The Nature of Being Human and How to Succeed in the Dynamic Human Marketplace (Part Two – Why Do We Do Anything? and the Sexual Strategies Women Pursue) – by Gary S. Smolker
For readers’ convenience the material which follows is a portion (approximately 1/7th) of a combination book report and movie review previously published/posted on this blog.
That entire article/post can be found at http://www.garysmolker.wordpress.com, posted on August 2, 2015.
Why Do We Do Anything?
According to Steven Quartz and Anette Asp (the authors of “Cool”) our brain has three behavior control systems:
- A survival oriented behavior control system
- A habit oriented behavior control system, and
- A goal oriented behavior control system.
Until I read “Cool”, I didn’t realize that evolution had rigged my brain to be biased to instant gratification; or that when there is a conflict between my brain’s survival instinct (survival behavior control system) with my brain’s goal oriented behavior control system my brain’s survival control system (seeking instant gratification) wins.
That explains how the survival behavior control system in our brain results in many of us becoming overweight – Most of us prefer sweet deserts over celery stalks (because of our survival control system), because our brain justifies a second trip to the desert bar by taking note of the possibility of a famine in the future.Most of us do not consciously realize that is the reason we prefer sweet deserts over celery stalks.
Grocery Cart Choice Architecture
According to Quartz and Asp: Two-thirds of the items in the typical shopper’s cart aren’t planned purchases.
There is a biological logic to that phenomena.
Unplanned purchases appear in the typical shopper’s cart because the human brain is a computational system which tells us for the purpose of survival it is more important to eat things with a lot of calories “while the getting is good” than to put off eating them for another time.
The sweet and fatty goods we reflexively put in our grocery cart taste good because evolution has shaped our brain to align our eating preferences with the evolutionary beneficial goal of survival by making us want to eat sweet and fatty foods.
That is why our “taste” for sweet foods and fatty foods has such a strong sway over us.
- The reason why you consume sweet and fatty foods is that you have an evolutionary driven biological instinct to survive.
- The survival control behavior system in your brain thinks eating sweets and fatty foods will increase your chance of survival.
BEWARE: Although “fat” is the “metabolic dollar in the bank” stored for future energy needs, crucial for survival during times of food storage, the fat you eat will be the fat you will wear no matter the source.
“Good fat” like olive oil is no more attractively worn around a person’s waistline than “bad fat” from lard.
In “Cool”, Quartz and Asp explain:
- We buy items in a grocery store on impulse that will increase our pleasure short-term (which is a survival oriented behavior) even if doing so will decrease our chances of meeting long-term goals.
- Our brain prefers “survival” (instant gratification) over long-term goals.
The physical presence of a good (such as a bag of potato chips or Cheetos) triggers programmed responses, such as the impulse to reach for the bag of potato chips or Cheetos automatically.
Reaching for a bag of potato chips or Cheetos is the result of a survival process that launches motor behaviors to contact the bags of potato chips and Cheetos.
The Shopping Cart of Dieters
According to Quartz and Asp: “A striking example of this can be found in the shopping carts of dieters, which are likely to be filed with more calorically dense items and fewer fruits and vegetables than those of non-dieters – the very food choices that sabotage diets. Here’s what’s happened: The dieter’s hypothalamus senses a caloric deficit. That can only mean one thing: ‘You are starving!’ The right course of action is to adjust the Survival value system, upping the value of calorically dense foods while lowering the value of calorically sparse foods. These altered values create cravings for foods such as potato chips, bread, pies, ice cream, and other calorie-rich fare. Without being aware of what the hypothalamus is up to, the dieter finds a cart full of the wrong foods.”
After I read the above quote in “Cool” I asked a friend of mine who is a exercise physiologist if the above quote made sense to her.
In reply, she told me: ”
- “Right after the Northridge Earthquake I had an irrepressible and irresistible urge to eat Hostess Cupcakes and Hostess Twinkies.
