Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hypergamy in Multiple Dimensions: More on the Marriage Marketplace

To continue from the previous post, let us next look at three less dysfunctional cases.  It turns out that women aren't just hypergamous in one dimension (status as perceived by the set of women as a whole), they're hypergamous in multiple dimensions.  I'll illustrate with three cases.  We'll start with the easiest one.

Woman A (names changed to protect the guilty) is a woman at around the 80-90th percentile of attractiveness as judged by the median man (very close to her ideal weight with good skin and hair and a coloration combination that is appealing).  She's about 1 sigma from the mean in terms of intelligence and only ever so slightly above the mean in terms of economic/career prospects.  She has roughly average capability in terms of homemaking skills and slightly above average artistic capability.

Obviously she's looking for a man who is 80th-90th percentile status, but also she's likely to insist that he be at least as smart as her, preferably somewhat (half a sigma to one and a half sigmas) smarter than her, since being a member of the Second Sigma, her intellect is a substantive part of her identity.  In addition, she'll want him to have better economic prospects than she has.  How difficult did her multi-dimensional hypergamy make it for her to find a suitable husband?  Not very difficult at all, as it turned out, she was the first of my wife's friends to marry by a large margin.  Her ordinary social circle was perfectly sufficient to the task, because her extra dimensions didn't heavily constrain her choices.  Probably 1 in every 10-20 men would have been suitable matches.  Her high non-neurotypical tolerance and enjoyment of dressing in costume only made it easier.

Now let's turn to Woman B, a somewhat harder case.  She is also a woman in the 80th-90th percentile of attractiveness for similar reasons as Woman A.  Also similarly, she's right around 1 sigma from the mean in terms of intelligence.  She's right at the mean in terms of economic and career prospects, but she's also very non-materialistic in outlook, having spent quite a few years as a missionary in Eastern Europe.  Her artistic and musical skills are excellent, probably at the 2nd sigma, and her homemaking skills are also top notch---she's probably the prepper/survivalist's ideal wife.

 So what is she demanding, besides the obligatory 80th-90th percentile in status?  Again, she's wanting a man who is smarter than she is, but she's less vested in that as part of her identity than woman A.  She's wanting a man who is more accomplished musically and artistically than her, because that is a significant part of her identity.  Lastly, she wants a man who can at least vaguely compete on holiness/religious status with her---at least a member of a church band or choir or worship leader or the like.  How hard was it for her?  Moderately hard, probably 1 in every 50-100 men would have been suitable.  As it was, some matchmaking by her religious allies was required, but nothing that would have been unusual, back in say, the 1950s in the US.  The cutting planes of her additional requirements didn't create any weird and hard to fit geometry for the set of men available to a woman of her qualities.  Her marriage came later than woman A.

Now let's turn to woman C, the hard case.  She's in the 80th-90th percentile of attractiveness for similar reasons as Woman A---amazing how tightly correlated these things often are, although the particular coloration combinations are different for all three women, one having a dark-haired, fair skinned 'Snow White' look,, another having an archetypal redheaded girl appearance, and the last having the Nordic blond hair and blue eyes.  She's the smartest of the three by a fair margin, being between 2 and 3 sigmas from the mean, a fair bit smarter than the denizens of the Second Sigma.  In terms of economic and career prospects, she's up between the 90th and 95th percentile, with excellent financial discipline.  Her artistic and musical skills are good, probably 1 sigma in voice and 2-3 sigmas in various crafts and photography and her homemaking skills are above average, although not in the same class as Woman B's.

Her requirements are pretty difficult, cutting a very small footprint indeed in the set of men from the 80th to 90th percentile in status.  He needs to be at least as smart as she is, and preferably smarter, so she's asking for 3rd-4th sigma in just that one attribute alone.  Complicating this is the fact that a very large fraction of men that smart are non-neurotypical, which puts a significant hit on their status, especially if they don't have a decent emulation capability.  There's also the expectation that he be more accomplished economically than her, since few women want to be the primary breadwinner in their family.  In this case, her nominally positive qualities actually made it a lot harder for her to find a suitable husband----maybe one in 1000-2000 would have fit the bill.  Ordinary matchmaking by her religious allies was not up to the task, such a woman in the 1950s might well have been mysteriously left on the shelf.  Fortunately for woman C, the internet provided a significant improvement to the efficiency of the marriage marketplace, so she was still able to marry prior to the age of 30 to a man inside the envelope multidimensional hypergamy dictated.

