1500 people in the UK thought Sweden was the best looking nation (and I’m assuming they meant the people who lived there rather than the tourist attractions).

Anyway England came 6th, so at least we got in the top 10 by voting for ourselves (pity we can’t in the Eurovision song contest). The full top 10 is:

  1. Sweden
  2. Brazil
  3. Italy
  4. Spain
  5. Australia
  6. England
  7. Austria
  8. Cuba
  9. Russia
  10. Singapore

For some people beauty is everything of course but these countries couldn’t possibly be Sunshine holiday destinations could they?

Ginger kid gets free pizza

The story of the 11 year old who got upset when he saw that the pizza server had written “ginger kid” on his receipt was put into perspective by Barbara Ellen in The Observer yesterday.

She points out that it wasn’t done maliciously but just to identify the child (who had a Polish or Ukrainian surname which was probably hard for the staff in Domino’s to write down or pronounce). They apologised and offered him a free pizza but his parents want a full apology from Head Office. Not sure what a full apology is compared to what they have already received. Free pizzza for ALL the family?

Ellen suggests that by pursuing this to a higher level the parents are reinforcing the child’s sense of being a victim. Kids get picked on at school for all kinds of reasons and having ginger hair is just one of them.

Besides which there are several celebrities with red hair which just makes them more distinctive.

If you decsribe someone as a red head or titian haired it certainly has a different connotation from ginger which seems to have a negative aspect.

And I can identify with the server writing a description on the receipt so he or she could remember which customer it was. Years ago, in admittedly less politically correct times, when I used to recruit it was quite common to write short descriptive comments against candidates names so you would remember them more easily later.

Then there was a tribunal case where a woman claimed discrimination and when she saw the papers relating to the interviews saw that someone had written “big tits” against her name. Was it sexist or purely descriptive?

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

My most consistently read blog

Looking at some of my site stats I noticed that there is one blog that has been read by people every single day since I posted it 12 months ago.

The blog is about blushing  and whether men find it attractive.    

Not sure what it is that makes it so popular but it was one of my very first blogs back in May 2010 when I was still finding my feet in the blogosphere.

So thanks to everyone who has read it and many who have commented.

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Meeting Maslow’s basic needs?

The news that Ergo, a division of Munich Re the world’s biggest insurance company for other insurance companies, took over a company that organised an orgy in 2007 to reward its most successful sales people may have shocked many people at the time.

But you have to be impressed by the teutonic efficiency of it all.

The event was held at Gellert Baths in Budapest where 20 prostitutes were hired for the 100 participants. The women wore coloured armbands denoting their availability and whether they were hostesses, game for anything, or reserved for board members.

The men had to form an orderly queue of up to an hour to get into the 4-poster beds. After each interaction the prostitutes had their arm stamped. Not only could guests see at a glance which girls were more popular but the girls themselves could compare themselves with their peers and see which of them was performing better – instant feedback. The reports don’t say if the girls received any bonuses but truly this is performance management in the flesh.

On a personal note I have never been to Budapest but it’s on my list. But when I was last in Kaunas, Lithuania I noticed that Ergo had taken over the apartments where I lived for a month or so in 2008 so they are obviously doing well.

Perhaps there is something in rewarding people at a very basic need level (as Maslow would have proposed).

There was a sting in the tail for the participants who ended up paying €3,000 to the German tax authority for taking advantage of taxable perks.

When it became public knowledge in 2011 the company stated that it was a one-off indiscretion and the two executives who organised the event left the company.

However an internal audit discovered that the company had previously held incentive events at a swinger hotel in Jamaica and at strip clubs in Prague and Hamburg. The contents of the report were made public by the German business newspaper Handelsblatt in 2012.


First posted by Mike the Psych as “Well organised orgy as sales incentive”