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.
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