Interestingly, all three women wound up with husbands at least a couple of inches north of six feet tall.  Woman A and woman C's husbands are both non-neurotypical, with near flawless and good emulation capabilities respectively.  Only Woman C was more or less locked into a non-neurotypical man as a choice (because a neurotypical man with the other attributes she was demanding would be out of her price range--i.e. higher than 90th percentile status--otherwise).  All three also selected a man with at least one higher degree level or certification in education than their own.

What's the take away here?  If the box your requirements create is small or of an odd shape, you're going to need more selection and sorting firepower than even an extraordinary social circle matchmaker can provide for you.  And if you're a woman with otherwise sterling qualities that are valued less in the marriage marketplace, the converse is true---you need an area with a grossly inefficient marriage marketplace where a man might have to choose, for instance, between a woman of 50th percentile attractiveness and superb other attributes and a 70th percentile woman with poor attributes.  I suggest Alaska.  In more normal markets you're invisible to him and he'll be trying to find the woman around the 70th percentile that has the best mutual fit with him.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, are you using "neurotypical" in the typical way to mean non-autistic/Aspergers? Something in the way you use the term makes me think you have a broader definition.

Jehu said...

I'm using neurotypical to describe people who think like 95% of the population. Obviously Aspies aren't neurotypical, but lots of people who fit the geek category aren't actually Aspies either. I associate neurotypicals with several things in practice, but I agree it's a continuous thing rather than a binary one:
They feel a loss approximately 2x as much as an equal gain (risk aversion)
They feel positively towards someone who they do favors FOR, not those that do them favors
They are the fat part of the curve against which marketing/sales technology is developed to target

Anonymous said...

You've got some hot friends.

Jehu said...

Back in say, the 60s or the 70s, all three would be in the 60-70th percentile range. All three fit inside the 5'2-5'4 envelope at around 115-125 pounds. Back in the 50s, that was average.
I do agree that all 3 make good wives though.

Anonymous said...

Here's a question for you, what's my market for mates as a man? Also, what action would most improve my market?

29 Year Old Male
Bench Press ~120lb
Weight room 5 days a week + frequent sports
(see health info for more on physical description)
Living in a large east coast city (not DC/NYC)

1410/1600 SAT for a rough IQ approximation
30th-40th US NEWS ranking college degree
100,000 net worth
76k/year job income with good benefits in a very low stress low hours job I enjoy (I'm a mathematically focused policy wonk working on HC reform)
I believe I will make at least 100k a year (current dollars) by 35.

Career and experience also very varied. Have done stints in politics, investment banking, and some other fields. Was even a professional poker player for awhile. Very well read and traveled.

Good charisma and conversational skills frequentely commented, but natural introvert and nuero-atypical. Also frequentely described as mature, interesting, etc.

Can stand humble feminine dumb girls but not modern american women dumb girls. Like smart girls.

Come from a working class family, though no dysfunction. Medical issues though. Previous GFs describe parents in glowing terms.

Moderately serious health problems. Medicine keeps it in control and I live a normal life (including sports, active outdoors life), but I have:
Mild Type I Diabetes
Deformed Ribs(this is why I'm so scrawny in the upper body)
Blood Issues
Weak Immune System

Sexually its hard to get people to sleep with me, but I've gotten very high marks from those that do. I have extremely high sexual stamina and strongly take the lead. I've talked girls into lots of freaky sex once I've bedded them once.

Last two GFs:

1) Federal Agent that traveled around the world busting criminals. Good body & boobs and below average face. Turned out she had bi-polar disorder. Broke up after six months because she was crazy. One year older then me at time.

2) Triple masters degrees from Harvard. Not very attractive at all. Didn't seem crazy but did have crazy family history that worried me. Great personality (well, except what I'm about to write). Was apparentely in a relationship already and cheated with me for six weeks before breaking it off (only found out at the end).

