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Strategies of Human Mating (2006) [pdf] (weimag.ch)
127 points by networked on Oct 29, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

We focus on the mating but the real challenge is keeping relationships interesting when we're not mating.

exactly. that's a life skill no one can ever teach you. very few of us are lucky to have a perfect match - but the rest need to learn the hard way how to make a relationship work - how to resist temptation when your hormones are acting up and that cute new girl is giving you the look.

it's especially difficult in modern times, where so many people are discouraged from settling young and experimenting till you are into your late 20s or early 30s - while ignoring emotional well being and stability that are so important later on.

sex-ed is generally fubared in almost every country on the planet.

> how to resist temptation when your hormones are acting up and that cute new girl is giving you the look.

The best way to resist temptation is to give in to it :D

Yup. We are meant to form pair bonds with extra couplings. This is why I practice responsibile non-monogamy.

We are also "meant" to batter our competitors to death with a club.

Not really. We get PTSD when we do that.

Shooo, shooo! Away,evil spirit! deploys chainsaws and holy water

I beg to differ, NVC has been taught for several decades now.

What's great about evolutionary biology is that there is a science that explains sex differences and thus traditional social constructs that have existed for millenia.

> Because in humans fertilization occurs internally within women, men can suffer a lack of certainty in their paternity. In contrast, women are always 100% certain that their offspring are their own. Sexual infidelity, of course, is the event that can compromise a man’s paternity in offspring.

> Although women have never confronted the problem of maternity uncertainty, an infidelity by a woman’s mate can be extremely damaging. The woman whose husband is unfaithful risks losing his time, resources, and commitments, all of which could get channeled to a rival female and her children.

> For these reasons, evolutionary theorists have predicted that men, more than women, would get upset about signals of sexual infidelity. In contrast, women, more than men were predicted to get upset about signals of emotional infidelity

> In an American sample, 61% of the men, but only 13% of the women judged the sexual infidelity aspect of the betrayal to be the most upsetting. Conversely, only 39% of the men, but 87% of the women, judged the emotional attachment to the other person as more upsetting. Similar sex differences have been obtained in Korea and Japan (Buss et al., 1999), China (Geary et al., 1995), and Sweden (Wiederman & Kendall, 1999). In studies of memory, men can more easily recall cues to sexual infidelity, whereas women can more easily recall cues to emotional infidelity.

Men and women are not the same, and this is why they place differing values on sexual fidelity and the often-correlated concept of promiscuity.

And as female promiscuity increases in various developed parts of the world, you will absolutely see a decline in marriage rates, as men subconsciously process a greater evolutionary risk to their genetic investments.

EDIT - oh boy, this article really is full of gems that would offend the sensibilities of the egalitarian crowd:

> Married men tend to engage in especially vigorous mate retention efforts when their spouse is young in age and physically attractive. In contrast, women tend to engage in especially vigorous mate retention efforts when married to men who have good jobs, high incomes, and devote a lot of time to status striving.

What we value in a nutshell, whether we want to admit it or not.

>> In contrast, women tend to engage in especially vigorous mate retention efforts when married to men who have good jobs, high incomes, and devote a lot of time to status striving.

That is unless government steps in to guarantee 50% claim of men's resources regardless of retention efforts.

If only it was 50%.

I think the tournament vs. pair-bonding spectrum [1] might be very insightful with regards to this debate. The observation is basically that animals have different manifestations of sexual dimorphism and that there are very clear behavioral patterns that correlate with them. In some species, e.g. gorillas, males are big and muscular and you reliably get a lot of aggression and males that care little about their offspring. In tournament species also only few alpha males have reproductive success. On the other hand, in other species, e.g. bonobos, there is very little sexual dimorphism, little aggression, females select partners that display parenting behavior and most males reproduce.

It turns out that humans are somewhere in between tournament and pair-bonding species and this is probably root of a lot of confusion. The rules are not as clear as in the two extremes, and in addition there is a lot of variability in behavior anyway because the generality of the neocortex basically allows us to adopt arbitrary rules. Some cultures are more puritanical, some are less. Some males get more excited about parenting and cute animals, while others are rather focused on achieving high status and thus fare well with traditional gender roles to achieve that. But what status means is itself variable, e.g. high status can include the appeal to some egalitarian paternal parenting meme. A lot of the results, e.g. gender-specific appreciation of good jobs, high incomes might reflect both cultural and genetic factors.

[1] https://youtu.be/Y0Oa4Lp5fLE?t=5035

What most people fail to realize is that we are pieces in the game of life. Our emotions have been shaped by eons of evolution. Emotions are part of the game, leading the mind into specific directions governed by genetically programmed and environmentally activated reflexes. At times they overrule the rational mind and result in behavior that is "not my real me" that the subject identifies with.

We should at least try understand the basic rules that shape our lives and not give in to simplified (and often misleading) models presented by ideology.