- “I hadn’t eaten Hostess cupcakes or Hostess Twinkies or thought of eating them in over twenty years.
- “But, after the earthquake, I realized I could die at any moment and with that in mind I went out and got myself lots of Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies and ate all of them.
- “I have not eaten Hostess cupcakes or Hostess Twinkies since them.
- “I hadn’t thought of them since then, until You [I] asked if that quote made sense.
Sex and Sexual Strategies Women Pursue
According to Quartz and Asp: Two forms of behavior are intimately connected to survival (our own and that of our genes): food and sex.
In “Cool”, Quartz and Asp ask: Why would a shrewd politician risk a successful career for a brief tryst?
They provide the following explanation:
‘While we are not enslaved by our Survival system, its pull is strong and its myopia great, and we inevitably fall back into Survival patterns despite concerted efforts to avoid them.”
According to Quartz and Asp a human being’s survival instinct, biology and evolution has shaped human (men’s and woman’s) sexual activities and strategies.
Women choose men with a certain type of face (a rugged face) as a one night stand sexual partner and a woman’s evaluation of male job applicants is controlled by the type of face a man has and where that woman is in her cycle.
Female preferences for male faces are not fixed but fluctuate across a woman’s cycle and according to their own relationship status
Women’s preferences shift towards the more masculine (rugged faces) when they are in the follicular phase of their cycle, when conception is most likely.
This shift in preferences towards more-masculine faces also coincides with the frequency of short-term mating and extra-partner affairs. Sexual affairs are 2.5 times more likely when a woman is ovulating.
What women wear to attract men’s sexual attention (how much skin they show and how tight their clothes are) shifts according to where a woman is in her cycle.
Women going to a club during this phase wear shorter skirts and show more skin than they doing during other parts of their cycle. Women are three times more likely to wear pink or red when they are ovulating.
When presented with photographs of women taken across their cycle, independent judges are able to reliably identify when a woman is ovulating based on assessing when the women are trying to look most attractive.
According to Quartz and Asp:
These shifts in how women evaluate male faces impact more than just mating strategies. In one study, women were given resumes of various male job applicants that included the man’s picture (the faces had independently been rated in terms of masculinity). They were asked to assign the candidates to various job positions, which differed in terms of salary, perks, office size, and so on. The assigned positions shifted across the women’s cycle. In particular, they assigned more high-status positions to highly masculine faces when they were near ovulation or ovulating.
In “Cool” the authors ask you to imagine looking at the faces of Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic and Daniel Craig in his role as James Bond. Or, if you prefer, to think of Orlando Bloom and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Craig and Schwarzenegger have much more masculine rugged faces than do DiCaprio and Bloom.
In “Cool” the authors then tell you
- which “kind of face” people typically think is more trustworthy,
- which face type heterosexual women typically judge (cuter vs. rugged) as being better potential long term partners and/or to be a better potential short-term hookups,
- what women want sexually and how they behave sexually during different times in their cycle.
According to the authors, “… what we look for in a partner[‘s face] depends on the kind of relationship we are after, and especially the duration.”
The casting director of “Trainwreck” deserves to receive an academy award for casting men with the face types the authors of “Cool” tell us women are likely to pick for short-term hookups as the actors to play the parts of the men with whom the star of this movie (a younger sister) has short-term hookups.
In the opening scene of “Trainwreck”, a father asks his two very young daughters to repeat after him: “Monogamy doesn’t work.”
The rest of the movie is about the youngest daughter’s “sex life.”
This movie makes fun of traditional concepts of the relationship of men with women and of women with men.
In “Trainwreck” the main character is a younger sister who is an aggressive sex driven woman — she has one-night-stand-sex with many different men throughout the movie.
Eventually, the main character (the younger sister) falls in love with a man who has the face type the authors of “Cool” tell us women judge to be a better potential long term partner.
Copyright © 2015 Gary Smolker, All Rights Reserved