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What do women want. tell me what all the things women want. in a longterm mate. and so i would start at one end of the. blackboard there were like five. blackboards and they said well i want a. mate who’s. who’s kind who’s understanding who’s. intelligent who’s healthy who’s got a. good sense of humor who shares my values. and and i just go and fill five. blackboards and then run out of space so. then i turn to the men and i say well. what do men want and then i i run out of. space after about a blackboard and a. half because they they can’t think of. anything else. so the women i think there’s a lot of. explanations for that. the following is a conversation with. david buss evolutionary psychologist at. ut austin researching human sex. differences in mate selection. he’s considered one of the founders of. evolutionary psychology and has authored.

Many exciting and challenging books. including the evolution of desire. strategies of human mating. bad men the hidden roots of sexual. deception harassment and assault. and the murderer next door why the mind. is designed to kill. we talk a lot about sex dating. relationships and love. i take these at times controversial. topics very seriously. but. i also try to inject humor and. ridiculousness throughout this. conversation and all conversations i do. please do not mistake my silliness for. lack of seriousness. and my seriousness for a lack of. silliness. and above all do not mistake my suit and. tie or my. phd. as a sign of intelligence or wisdom. i barely know what i’m talking about on. most days i’m simply curious and hoping. to understand the way a child does what. the heck is going on in this weird and. wonderful civilization of ours.

If i say something stupid as i often do. i promise to learn and to improve. as mark twain said. i do not want my schooling to interfere. with my education. openminded curiosity i think is the. best guide for a proper. and fun lifelong education. this is the lex friedman podcast to. support it please check out our sponsors. in the description and now dear friends. here’s david bus. what is more important in the history of. the development of human civilization. sex or violence. so mating strategies or military. strategies. oh well both are important i mean uh. first of all. humans are sexually reproducing species. and so everything has to go through sex. you know so in. our our mating psychology has to be very. rich and complex. because uh to succeed. for us to be here now. all of our ancestors in an unbroken. chain. have had to succeed in selecting a.

Fertile mate attracting that mate. be mutually chosen by that mate. stay together long enough do all the. sexual things you need to do to. reproduce have the kids survive etc so. everything has to go through mating and. in that sense i think it’s uh i mean. survival is really only. a means to an end if you if you will. uh so uh so sex has got to be important. and humans have a very rich. evol sexual psychology or an evolved. mating psychology okay but. uh i wouldn’t minimize the importance of. violence either there’s a ton of. evidence that humans evolved in the. context of small groups. and with a fair amount of small group. warfare. so intertribal warfare. uh where uh and this is a harsh. realization but. there historically um this is part of. our bad evolutionary history it has been. advantageous from a purely reproductive.

Standpoint to. conquer. a neighboring group kill the males. and. get whatever resources they have. including. females and and sexual resources to as. well as tools weapons territory and so. forth and so. um and so i think that we have uh of. course it’s it’s typically males. um. who do that i mean yes some females have. participated in warfare but. as far as i know there’s never been a. single case in all of human recorded. history of women forming a war tribe. with other women to attack another group. of women and kill them and capture the. men. as husbands. but the these uh this phenomenon is. common um in the ethnographic record. and small group uh studies. um it’s part of our common thing so just. one concrete example unfortunately he’s. dead now he passed away napoleon chagnon. who studied the yanamamo for many many.

Years. um when he first started interviewing. them he he asked them. you know why do you go to war um and. they said well. to to capture women of course what it’s. the only sensible. reason and they said you know why do why. does your culture go to war or however. they phrased it and he said well you. know we could work for to spread. democracy and ideas and everything they. basically fell off their logs laughing. at such a stupid reason because why risk. your life for anything. um other than women of course it’s more. complex than that because. some. go to war for. reputational reasons they say if we if. we don’t. retaliate because we’ve been attacked. and they’ve stolen three of our women if. we don’t retaliate then we will get a. reputation as exploitable and then other. groups will start to attack us as well. and so they get into these cycles of um.

You know like the hatfields and mccoys. of attacks counterattacks retribution. and part of it is is um. reputation management. um so that’s that’s between groups and. and i think that’s been the the primary. source of. violence but not the only source so. there’s also within group conflict and. so many. ethnographies many traditional societies. have. things some of them are ritualized like. wrestling matches or. in diana mama they have uh these uh. we’re used to these uh chest pounding. duels where so if we’re in this match. you challenge me and. i have to of course chest pounding duel. like this yeah yeah so it’s not you’re. not hitting each other you’re just it’s. like peacocking you oh no you’re hitting. each other oh sorry yeah so they they. get 20 paces away and they they run up. and. you punch the other guy in the chest and.

