AUG 18, 2017 7:11 AM PDT

How do you stack up to everyone else? The science of being average


It's natural to compare ourselves to others. That's why the terms "above average" or "below average" can sometimes be such a boost and other times be a blow. For instance, take a look at some of the following averages and contemplate how seeing where you fit makes you feel.

1. If you read less than 12 books per year, you are below average.
2. If you are a North American male taller than 5'9'' or a female taller than 5'3'', you are above average.
3. If you can type more than 40 words per minute, you are above average.
4. If you don't finish high school and you are from an industrialized nation, you are below average.
5. If you are a woman who can run a mile in less than 7-10 minutes or a man who can bench press more than 135 pounds, you are above average.
6. If you drink less than 3 cups of coffee per day, you are below average.
7. If you have more than one bowel movement today, you are above average.
8. If you're a teen and spend less than 9 hours a day on your phone or some sort of media, you are below average.
9. If you sleep more than 6.8 hours, you are above average.

So, how do those averages make you feel? When thinking about averages it's important to consider the real-life variables that go into the numbers, like how outliers affect an average, or how averages change based on geography or socioeconomic levels. Many times an average doesn't tell the whole story so if you feel like you're not stacking up well when compared to others, or if you feel that you're perhaps stacking up very well and in reality, you're not (a phenomenon called illusory superiority), take a closer look and watch the video to learn more.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 22, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 22, 2019
How Astronomers Measure Distances to Stars
Extra stellar systems are so far away from our own that we couldn’t even hope of developing a tape measure long enough to determine how far away they...
DEC 31, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 31, 2019
Why Does This Star Dim Unpredictably?
KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s Star or the infamous ‘alien megastructure star,’ is peculiar because the star’s light seems to d...
JAN 15, 2020
Health & Medicine
JAN 15, 2020
The "Normal" Body Temperature Has Decreased
Did you know that the standard human body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit was established in 1868? A few modern studies have called this figure into...
JAN 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 19, 2020
Flying Foxes Must be Careful of Crocodiles When Hydrating
Flying foxes absolutely despise the Sun, and with that in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that they look for shade whenever possible. One pro...
JAN 25, 2020
Neuroscience
JAN 25, 2020
Are You Still Working on Your New Year's Resolution?
There are a few cardinal rules when it comes to goal-setting, and you've probably heard them all before. Goals will be successful if they are specific-...
FEB 11, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 11, 2020
How the World's Fastest Cat Compares to the World's Fastest Dog
Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animal; their powerful hind legs give them incredible launching power and their stretchy spines provide a massi...
Loading Comments...