Mofo and Other Mysteries

October 26th, 2009 by Christian Rudder

Because we run a huge dating site—OkCupid, which is free—and we studied math together, Chris and I like to sit in a circle (a line, really) and look at your data. Normally the data is pertinent and leads to revealing studies of human interaction, like our last post about how race plays a big role in online dating. But this week, just for fun, and to take a break from heavy subjects, we’re going to look at some of the more offbeat numbers we’ve come across—the statistical outtakes, if you will.

All of the following are user-submitted questions from our database. We’ll start with this one:

First of all, it’s nice to see that there are still some users hanging on to “blackguard” as a term of friendly disparagement. Also, we thought it was interesting that gay men lag behind their bi and straight brothers here. I’m sure many of you are already thinking “fafo” to yourselves, so I won’t even make the joke.

We were surprised on a couple fronts here. One, we had no idea that this many straight women were interested in sex with a strap-on. Duly noted, duly feared, ladies. Two, nearly one in seven straight men answered “yes” to this, and even for OkCupid’s sexually adventurous user base, that’s a pretty wild number. My best guess is that since the question doesn’t specify either way, some bros assumed it was asking about strap-on pizzas.

Next we have this incredible table:

Yes, 2 in 5 people (and nearly half of all men!) think they are one in a thousand. You do the math: that’s 100% melted.

Here’s how the U.S. breaks out by state, in one of our color-coded maps. Green means more people than average in a state think they’re geniuses; red means fewer. That bastion of American scholarship, Mississippi, came in green, of course. And apparently almost half of Nevadans are geniuses, which is at once laughable and slightly credible, seeing as how it must take a certain amount of brains to create a hell-on-earth. On the other hand, huzzah to West Virginians for their relative humility.

Finally, we ran a query on suicide for an upcoming article comparing people from Canada to other marginalized Americans. The topic’s certainly less frivolous than the rest of this week’s post—and the Canada/U.S. comparison didn’t turn out to be very interesting—but we felt like we had to publish what we found:

It’s pretty dramatic data. Here’s one way to look at it:

and another:

. . .

Thanks again for reading, everyone. If you’re curious about the dating site we run, or would like to prostrate yourself before a vast pool of online geniuses, check out OkCupid. It’s free and awesome.

Also, we’ve been submitted to the Mashable Open Web Awards, in the Best Corporate Blog category. If you have the inclination to vote for us, you can do so here.

109 Responses to “Mofo and Other Mysteries”

  1. David Fisher says:

    Wonder who is going to be needlessly offended by numbers this time?

  2. Recoil says:

    “We were surprised on a couple fronts here. One, we had no idea that this many straight women were interested in sex with a strap-on. Duly noted, duly feared, ladies. Two, nearly one in seven straight men answered “yes” to this, and even for OkCupid’s sexually adventurous user base, that’s a pretty wild number. ”

    Some possible built-in bias here, and in the other questions. Since the questions allow you to skip, it’s very possible that at least in part, the people answering the question are simply more likely to be interested in the topic — people less likely to be sexually adventurous are also less likely to answer the question altogether, as they’re not comfortable with even discussing the topic at all, or might not even know what a strap-on is (necessitating a skip).

    Of course, it’s always possible that the statistics even go the other way — guys are less likely to answer “yes” to the question, just as they’re less likely to admit a bi/gay sexuality due to societal pressure.

    This also applies to the other questions, of course.

    Unfotunately, it’s pretty much impossible to know/tell how much either of these actually affects the results either way, but it’s something to keep in mind.

  3. Kenpar says:

    First off: Strap on pizza? I laughed so fucking hard. That was really funny.

    But, honestly I thought this blog was going to be about the way height and other factors affect whether you get replied to or not. I guess not. But this test was still okay, haha.

  4. cee says:

    I dispute your sarcasm about Mississippi.

    Anyone there with the aptitude to even get on the internet must be so unfathomably above their peers they can be excused for thinking their intelligence is something special.

