Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Just wait until you’re 50!

Then you can be one of the “nifty fifty” generation identified in a survey of 50,000 people aged 50 and over by Sun Life.

These are the people who say they are happier than they’ve ever been (two-thirds of them) – even compared with their youth – as well as wealthier and more carefree. They feel that they’re four years younger than their actual age physically and ten years younger mentally.

They also think old age begins at 77 and expect to live to 84 years of age.

And 50% of these Gen-Xers (taking the pressure of Baby Boomers here) are taking up travelling and spreading their wings. 20% are learning a language and 10% want to learn to play an instrument.

They’re even claiming that they’re having better sex than ever before!

Now this age group is 1/3 of our population so it’s worth taking note. One 51 year-old woman said “I seem to enjoy the little things in life a lot more – appreciate art, nature and simply being at home, on the sofa with a herbal tea, vegging out and not feeling guilty about it“.

That hardly sounds like spreading your wings to me, unless herbal tea is code for something stronger? Whereas one women aged 54 said she “had had the best sex of my life with younger men“. Now that’s more like it, a cougar!

A different poll of 1,500 British adults by the Royal Voluntary Service found that two-thirds of people aged over 70 also claimed that they were happier than they’ve ever been. Half even said that they were in the prime of their lives, which I think is probably exaggerating just a bit. But as they said that not worrying about what people think of them was a benefit of getting older they can say what they want!

Thank goodness there are some things to look forward to as you get older!

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Men just aren’t getting enough

And that’s not me saying it but but a reputable female academic sociologist called Catherine Hakim who works for a think tank, Civitas: the Institute for Civil Society.

51e6ycr9uplHer latest book is an updated version of the New Rules. The New Rules: Internet Dating, Playfairs and Erotic Power.  In it she proposes that men not getting enough sex leads to men being unfaithful, using prostitutes and possibly assaulting women.

She thinks society ignores the male sex deficit resulting in sexual frustration in men and unhappiness. She came to these conclusions after analysing data from 30 sex surveys conducted around the world.

She found a decline in sexual intercourse (In Japan half of couples are in sexless marriages, and are choosing work over sex) and the absence of major wars that traditionally reduced the number of surplus men – 6% more boys are born than  girls and the World Bank estimates there is a world surplus of 60 million men, a situation coming to Britain in 2050. (Note also the problems with the male dominated refugees fleeing across the EU and the stories of sexual assaults in Germany).

Women’s increasing independence has also been a factor which has put them more in control.

And women are catching up with men in the number of sexual partners they have and only appear to have a bit less sex than men according to the British National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. The only way to measure frustration is to look at masturbation (2 out of 3 men did it) and use of prostitution (1 in 25 men used them but hardly any women) according to that survey.

Men are twice as likely to admit affairs despite a large and growing majority of both sexes saying they believe infidelity is wrong. It seems that at overall men have higher sexual desire than women. Which may explain why there is so much sexual harassment of women at work and why sexual coercion is a male thing.

Perhaps more controversially she doesn’t believe sexual violence is about power but simply about sex and thinks many men live lives of bitter resentment that would shock their wives if they knew.

What does she suggest to counteract this? Well greater tolerance of infidelity and legalised prostitution for a start.

And if you are one of those men living a life of bitter resentment it might pay you to hang on until your eighties. Over-80s enjoy a better sex life than people in their 50s according to the University of Manchester which studied 7,000 people aged 50 and over.

They found at least 25% of the men and 10% of the women were sexually active.Older sexual partners were more likely to share the sexual preferences of their partners and feel emotionally close to them than 50-79-year olds.

Although women at all ages in the survey didn’t feel under pressure to have sex men over 80 felt six times more obliged to have sex than those aged 50- 59 and 70 -79. And women over 80 found it easier to get aroused than younger women especially the 60 – 69 year olds.

David Lee, the author of the report, thought the findings could reflect the longevity of the relationship, the fact that they didn’t have children in the home, and generally because they felt more contented. But the belief that sex stops at 80 – either due to disbelief, disgust, or humour – is simply not true.

He said “that clearly isn’t the case – and not how over-80s see it. There are no age boundaries and we need to get away from this idea“.

Well that’s good news if you can live that long. And on a positive note, as we are an ageing population, perhaps Hakim’s fears will be unfounded as men eventually get what they want and reduce that male sex deficit!

FYI

When Hakim worked previously at the LSE she specialised in employee relations relating to equal pay and gender differences but made her name with the publication of her book Erotic Capital in which she asserted that it’s magic combination of attractiveness and charisma is at the heart of how we work, live and conduct our relationships.

Whether or not you agreed with her she certainly upset feminists everywhere (and I’ve seen her in action first hand at an international conference rebutting a Brazilian delegate’s argument by referring to how much women spend in that country spend on enhancing their erotic capital).


