Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Viewing the initial question from a perspective of social status the answers the article makes have pretty simple answers. Males competing between other males in video games and win gains a perceived gain in social status, so when they put down the game and face others around them there is a natural clash as the social status gain is seen nor recognized by the social environment outside the game. Aggression is common in most societies as the cultural accepted method to defend social status, so from outside it look like video games make males aggressive.

Females compete for social status more on social media, and thus social gains and losses occur on their mobile phone. As a result it look like social media cause females to become aggressive (with the cultural methods of aggressiveness that is appropriate in a given society).

With this perspective we get the exact behavior that the article highlight with no difference in brains. Same brain pathways, same biological reaction, just two different social status competitions (females vs females, males vs males) and two different cultural accepted behaviors when it comes to defending social status.

Where do you think those differences in social status competitions originate from if not from brain differences?

If we take a look at the animal kingdom, females compete for social status over other females in order to get the best males, and males compete for social status over other males in order to get the best females. Both does this in order to get the best offspring as part of evolution and natural selection. You get differences when there is a difference in investment during the reproduction, like egg and sperm.

Looking at humans it obvious also that there is a strong cultural aspect to it. In one culture the apex male attribute to reach the top of the social status ladder would be to go into the jungle and kill a lion with nothing but a spear. In an other it is to have the title of CEO and have a high number listed in a bank account. Both is about a social status hierarchy, but with very different method for competition.

Going back to the article, a man gains social status if he display superiority over other males in a video game. Why? Video games represent physical games which represent competition of strength and skills. We can imagine a culture where that would not gain any social status and then any association with aggressiveness would go away. No brain surgery required.

>In one culture the apex male attribute to reach the top of the social status ladder would be to go into the jungle and kill a lion with nothing but a spear. In an other it is to have the title of CEO and have a high number listed in a bank account.

These are very similar from a behavioral perspective because they both involve aggression and risk-seeking.

No. Inheritance plays a larger role in becoming a successful CEO/"professional" than it would in hunting a lion. The biggest lie Americans tell themselves is that the wealthy got wealthy by "taking risks" and that they deserve their wealth.

What takes more risk: having large amounts of capital accumulate wealth over time due or switching between multiple jobs, working longer hours, and being more stressed as you try to keep your family alive?

The second might be more stressful, but the first is more risky - you risk capital to make money, but getting paid is a direct exchange of hours for dollars.

Indeed, and from what I know the same is true for those at the top on social media platforms. I would think any hierarchy with mobility in it has aggression, risk-seeking and manipulation as key traits in those reaching and staying at the top.

Cultural acceptance / expectations account for a lot of behaviors. I played soccer & baseball as a boy because that was what was expected of me, not because I have some natural inclination to do so.

Did you? You telling me you got no innate enjoyment out of those activities? No rush or thrill when you scored a goal or caught a pop fly?

I mean, like, I was happy that I did well and all, but I don't think I was intrinsically excited about that kind of thing as a child.

Given your tone, it sounds like you sincerely believe that I am more likely to have positive feelings about doing well in a game than a girl is for reasons that are not cultural / social.

That's the premise of the article but not the premise of what I'm saying. I think that enjoyment in sports and games in general is an innate part of human psychology. I suspect there are differences on average across a population in what types of games or sports they prefer and that may be more cultural. But the general pattern is there isn't a civilization existing or past that hasn't had some sort of sporting or gaming events, and "play" is also found in many other species.

You would have to score a goal or catch a pop fly in order to experience those things.

My attempts at team sports when young were full of experiences of being insufficent and bullying or ostracism by the more athletic team members. So I didn't ask to go back and didn't join them later on for school teams, and had minimal interest in even observing them. Learning the rulesets was fine, I can follow an american football game, but I can't bring myself to actually care about teams or players or the league itself.

A bit tangential to that comment, there is a fascinating biological aspect to watching and caring about sport.

When people gain social status they produce more hormones which regulates how much effort is spent on defending social status. When a person win in a competition like sport their hormone rises. The interesting part is that for sport fans, their bodies also react just as they have gain status. The body mimic what it perceive as an extension of itself.

This explain a finding that in sport riots it is usually the winning side that "starts" the fight, through a more fair description is that the winning side reacts more extremely when they perceive to be challenged.

Well that seems to follow from dominance hierarchies and we tend to gravitate towards activities we excel in or have a good chance of excelling in, because we get innate enjoyment from being better than average at various things. And that is deeply wired in our psychological system.

So sure, if you're not skilled or naturally gifted in sports, there are other paths for you to achieve excellence. And that's perfectly fine.

Truth is, the vast majority of the people bullying you eventually dropped out of sports as they tried to climb the hierarchy themselves, whether in high school, college, or later. Society can only have so many pro sports players and so it goes. At least you got a head start on finding yourself and alignment with your interests and better talents.

I joined the school hockey team just because all of my friends were there. I didn't really care about the competition, just wanted to hang out with people and run around a bit.

In a way I used the sports team as a kind of social media.

I would submit that the brain differences are actually a byproduct of a larger dynamic.

Historically, pregnant women and women with small children faced much more difficulty capturing and maintaining adequate resources on their own. Predation, lower upper-body strength, releasing a scent for one week per month, not to mention the metabolic and time constraints created by nursing and mothering small children in general, all created huge, difficult barriers to survival for women.

Historically, men were able to gather more resources from the environment than they needed (primarily through hunting, but later through farming), so they could share their resources with the women and children. However, men didn't want to share their resources with the genetic offspring of other men, so they wanted monogamy in return for support.

At a high level, men gathered resources from their environment, and shared them in exchange for monogamy and adequate care for their offspring, and women, historically, gathered resources from relationships (with both men, for food, shelter, and protection, and from women for child care and protection).

This is the main cause for differentiation between men and women. Because of this division of capabilities, the brains of men and women began to differentiate and evolve because they faced different challenges in their environment.

Men needed to be able to hunt, to work, to go without food for longer periods of time, and to work as a group to hunt large game. Testosterone helps all of those activities. Those who were more successful at these activities had more progeny that survived.

Women needed to be able to successfully raise children, gather local food, process furs, and cook food.

Men would all go hunting together in groups to reduce/eliminate opportunities for philandering, and women would stay in groups to protect each other and to help care for each other's young.

This all got flipped around and mixed up by the industrial revolution, the world wars, antibiotics, vaccines, and birth control. IMO, this is the battleground of the current culture war, because for most of human history, resources were scarce and infant mortality was high. These arrangements have been in place for hundreds of thousands of years.

The recent change in access (and abundance) to resources I listed above (among many others) has fundamentally changed access to resources. As an illustration, the most pressing problem facing the poor class in America is obesity. This is unprecedented, and no one has a good guide for how to move forward.

> Historically, pregnant women and women with small children

These characteristics would have predated humans. Maybe pull the terminology back to male and female hominids in the future?

The crux of the argument is still there, and the point is still clear. This just feels a bit nitpicky to me.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact