Now they call it research!

posted at 7:51 am on October 21, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

If you wait long enough, everything becomes fodder for academic research.  Two academics from Mercyhurst College must have made the sales pitch of all time in order to study the correlation of economic cycles with the curvature of …. Playboy Playmates of the Year.  I had no idea Academia could be so fascinating!

Past research has investigated ideals of beauty and how these ideals have changed across time. In the current study, facial and body characteristics of Playboy Playmates of the Year from 1960-2000 were identified and investigated to explore their relationships with U.S. social and economic factors. Playmate of the Year age, body feature measures, and facial feature measurements were correlated with a general measure of social and economic hard times. Consistent with Environmental Security Hypothesis predictions, when social and economic conditions were difficult, older, heavier, taller Playboy Playmates of the Year with larger waists, smaller eyes, larger waist-to-hip ratios, smaller bust-to-waist ratios, and smaller body mass index values were selected. These results suggest that environmental security may influence perceptions and preferences for women with certain body and facial features.

They even publish their data, although only a statistician would find it titillating; it’s a swivel table that one can download into a spreadsheet.  The entire exercise intends to show that men overall select women based on economic conditions, preferring sturdier types when times get bad and lighter, curvier women when they feel more secure.

This fails to take into account a couple of facts.  In modern society, women choose men as well as men choosing women, so while this may have some mild interest in terms of preferences, it probably doesn’t have much predictive value.  Secondly, while Playboy has a reader poll for their PMOY, Hugh Hefner makes the selection himself and can override the wishes of his readers.  This could be a study with a sample group of one — Hefner himself — and therefore useless entirely.

But why spoil the fun for Messrs. Pettijohn and Jungeberg?  They’ve managed to make academic research a little more exciting, at least for themselves.  Did they just research 47 years of Playboy magazines just for the data? (via Q&O)

Update: One commenter wondered how much federal money Mercyhurst receives.  According to the invaluable FedSpending.org database, Mercyhurst has received over $23 million in eight years.  Almost all of it went to student assistance, though, not to research on Playboy playmates.

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Yeah, research, that’s the ticket. I’ve been involved in this sort of research for decades. Now if only I could get a grant for it. Maybe the Annenberg Foundation has a few tens of thousands of dollars lying around.

rbj on October 21, 2008 at 7:56 AM

Good Lord! This is my alma mater :(

slapnuts on October 21, 2008 at 7:58 AM

Correlational studies define relationships but prove nothing.

Everytime I walk on the beach on a hot day my ice cream cone melts . . . therefore, walking causing ice cream to melt . . . right?

rplat on October 21, 2008 at 8:00 AM

I smell a teen movie.

Hening on October 21, 2008 at 8:00 AM

How much tax money is Mercyhurst College getting?

Darth Executor on October 21, 2008 at 8:00 AM

Had I known about this study when it was taking place I would have bought stock in tissue paper.

What…you know you were thinking it as well.

Blarg the Destroyer on October 21, 2008 at 8:01 AM

And to think I chose steel markets…. Idiot.

HerrMorgenholz on October 21, 2008 at 8:01 AM

when social and economic conditions were difficult, older, heavier, taller Playboy Playmates of the Year with larger waists, smaller eyes, larger waist-to-hip ratios, smaller bust-to-waist ratios, and smaller body mass index values were selected. These results suggest that environmental security may influence perceptions and preferences for women with certain body and facial features.

So on the day of the apocalypse Rosie O’Donnel will be smokin’ hot!

TheSitRep on October 21, 2008 at 8:06 AM

Well if this study reflects a trend then Broom Hilda should be Miss February 2009.

Limerick on October 21, 2008 at 8:06 AM

Time to hit the books!

Lehosh on October 21, 2008 at 8:07 AM

I hope they cleaned up the lab after they used it for their “study.”

Mr. Bingley on October 21, 2008 at 8:09 AM

The economy goes bad, money dries of for the Global Warming scam, and so, researchers go back to basics: Sex!

There’s always money available for sex. It’s part of my first law of business.

TheBigOldDog on October 21, 2008 at 8:12 AM

Well if this study reflects a trend then Broom Hilda should be Miss February 2009.

Limerick on October 21, 2008 at 8:06 AM

Or Hillary Clinton??

BigD on October 21, 2008 at 8:13 AM

They’re just trying to keep abreast of current trends…

JetBoy on October 21, 2008 at 8:14 AM

Did they get tenure for this??

chsw

chsw on October 21, 2008 at 8:15 AM

Bahh! Rookies! If they managed to get a grant for this, they could have gotten a grant to study live girls instead of just pictures. Boys, if you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly!

trubble on October 21, 2008 at 8:16 AM

So on the day of the apocalypse Rosie O’Donnel will be smokin’ hot!

TheSitRep on October 21, 2008 at 8:06 AM

That is indeed one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

rbj on October 21, 2008 at 8:17 AM

Correlational studies define relationships but prove nothing.

Everytime I walk on the beach on a hot day my ice cream cone melts . . . therefore, walking causing ice cream to melt . . . right?

rplat on October 21, 2008 at 8:00 AM

uh.. you’re supposed to eat the icecream before it melts. duh

whiskeytango on October 21, 2008 at 8:17 AM

The entire exercise intends to show that men women overall select women men based on economic conditions, preferring sturdier richer types when times get bad and also when they get goodlighter, curvier women when they so that they can always feel more secure.

I just wanted to do that for the fun of it.

BigD on October 21, 2008 at 8:17 AM

Can we extrapolate that women get fatter/skinnier depending on the economy?

csdeven on October 21, 2008 at 8:18 AM

Now if only I could get a grant for it. Maybe the Annenberg Foundation has a few tens of thousands of dollars lying around.

rbj on October 21, 2008 at 7:56 AM

Title your grant proposal as “Impact of Body Morphology Stereotypes on Gender Related International Conflict Resolution”, and you’ll be in Annenburg money up to your eyeballs!

gridlock2 on October 21, 2008 at 8:19 AM

Boys, if you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly!

trubble on October 21, 2008 at 8:16 AM

No, be a polar bear. You blend in with the environment better and you get to bag the occasional hippy who tries to save you.

Darth Executor on October 21, 2008 at 8:19 AM

although only a statistician would find it titillating

Ed, you sly dog.

Bishop on October 21, 2008 at 8:19 AM

Consistent with Environmental Security Hypothesis predictions, when social and economic conditions were difficult, older, heavier, taller Playboy Playmates of the Year with larger waists, smaller eyes, larger waist-to-hip ratios, smaller bust-to-waist ratios, and smaller body mass index values were selected.

This is interesting from a socionomic prospective.

Bill C on October 21, 2008 at 8:20 AM

only a statistician would find it titillating

You were dying to use that, weren’t you?

;-)

drjohn on October 21, 2008 at 8:20 AM

Can we extrapolate that women get fatter/skinnier depending on the economy?

csdeven on October 21, 2008 at 8:18 AM

Wasn’t there some study years ago that showed the length of woman’s skirts correlated with the current economic conditions?

JetBoy on October 21, 2008 at 8:21 AM

If they didn’t use electricity and weren’t wearing bras on their heads then it ain’t science!

- The Cat

MirCat on October 21, 2008 at 8:23 AM

Janet Pilgrim all the way…I like Ike!

Matt Helm on October 21, 2008 at 8:23 AM

They may be something to this. As married couples age they naturally become more solvent and wealthier than when they are married and at the same time their slim young brides of yesteryear become ………nevermind.

PS. My beautiful fit and trim wife doesn’t read the blogs so I will have a bed to sleep in tonight!

Spider79 on October 21, 2008 at 8:24 AM

Ed,

How many hours did I work to help fund this grant?

Limerick on October 21, 2008 at 8:25 AM

These results suggest that environmental security may influence perceptions and preferences for women with certain body and facial features.

Or not. The wonderful thing about academic research is that if you throw a “results suggest” in front of the most absurd ideas you can give them instant credibility.

For example, results suggest that the size of pet dogs is influenced by environmental security. The better the times, the smaller the dog. Boom years saw an increase in the miniature breeds while economic downturns brought about the rise of larger breeds- particularly the hunting group.

highhopes on October 21, 2008 at 8:27 AM

Since we are starting the day off with read meat we have plenty of stories to chew on today…

Redneck PA
Nickelodeon Poll
She-ham complaining about dirty SF politics

Welcome to Tuesday folks!

Limerick on October 21, 2008 at 8:30 AM

Almost all of it went to student assistance, though, not to research on Playboy playmates.

But subsidizing student assistance freed up money that was wasted on research lust.

jgapinoy on October 21, 2008 at 8:31 AM

My own highly scientific study has found that a full 87.3% of Playboy centerfolds are conservative.

The hairier, perhaps not as good looking women tended to be liberal. This correlates to society at large as well so I know my conclusions are well founded.

Next week I will study Maxim magazine too see if the results are similar. Everyone please send me $50 to cover the costs.

Bishop on October 21, 2008 at 8:31 AM

If they didn’t use electricity and weren’t wearing bras on their heads then it ain’t science!

- The Cat

MirCat on October 21, 2008 at 8:23 AM

It’s all well and good to wear bras on your head, right up until someone forgets to hook up the doll and you wind up with a missle in your house.

trubble on October 21, 2008 at 8:32 AM

It’s all well and good to wear bras on your head, right up until someone forgets to hook up the doll and you wind up with a missle in your house.

trubble on October 21, 2008 at 8:32 AM

Doing Bush 1 imitation: Not going to go there…wouldn’t be prudent…not at this juncture…

Matt Helm on October 21, 2008 at 8:35 AM

How much tax money is Mercyhurst College getting?

SECOND STUDY DEMANDED AT MERCYHURST—ENROLLMENT UP BY 50% Huge Hefner invited to be commencement speaker.

