Against the Grain

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Archive for the ‘research’ Category

What America Can Learn from Japan

Posted by Patrick on 13 Nov 2007

As an American who lived in Japan for 7 years, and very much would like to again some day, returning to life in the US a few years ago was an incredible culture shock.  It was tougher to adjust in moving back to the US than it was to adjust when I arrived in Japan, despite the fact that I’d lived here for 22 years before I first went there.  In the past three years that I’ve been here in Denver, it’s become more and more challenging to accommodate the average American without flipping out and losing my patience.

What I’ve come to grips with, after some lengthy deliberation, is that I expect too much of the average American by having any expectations at all.  Yes, that’s right, it’s too much to ask to carry a single expectation of the average American.  Many people will say that’s a hypocritical statement, or that I’m just bs’ing because if I’m an American it has to apply to me too.  Sure. Fine. Whatever.  Yes I’m a US citizen, and I hold a green card for Japan, and it’s ridiculous how the average person in this country conducts himself.  The average American, in my definition, possesses at least the following qualities:
1.  self-awareness is paramount; surroundings more than 10 feet away are oblivion, unimportant, and probably shouldn’t ever have existed
2.  if person A has more money than person B, person A indirectly (and sometimes directly) makes it known
3.  American women are the most deceitful female of any species in existence; especially in front of other women
4.  between 15 and 40 pounds overweight and not going to do a damn thing about it.
5.  drives an obscenely large vehicle with obscenely bad driving habits and thinks obscenities towards those whose abidance by traffic laws inconveniences them

Why?  What is it about America that could possibly improve, you may ask?  I ask that question in reverse — what about America doesn’t need to be improved to be on par with a tiny (by comparison) country like Japan?

American society is devolving.  That is to say, it is doing the exact opposite of improving.  Japanese society, on the other hand, is continuing to improve – or at least remain unchanged in either direction.  By a global standard, no change is actually a significant improvement.  Granted, the culture of Japan has a several thousand year head start on American culture, but let’s face it; the culture in America really isn’t defined even after 225 years of having a country.  Perhaps Americans own the cultural patent on the fast food drive thru; beyond that there isn’t much.

So why is Japan so “great” when compared to the capitalist American society?  There are a few things about Japan which all people (in Japan) do that the average American would probably think “ok, and?” or “so what?” to, because the average American is incapable of compiling a proper conscious thought to actually understand that sometimes different = better and other times different just = different.  A few of my observation points about Japanese society:
1.  The elderly hold the highest social respect position – they are honored people in society.  Elderly drivers over age 70 (I think) have a special decal for their car which basically informs everyone around them that it’s an elderly driver and essentially to get the hell out of their way if there is a gridlock.
2.  Women run the family finances, but at the same time, women are much more frugal, pragmatic and conscientious about managing the family’s money.  Japan is a cash-based society; that is, most employees are paid in cash to this day.  They don’t know what the hell a check is in Japan, nor do they care.
3.  Children are honored citizens in society; there are several national holidays for children.
4.  Handguns (yes, I went there) are outlawed nationwide.  You do not have the right to bear arms.  If there is ever a violent crime, most often the weapon of choice is a chef’s knife.
5.  Most importantly I think; it doesn’t matter who you are, what kind of car you drive, what kind of job you have, what brand of clothes you wear – what matters is that you are an upstanding, honest person whom those around you can respect and trust.  You must represent yourself as a person that others would care to be around based on your core values and not your outward appearance.
6.  The average Japanese person is between -10 and +5 pounds of their ideal weight; the Japanese diet consists primarily of vegetables and fish.

So, without continuing for a longer spell, I’ll conclude this mini-tirade with some thoughts.  Manifest Destiny grew America to too large of a size too early in its existence – that was out of pure greed and desire to prosper in previously unmapped, native lands.  The Monroe Doctrine basically installed the US as the conflict cops of the Western Hemisphere during the same era.  Nearly 200 years later, are Americans any more conscious, on average?