  5. John I says:

    I’m interested in the fact that bi-women seem to be the most suicide prone, or at least self identify as such. In my experience, bi women seem to be quite well adjusted and content. Odd.

    I’m also interested in the breakdown of responders to the suicide question: my rough calculation shows 22% were bi-women. I have found a much higher rate than that in my matches, and I wonder what the overall okc membership rate is. I also wonder if there’s something about my personality that attracts bi-women.

    I’d love to see a grid of responses by gender orientation, like the one y’all did for race.

  6. Cynical_nerd says:

    Semantics! Semantics! Semantics!

    What is a genius? It could be argued (and has been argued) that a top quality mechanic is a genius _regardless of IQ._ Check out the 7 intelligences. Now, I don’t buy all of them but it’s something to think about.

    It’s unfortunate that so many people think they are smart. Wouldn’t it make everyone’s life easier if they knew?

  7. Meghan says:

    Further proof that incompetent people really do not have any clue that they’re incompetent! SFGate had a fascinating study that suggested this a few months ago. Ah, linkage: http://bit.ly/KCj91

  8. Erik says:

    I think it’s pretty crazy how much more gays have considered suicide then straights.

  9. Philos says:

    The strap on part doesn’t really surprise me. “pegging” as they call it has gained quite a bit of popularity ever since that one canadian film “young people fucking” (which shockingly, isn’t porn) came out.

    i guess it technically isn’t “gay”, and some men are trying things out for sexual experience.

    However, the one statistic that i’m surprised you don’t have highlighted as “odd/shocking” is the 46% of gay men wanting their partner to peg them. i mean seriously? asking a guy to equip a strap on in any way shape or form is a little insulting if you ask me, unless their partners are real size queens. (i believe that term stays the same from a homosexual’s point of view.)

    Also, those damn smug mississippians…i swear to god…

  10. chumeia says:

    Some good data, but I do think that 2500 surveyed for Canada is still a small sample to properly compare the nations. Despite this difference there was still reasonably clear trends. That being said, I could have used information like this when I was taking psychology credit for my associates. Now however, its just data.

    People that think their geniuses. I firmly believe most people think they are, and would at the drop of a dime criticize any one else for thinking they were to. I believe that to be at the very least a culturally accepted norm. However I would justify any ones belief, if where they live they are the problem solver, that they are able to resolve issues and obstacles comparatively fast enough to be noticed. It’s all relative to location and sample group.

    Personally, I don’t remember how I answered the Genius question. I can tell you that for me it would be based on my emotional state. If I have had a particular good streak and my heads a bit swollen, then I might have said yes. But if I’d been getting bounced around, even getting my but kicked in a video game… then I’d have said no.

  11. Jythexinvok says:

    I am actually surprised that strait males had lower numbers then gay males when it came to strap ons.

    Pegging is a classic hetrosexual fetish. I would have thought that since gay males already have the necessary equipment it would be of less interest (similar to strait females).

  12. Roger says:

    You should ask if “have considered suicide” correlates with “like to buy at hot topic” and “listen to GIRUGAMESH”.

  13. wimsey70 says:

    I agree with cee about Mississippi. When I read that, I thought “That’s just because the OKC users in MS are probably a lot smarter than the average Mississippian.” :)

    What I find interesting about the last set of data is how much higher the percentage was for bisexual people vs. gay. Perhaps because there’s an obvious “gay culture” in most areas, to which gay people feel they can belong, whereas bisexuals feel really marginalized, not belonging to either straight or gay culture. This would be especially true of bisexual women, who tend to be treated more poorly by lesbians than bisexual men are by gay men.

  14. travelgirl82 says:

    At the risk of getting a LOT of creepy messages, I’ll just say that strap-ons are appealing even to us raging heterosexuals. Women do have more than one hole down there.