Society and its picture of the human person will (and must) change fundamentally upon the results we concieve by proper scientific study. This will not go down easy.

Americans are less promiscuous now than any time in the last 40 years.

I've never heard of that claim before. Anything to show for it?

> Men and women experimenters approached total strangers on a college campus, and said “Hi, I’ve been noticing you around campus, and I find you very attractive.”

I've got to try this.

Sounds very similar to the lyrics to the track "Would you?" by Touch & Go - which were based upon a 1978 study.

(As used in the theme-tune to "As If", a TV show from the UK.)

I've done this in a nightclub and it works just fine. Most people will find a compliment to be quite a good thing, especially if it's delivered confidently.

Saying "I've been noticing you around campus" to a stranger is a great way to get a restraining order.

Depends on how attractive you are. The line between creepy and flattering is in the eye of the beholder, rarely in the behavior.

You make a good point Douche. My older brother is a tall good looking guy with a big friendly smile. His advice to me was stand next to a woman and just barely encroaching on their personal space. Then await for their response.

I watched him demonstrate. He stood behind a petite woman who's height was practically at his navel level. She eventually turns around. At first she was confused to just find a wall-of-man behind her, and then slowly started to raise her gaze until she finally reached my brother's big friendly grin. Half way through she already started to smile.

I tried the same only to get a nasty why are you standing next to me look. And I'm not bad looking.

Seriously, I think minimalist pickup strategies are a winner take all situation.

Yeah, it's frustrating taking pickup advice from really attractive people. They just operate in a completely different league where a valid strategy is just "make noise until they look at you".

What's fascinating is how much 'attractiveness' is within your total control! And I won't even lump in being 'fit' into that. A lot of being 'attractive' is just being confident, and walking up to a person to let them know your intent ("Hi, I noticed you and thought you were cute.. my name is ...") is quite confident.

Your brother gave you some terrible pickup advice! It's a lot better to let your intent be known, rather than lurk around waiting for your bae to catch your stance. Standing behind someone and smiling may have worked, but I'd bet hard cash that he would be just as, if not more, successful if he approached her and introduced himself.

Since when has noticing people in places you visit frequently become such a threatening activity?

And btw, it was “Hi, I’ve been noticing you around campus, and I find you very attractive.”; which has a non threatening tone and gives off a completely different vibe.

Pretty sure a single compliment is always safe. Beyond that though not so much.

I wouldn't say that. For many people (especially women), unwanted sexual attention from strangers is a problem. When in doubt, it is probably more polite to leave people alone.

What's the problem? If I see a woman I want to compliment, I have the freedom to compliment her. She has the freedom to accept, reject, laugh it off, or get offended, if she so chooses. But her possible reactions won't impede mine. Approaching a woman to let her know my 'intent' isn't 'unwanted sexual attention', and what is an example of that anyways?

> If I see a woman I want to compliment, I have the freedom to compliment her.

If too many people everyday have the same idea for the same person, it may become unpleasant for that person, even if each individual approach was non-obtrusive. (It's like if you meet someone with a funny name: even though it's harmless to point it out or make a light joke about it, you generally abstain because you assume that maybe too many people are doing it already, so it may become tedious. Same thing for someone whose physical appearance is unusual.)

My point wasn't about what you are "free" to do -- of course you are probably free to say nice things to people unless they tell you to leave them alone. The question is about what it is polite to do. (It's a bit like what XKCD says about freedom of speech: https://xkcd.com/1357/)

Sure, this can annoy desirable people, but...

Suppose that people actually took your advice. Those desirable people, along with everybody else, would soon be lonely. In the long term, population would decline.

> Approaching a woman to let her know my 'intent' isn't 'unwanted sexual attention'

In some situations in some countries, especially in the workplace, it is unwanted sexual attention and it will cause problems for you.

I would never recommend this in the workplace unless you knew the person pretty well.

For one, after she's rejected you continuing to approach her. One rejection is all it should take.

So do you also do this with men?

Of course! It's not a sexual thing, unless you found them sexually attractive. But I do pay compliments to men if I want to.

A compliment probably shouldn't be sexual. Just a simple "I like your hair" or "I like you " even (though not really a compliment) but with no further content.

I'm surprised this passed ethics approval. I doubt you'd be allowed to perform such an experiment on random strangers these days.

Interesting question, but I would not that surprised if it did pass ethics approval. In some way, its no different from AB testing on a website/store/road/other public areas. The question that should be asked is if there is any harm caused, and asking how reasonable it is that someone gets psychological harm from the complement and the information that it was part of a sociology experiment with an opt-out choice afterward to not be included in the record. I recall that Mythbusters did several such experiments, like the "is yawning contagious" test.

Mythbusters doesn't have to go through university ethics boards. And I'd say that "yawn in front of someone" is considerably less intrusive than "proposition someone".

Why? Do you think we live in 17th century puritan Pennsylvania?

