Wife acceptance factor

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Wife Acceptance Factor, Wife Approval Factor, or Wife Appeal Factor[1] (WAF) is an assessment of design elements that either increase or diminish the likelihood a wife will approve the purchase of expensive consumer electronics products such as high-fidelity loudspeakers, home theater systems and personal computers. Stylish, compact forms and appealing colors are commonly considered to have a high WAF.[2] The term is a tongue-in-cheek play on electronics jargon such as "form factor" and "power factor" and derives from the gender stereotype that men are predisposed to appreciate gadgetry and performance criteria whereas women must be wooed by visual and aesthetic factors.[3]

As early as 1988,[4] the term Spouse Acceptance Factor (SAF) was suggested as a term uniformly and equally applicable to heterosexual, gay, and lesbian couples.[5] For instance, Neil Cherry's book Linux Smart Home for Dummies uses both "Spouse Approval Factor" and "Spouse Acceptance Factor" as it does not specify the sex of the reader.[6] In Cherry's opinion, while SAF "sounds like a joke, it isn't."[6] He continues by explaining that persons of any gender may be interested in keeping the home as peaceful. However, Jen Haberkorn of The Washington Times wrote that the term "wife acceptance factor" is the more common one, given that men are usually more interested in electronics than their wives.[7] Wives control 88% of electronics purchases indirectly through their influence or directly by making the purchase themselves, according to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association.[7]


Larry Greenhill first used the term "Wife Acceptance Factor" in September 1983, writing for Stereophile magazine, but Greenhill credited fellow reviewer and music professor Lewis Lipnick with the coining of the term.[8] Lipnick himself traces the origin to the 1950s when hi-fi loudspeakers were so large that they overwhelmed most living rooms. Lipnick's wife, actress Lynn-Jane Foreman, arrived at a different term: Marriage Interference Factor (MIF). Foreman suggested that audiophile husbands should balance their large and ugly electronic acquisitions with gifts to the wife made on the basis of similar expense, with opera tickets, jewelry and vacations abroad among the suggestions. While the modern-day WAF moves inversely to MIF, either can be used to achieve the same outcome.


  1. Reynolds, Sallie (Spring 1988). "Dames in Toyland, Part 1: The City of the Plain". The Absolute Sound. 13 (52): 64. Wife Appeal Factor
  2. Carnoy, David (September 16, 2003). Taking the sting out of the whip. CNet.com.
  3. Du Pre, Vanessa Vyvyanne. "Women Against the High-End: Audiophilia is a Dead End". The Absolute Sound. 18 (93): 30.
  4. McWilliams, Peter (1988). Peter McWilliams' personal electronics book. Prentice Hall Press. p. 132.
  5. WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor), The Boston Globe June 28, 2004
  6. 6.0 6.1 Cherry, Neil (2006). Linux Smart Home for Dummies. For Dummies. pp. 228, 231, 238, 315. ISBN 0-7645-9823-6.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Haberkorn, Jen (January 21, 2006). "Does it pass the wife factor?". The Washington Times. Washington, DC. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
  8. Greenhill, Larry (September 1983). "Quad ESL-63 loudspeaker, part 3". Stereophile. 6 (4). Retrieved August 10, 2009. Thanks again to Glenn Hart, who did not coin this term—it was Lewis Lipnick—but from whom I heard it for the first time!