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Same sex Czech mate?

When people mention Prague in the Czech Republic or Riga in Latvia you probably think of booze-fuelled stag parties and liberal attitudes towards sex and drugs.

The latest report from the National Opinion Research Centre (NORC) at the University of Chicago shows that since 1994 sexual relations between adults of the same sex has been increasingly accepted in most of the 16 countries in the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP).

There are 4 countries however where the opposite appears to be true. In Czech Republic, Latvia, Cyprus, and Russia, the answer “not wrong at all” in relation to questions about same sex activity declined in all the three surveys (1994, 1998, and 2008). And in the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Russia, the number of people who said it was “always wrong” went up in each of the three surveys.

Aleš Rumpel, director of the country’s gay film festival, Mezipatra, and a board member for the new NGO gay rights group PROUD said;“I don’t think these numbers are really all that surprising because I don’t think Czech people are as liberal or accepting as they think they are”.

There is an argument that whilst people will say they support gay rights they are less supportive when it comes to what homosexuals actually do in the privacy of their bedroom. The Czech Republic is not particularly religious and it seems that there has not been that much debate about gender inequality and gay rights until recently.

And it seems that czechs might not be so homophobic as it appears from the NORC  data. That study came out just days before another set of statistics was released, compiled by the Center for Research of Public Opinion (CVVM) that showed nearly three-quarters of Czechs supported registered partnerships for gay couples, and 45 percent supported gay marriage, a number that has risen since registered partnerships were made legal in 2006 after being rejected in 1998

Source: Prague Post 8 June 2011


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France miserable? c’est la vie

Sacrebleu! France is the most miserable country in the world.

According to the Global Barometer of Hope and Despair for 2011 life is looking grim for many Europeans but the French are the most pessimistic.

Iceland was the second most pessimistic followed by Romania, Serbia and the UK in joint third place (some people say the French have always been a melancholic race but we seem to have followed them since our latest recession).

Pascal Bruckner, a philosopher, was quoted in the Times as saying that France had a tradition of self-flagellation but was concerned that; ” the better we live, the more we complain” and that France was wallowing in “le miserabilisme”.  A French newspaper, La Croix, said that; “The French are the European champions of the bad mood”.

The most optimistic countries were Nigeria, Vietnam, Brazil, Ghana, and China.

The survey asked a sample of 64,00 from all social groups in 53 countries, whether they felt optimistic or pessimistic about 2011. The percentage of optimists and pessimists were then subtracted from each other to show whether that country was hopeful or pessimistic. Globally 30% expect 2011 to be a year of prosperity and 28% expect it to be a year of economic difficulty – so the net Global Hope score is 2%. But of the 53 countries only 19 can be classified as hopeful whilst the rest are pessimistic.

Global hope is highly concentrated among the rising economic powers of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC countries) which have a Hope score of 35%. In sharp contrast the score for the rich countries of the world known as the G7 (USA, Canada, Germany, France, UK, Italy, and Japan) is a negative score of -17%.

The survey also looked at per capita income in each country and found that most of the countries high on income were low on hope and the most hopeful countries were those lowest in income.  But 20 of the 53 countries fall into the category of both low income and low hope. These countries include many of the former soviet republics such as Ukraine, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and Lithuania, as well as Egypt, Turkey and Bosnia

By contrast there is a small group of countries which had both a high per capita income and a high hope score. These were Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Switzerland.

These countries have been in the limelight before. Finland has been judged the best country in the world, followed by Switzerland and Sweden, and one of the top countries people would like to live in, along with Sweden and Denmark. It’s scandinavian neighbour Denmark has been judged to have the most satisfied populace, followed by Switzerland and with Finland and Sweden both not far behind. There is definitely something to be said about these Nordic countries but Norway must feel left out.

Updated 30 January 2011: To add to France’s woes President Sarcozy is proposing that French schoolchildren are taught English from an early age! The President is well-known for his love of Anglo-saxon culture and now wants to teach the “language of Shakespeare” to toddlers.

Right wing intellectuals are up in arms reminding everyone that de Gaulle never spoke a word of English in public (but we know what an ungrateful so-and-so he was) and that another former President, Jacques Chirac (currently in a spot of trouble with the law), walked out of a meeting being addressed by a Frenchman in English. They see language as an agent of domination

The English language borrows from the French (usually courtesy of 1066) but the French don’t generally reciprocate. “Le weekend” is about the extent of it apart from internet language and air traffic control. The government is proposing that children start learning at 3 years of age – rather than at seven as at present – assisted by computers, and there should be student exchanges for older pupils. Some experts say that three is too young anyway and that children can’t learn a foreign language until they learn their own at age 5 or 6.

