Pop Culture Introspection, Part I: Why Do the Couples From The Bachelorette Do So Much Better Than Those From The Bachelor?

 Of the sixteen The Bachelor shows, only four relationships from the show lasted at least a year.  Only two couples are still together.  In contrast, five of the seven The Bachelorette seasons led to relationships that lasted at least a year. (Although only two of the couples are still together.)

Why the difference? Just chance, or does it tell us something about men, women, and relationships?

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  1. David Sommerset says:

    Well… If we agree that men are evolutionally predisposed to be more promiscuous than women, then a system in which male power and status are enhanced should lead to greater promiscuity by the men, thus bringing about the end of the relationships faster. Elevating the power of the women would, similarly, have the opposite effect. However the sample size is ridiculously small, so this is nothing more than conjecture.

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    • TheBachelorScience says:

      To be honest, the sample size isn’t that small… (we can analyse the choices 23 individuals made among 575 contestants; and many more “decision points” at each occasion when there was a rose on the line). There’s also a unique “lab-like” environment in which conversations, physical reactions and retrospective analysis by contestants about their thoughts during each episode give a lot of insight and data about what may have motivated their choices.

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    • APB says:

      Agree with this, adding on additional fame and having women likely be more “available” to the bachelor than he’d ever previously seen before may also make a difference. Not speaking from experience, but it’s quite likely that an entire new tier of woman has been opened to him, so staying with his choice goes against his instincts. In economic terms, a man’s instinct is to spread seed, so his incentive to make the relationship work is lower post fame than a womans. Her instinct is to find the best mate for proctection, providing, and children. Since she’s made her choice, and likely gone with her “heart” (or instincts that pointed her to all previously mentioned), her incentives are still more in line with staying together with her choice. However; it’s worth noting, that it is not completely in line, as she made the choice which shows dominance over the male lowering his value from an alpha standpoint.

      Additonally, he made the choice in the bachelor, versus the man being chosen in the bachelorette which takes on a completely different mindset within the chosen male in each show.

      While I’m not completely familiar with how the show works after it’s completed filming and before it airs, but I assume the new couple is not allowed to be together, and this again “enlightens” the man to the new world of being “famous.”

      Couple this with Chris’ response below, and I think you have a solid recipe for why this phenomenon occurs.

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  2. TheBachelorScience says:

    Women go more by long-term compatibility, men go more by mystery and attraction (which fade)…

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    • Bill says:

      Given that both shows require both men and women to participate, I struggle to see how gender differences could explain the results unless it is specific to the process of choosing from among a group of publicity hungry potential partners.

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    • Noctis says:

      You can’t really generalize like that.. most of these social studies on men and women always fall short; because our culture and social interaction has seeped so far into, what is believe to be our biology, that many who start these studies by assuming things to be biologically determined always seem to ignore when you just as easily could argue that the traits or arguments could be social constructs..

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      • Clancy says:

        Actually, in this case, you can. There’s plenty of evidence that such a trend exists, even if the underlying cause of the trend is disputed and not well studied. Whether the tendancy is caused by biology, evolution, culture, the media, or some devine or supernatural cause, it explains nicely the bachelor/bachelorette failure rate.
        And generalization applies because we’re not talking about an individual, we’re talking about the (admittedly small) population of bachelor/bachelorette contestants.
        As to the sample size being too small, someone with more time and more knowledge of statistics should do the math and find out.

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  3. Chris says:

    If we look at the typical relationship style in America, it normally falls under the format of women are pursued by men who compete for her attention. If we look at the Bachelorettes on the show, they are typically attractive women between the ages of 24-29 years? If that’s the case they have been potentially dating since around 15-16 years old, giving them 9-14 years of experience in picking out individuals that are pursuing them versus the limited experience a man would have in this current relationship model.

    The bachelorette has one woman who’s being pursued by several men; which falls into the same relationship structure that is common in America.

    The bachelor by contrast; requires women to compete for men. It’s a different approach and possibly a skill that most men haven’t developed to successfully identify the needs of a relationship beyond the present day.

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  4. Jeff says:

    I really don’t think it’s a gender issue. I think we can all agree that both of the shows are reality tv gimmicks. the contestants for either show know that it’s a media stunt and a cash grab, and the type of Bachelor/Bachelorette that are casted for the shows is a particular individual that already is financially well off and i wouldn’t think it would be unreasonable that they would accept free money for showing off their wealth. I agree with David Below in that the sample size is just too small.

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  5. clayton says:

    Are you really trying to generalize from contestants on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette to the population as a whole?

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    • GoPop says:

      Your point is valid. However, the large and persisting popular success of these shows is a good indication that a large portion of the public identifies with or aspires to be like these contestants.

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  6. Freakanumbics says:

    This seems a ridiculous question to even ask. These “relationships” are the result of a neurotic game played out before television cameras. They are not relationships in the normal sense….at all. I don’t know why anyone would expect them to last, for either show. It’s just made for TV BS. And yet I see people in the audience just riveted by it, like it is life or death. Mostly women though. Women love this cheap drama stuff. A lot.

    Shouldn’t Freakonomics be concerned with more econ-oriented stuff? Like for example what is the effect on personal income/debt/divorce, of watching crap TV shows religiously? Do it by gender, by age.

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    • Rational Person says:

      You had me thinking you might be a reasonable, thoughtful person right up until the end of your first paragraph there:

      “And yet I see people in the audience just riveted by it, like it is life or death. Mostly women though. Women love this cheap drama stuff. A lot.”

      Replace “women” with “Black people” or “Muslims” or any other demographic group and you will see why rather than a thoughtful, intelligent commenter, you seem to be someone held back by knee-jerk reactions, unable to meaningfully consider real data that may or may not contradict your preconceived notions. And you criticize this site for not being objective and data-oriented enough?

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      • Daniel says:

        From TV by the Numbers: “The Bachelorette stood as Monday’s #1 TV show for the 2nd consecutive week among its core audience of Women 18-34.”

        and also “ABC earned second place on Memorial Day in Total Viewers and Adults 18-49, while finishing #1 for the 3rd week in a row across the Women demographics (W18-34W18-49/W25-54).” That shows pretty directly that women at least view the program at a higher rate than men. Whether or not women “love this cheap stuff. A lot” isn’t as easy to show.

        And I would replace “women” with Muslims if I was talking about who went to Jumu’ah or Black People if I was talking about who had developed pigmentation from prolonged evolution in Africa’s western coast. The real data shows that the whole show is designed to draw in women. Just watch the ads during the show to see who is watching and who the writers and producers are pandering to.

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  7. Quin says:

    The teensy sample sizes should induce us not to draw conclusions either way, methinks.

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  8. Steve says:

    There’s an old joke about a rich king who was looking for a wife, and was given three choices among three very different types/looks of women. Which one did he choose? The one with the biggest breasts, of course.

    Let’s face it — we men are pigs. God bless us.

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    • James says:

      Speak for yourself. I’ve been a man all my adult life, and have never found large breasts all that attractive. Indeed, beyond a certain hypertrophied size (probably achieved via implants) they are positively unattractive to me.

      This only points out the fallacy of many other comments, which start from the position that all men are this and all women are that. In the real world, there’s plenty of variation. I also suspect that people who are both willing to appear on shows like these, and able to make it through the selection process, are at least a couple of sigmas wide of the norm.

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