You’d think reviewers and journals would figure this formula out. It’s practically a guaranteed recipe for a bad paper. Pick some random feature, like, say, carrying a guitar case. Then correlate it with some messy, subjective and almost impossible to measure property, like sexual attractiveness. Bingo! You are guaranteed to generate statistics, whether positive or negative, and can find an undiscriminating journal somewhere that will publish it. Then, even better, some tabloid will pick up the story and give you publicity with headlines like, “CARRY A GUITAR TO ATTRACT THE LADIES!”
I didn’t pick my examples at random. There actually was a paper titled “Men’s music ability and attractiveness to women in a real-life courtship context”, now retracted, that tried to make that claim with crappy (and probably faked) statistics.
The same author, Nicholas Guéguen, also had a paper retracted previously that claimed that high heels make women sexier. Oh, I should have mentioned — another important element of the recipe is to make sure one of the elements has something to do with sexual stereotypes.
Apparently, Nicholas Guéguen has published about 340 papers using the magic formula. Publishers still haven’t caught on. Or they have, and they don’t care, they just want more garbage to churn.