[FoRK] Why Pretend?
jbone at place.org
Mon Apr 26 09:52:14 PDT 2010
The homo hypocritus hypothesis I’ve been exploring lately is that large fraction of modern behavior is explained by our evolved capacities and tendencies to pretend to do X while really doing Y. For each such X and Y, this raises a number of basic questions about how such a situation could be an equilibrium:
• Why is X not such a useful thing to do?
• Why is Y a particularly useful thing to do?
• Why do we like folks to think we usually do X?
• Why do we not like folks to think we usually do Y?
• Why do we tend to say we do X, and not Y?
• Why do we tend to say that our associates do X, not Y?
• Why do we tend to say that most people do X, not Y?
• Why are we oft unaware that we actually do Y not X?
• Why are we oft unaware associates are doing Y not X?
• Why are we unaware that in general folks usually do Y not X?
• Why do we start out in life assuming folks mostly do X?
• Why don’t we learn faster with experience that folks mostly do Y?
• Why don’t we believe those who tell us that most folks do Y not X?
• Why don’t those aware that folks do Y not X tell more other folks?
• Why do social norms tend to favor doing X over Y?
• Why do many norms make it easier to hide Y and pretend it is X?
• Why do some of us deviate, believing and saying most folks do Y not X?
• Why do some of us deviate, saying our associates do Y not X?
• Why do some of us deviate, saying we ourselves do Y not X?
I’ve broken this down into many specific questions to make it clear how much detail a full explanation must account for, and to admit I don’t have such a full explanation. I’ve heard many plausible stories that address some of these questions, but such stories usually make assumptions about answers to other questions. Some tentative explanation parts:
• Forager norms cut overt Y of dominance, bragging, sub-coalitions.
• Forager norms liked overt X of work, peace, sharing, bonding.
• Those who tend to do X more are more impressive or attractive.
• Those who better hide their Y, show their intelligence and social savvy.
• It can be hard to consistently say one thing and believe another.
• Unconscious communication and coordination is harder to see or verify.
• Those who believe X is common make better associates, in junior roles.
• X helps groups more than Y, giving group selection of X over Y norms.
• Groups that succeed in inducing more X look better to outsiders.
• Hidden coalitions can help each other hide their Y, and their coalition.
• Exposing someone’s Y can lead to retaliation by a hidden coalition.
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