  15. Hmm says:

    “I’m interested in the fact that bi-women seem to be the most suicide prone, or at least self identify as such. In my experience, bi women seem to be quite well adjusted and content. Odd.”

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the “bi until graduation” thing. Straight girls with low self-esteem calling themselves “bi” for attention when they don’t internally identify that way? The actual numbers show an interesting picture:

    Men:
    Bi: 3.8%
    Gay: 5.0%
    Straight: 91.2%

    Women:
    Bi: 21.6%
    Gay: 4.9%
    Straight: 73.5%

    (And travelgirl82, can I have your number?)

  16. Faggot says:

    Everyone knows that there’s no such thing as bi men. They’re all just gay and are at odds with their superegos. DUH

  17. activepassion says:

    One reason gays may have considered suicide so often could be its so difficult to find a match. If you know exactly what your looking for its that much more difficult to find it. I would expect its even more exasperating/traumatizing in the gay community. I see many who are horrible for each other. Yet often need SOMEONE. Such as the over 50 crowd before internet.

    Also on the geniuses factor. In under educated communities which may be lacking vocabulary, given two choices of genius or not. They may feel so not a part of the general idiots around them. Given the choice between genius and everyone else. They most likely will say genius.

    Come on down and see what I mean ;)

  18. Tater says:

    The far more alarming fact is that 41% of gay men want to be fucked with a strap-on. Do you think they’re aware who wears strap-ons? And that they don’t need a piece of plastic to get fucked?

  19. yg says:

    This is the link to promote this blog in the mashable awards. http://mashable.com/owa/votes?v=http%3A//blog.okcupid.com/&c=15

  20. Catbus says:

    I’m intrigued by the disparity in geniushood between North Dakota and South Dakota.

    It’s probably statistical noise created by there being only 45 users from each state.

  21. Notso Shocking says:

    Sadly, there are not that many men out there with really big penises. For all the PC talk about how “size doesn’t matter” – for most women it does! So are you really surprised that 40% of straight women would like a strap-on supplement from time to time?

  22. Josh says:

    Chumeia’s grammatical errors disappoint me. He sounds like a relatively intelligent person, however he can’t seem to find the right form of their/they’re/there, among other things. Maybe OKC should do a study on people’s general knowledge of grammar. I most likely, however, would not be surprised by the results.

  23. Oberst Enzian says:

    I thought the “Are you a genius” question asked if we were geniuses based on our IQ scores, but apparently a good deal of people took the Kanye route. Granted, most people haven’t taken an IQ test, but the OKC one is rather close (within a few points, for me). Is it possible to find out what percentage of self-proclaimed geniuses actually have an OKC IQ test score to back up their assertion?

  24. Antithestasia says:

    @Erik: Regarding gays being more suicide prone than straights: When was the last time you set foot on a high school campus? I remember being called a lezzie as far back as middle school, and this was years before I even knew I liked girls. I was tough, so I was a gross lesbian, someone to be feared and made fun of. It f*cking sucked, and then when I came out, everyone acted like I was going to RAPE THEIR FACE if they were a girl. It was so insulting and alienating, and of course this was all happening during moody puberty, where we’re all more likely to off ourselves anyways. Now, imagine being a guy and having to go through that; it sucks if you’re a girl, but guys get told from day one to be tough and not “faggots.” Now imagine you grow up bisexual. You’re tormented for years for being “queer” and a “fag.” You grow up, find a gay community near you, and are accepted, until they find out that you like girls, too, and now you’re alienated from them as well. I always knew that lesbians were horrible to bi girls [as a bi girl myself], but it turns out gay men are just as bad. To be frank, our youth culture is so bad I am surprised to see the number of suicidal queer folks isn’t higher.

  25. ZenosAchilles says:

    I agree with Philos, most of the strap-on question results were as expected, but the response from gay men is really surprising. Though in light of some articles I’ve read (http://bit.ly/31tMdQ), it does make some sense.

