Thanks to dating sites, we have a great way to gather data about the human condition without having to write grant proposals to the National Science Foundation. I first became aware of this bastion of data when OK Cupid announced that older women benefit from showing cleavage in their photos, but younger women don’t. I immediately started showing more cleavage at work because we know that people want to do business with people they want to date, and men think women who look datable are actually harder workers.
Now the site that specializes in matching married people looking to cheat, AshleyMadison.com, has released its list of the most adulterous professions based on the 1.9 million people who are registered on the site. (via BoingBoing)
Here’s the list:
2. Police Officers
4. Real Estate Agents
2. Stay-at-home Moms
4. Administrative Assistants
5. Real Estate Agents
This list looks mostly right to me. It is a list of men who like power but do not have access to a lot of women. Physicians, for example, would lose their license hitting on a patient, so it’s nurses or drug company reps. (Not that physicians aren’t notorious for hitting on drug reps.) There are other types of men who love power and are notorious for cheating–politicians and traveling sales guys come to mind–but they have such widespread access to women that they don’t need the web site.
But the number five slot looks wrong to me. Engineers make the top 5 I think, only because it's a trendy, online resource. I actually think that with more data we’d find that engineers cheat less (reasoning: Engineers generally skew toward Asperger’s on the autism scale, which is why Microsoft is known for great insurance coverage for Autism spectrum disorders. Besides, people with Asperger’s have a hard time lying.)
As for the list of women, it is, with the exception of the number five slot, filled with jobs that are about nurturing and care taking. Which makes me think that a) the life of a nurturer is not as fulfilling for women as the world thinks, and b) masseuse would be on the list too if it weren’t that they probably fall under the category of people who cheat but do not need the site to have access to people to cheat with.
We can also use this list to reaffirm stuff we already know but choose to ignore:
1. Stay away from career paths with an end game of getting power or being famous. Because those careers are largely unfulfilling. The goal of having regular sex is fulfilling. But, according to David Blanchflower, economist at Dartmouth, power and fame do not give you more regular sex, they give you more choices, and we know from Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice, that more choices does not make us happy. Even for sex partners.
2. Taking care of people all day is unfulfilling. Few people can cope with being the caretaker all the time. We already knew, from a study by Pew, that most mothers would like part-time work rather than being at home with kids all day or having work outside the home all day. Now we also know that women do not feel fulfilled being the caretaker all day at work.
3. Work is most fulfilling when it is meaningful and engaging. Caretaking is meaningful, but not always challenging enough to be engaging. The fight for power is usually challenging and engaging but seldom is it inherently meaningful. So when you choose a career, try to get both.
And, beware, because not being honest about fulfillment is dangerous: if you end up lying to yourself about your career, you could end up on AshleyMadison.com, lying to yourself about your marriage as well.