He has to basically stand there. and then he does the same and everything. oh wow uh and then. it’s basically last man standing that’s. well i suppose that’s better than the. face. that’s an interesting decision with the. chest yeah i mean i’m sure if you get. good at that kind of thing you could. start breaking ribs yeah and you can get. loose about the rules of where exactly. in the chest you can hit whatever. and there’s that guy who’s always known. for hitting not exactly in the chat. right where is it only missing right. right the the mike tyson of. eating your ear off so interesting so. there’s like ritualized uh conflict sort. of uh. you purify the. um the competition. that that that resolves some kind of. issue well yeah it’s important to. establish status hierarchies you know um. but um. but also and here’s here’s just another.

One more concrete point on on that the. yanaman we don’t have this in our. language we just have one word for. kill or murder but. mama have um you’re either an una if. you’re a male you’re an unokai or a. nonunokai. the nonunokai are men who have not. killed. if you’re an unokai that means you have. killed someone and the unokai. among the anamomo historically had. higher status and more wives said. they’re a uh poliginous. uh society which is which has been true. of um something like 83 to 85 percent of. uh traditional societies. were actually i was just corrected by a. anthropologist she said we no longer. call them traditional societies we call. them smallscale societies so nothing. can be called traditional. i i don’t know bacteria the traditional. society yeah yeah i think it’s just uh. one of these things the language the.

Word the the words that are deemed. appropriate to use to describe things. change over time. so. yeah so words can hurt people they can. inspire people words are funny powerful. things. you authored the textbook titled. evolutionary psychology the new science. of mind in its uh sixth edition. what is the magic ingredient that gave. birth to homo sapiens. do you think is it fire cooking. ability to collaborate. share ideas ability to contemplate our. own mortality. all that kind of stuff yeah well i think. it’s hard to isolate one factor i know. uh i know you’ve had richard wrangham on. this podcast it was a wonderful. wonderful interview and. uh he used to be a colleague of mine. when i was a professor at michigan and. um i’ve stayed in touch with him uh on. off he’s a brilliant brilliant guy and. he thinks. fire and cooking have been one of the.

Key things but i think it’s hard to. isolate. i would trace at least part of our. uniqueness to uh the uniqueness of our. mating system so we have in in mating uh. unlike chimpanzees who are our closest. primate relative and of which richard. wrangham is is a world’s expert but they. have basically no longterm pure bonded. mating okay they female comes into. estrus. all the mating all the sex happens most. of the sex happens during that window. but humans have evolved longterm pure. bonded mating. uh and it’s it’s only one mating. strategy but it’s a really important one. and then you have with that. male parental care so basically again we. go back to chimps and chimps. with whom we share more than 98 of our. dna. males don’t do anything so they. inseminate the females but then when the. kids are born they basically don’t do.

Much of anything in terms of. provisioning and so forth but human. males do we invest in the modern. environment could be decades you know. especially with the boomerang kids and. everything but. we’re. not all males do. but compared to. the vast majority of mammals we are a. very heavy. male parental. investment species could you uh if it’s. okay and i’ll ask you a bunch of dumb. basic questions. because those are fun uh could you. define mating here how we is mating. refer to the. the the series of sexual acts that lead. to reproduction is it include like. dating and love and camaraderie. uh. loyalty all those things yes uh i you. know yes yeah when i first started. studying yeah i don’t respect it’s when. i first started studying it i looked for. the right. term and. obviously it’s much broader than sex so. by mating i include.

Things like mate selection. mate preferences made attraction mate. retention mate poaching um made. expulsions i mean poaching that sounds. fun so the early the uh the game. theoretics strategy made selection is. primary with mating what meeting is. about or do you include. the long term. once uh you agree. that you’re gonna stick this out for a. while and have multiple children is that. also amazing yes i include that as well. so it’s it’s a broad category broad. definition and and absolutely includes. the emotion of love um and. of course there are many different types. of brotherly love love parents for. children. uh but love i think uh and this is one. of the shifts in the social sciences so. when i was an undergraduate for example. i was taught that love is this um. invention by some caucasian european. poets a couple hundred years ago and um.

