Brains > Beauty for Biology

Why You Date Who You Date: Evolutionary Psychology Explains:

Evolutionary psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with explaining human functions and behaviors in terms of how they increase chances of survival and reproduction. So to the evolutionary psychologist, men are attracted to women of beauty and perfect vital statistics because such characteristics are in fact “cues” — cues that this particular type of woman has a high reproductive capacity as a female. In other words, the woman is highly fertile: smooth skin, shiny hair, full lips and bright eyes indicate youthfulness, and a female of younger age has the potential of producing more children than does a female of older age. The hourglass figure is also more than just a pleasing view of good symmetry and proportion: wide hips indicate the pelvic shape most ideal for childbirth, while ample breasts cue better capacity to nourish offspring once they are born… As mentioned above, evolutionary psychology asserts that as a human being, the true forces that move you to act the way you do are your need to reproduce, have your genes passed on to the next generation, and ultimately ensure the survival of the species.  So if you’re a man, evolutionary psychology explains that you select a particular date or potential mate not because you simply find her “pretty” or “sexy”, but because her prettiness and sexiness are indications that she is likely to give you more children—offering you the best chances of having your genes passed on to the next generation and of granting your particular lineage an increased likelihood of continuing to thrive.

I think this ignores the evolutionary perspective that “culture” is the survival strategy of humans. To achieve all that we have, we have developed powerful methods of efficiently teaching vast amounts of information and helping offspring to learn how to find information. Our genes are important. Our memes are perhaps more important. (Not the meme of the Internet but the Richard Dawkins meaning of smallest unit of cultural information.) How we ensure the next generation has access to information such that they achieve even more than their ancestors determines the success of our genes.

Beauty is nice, but keeping in mind the survival strategy, men probably also want a woman capable of raising quality children as well. Someone attentive, intelligent, and nurturing will help offspring achieve their potential.

Of course, a woman much smarter than her male mate probably will find a way to cuckold him. So the ideal mate is both as beautiful as he can manage and about as intelligent.

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Emotional Labor

I wonder how much of my eating out at restaurants is due to finding (exploiting) emotional labor?

In a work context, emotional labor refers to the expectation that a worker should manipulate either her actual feelings or the appearance of her feelings in order to satisfy the perceived requirements of her job. Emotional labor also covers the requirement that a worker should modulate her feelings in order to influence the positive experience of a client or a colleague.

I have noticed many of the servers have a smiling face when facing all their tables. But that face drops as soon as they are facing another direction.

Some become familiar enough with me they drop the pretense. Now that I think about it, my favorites usually stop pretending to be happy at some point. Hopefully they know I like them for them and not some act.

Then again, why do I need a girlfriend when I have a dozen or so pseudo-playing that role?

Breathtakingly Stupid Mistakes

I loved this The Psychology of the Breathtakingly Stupid Mistake article. The three kinds:

  1. Dunning-Kruger effect where overconfidence in our skills leads us to encounter an accident. The car accident where the driver who has never driven in a blizzard who thinks “how hard could it be” finds out the hard way.
  2. Impulsive acts where we do things we know are a bad idea but the immediate gain overrides whatever wisdom screams “don’t do it.” Speeding faster than we’d normally drive to pass the someone who is going slower than everyone else probably fits here.
  3. Lapses of attention where we lose track of where we are or what we should be doing. Cell phone usage is a common cause of drivers having this kind of mistake.

All three of the above play a role in why we have so many car accidents. All three are things autonomous cars would not have. And yet, most Americans think they are better drivers than computers. I’m looking forward to the NHTSA’s approval of robot drivers.

Imposter Syndrome

First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.

That is from “Feel like a fraud?

This is one of those phenomenon who when I first learned about it gave me chills for how applicable it was to my life. Being half black and half white, I never really felt or feel like either. As an “other,” I felt like I lacked an identity until I figured out I should make my own. And it is mine to make. In the couple months before starting college (and the entire first year) I wandered aimlessly struggling to figure out how could such smart people be fooled into accepting such an stupid person? Every time I received a promotion, award, or certification, the humiliation running through my head felt terror that any second someone would figure out there was a mistake. Being described as “the smartest person” someone knows floods my mind with more intelligent people than myself and try to figure out why this someone does not know them.

Steve Harvey recently announced the wrong winner for a televised beauty pageant. I often feel like the wrong winner and know the correction is going to be soon discovered.

For the past month this difficult thing has weighed on my shoulders. All of it was in my head from impostor syndrome making me worried about it all crashing down around me because it felt too good to be true. Every step felt too easy. Too lucky. Too facile. It should not be this easy. So when waiting on the next step, I feared THAT would be the one to bring it all down. When something did go wrong, I feared to lose it all, when it was just a little bump. Instead of being pleased how well it was going, I was cowering in fear over this success. I was over-stressed because everything was fine.

Now that it is done, I feel relieved. I no longer have to fear revealing it to friends or family.