    Also, I would be really interested in seeing some visualizations of likelihood of reply based on time since original or most recent message. Maybe compared along the usual lines of sender/recipient sex and orientation. I assume that it would look like a gamma distribution, but I would really like to see the results.

  26. agentq271 says:

    I find it interesting but also paradoxical that your data suggests that straight men are less suicide prone than others when in fact the vast majority of successful suicides are straight men killing themselves. Men in general are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women at least in the USA, and I doubt very much that most of these are gay men.

  27. doomfrog says:

    agent, there are way more straight men than gay or bi men, so that’s where your discrepancy comes in. and this question asks ‘attempt’ rather than ‘commit’. because if you have committed suicide, you are not answering this question.

  28. yovargas says:

    “Men in general are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women at least in the USA, and I doubt very much that most of these are gay men.”

    That’s only because, obviously, there are more straight men in general. The suicide *rate* amongst gay men can be much higher than that of straight men but still have more straight men suicides overall.

  29. Unblinking says:

    Caution, AgentQ! The question was, “Have you ever considered suicide?” Let’s not equate ideation with being “suicide prone.” We can construct a theory about this to offend nearly any cohort (and I will now offend randomly to make the point ;-) Perhaps straight men are better at getting things done, rather than considering them? Perhaps straight men are less likely to answer suicide questions honestly? Perhaps gay men like to think about self-harm? Perhaps gays think claiming suicidal thoughts gives them more “street cred” in the out community. If “thinking about death” and “implementing death” were interchangeable (and thus unpunishable) for a single day, I’d predict fully a million homicides — but I might not expect the suicide rate to change…

  30. AT says:

    I wonder if it has occurred to anyone why we genuises flock to Nevada. How many times have you all heard me talk about how it’s the last true Mecca? It is. I’d try to explain why, but it would just go over all your heads.

  31. batpudding says:

    agentq271, I think there’s some mixing of facts there. I believe men are almost 5 times as likely to actually die from suicide, but women are 3 times as likely to attempt it. That means men are 15 times as effective, but far fewer men try.

    I’m not surprised at all that straight men are less likely to contemplate it. In fact, I’m surprised it’s actually that high. If it’s related to stress and being typical is less stressful, that is.

  32. cherrymandy84 says:

    “Men in general are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women at least in the USA”

    Isn’t the statistic that men are more successful at committing suicide, but women attempt suicide more than men? Men usually take more drastic measures like shooting himself or jumping off a tall building whereas women try cutting their wrists or taking pills- which isn’t quite as surefire a way to kill oneself. So perhaps women think about it more, but are unsuccessful. Whereas men think about it less, but when they do, they follow through with it more.

  33. stealingtruth says:

    A note about the suicide question:

    The keyword is “considered”. I am a bisexual female, and I would answer “yes” to this question, despite the fact that I am extremely happy with my life and content in my sexual identity.

    Having considered suicide is NOT the same thing as being suicide-prone. If you were to ask me if I am “suicide-prone” I would emphatically answer in the negative.

    I think anyone with a philosophical bent (and many bisexuals I know are philosophically bent) at some point in their ruminations on the meaning of everything will have considered suicide.

    Also, I knew by grade 6 or 7 that I was attracted to both men and women, but did not know that it was even possible for someone to be bi-sexual until college. True story.

    I was so confused all through middle school and high school because I couldn’t figure out if I was straight or a lesbian. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I would be attracted to a new person that did not jive with my sexual identity.

    I literally didn’t know bisexuality existed. And I’m not an idiot. I knew gay people and straight people (obviously, they’re everywhere except Burning Man), but I had never even heard of someone who was both.

    And in case you were curious, my answers to the above questions would be: Yes, Yes, and Yes.

    Additionally, South Dakotans are so damn smug that they aren’t North Dakotans, of course they all think they’re genii.

  34. Kristina says:

    I forgot to justify why I assert that a large fraction of ‘geniuses’ end up on OK cupid!