And it turns out that’s not the case so. you you there’s been extensive. crosscultural. evidence now that um that people not. every person in all cultures of course. but all some people in all cultures. experience this emotion that we call. love and for the word love. are we going to in this conversation try. to stick to sort of romantic love for. the the. for the meaning of the word love well. they’re uh that’s that’s a great. question but um i mean they’re uh it’s. pretty well established that there are. these different phases of love so. there’s this uh infatuation phase where. uh our psychology we we get obsessional. thoughts it’s hard to focus on work when. we’re not with the person we’re thinking. about the other person constantly uh so. there’s kind of like ideolog. ideational intrusion. into our psychology but you you can’t.

Sustain that i mean it would be. uh and then of course. there’s a uh. pardon the phrase but what i describe is. the like bunnies phase of of. this you know intense sexuality but. people have other adaptive problems they. have to solve. and so you can’t stay in that state for. too long and so that subsides over time. and um. and develops into uh at least in many. cases this warm attachment cuddling. bunnies longterm cuddling bunnies yes. the face of the relationship but still. romantic not like brotherly love or. you know because i i talk about a lot of. love a lot and for me. you know love is a broader. experience of just um. experiencing the joy. and the beauty of life so like just. looking out in nature yeah that’s the. kind of love like whatever the chemicals. that lead to a feeling that at least. echoes the same kind of feeling that you.

Get with romantic love you can. experience that with even inanimate. objects that sounds weird to say but. just. a gratitude and appreciation. um not in some kind of uh weird zen way. but just in a very human way just it. feels good to be alive kind of yeah yeah. yeah i guess i i would i mean that’s an. interesting thought i hadn’t thought. about. that i guess there i would use other. terms to describe that so like the term. ah. for example when you see a beautiful. sunset you know that’s why i kind of. started out by saying i think there are. different types of love and i’m focusing. on the mating type and we’ll talk about. that but so yeah there is a sense of. beauty. and there’s a sense of. sexual appeal maybe that’s a good and. those intersect in fascinating ways. we’ll we’ll talk about that okay we’ll. talk about all that but you’re saying.

Mating. strategies not that we’ve kind of. uh placed ourselves what we mean by. mating mating strategies. is one of the cool features. that made humans what they are one of. the initial inventions is is the weird. uh weird and wonderful ways that we mate. yeah and. i mean if you go to. even things like um. how we compete for mates and this is. another kind of strange for some people. angle on it but. mating is inherently a competitive. process. in that desirable mates are in. secure supply relative to the numbers of. people who want them. and so even. even post mating after that is after. mate selection made attraction a mutual. mate choice. uh desirable that’s why there’s mate. poaching mate poaching is one of the. strategies that. we in my lab with david schmidt. have studied. and so. okay but one of the unique aspects of.

Humans is that we compete using language. and that is we have reputations and. humans devote a lot of effort to. maintaining their reputations to. building their reputations to. trying to recover uh. reputations after uh a loss of. reputation for various reasons but we we. compete for mates um using. language and that includes. sending signals to the person that we’re. trying to attract using language. um. verbal fluency and you know obviously. some more recent things like poetry. but also we use language to derogate our. competitors. so. one of the papers i published very early. on it was a research project on. derogation of competitors. the the ways in which people impugn the. status character and reputations of. their rivals. with the goal of making them less. desirable. to. other people and humans do that and. uh women and men both do that so.

It’s an interesting thing that were male. competitions we were talking about the. yanamamo earlier and some of these. overt physical or what what animal. biologists call contest competition. where there’s a physical battle. uh males do that and so a lot of the. early attention on. mate competition was focused on these. sort of ostentatious. overt battles in contest competition. but we compete through language. um and uh and so there’s this big. overlooked domain of women the ways in. which women compete with each other. using language and one of the things. that astonished me is how. observant. women are about the. subtle. imperfections in their rivals and take. pains to point them out so. just just this is uh two random examples. i went to a party. this is back in in my youth but went to. a party with uh. my girlfriend at the time.

And uh and i got into this conversation. with another woman who happened to be. very attractive. but um but then we leave the party and. she said something just casually. offhanded like said did you notice that. um her thighs were heavy and. i hadn’t but next time i saw her this. other woman i. found my attention being drawn to check. out her thigh well. and originally it puzzled me. why women would deregulate other women. on appearance well they do it of course. because men prioritize. appearance but i thought well the man. can see. the woman directly with his own eyes why. would verbal input. alter his perceptions of how attractive. he was and i think that. part of it is i think there are actually. a couple two quick answers to that one. is the attentional one so our. attentional field sure when they draw. attention to it the.

