Lauren Mendell may not be a social psychologist, but she certainly has a sharp social lens. In her article “Sucks to be a Senior Girl,” she argues that Colgate’s senior girls are at a distinct disadvantage in the dating world. According to Mendell, by the time senior year rolls around on such a small campus, we are linked to each other by only a few degrees of sexual separation. In fact, I have a direct link to the Colgate Raider through our various, lascivious, post-victory celebrations. According to Mendell, this feeling of “community” puts senior girls in an awkward position: for girls, friends don’t date friends’ exes, but for guys, perhaps due to our evolutionarily defined sexual generosity, we are “more willing to share.”
Being a male myself, I was in some ways comforted by this article. And as a soon to be senior, what can I say, life’s lookin’ good. But being a psych major and scientist-in-training, I had to question its validity. After all, Mendell used no formal testing method and her hypothesis was derived from her possibly idiosyncratic social observations. There is a time and a place for anecdotal and qualitative research, but for something this important we need hard data.
Inspired by her observations and committed to the liberal pursuit of knowledge instilled in me by Colgate University, I decided to test her idea empirically (translation: this was a required class project). My psych stats class queried over 200 of our peers about their satisfaction with dating at Colgate, and then conducted statistical tests on the data. We used your standard battery of statistical tests: the one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), the independent samples t-test, and then finished up with our heavy hitter, the dreaded two-way between subjects ANOVA. These tests allow us to be 95% confident that if we repeated this survey with another sample of Colgate students, that the results would be pretty much the same. Thus, even though our data comes from a small sample, we can reliably make claims about all of Colgate. I’m sure that further explanation of these tests will not be needed (or desired, believe me) by the average reader. Just trust me, we threw on the lab coats, did some science and came up with some very interesting results.
Our tests reveal that Mendell was indeed correct; senior women are less satisfied than senior men with dating at Colgate. In fact, Mendell even correctly identified an interesting trend between the sexes.
Freshman women and men are similar in their dating satisfaction. Remember those freshman days? No mom, no dad, and lots of common room canoodling. In those days, everyone was gettin’ some — and everyone was happy. But for Colgate women, those days don’t last long. Women, on average, become less and less happy with the dating scene as they age. And by senior year those “Polo Prince Charmings” seem to be nothing more than the pipe dreams of a freshman femme. Indeed it does “suck to be a senior girl.”
So unfortunately for you senior ladies, it seems that Mendell — even without the resources of a data-mining psych class or powerful statistical program — hit the nail on the head. For men, the dating scene is like fine red wine; it only gets better with age. For women, Peter Pan had it right — never growing up may be your best option.