Saturday, December 4, 2010

Of a certain age

A 1958 Gallup poll asked  "at what age . . . a woman reaches the peak of her beauty."  Answers ranged from 15 to 75, with an average of 29.9.  Yes, but there was a big difference between the opinions of men and women, right?  Not really--women gave an average answer of 30.1 and men gave an average of 29.6.  The difference is not statistically significant. 

It also asked "at what age does a person reach the peak of his mental ability"?  Answers ranged from one to 83, with a mean of 39.4.  Here, there was a difference between men and women--women gave an average of 37.8, and men an average of 41.1. When I was younger I might have been able to think of a plausible explanation for this difference, but now I'm coming up blank.

There were a few other questions about ages:  when middle age begins (average of 43.9 years), when old age begins (65.3), when an unmarried man should be described as a bachelor (33.8), and when an unmarried woman should be described as a spinster (32.4).  For all of them, women chose a slightly (but significantly) higher average. 

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