    Here goes:
    ‘geniuses’ are likely to be computer users.
    Needless to say that anyone who self-identifies as ‘genius’ is likely to be full of themselves and difficult to get along with in person.
    A large fraction of people like that are going to be lonely, and may look to the internet for help with that!

  35. The Ghost of Saddam Hussein says:

    Infidels, there is not a genius among you! It was very clever of you to appoint W. Who knew he would still be holding a grudge after all those years. Hey, a question for your members; do you like me with a beard or without? also, do you prefer me dead or alive?

  36. Humourous_Interpretation says:

    When I came across the “Are you a genius?” question, I was so amused by it that I almost answered “Yes” — in a humorous way. I often say “You’re a genius!” to express my approval or admiration in regard to what somebody has just said or did. I also have two friends who joke about them being geniuses whenever they are feeling excited or ecstatic about an idea they have come up with (e. g., a solution to a problem, an answer to a puzzle/ a riddle). In line with my anecdotal examples, perhaps a number of those who answered “Yes” thought that the question was funny and therefore gave blithe, light-hearted, and whimsical responses. Considering that OKCupid used to call profile visitors “Stalkers”, non-serious (e. g., tongue-in-cheek) interpretations of questions might not be rare, and might even be common.

  37. Geo says:

    Yeah, why would the strapon figure for straight males surprise anyone? I’ve had several girlfriends who like to have anal (or to have a toy put up there), and I’m curious the sensation. It’s not about fantasizing about men, it’s about being curious about what it is that makes her moan. Most people are curious about pleasure–so, if she’s willing, have her strap it on and give it a go. Pretty basic. For the adventurous, incorporate it into a threesome,and use your imagination.

  38. Paul says:

    Straight are -more successful- at killing themselves, because straight men use guns. I don’t know the data for straight/gay, but I know women tend to attempt suicide with pills, and men with guns. Logically, one has a much higher ‘success’ rate. So the ‘contemplate suicide’ can be only indirectly related to ‘actually committed suicide’.

  39. snorkel-lover says:

    I find these reports to be fascinating.

    I’m actually surprised at the low number of straight men who say they want a lover to use a strap-on with them, because I’ve talked to a bunch who were intrigued with the idea. Maybe it is something they would consider if she brought it up, but not admit to on a survey.

    As for the suicide question, I can speak a little as a bi female. These factors are things that make my life more difficult, but in my case, they are not directly tied to how I answered the original question.

    Yes, it is harder being excluded from both groups, especially when young. A lot of jokes are made about bis having this huge dating pool. Which is only somewhat true. For a bi woman looking for a relationship, it gets frustrating when men seem to think you are a fantasy come true, more so than seeing you as a person. And a lot of lesbians don’t want to date bi women either. So not only is it a broader dating pool, you can be rejected by both women and men at the same time, just for your sexuality. That plus the whole lack of human rights, rejection or lack of understanding from your family of origin, and any other pre-existing mental health factors, can make life hard.

    Thank God that most of my GLBT friends are pretty well adjusted, despite it all!

  40. Henk Poley says:

    I expect the ‘considider suicide’ statistic to be a problem with semantics. If it were to be phrased as ‘did you ever want to kill yourself?’ I suspect you would get single digit percent Yes answers.

    At least to me considering suicide seemed like a normal part of childhood-thinking about death. Just like “what would it be like to be dead?” and considering the various ways you may die and how it would affect the people near the deceised.

  41. J Ashley says:

    Clearly the fact that GLBT people have a larger problem with suicide makes perfect sense. It is the same with marginalized races vs. Caucasians and men vs. women. If you are a heterosexual male Caucasian, imagine yourself as a black lesbian. Are you surrounded by others like you every day? Can you turn on the news and see others like you positively represented? Can you take your partner anywhere and not get stared at? The examples are endless.