Those what could be very small. deviations from perfect symmetry or. whatever they are become magnified in. our attentional field. but the other is that. um. who we have as a mate is also a. reflection of our own status. um and and we you saw this in a kind of. um overt and uh. way in the uh. the earlier the last presidential not. the last part of the the. uh 2016 presidential election where uh. donald trump was saying. this was when he was in competition with. ted cruz i think in the primary he said. look look at my wife look at ted cruz’s. life and. wife and he really impugned the. appearance of ted cruz’s. wife so using language you can. alter the um the dynamics of the social. hierarchy the status hierarchy sorry so. like you can change the values subtly or. if you have a large platform in big ways. you can move things around just with.

Your words yeah yeah that’s right right. and fascinating. because it’s all socially constructed. anyway so this uh i mean the question i. have is you said there’s the interesting. thing about mating strategies is there’s. a small. pool of desirable mates. and what the word desirable means is. socially defined almost by on purpose to. make sure the pool always stays small i. would have a couple thoughts on that now. it’s an interesting issue set of issues. you raise okay one is that. we i think we have evolved adaptations. part of our psychology is to detect. differences. um and so this is why. um like a i don’t know a a martian or an. alien coming down. they might look at humans and say boy. they all look alike. as one just like we look at i don’t know. zebras or whatever we think they all. look look alike. um but. what’s important in decision making.

Especially in the mating domain or even. friendship domain or or coalitional. selection domain is the differences. and and so i i noticed this just a. concrete example of this. uh i was sitting around this is again. ages ago uh. watching a um. something like a miss america beauty. contest and people in there with a bunch. of other people and they were saying boy. did you see miss north carolina what a. dog and and so yeah this is astonishing. so here are like a 50 contestants who. are selected as the most attractive in. their state presumably um although they. claim it’s based on talent um but um. but we noticed the differences um. and and. uh and this is why i would push back a. little bit on the term socially. constructed because i think it’s. um. there are many different. meanings of that of that phrase and. one meaning.

That some people have one connotation is. that it’s arbitrary and i don’t think. it’s arbitrary so. uh this has been another shift in. understanding. standards of beauty where it used to be. believed in the in the social sciences. you can’t judge a book by its cover. beauty is only. the skin deep. uh you know don’t judge people on the. superficial characteristics. but in fact. physical appearance provides a wealth of. information. about the health status of someone their. in the case of males their physical. formidability. and we have formidability assessment. adaptations and then fertility as well. so there are a very predictable set of. cues to fertility that have evolved to. be part of our. standards of attractiveness and and. they’re not arbitrary there are some. culturally arbitrary ones so like. you go to the the maori in new zealand.

For example and they find tattoos on. their lips to be very attractive. so there are some culturally arbitrary. things um but standards of beauty like. uh cues to youth cues to health. uh in women clear skin uh full lips. clear eyes lustrous hair. um a small waist hip ratio that is. circumference of the waist relative to. the hips. uh is a cue to youth infertility and and. acute health symmetrical features so we. are a bilaterally bilaterally. symmetrical species but we all have. we all have uh deviations from perfect. symmetry that are due to. different things so mutation load. uh environmental insults diseases during. development and so forth. all right but that that’s kind of deeply. biological like there’s cues that. indicate something. that is biologically true about a. particular human so if we we’ll talk. about both men and women.

Uh so we’re now talking about what. men want. in the mating strategies when they look. at women. so you’re saying small waist. to hip ratio right. is. how much of that is our deep biological. past on top of which we can build all. kinds of different standards of beauty. so you know we have many. things going on in our brain. our value of other. humans in selecting a mate. might uh incorporate a lot more. variables. as we get into the 21st century so how. quickly does. our. valuation of a mate. uh evolve relative to the evolution of. um. the human species. they’re using evolving the sense of. culturally culturally evolved and then. relative to biologically evolve yeah uh. well i think that there are um. there are some things that are. biologically evolved some standards. standards of attractiveness. um and there are some of the things that.

