Popular stereotypes of feminists as unattractive and sexually unappealing are wrong -- in fact feminism may improve romantic relationships, a new study suggests. The findings, by Laurie Rudman and Julie Phelan of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., appear this week in the research journal Sex Roles.
Rudman and Phelan surveyed 242 American college students and 289 older adults. They examined people's perception of their own feminism and its link to relationship health, measured by a combination of overall relationship quality, agreement about gender equality, relationship stability and sexual satisfaction.
Feminism was linked to healthier heterosexual relationships for women, they found, while men with feminist partners reported more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction.
The findings provided no evidence for the notion that females who champion women's rights are likelier to be single or lesbian than others, Rudman and Phelan added. Indeed, they found that feminist women were more likely to be in a heterosexual romantic relationship than nonfeminist women.
Source. Journal abstract here.
This study is a prize example of how deeply unserious and totally unscholarly most psychological research is. It draws inferences about whole population subgoups ("feminists") from groups of respondents that are ludicrously unrepresentative of any known population. The use of an accessible group of undergraduate students is simply boring. We all know that students can usually be relied on to give the "right" answers to questionnaires. But in this case an even more unrepresentative group of respondents was also used: 289 respondents to an online questionnaire. Who answers online questionnaires? Heaven knows. That their responses will differ from the vast majority who do not answer computer surveys seems more than a little likely, however.
The plain boring old truth is that facts about a group can only be gleaned either by surveying the whole group or a representative sample of them. As there was no attempt at any kind of representative sampling on this occasaion, no inferences can be drawn from the results. In my own psychological research, I almost invariably used general population sampling but I was one of the very few who were interested enough in truth to do so.
I showed years ago that a major feminist myth was the reverse of the truth when examined on a general population sample so I have little doubt what a serious examination of the hypothesis allegedly examined above would show.
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