Any discussion of scientific studies of this kind of sensitive subject should be understood with the appropriate disclaimers. In particular, the is-ought fallacy: if experimental studies find out, backed with experimental explanations, that men and women tend to behave differently, it does not follow that discriminating them (by law or by social customs) is desirable or acceptable. It's very hard to avoid falling in the trap, but any factual thing that science tells us about humans cannot, in itself, be the justification of any kind of policy.

"The Naturalistic Fallacy": Simply because something is natural does not make it good.

Lava is natural, and food coloring is synthetic. Of which would you prefer to eat a pound?

Version 1.2

When Ralph Nader called plutonium "the most toxic substance known to man", physicist Bernard Cohen challenged him thusly: "I'll eat as much pure plutonium as you do caffeine, and we'll see who dies first." (Paraphrased.) Nader declined.

Also, a man named Albert Stevens was injected with 131kBq of Pu. He died 20 years later of heart disease, having accumulated a lifetime dose of some 64 Sv.

It's not just the dose that makes the poison, it's the method of administration.

Sadly it took me a while to realize how you could possibly make this challenge, but of course - it's all about bioavailability. Plutonium isn't actually all that dangerous radioactively (gamma emitters aren't very harmful internally).

Interesting question: could you survive swallowing a 1mL plutonium ball?

Because the LD50 of a 200lb/91kg human is about that amount of caffeine (20g).

Why we don't have any human data on the LD50 of plutonium, it is not likely to be any more toxic than uranium which has a LD50 of around 5g for the soluble salts.

A 20g plutonium ball should be harmless if swallowed. 20g of caffeine on the other hand won't be pleasant.

Do you mean "Appeal to nature"?

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_nature

I'm sorry, but from what I read in the Wikipedia article you linked to, "Simply because something is natural does not make it good" doesn't really match Moore's definition.

I've always seen the fallacy in question used as it is in the article, e.g. that one can't claim that something is good (in the ethical sense) because it is pleasurable.

Is there something I'm missing?

Nope, you're right. I've conflated the two.

It depends on the amount - dose maketh the poison.


Lol. Actually if it is a choice between a lb of uranium and a lb of some food colourings you might be better off going for the uranium. If it is in metallic form it should pass straight through your gut while the food colouring will get absorbed.

The human LD50 of soluble uranium salts is around 5g [1], but metallic uranium is not very soluble.

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18188051

Nice strawman.

Of course! When studies compare 2 distributions and see a significant difference in a summary statistic, that says nothing of the distributions or their overlap. The distributions themselves are rarely Gaussian and usually have significant long-tailed behavior. For example, a study may find group A is better at math than group B. A lay-person, usually a journalist, will take it to mean ALL group A's are better at math than ALL group B's, when that's clearly wrong. Because of the usual long-tailed behavior of these kinds of metrics, discriminating against group B because of the study will be inefficient.

What about studies showing that discrimination against a particular group yields a better outcome?

Better is relative to a utility function.

>> "Successful mating requires solutions of a number of difficult adaptive problems."

Haha. Almost sounds like you need a PhD to do it.

Why? Even a toddler can solve a number of difficult adaptive problems. Like walking or catching a ball. We tend to forget that what is difficult with machines, the body does with ease sometimes.


Moravec's paradox is the discovery by artificial intelligence and robotics researchers that, contrary to traditional assumptions, high-level reasoning requires very little computation, but low-level sensorimotor skills require enormous computational resources.

What they call (incorrectly) 'sex' is not mating.

Having kids is strongly inversely correlated with 'having sex'. (People who are most successful at reproducing are also the people with the fewest sexual partners and a less active sex life.)

I regret not having links to share, but studies show that married people on average have sex more often than unmarried people. Protestant couples (married) report having the most sex of any of the cohorts studied, though catholic couples had the highest subjective satisfaction rating - make of that what you will.

My interpretation: this is largely because most people, when they are single, struggle to find romantic partners. Many are also (at least ostensibly) looking for someone to marry, and so they try to optimize for that (sometimes) at the expense of more sex now.

I agree with the distinction you are making though.

You probably intended to say something reasonable, but what you wrote just doesn't make much sense.

The people having 4-5 kids aren't the people who got laid in highschool.

Moreover, some of the most successfully reproducing people are those who have sex once a year.

'Sex' is, by definition, something that's supposed to lead to reproduction. Whatever you're discussing here isn't.

The game has changed in major ways and contraception is one key part. Sex is detached from reproduction.

Didn't anyone review this prior to publication? There are so many typing errors that I can't take the text seriously.

There is something very wrong in the fact that sex is the only form of pleasure that you obtain from others.

Well, don't forget belonging, love, etc...

that does not create the pleasure response that our brains are wired for, its only food and sex.

It's a lot more pleasurable than just sex for a lot of people. I think your definition of "pleasure response" may be be a bit limited.

If you really think people love others unconditional with no prospects of gain, then you are living in a fair tail my friend.

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