I mentioned so in male evaluation of. females let me back up and just say what. is the underlying logic why would we. have standards of attractiveness so. um. here’s the interesting thing and this. gets back to your earlier question about. what is. unique to humans or what distinguishes. us or what set us off on the path that. we did. is. chimpanzee males. do not have any difficulty. figuring out when a female is fertile. she signals that like crazy with the. bright red genital. swelling uh olfactory cues she goes into. estrus. in humans we have and this was actually. a third thing that i wanted to add. earlier we have concealed ovulation okay. relatively concealed ovulation which is. remarkable given how close we are. primatologically to to chimpanzees. and so um uh there’s there’s a little. bit of evidence that. there are subtle changes that occur when.

Women ovulate non. women not on hormonal contraceptives but. it’s mostly concealed but it is it is. largely concealed i think that’s a. feature of bug in uh like do we evolve. that is that is that a. cool and a powerful invention for the. human species i think it’s it’s an. adaptation in women that women have. evolved concealed ovulation. and i think it’s a feature not a bug. it gives more would it give more power. for women. to select. a mate there are a couple different. hypotheses about it but the one that i. think is. most plausible uh is that. you know if again comparing it to chimps. fema goes into estrus the male just has. to try to monopolize her while she’s in. that estrus phase and then they. basically ignore the females after that. if you can’t know when if when a woman. is fertile. then you have to stick around a lot.

Longer and so i think longterm pair. bonding. coevolved with concealed ovulation. and with that also a very different form. of sexuality which is that we have sex. throughout the. ovulatory cycle. um and uh chimps don’t you know there’s. there’s a little bit of mating a little. bit of sex toward the edges of the um. ester cycle but but very little so that. that actually makes mating. a more fundamental part of um. interaction between humans than it does. for chimps so meaning like. yearround every day i’m constantly. selecting amazing in terms of. biologically speaking so what else what. else do men want. today in the 21st century versus. in the caveman days a wonderful question. to answer it though i have to. distinguish between. longterm mating and short-term mating. uh and in longterm mating it gets very. complicated.

So as as a uh that’s one way to put it. yeah. uh well well so i teach a course in in. human sexuality at university of texas. at austin and. um one of the things this was back in. the days when there were chalkboards and. you and you taught with a piece of chalk. and wrote things on the board. and what i would do is i would ask the. class i’d teach this the large class one. to 200. i’d say what do women want. tell me what all the things women want. in a longterm mate. and so i would start at one end of the. blackboard there were like five. blackboards and they said well i want a. mate who’s who’s kind who’s. understanding who’s intelligent who’s. healthy who’s got a good sense of humor. who shares my values and and i just go. and fill five blackboards and then run. out of space. and and so you the first this large.

Number of characteristics that people. want and then. specific magnitudes of those. characteristics or or amounts so i say. you you want a mate who’s say generous. with their resources and they say yes i. what makes jennifer the research so i. said so like a guy who this is a women’s. mate selection the guy who at the end of. every month gets his paycheck and gives. it to the uh local wino um on on the. dragon i said well no not that generous. okay generous toward me. not not indiscriminately generous and so. you want a mate who’s um. ambitious you know who’s a hard worker. yes but but not a workaholic you know. and so uh. and so then you get to interactions. among different characteristics so. there’s a lot of characteristics a lot. of variables in this very complex. optimization problem for women yes. that’s right and more so for women than.

For men so and then i turned it to men. and i say well what do men want and then. i i run out of space after about a. blackboard and a half because they they. can’t think of anything else. so the women i think there’s a lot of. explanations for that. besides. the lack of the number of variables it’s. also you know um. i mean that’s interesting so what what’s. the difference between the variables so. on the men’s side what are the variables. well they’re in longterm base flexion. there there’s a lot of overlap sure okay. um so. things like intelligence. um good health. sense of humor um. an agreeable personality someone who’s. not too. neurotic or moody or or. emotionally volatile. but there are key differences as well. and the differences stem from they. basically fall on the delimited number. of domains so for men it’s physical.

Attractiveness physical appearance and. youth are the two real big ones okay men. prioritize those. more than women do and so that’s why you. have phenomena such as uh this quote. love at first sight where sometimes men. can walk into a party and they see a. woman across the room and say that i’m. going to marry that woman that’s the. woman for me women very rarely do that. now most men do don’t do that either but. men are much more inclined to fall in. love at first sight that’s because they. prioritize physical appearance. why because physical appearance provides. that this wealth of information. about a woman’s fertility status and. this is from from an evolutionary. perspective from a purely reproductive. perspective. in in a business school they would call. it job one. job one is you have to select a fertile.

Mate. so those who in our evolutionary past. who selected infertile mates so. postmenopausal women for example. um did not become our ancestors so we. are all the descendants of this long and. unbroken chain of ancestors who all of. whom success succeeded in selecting a. fertile mate but fertility cannot be. observed directly. uh it can’t use some cues. exactly and and there are cues that are. probabilistically related to this. underlying quality of fertility that we. can’t observe directly and we’re doing. that computation in our heads what about. men. what do men want for shortterm mating. well so for shortterm mating um. for both sexes uh physical appearance uh. looms very large so so inc so women are. no physical attractiveness and. appearance they’re important for women. in longterm mate selection so i don’t.

Want to. um mislead anyone on that they’re just. not as important as they are for men. um and so a lot of characteristics come. for women before physical appearance. physical attractiveness. um. so women. so if we switch to women what do women. want they want. also physical appearance for shortterm. mating yeah phys physical attractiveness. what else uh well some cues that. represent physical attractiveness that. maybe represent health well here’s this. is your. i’m learning a lot here yeah well so but. you’re also asking a very interesting. question about uh what is a. controversial within the evolutionary. psychology. field right right and not totally. resolved so that’s why you’re on the. sixth edition of the book and there. could be a lot more additions coming. yeah i revised it every four years or so. because there’s four years of um new.

Interesting work and so it deserves. updating but. the. traditional i should say uh. answer to your question is that women go. for good genes cues to good genes in the. short term. and. cues to resources in the long term and. this has been a hypothesis that. advocated i didn’t come up with this. this one um. by um. steve gangstad a former student of mine. marty hales and randy thornhill and some. other um. very smart players in the field. and um and what they used as uh. markers of good genes are things like. symmetrical features. uh and masculine features so. strong jawline high shoulder to hip. ratio. you know other other sorts of masculine. features. but i started to doubt this. explanation for what women want in the. short term. because of some other. findings so for for women a lot of. shortterm mating is not. onenight stand mating so.

But rather it’s uh a fair mating. so uh so if you ask the question why do. women have affairs. so let’s restrict the question for a. moment. my colleagues would argue well women. have affairs because they’re trying to. get good genes from one guy. while they’re getting an investment from. the regular partner the the husband. okay but the problem is that when women. have affairs. uh 70 plus percent tend to fall in love. with or become attached to their a fair. partner. now outside what percentage 70 yeah 70. some large majority yeah 70 percent. or more. in contrast to men where it’s more like. 30 percent of men who have affairs. fall in love with or become attached to. their fair partner. so but from a design perspective um an. engineering perspective if you will uh. that’s a disastrous thing if you’re just. trying to get good genes so you’re.

Trying to retain the investment of one. guy yeah while getting good genes. surreptitiously from this you know guy. who presumably has more. falling in love with them becoming. attached that’s that’s not a feature you. want yeah it’s bad engineering yeah. exactly it’s bad engineering and so and. so i developed a an alternative uh. hypothesis that i call the. mateswitching hypothesis. which is that um. affairs are one way in which women. divest themselves of a. a cost inflicting partner or a partner. who. things aren’t working out well with and. it’s a way to either transition back. into the mating market or to or to trade. up in in the mating market. uh and and so and anyway so these are. these are probably the two leading. hypotheses about why why women have. affairs and i. am putting my money on the mate. switching hypothesis um.

My. esteemed colleagues are putting their. money on the good genes hypothesis but i. think. the evidence for the good genes. hypothesis is starting to um. look shakier than initially. but this is a heated debate i mean made. squishing sounds like a so from a game. theory perspective from an engineering. perspective seems to make a lot more. sense unless you put a lot of value. in lifelong sort of in the long term. mating. uh some kind of. value in the um lifelong singular. relationship like monogamy yeah. and maybe we do psychologically maybe. there’s a big. evolutionary advantage to that and we we. do but we also know that divorce is you. know um and breakups are are also common. that occur in all cultures so yeah um. we’re just not very good at this thing. well either we’re not good at the mate. selection. such that.

Uh maybe we’re. we’re not incorporating. all the variables well or we’re just not. good at monogamy period. from an evolutionary perspective well i. think they’re. that’s. a debate no that’s raises an interesting. set of questions so i think that. i mean one issue is is longevity so i. mean we didn’t live. to be 70 80. years old. and over 99 of human evolutionary. history and so we didn’t necessarily. evolve to be. mated monogamously with one person for. decades and decades and decades. but i also think that. longterm peer bonding is a critical. strategy but mate switching is also a. critical strategy so if you have a mate. for example who. becomes cost inflicting or becomes. sufficiently debilitated or who. suffers. an injury such that like in. huntergatherer societies where the mate. can no longer. hunt can no longer provide resources for.

Their kids and and and the woman. this becomes this becomes a problem and. so uh and so i think that we have. adaptations to mate switch and to divest. ourselves from. some partners and trade up in the mating. market under certain conditions. so okay and those conditions will differ. from men and women what are some of the. cues. in terms of what women want um you know. i’ll go to the gym. so a hotly contested debate you said. evolutionary psychology and this is uh. in the uh bro psychology forums that i. visit uh multiple times a day and no i’m. just kidding uh what what what’s the. most important cue of appearance. for guys. um. what muscle group is the most important. to work on do women care about biceps is. what i’m asking in terms of physical. appearance um. uh. a a good um. shoulder to hip ratio. so. relatively wide shoulders relative to.

Hips um. is is one. women tend to prefer men who are uh. physically fit and. well. toned but not. muscle bound so like if you go to oh i. don’t know someone like. those early when arnold schwarzenegger. was. doing the. mis mr whatever it was contest you see. the women don’t find those attractive. the extremely musclebound guys but they. like. a guy who’s physically fit high shoulder. to hip ratio. they like guys who are physically taller. than they are. and guys who are a bit above average in. in height so. if the average so if uh. you know the average is i don’t know. five nine five ten and out there for. humans depending on the culture women. prefer uh an inch or two taller than. that. um so um so shoulders. height. dad bod. wha what’s that about why don’t why why. do you want a dad by what why do you. why why not how do i define.

Wait what is a dad bod dad bot is not. musclebound okay so out of shape a. little no no no just a little bit. a little bit of uh. uh cushion for the pushing i don’t know. what the kids call it these days uh but. just a little bit a little bit of fat so. what’s why do they not want guys to be. obsessed with their body is that or is. that some evolutionary thing. yeah i think that um. women. might interpret a guy who is so obsessed. with his body that he’s uh they might. view that as a sign of narcissism yes. um and that’s not a good trait. uh. what about like cultures where. large sort of overweight men are valued. is that how do you explain. like how much can we override the. evolutionary desires with our sort of. cultural. fashions of the day that maybe represent. other. desirable aspects like wealth well. wealth is.

Resources have always been important. um especially to women so is a man. able to acquire resources and is he. willing to dispense them to her and her. kids so that’s always important in. traditional cultures that boils down to. hunting skills so. if so i have to. call a friend kim hill who’s uh probably. the world’s leading expert on the aceh. of paraguay. and uh and you ask him like what what. leads to high status in the aceh in. males hunting skills that’s that’s nice. one the one thing the big variable and. that’s resources and that’s resources. now what’s what’s interesting about. modern culture is we have cash economies. but cash economies are relatively recent. and. you know historically there’s over the. vast uh 99 of human evolutionary history. you weren’t able to stockpile resources. in the way that you are today.

Um. although there are interestingly certain. ways you can do it so so like you you. kill a large game animal okay you bring. it back you get some status points. because you. give some to your family you can share. it more widely with the group etc. um but um but it’s going to go bad right. you can’t just say i’m going to keep. this carcass around for the next several. months okay but. and and i think i think it’s a steve. pinker who might have used coin this. phrase that they they store the meat in. the bodies of other people and so for. example they store it in their friends. so. you know um. hunting success is uh. you know it’s it’s a hit or miss kind of. thing so you might come back. emptyhanded. four times out of five. but and but when you do you share your. meat with others and then when. you know and then they reciprocate by.

Sharing their meat with you and so and. so you can store resources in the bodies. of other people which is i think an. interesting way to think about it but. that can only go so far and when you. have cash economies you have both the. ability to stockpile resources but also. this kind of explosion and. inequality of resources. and that’s evolutionarily recent what. about now this is the difference between. the hubermann the excellent huberman lab. podcast that you did that people should. listen to. he is a brilliant scientist a um. sort of. uh. a rigorous analyst of what is true in. the scientific community also helps you. with great advice on how to live now in. contrast to that i am a um. a terrible. uh. uh almost idiotic level journalist so. this is what you have to deal with. another thing that people talk about.

