Psychology Today’s own blogs dismantle the ‘black women are not attractive’ pseudoscience

womanby tibchris

Not everyone at Psychology Today is incompetent
[Via Pharyngula]

That study claiming that black women are “objectively” unattractive seems to be finally getting its author, Satoshi Kanazawa, in big trouble. That would be entirely wrong if it were based on disliking his conclusions, but if it were based on a demonstration of Kanazawa’s incompetence, then it would be earned. And that seems to be what is happening. Interestingly, many really good criticisms of Kanazawa are coming from Psychology Today’s blogs.


I had read some initial critiques of this ‘work’ but these are pretty devastating. In particular, this one where the author went back and looked at the data itself:

Kanazawa mentions several times that his data on attractiveness are scored “objectively”. The ratings of attractiveness made by the interviewers show extremely large differences in terms of how attractive they found the interviewee. For instance the ratings collected from Waves 1 and 2 are correlated at only r = .300 (a correlation ranges from -1.0 to +1.00), suggesting that a meager 9% of the differences in second wave ratings of the same individual can be predicted on the basis of ratings made a year before. The ratings taken at Waves 3 and 4 correlated between raters even lower, at only .136– even though the interviewees had reached adulthood by then and so are not expected to change in physical development as strongly as the teenagers. Although these ratings were not taken at the same time, if ratings of attractiveness have less than 2% common variance, one is hard pressed to side with Kanazawa’s assertion that attractiveness can be rated objectively.

This means that the data do not really support Kanazawa’ conclusion as well as simple chance does. In fact the data support the conclusion that there is no difference between ethnicities regarding physical beauty.

It is pretty interesting how crappy pop psychology from a non-peeer review magazine can get spread all over the world. People’s biases to believe certain things are on sharp display then.

2 thoughts on “Psychology Today’s own blogs dismantle the ‘black women are not attractive’ pseudoscience

  1. Do you really believe that psychology is a HARD science?! I’m just a amateur and I know better than that.

    1. This ‘news’ was all over the place last week. As shown, it was not really a vetted study at all. But much of the media treated as such. While poor studies may be easier to construct in psychology than in astronomy, and while psychology may not be as hard a science as physics, it can nonetheless be amenable to scientific study.

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