    Not being part of the privileged group (white males) AND not identifying with the social norm of heterosexuality is incredibly hard on a person’s well-being and self-esteem. Therefore, it should make sense why those in the GLBT community have higher suicide problems. We are the “others” or “those people”. Now tell me this wouldn’t make you feel bad about your life too…

  42. Angelica says:

    This makes sense to me, I think. When you look at the data and then compare it to stereotypes/what you know about a classification of people, it does make sense.

  43. Chas says:

    Suicide- I work a Suicide Hotline and I can tell you for a fact that women usually “attempt” suicide as a “call for help”. Men just do it. Men don’t even talk about it because men are taught to “shut up and take it as a man” at an early age.
    Most men don’t talk about their feelings. They keep them bottled up until they kill themselves or “go postal”. This is also why all serial killers are men. When society allows men to express their emotions without calling them a wuss, this will stop.

  44. GeniusNumberOne says:

    As someone who IS a genius (test-measured IQ 150+ (+ because most iq tests don’t claim to measure anything more), I wouldn’t frown on those numbers too much. In my opinion, someone with IQ of 130 (1 in 30 with the standard 15SD) would be justified to call himself a genius, reflecting the extremely noticeable gap between him and the average man. It is noticeable enough that I can usually recognize him as such after exchanging a few words, and often just by looking at him. Considering that the people using this site are most likely college-educated people, familiar with computers, and consequently assuming average IQ of 120 (there seems to be, curiously, no recent measurement of IQ by group), results in nearly a third of them having an IQ of 130+.

    In fact, a person with IQ 130 might lower the “genius” bar even more, and I’m not entirely sure I would disagree. The difference between 130 and 145 is not nearly as obvious as that between 115 and 130, and I would argue that it results more from experience with conceptual thought and knowledge of advanced mathematics, which dramatically enhances one’s understanding of the type of problems typically posed on the high-IQ tests. While I can sort of see that a man with 115 might not be able to reach my level of skill and learn and understand as quickly as I do, I would not say the same about a man with 130. 130 is about where I would put the natural ability cap, after which the only difference would be in curiousity and practice.

    Oh, and yes, I did answer “Yes” to the “Are you a genius?” question, and I do have it set as a mandatory match, since I prefer to talk to people of intelligence similar to my own and any such woman most definitely will answer “Yes”.

  45. Jami says:

    I am offended Genius…mofo

  46. Brock says:

    I find it amusing that bisexuals (both male and female) top the percentages on every category here.

    I guess they’re a bunch of strap-on-loving, suicidal genius mofos!

  47. Brock says:

    Also, I’m glad to see everyone scrutinizing the relationship between sexuality and having “considered suicide” (whatever exactly that means). But keep in mind, all of OKCs numbers are from a self-selected population of internet users who A) chose to answer the site’s questions, and B) chose not to skip these in particular. These caveats make it only fleetingly scientific, and not very comparable to a proper poll of (say) the entire US populace.

  48. Alexander says:

    Dude, that “Mofo” title image on the index page of okcupid.com with the 2-headed dude is THE BESTEST!!! I had to laugh really hard :)

  49. Peter says:

    The suicide poll interests me, but creates more questions than it answers. Are non hetero individuals more suicidal because they are not straight, or are they not straight because they are or have been suicidal?

    I’m not saying that homosexuality is anything that can be chosen or unnatural, just that having contemplated suicide causes a person to ask a lot of questions about themselves, and sometimes brings about realizations that they would not have considered otherwise.

    On the other hand, it could be possible that non-conventional lifestyles attract more ridicule, thus causing the suicidal tendencies. (Probably the possibility most believed/ easiest explanation.) However, the problem with this is that bi women, the second most accepted group (if heterosexuals are considered as one group) are the MOST likely to consider suicide.

    Another possibility is that Bi women are epic drama generators, and that being suicidal and in some cases being bi are both cries for attention.

  50. Allison says:

    I read EVERY comment trying to figure this out..

    WHAT DO YOU STRAP THE PIZZA TO?