I do not have a very wide social circle, I moved here for a job.

Jehu said...

Your last 2 Girlfriends contributes the most information honestly. Guys get rated on something really nebulous---status. The way to measure a man's status is to examine the attractiveness of the women that are interested in him/consider him in their league. By the sound of the two women, it looks like they're evaluating you at around the 60th or so percentile on status. I base this on the fact that these two sound like they're from the bottom half of the top 50% of women in the US.

So in your present condition, you can probably comfortably attract women who are fairly pretty but for 20-25 pounds or so, or women who are plain but at their proper weight. You seem to have a knack for getting the unstable ones though. My immediate suggestion is to try Eharmony if you're at least moderately religious. The men-women ratio there is pretty good (I got issued quite a few more matches than did my wife, for instance, and all of the matches were at least vaguely plausible. There are a lot of women who are less dysfunctional than those two available there at the 60th percentile or so---nurses, teachers, biologists, chemists, the like. I gave one a second date while I was doing my own wife search some years back who probably would've been a decent match for you who was a biologist who fit the somewhat overweight (20 pounds or so) but otherwise fairly attractive--sad I suppose that that gets you to the 60th percentile these days in the US). Interview lots of girls from there, it'll give you a much better understanding of what your market position actually is.

As to what you can do to improve your position, I gather you're doing all you can with the hand you're dealt on fitness. I'd suggest working on your emulation of the neurotypical, upgrading to a good emulation from a fair one is probably worth at least 10 percentile points in your position. I've got some posts that might be helpful to you in that vein. Roissy and Vox can probably give you some direction there as well.

Anonymous said...


I guess that's about where I thought. My greatest difficulty is finding girls young enough to be marraige prospects, intelligent enough I enjoy being with them, and not crazy. It seems I can only choose two of those three so far.

Young and smart but crazy (who I end up with, also in low supply).

Smart and normal but too old (who are all over me, but past marraige age from my POV).

Or young and normal but dumb and boring (this is the most common demographic in the city. I'm trying to learn to appreciate these women and get my intellectual rocks off elsewhere).

Jehu said...

The larger the marketplace you're drawing from, the fewer of those sorts of tradeoffs you're going to have to make. Young and smart and not crazy isn't any more 'expensive' than young and smart and crazy. I suggest Eharmony in your position. Interview lots of girls. In fact I advise you to adopt exactly that frame (it helped in my case that I'd just run a hiring task force at work when I decided that obtaining a suitable wife was a yearly objective). You're feeding them, but they're the ones who have to prove themselves to you, just like in a job interview.

CLAR said...

i hadn't thought of the hypergamy in alternate areas besides status and intelligence, good read.

jehu, i am interested- what types of categories do you think have this hypergamous impulse for most women? obviously the ones you mentioned in the post, but not all aspects are important in this way. for instance, i have always downplayed my cooking abilities to women i date because i would rather see if they have this skill and enjoy it. i have never felt any penalty for this, as most are happy to show this off if they have it. ditto with most other traditionally feminine things.

do you think the traditionally male spheres- physical strength/aggression (when appropriate), intelligence, humor, and social dominance are the most important here?

Jehu said...

I think the most common for women are economics/career and intelligence---i.e. they are prone to insist on a man having at least parity in those areas, preferably superiority in addition to having the requisite aggregate social status. But in practice, it can be on nearly any attribute that she's invested a lot of her identity into---its just that present Western society encourages women to invest heavily in terms of her identity on the two areas I've described. This can result in fairly difficult matchmaking for women who are actually pretty attractive if their secondary requirements are too high for men of the status range that they're suited to attract.

Most other things just get boiled into the social status/social dominance metric that women go for. Physical strength is useful, as is height, for boosting your status as women perceive it. My rough rule of thumb is that it is very useful to be able to easily lift, carry, or toss any woman light enough to be attractive to you. But if you've got to have just one thing, it's the social dominance. Women aren't adapted well to a society where extreme sanctions are NOT employed against those who 'presume too much'.