January 6, 2005

"A high IQ is a hindrance for women."

Here's a report on a study that supposedly shows that "a high IQ is a hindrance for women wanting to get married":
The study found the likelihood of marriage increased by 35 percent for boys for each 16-point increase in IQ.

But for girls, there is a 40-percent drop for each 16-point rise, according to the survey by the universities of Aberdeen, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The study is based on the IQs of 900 men and women between their 10th and 40th birthdays.

The professors theorize that high IQ types work hard at demanding careers and this causes the women to find the men around them "not interesting enough," while the men are going to want "an old-fashioned wife [who] looks after the home, a copy of his mum in a way."

This assumes that the old fashioned, mum-style woman won't have a high IQ, and that smart men prefer to be looked after while smart women want an intellectually stimulating partner. But I'm not going to quibble with those assumptions. I'm going to quibble with the larger assumption that the desire to marry is the same for men and women and at all levels of intelligence. The preference for marriage results from many factors. It may well be that some or all of these things are true: 1. women have less to gain from marriage once they are able to provide for themselves economically, 2. women with a higher IQ are more likely to be able to support themselves well, 3. more intelligent persons are better able to form preferences by analyzing real world factors and less likely to adopt established conventions, and 4. not marrying is the more rational choice for an intelligent woman. If some or all of these things are at least partially true, a high IQ in women might be a hindrance for the institution of marriage, but not for the woman herself.

I realize I may be misinterpreting the British use of the word "hindrance," and maybe the headline doesn't mean, as I interpreted it, that if you're a woman and you want to get married, a high IQ is going to make it more difficult for you to achieve your goal. Maybe it only means, if you are a woman, the higher your IQ is, the less likely you are to get married. If the study only means to say that, then I don't mean to criticize anyone for bad logic, only to say that we still don't know whether a high IQ makes a woman less able to attract men when she wants to do so or whether a high IQ makes a woman see marriage as a less desirable way of life. A safe guess is that it's some combination of the two.

But let me add an incendiary postscript. To generalize roughly: women want their partners to be at least as smart as they are, but men prefer to have something of an edge on the woman. A very smart man -- someone whose name you would recognize -- once told me that in looking for a wife, he made a list of qualifications, one of which was that she be "almost as smart" as he is. Now, maybe he only meant that he knew he was so incredibly smart that the most he could hope for was someone "almost as smart," but I think he meant that he wanted smart, but he didn't want to be outmatched. He wanted to feel dominant. If this pattern of preference is followed by most people, the men at the bottom and the women at the top will have the hardest time finding partners. Too bad! One more reason to favor the equality of the sexes: more people will find mates. If the theorizing in the previous paragraphs is true, however, maybe the smartest women will embrace the unmarried state happily. In that case, the ones who are hurt the most are the least intelligent men, whose true equals have been snatched away by dominance-seeking men who have outwitted them.

6 comments:

Proma said...

Great article - loved reading it. Yeah, I'm suffering from the at-least-as-smart-as-me syndrome and don't seem to see it ending soon !

womanhereintheworld said...

yes, i'm a woman with an iq of 143 and i like to be with a man who's around as or at least as smart as me in some way or another. he could be enterprising, or gifted in his work, but i need to know he can generally get what i'm saying when i talk and has the same flexibility of mind movement. that limits the field to some degree (i know it sounds snobby-but if you're face to face on a day to day--it's nice to be understood) plus some very bright men are excessively proud and very very bright people often have a hard time fitting into life normally.

Robert Anthony Pierce II said...

Brilliant! I'm still looking for a woman who is at least nearly as intelligent as I am. I had considered most of the points in your post, but stupidly never thought to question how I'd feel about a lady whose intelligence surpasses mine. Time for some self-analysis.

Phoenix said...

Fantastic article. It very well presents the different views on the null hypothesis and alternate hypothesis. however it does not provide the statistical analysis and research for the same. I would be more than happy to read the same. Can anybody provide the document or link of the same?

Melanie said...

Certainly marriage was originally a matter of survival with women seeking physical or financial provisions through men and men seeking family or domestic provisions through women. But these days, women earners are a socially accepted norm and many women are interested in fulfilling this more esteemed role, but the same cannot be said the other way around. Men who provide domestically are not as socially accepted, nor do most men "aspire" to fulfill this traditionally less-esteemed role. Thus, women earners may hire household helpers rather than look to male partners to fill the role while male earners are still looking to fill the domestic role by way of marriage. This is because wives, like mothers, are still looked at as cheap (unpaid) household servants. Women earners are definitely more free to marry for intellectual and physical compatibility - things not afforded to them as mere domestic servants.

Eugene said...

So it turns out that a smart woman will never get married, while a smart guy, can change his wives as sockets.