Rovin on October 21, 2008 at 8:37 AM

It’s all well and good to wear bras on your head, right up until someone forgets to hook up the doll and you wind up with a missle in your house.

trubble on October 21, 2008 at 8:32 AM

I’ve been 1 upped!

- The Cat

MirCat on October 21, 2008 at 8:38 AM

How much tax money is Mercyhurst College getting?

Actually, I think it was a huge endowment.

BigD on October 21, 2008 at 8:42 AM

Wasn’t there some study years ago that showed the length of woman’s skirts correlated with the current economic conditions?

JetBoy on October 21, 2008 at 8:21 AM

I’m not sure. But another thought occurred to me. How does this study explain Janet Reno and Helen Thomas?

csdeven on October 21, 2008 at 8:42 AM

Maybe better to ask Hugh Hefner how and why he decided which Playmate would be Playmate of the Year. Bet he has a story about each one…

albill on October 21, 2008 at 8:47 AM

preferring sturdier types when times get bad and lighter, curvier women when they feel more secure.

As a blogger this must be hell when the traffic drops from 800,000 on the weekdays and down to 100,000 on the weekends!!
…………….and even worse, after this election is over…….

….well….. I guess that makes a good case for “stocking up”.

So Ed, you better order your playboy magazines now…….

Mcguyver on October 21, 2008 at 8:55 AM

Actually, I think it was a huge endowment.

BigD on October 21, 2008 at 8:42 AM

Yeah, it involved “vast tracts of land.” And I’m sure it was a very…healthy…endowment.

Matt Helm on October 21, 2008 at 8:56 AM

Kinda blows the ‘I only used it for the articles’ approach.

Dr. Dog on October 21, 2008 at 9:23 AM

I think the authors could have made it a lot easier to review and inspect all the spread sheets if they had links to the centerfolds! How can we trust their data without them.

patrick neid on October 21, 2008 at 9:32 AM

I hope they cleaned up the lab after they used it for their “study.”

Mr. Bingley on October 21, 2008 at 8:09 AM

It’s my personal policy to never enter a lab with a sticky floor….

CC – BHO: “my Muslim faith”

CapedConservative on October 21, 2008 at 9:36 AM

Until the 1970s and the advent of pants suits, one of the strongest correlations with the stock market was hemlines. Really.

TREGONSEE on October 21, 2008 at 9:49 AM

preferring sturdier types when times get bad

Sorry, I haven’t seen any Playmate that would qualify as a draft animal of any worth in pulling a plow or hauling crops to market. Yes, as times get tougher we all automatically revert to our inner caveman. Ugh. Can girl churn butter? Me go to cave now. Me be in me bunk.

pistolero on October 21, 2008 at 9:59 AM

:)

Until the 1970s and the advent of pants suits, one of the strongest correlations with the stock market was hemlines. Really.

TREGONSEE on October 21, 2008 at 9:49 AM

That being the case then, I’m sure economists will soon come out with a study, funded by the bailout no less, that proves the recent stock market correction (and bottoming out), was due to, well….. women getting heavier on their bottoms.

What we should do, is first, notify Houston that we have a problem, – they being the fattest city and all.

Secondly, we should warn Helen Thomas that she better go on an Atkins diet. (this one is for you csdeven)

:)

Mcguyver on October 21, 2008 at 10:02 AM

going back to school to be a statistician.. I’m giving up on photography..

DaveC on October 21, 2008 at 10:03 AM

I dont think Ed got it right.

In hard times, Playboy leans to larger, bigger boobed women (i.e. Ed used the word curvier). In good times, Playboy leans to towards leaner less curvy chicks. Ed has it sturdier versus curvier but sturdier broads are the bigger boobed babes not the less so as Ed claims.

Ed must not be too up to speed on this important issue.

Also, how do TWO ACADEMICS dudes study 47 years of playmates. When I study playboy playmates, I need to be by myself…especially after studying them for, like, 15 minutes.

Roger Waters on October 21, 2008 at 11:02 AM

Mercyhurst has received over $23 million in eight years. Almost all of it went to student assistance…

What professors don’t use their students to work on their research? But here, there is a synergy to bring in even more money. Almost all of Pettijohn and Jungeberg’s male students bring in extra income by making frequent visits to the Mercyhurst Sperm Donor Bank.

eeyore on October 21, 2008 at 11:22 AM

What professors don’t use their students to work on their research? But here, there is a synergy to bring in even more money. Almost all of Pettijohn and Jungeberg’s male students bring in extra income by making frequent visits to the Mercyhurst Sperm Donor Bank.

eeyore on October 21, 2008 at 11:22 AM

Ewwwwwwww!

Badger40 on October 21, 2008 at 11:32 AM

So on the day of the apocalypse Rosie O’Donnel will be smokin’ hot!

TheSitRep on October 21, 2008 at 8:06 AM

Just shoot me now………..sighs

Bogeyfre on October 21, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Years and years ago I read a pretty lame novel, purportedly written by The Man from O.R.G.Y. (Obtain Research Grants for Yours truly).” I thought it was fiction…?

ss396 on October 21, 2008 at 1:51 PM