Saturday, March 10, 2007

Outdated expected value

I was given a fun read a couple of nights ago. It was a list of ages and behavior, mirroring the fact that in most societies, there are a set of expectations concerning age and accomplished growth and position in life. That is, if you've reached a certain age, you don't behave in way X but instead in way Y and your position in life is Z, not Q. The list, put together by three American researchers in 1969, treated appropriate behavior in relation to age. It was a fun read, and it turns out, I'm "inappropriate" to the max! I learned that "the best age for a woman to marry is 19-24 years old". I've passed that and no ring on my finger yet. Will I remain an old spinster now? And what if I ever remarry? Further, the list defines a young woman aged between 19-24. I'm not 24 anymore and I still believe that I'm quite young. (I rejoice like a child at Christmas when I'm in a flow and there's no stopping my tears when I face setbacks. That's not a typical adult behavior.) Also, the best age to graduate and get a job is 20-22 years old. A rather hurting claim these days, I imagine, when many start a new education after 20 years out on the labor market. The troublesome part is that this list was handed out to psychology students. I truly hope the aim was to illustrate how age and behavior once was, or could be, depicted, not to illustrate how it de facto is today.

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