My twenty-five year college reunion is right around the corner. In advance of the event, my classmates were asked to write a short summary of their post college life. Next to each write-up was the picture from our graduating yearbook twenty-five years ago. Many of the entries also include current pictures.
Flipping casually through the book, I noticed two things. First, it is amazing how old we all look. Time really takes its toll, that’s for sure. Second, men were much more likely than women to submit pictures of what they look like now.
There was a third thing that also seemed to be true. Many of the people who were really attractive twenty-five years ago don’t look so good now. And even more interesting, there were a surprising number of people who were unattractive in college, but look great (relative to the rest of us geriatrics) now. If I had been asked to guess, I would have estimated that the correlation between attractiveness twenty-five years ago and today was zero or even negative for women. For men I would have guessed a small positive correlation.
I was so struck by the pattern that I decided to do a more systematic data analysis.