Others argue that standards in French have slipped and those should be improved before teaching English. The President himself has been criticised for his use of slang and vulgar expressions. The Academie Francaise has always resisted the spread of “franglais” and “globish” and insisted on French words such as “courier electronique” for e-mail.

Updated 21 February 2011: Good news at last for the French, or at least the French “baby boomers”. It seems they might have found the secret of beating old age and believe that senior years can bring joy and fulfilment rather than what Charles de Gaulle called a “shipwreck”.

There has been a backlash against jeunisme (youngism) led by psychotherapist Marie de Hennezel. Her best-selling book: “The Warmth of the Heart prevents your Body from Rusting” promotes staying healthy but embracing physical decline rather than resisting it. She says it means; “accepting age without becoming old”.

She is a government adviser on end-of-life policies and finds that although quality of life allows people to live longer, old people are hidden from site and France has one of the highest suicide rates in the world for the elderly.

As you might expect from the French, the need to continue to delight in sex is an important part of this new philosophy and Hennezel says; “it just gets more beautiful and lasts longer as you get older“.

And older women are revered on French TV (the top rated newscaster is a 56 year old woman) and many foreign stars like Sharon Stone and Kristin Scott Thomas have resurrected their careers in sexy roles in French cinema.

So for baby boomers follow the French way: accept your age but enjoy the sex!

Updated 28 February 2011: I never thought I would say this but after the last update and the latest news from France – I am getting to like the French (except for Arsene the Winger)!

The news is that part of the planning to reduce the 9.3% unemployment rate is to offer free hairdos, manicures and makeovers to female jobseekers. Action Relooking is an initiative open to a dozen women every month from the 1.5 M who have been out of work for more than a year. OK it would take over 10,000 years to clear the backlog but it’s a start.

Pole Emploi, the national employment agency, has been accused of sexism by feminist groups because it hasn’t offered the same service to men. In the politically correct UK of course it would never have got off the ground in the first place unless men were offered the same treatment.

The French Prime Minister’s wife is backing the scheme and those who have been the lucky recipients say it has boosted their morale in difficult times and given them confidence when they attend interviews knowing that first impressions are important.

Others are less convinced. A union activist said it was a “get pretty and go to work philosophy” and feminist websites are saying that makeup and fashionable clothes will only be good for bosses who are predominantly male.

Updated 2 May 2011: You have to feel sorry for the French riot police, the CRS. They’ve been told they can no longer have a glass of wine with their lunch when on duty!

The police union aren’t happy about this attack on a Gallic tradition of having a 1/4 litre of red with their meals. The union is suggesting a very French compromise – having their meals and drink out of sight of the public. Other police departments are watching with more than interest as they fear the same rule will be applied to them.

French employment law prohibits alcohol in the workplace with the exception of, wine, beer, apple or pear cider (so now you know the French definition of alcohol) and police regulations forbid drinking altogether but this has always been officially ignored (and you have to admire the French for their willingness to ignore rules and regulations).

The CRS spend most of their time waiting to deal with riots and see the wine as a convivial tradition. Unfortunately last year riot police were seen drinking beer during demonstrations they were supposed to be policing.


Eat your greens to get the baby you want

Eat your greens to get the baby you want Breast might be best for boys but having a boy in the first place is a different matter.

Some experts believe you can strongly influence the sex of your baby by eating the right mix of foods. A study suggests that women who eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and rice, are more likely to have daughters.

In a study reported in the Sunday Times (2/1/11) 80% of women who took part in the experiment had baby girls after eating diets rich in calci … Read More

via EI 4u with permission


Pet names = less sex

Do you and your beloved call yourselves by pet names?

When was the last time you called your partner or spouse by their real name?

According to two Americans, Maggie Arana and Julienne Davis, using pet names all the time  means you lose your sense of individuality and signals the end of your relationship – at least as far as sex is concerned. They think people who use silly pet names all the time, or even habitually call each other darling, are sabotaging their sex lives.

Their new and soon-to-be-published in the UK book; “Stop Calling Him Honey …. and Start Having Sex! How changing your everyday habits will make you hot for each other has already caused a stir in America.

Although avowed feminists they want women to go back to having the dignity they had in the 1950s, but not to the lack of equality from that period. They have a chapter called “Close the Bathroom Door” about stopping bathroom habits. They believe men and women should be more private about passing wind or belching in front of each other or saying they are going for a “pee or a dump”.

They also want people to keep their own identity and interests so they don’t become completely subsumed by the other person.

Although Californians they don’t believe in therapy and say their book can replace it for those couples who appear to be functioning well and getting along although not for those about to divorce or who have serious physical or mental problems.