Say Cheesy.

Say Cheesy.

This post is one that has been restored after the hacking. All original comments were lost.

Far be it for Yours Truly to disagree with a peer-reviewed study. It must be, Science says, that the gentleman above, all in the habit of playing with selfies (and here, here, here; oh, look the rest up by yourself) are loaded with psychopathic and narcissistic tendencies.

Hey. This isn’t me speaking, I emphasize, it’s Science. Peer-reviewed Science. As found in the paper “The Dark Triad and trait self-objectification as predictors of men’s use and self-presentation behaviors on social networking sites” from the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Volume 76, 2015, pp. 161–165) by Jesse Fox and Margaret C. Rooney, from the School of Communication, Ohio State.

Fox, incidentally, is also author of “The dark side of social networking sites: An exploration of the relational and psychological stressors associated with Facebook use and affordances” in Computers in Human Behavior (Volume 45, April 2015, Pages 168-176). Also “Sexism in online video games: The role of conformity to masculine norms and social dominance orientation” in that same journal (Volume 33, April 2014, Pages 314-320). And several others in the same vein.

Here’s what the ladies did. The went on line and found some 800 men, aged 18-40, and asked them to fill out questionnaires. On a scale of -1.3 to 87, what is your feeling (don’t think) about the validity of conducting science by asking ad hoc questions? Skip it.

What were the questions? The Dark Triadduh dun dunnnn—, Self-Objectification Questionnaire, which asks men “to rank various body traits from most to least important”, and time spent fiddling around on the Internet, especially in posting selfies. The Dark Triad—duh dun dunnnn—asks questions and expects honest numerically valid answers to items like “I tend to want others to pay attention to me”, “I tend to not be too concerned with morality or the morality of my actions”, “I tend to manipulate others to get my way”. That apply to the gentlemen above?

Now the wee p-values—which, I’m guessing, are probably not the trait rated most important by the men. Skip it. Anyway, would you believe it, but the correlation between the Dark Triad’s—duh dun dunnnn—Machiavellianism score and the Trait Self-objectification score was 0.68. Think on it.

Or, rather, don’t.

What statistics-happy researchers do is this (and this topic I’ll greatly expand upon soon). They first ask questions and claim those questions unambiguously and without error measure something, say Psychoticism, and then they ask other questions and claim those unambiguously and without error measure something else, like self-objectification. They then run all manner of statistics to claim that either Psychoticism predicts or explains or causes self-objectification or vicey versey.

This association, “proved” by wee p-values, is never strong, but this weakness is immediately forgotten. Then out comes Theory which says how and why Psychotics self-objectify more than l’homme moyen, or maybe it’s how those who self-objectify might turn out to be psychotic. Everybody forgets it starts with one question in one “scale” or “instrument” being similar (or even the same) to another question in another scale.

And entirely lost is that the whole thing relies on questions with arbitrary numerical scores. As if emotions can be summarized that way.

Well, in a regression model (and, typically, the authors do not understand regression: see this and this) the parameter associated with time claimed spent playing with selfies and the questions in the Dark Triad—duh dun dunnnn—said to represent Narcissism and Psychopathy were sort of wee. Exciting, no?

To describe the procedure and results took just over one page of journal paper. And, as I promised above, just as much space was devoted to Theory and Speculation (under the section called Discussion).

The authors said things like “Those higher in narcissism and psychopathy reported posting selfies more frequently”, which is false. Some who scored high on the Dark Triad—duh dun dunnnn—for these things said they also posted many selfies. But some who did not score high also said they posted many selfies. See what I mean about uncertainty being forgotten?

Theory? “The hyperpersonal model (Walther, 1996) suggests that such online deception, a form of selective self-presentation, may lead to misperceptions by potential mates. If the interaction continues offline, the receiver may feel disappointed or deceived by this manipulation.”

Skip it. Skip the whole thing. Whole journals, whole fields, produce nothing but this kind of stuff. All made possible by Statistics.

You’re welcome.