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Posted in culture, Japan, opinion, research, sociology | 3 Comments »

Gamer Husbands Top Most Loyal Spouses List

Posted by Patrick on 19 Oct 2007

Ladies, we know what the statistics say.  Most studies and exit poll type surveys on married couples attribute that 60% of men and 40% of women that are married are or have been involved in an extramarital affair of some sort.  Moreover, in the US it is approaching the 80% likeliness rate for at least one partner in a marriage to have had such an affair.  Like so many other researchers and sociologists, I aim to find out what some of the triggers are; but beyond that, I’m looking for classes of men and women who don’t have the propensity to be unfaithful.

Please don’t scoff at the title, though I’m sure some will.  From January to October 2007, I conducted a sociological study of married people to assess where their tendencies towards infidelity are most prevalent.  Oddly enough, I ended up collecting more data than I had intended, and some of it is extrapolated for this purpose.  This research is my own and the results I choose to share are my own; I have submitted to several relevant publications for inclusion and hope to gain some spotlight from at least one of them.

A little bit of demographic information:

Total surveyed 16583
Men 9726
Women 6857
Average age (all) 31y 172d
Age (men) 32y 31d
Age (women) 30y 219d

I’m not going to go into racial/ethnic balance and geographic dispersion, but I will say that the demographics are close to the overall American population averages, and that I have at least 50 respondents from all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

So, first let’s talk about what I found were the categories of men and women that are most likely to be unfaithful.  In my population, 916 respondents (5.52%) reported an annual income of over $200k per year – the majority of these were also in large metropolises.  Of those 916 (552 men, 364 women), 788 (86%) admitted to either a current or previous extramarital affair in their current marriage.  From that 788, only 207 averaging an age of 29y 106d were in their first marriage which simply tells us that 581 (73.7%) of those who are cheating in the high tax bracket have been married at least twice. Lesson to be learned:  if you are divorced and looking for a big fish to pay the bills, be prepared for her/him to step out for free samples, because nearly all of them are doing it once they’ve gotten back on the boat at least once.

Among other income brackets, those earning under $25k per year were the second most likely to cheat at 52.6%.  I found that, on basis of income alone, those married people earning between $40k and $60k per year (5147 respondents) were the least likely to cheat, but this number was still at 31.911% and was higher for women than men.

Where propensity to be unfaithful gets interesting is when it’s broken down by common hobbies.  I think it is largely untouched to approach the hobbies of married people as a basis for comparison.  While it can be said with some value that individual personalities drive their hobbies and ultimately their mental framework of fidelity, we can certainly learn a lot about a person by what they value in their spare time.

You may be surprised (and you may not) by these stats.  The hobby which garnered the most unfaithful responses in the survey was weightlifting/working out.  Maybe this isn’t a surprise; people who are attempting to take care of their body and shape themselves as they wish are usually more confident and able to carry conversation better than those who do not value personal appearance.  But an alarming 75.22% of those who marked their primary hobby as weightlifting/working out also noted that they either have or currently are having extramarital relations.

Looking at the faithful end of the spectrum now, I was absolutely shocked at my own results.  There are 4844 (29.2%) respondents who marked “video games” as one of their top two hobbies, which was surprising, but not so much over the average age of 31y.  This is comprised of mostly men, of course, but more than 1000 women are in this category.  Overall, only 372 (7.68%) people in this group responded that they are/have been unfaithful in their current marriage.  2941 in this group have been married more than once, and 1502 of these 2941 said that a previous marriage ended because of their spouse’s unfaithfulness but not their own.

Breaking down this gamer category for men and women, there were 3683 men and 1161 women.  Of the 372 marking themselves as unfaithful, 244 were women and 128 were men.  This gives us a yield of 3.48% of gamer men having fidelity issues and 21.02% of women.  Despite the relative disparity, these numbers are still well below other demographic rankings and certainly below the national statistic estimates.

A brief list, by primary hobby, of fidelity rankings:

Best – Men
1.  Video games
2.  Reading
3.  Religious study

Worst – Men
1.  Weightlifting/working out
2.  Financial investing
3.  Golf

Best – Women
1.  Knitting/Sewing
2.  Religious study
3.  Video games

Worst – Women
1.  Weightlifting/working out
2.  Club hopping/bar hopping
3.  Volunteering/Community outreach (!)

I will repost or update this post if my full research is published in any accredited publication.

Posted in educational, infidelity, marriage, men, reading, research, sociology, women | 9 Comments »