That women care about is penis size does. penis size matter for women in sexual. selection. well um there’s controversy about that. in the evolutionary psychology community. well. is there papers on penis size i wouldn’t. say. a scientific paper so speculations. about. in nature or in science yeah yeah no. nothing nothing that i’ve seen there. um. you know i i think that there’s. individual variability um so uh this is. something that comes up again you know. when i ask women in the class my classes. you know what do women want some will. say you know a large penis. but i think there’s variability um in in. that preference and it also might depend. in part on the variability in. the woman’s anatomy. so. um do you think there’s something. fundamental in terms of evolutionary. psychology in terms of evolution or is. this a quark of culture that’s current.

That’s maybe somehow connected to. pornography or something like that yeah. my my guess is it’s it’s something. that’s uh. perhaps a quirk of culture or or. something that is. evolutionarily recent. um but um but but i don’t know i mean. it’s it’s a topic that hasn’t been. explored much i’ve never done work on it. and well somebody should do a phd uh. sort of some archaeologist should do a. phd on the history of. human civilization. and its. evaluation of penis size and the. correlation of penis size to the value. of the male. okay moving on another absurd question. in terms of what men want. again definitely not a huberman lab. podcast question. why do men. let’s say a large fraction of men love. boobs. well uh i think that uh. you’re one of the uh most cited. evolutionary psychologists. and this is what you signed up for this.

Is these kinds of questions questions. like this yeah well so again this is. something i haven’t studied directly but. um. uh. scientifically yes yes uh but um but. yeah there’s been some work on that and. and it’s uh another cultural quirk. perhaps no i don’t think it’s a cultural. quirk because i think it’s the uh. the shape. that matters a lot because. shape is going to be a cue to fertility. and. so one of the things that humans are. attracted to in the opposite sex is. sexually dimorphic features and breasts. are a sexually dimorphic feature and. dymorphic mean. difference between. difference in morphology between males. and females got it. um. diamond to morphic morphology. uh so um. and women don’t develop uh. breasts until um. puberty or postpuberty. uh and and so uh as a sexually demorphic. characteristic we tend to be attracted.

That same is true by the way with the. waistto-hip ratio that we mentioned. earlier. uh prior to puberty males and females. have very similar ways to ratios but at. puberty um there’s a differential. uh. hip development and fat deposition that. creates a sexual dimorphism uh with. respect to waisthip ratio and so again. that’s. men are attracted to this wasted ratio. that no man consciously says that they. find this woman more attractive than. that woman they don’t think ah she has a. waist up ratio 0.70 that’s exactly what. i do but most men most men yes. so. isn’t that fascinating that we just. build these entire industries the. fashion and what we find beautiful. around. these kinds of ideas and we just. and then not just not just fashion and. then we build. uh we have. uh sociological tensions about whether. we should care about this kind of thing.

Or not. there’s there’s battles in that space. it’s it’s like. they seem so simple it’s just the human. body and we wear clothes first of all. that’s that’s a funny thing what what’s. the why are we wearing clothes what’s. the shame aspect yeah of covering up the. body is that another feature or is that. what is that yeah that’s a that’s a. that’s an interesting question and i i. don’t know it’s just like hiding uh. ovulation maybe that’s another hiding. like uh maybe hiding is a great game. theoretic thing to play with because it. can give you it can give the powerless. more power. by covering well well maybe well i think. there are a few things so one is. the sort of arbitrary features of. fashion and then the other is the. aspects of fashion that attempt to um. magnify are what is inherent in our. evolved standards of beauty so for.

Example um women tend to wear things. that accentuate their waist hip ratio. so i mean. historically those. in the old days corsets for example. cinch the woman’s waist. and you wouldn’t see fashion develop in. a way that made a woman seem. old unhealthy. pock marked. signs of. open sores or lesions. there are certain domains um design. spaces that you wouldn’t that no culture. would develop. um. so but there are arbitrary features but. sometimes they’re not entirely arbitrary. or they’re arbitrary at one level of. description but not another so for. example. fashion tends to be linked with status. and that’s why it constantly changes. the high status people start wearing a. certain type of. clothing. and then when the lower status people. imitate them then they have to shift to. signal their status and so i think the.

Fashion and clothing is important linked. to. status. so this is not you talking this is me i. just want to make a. a statement a profound statement that i. think yoga pants now this is broadly. speaking but yoga pants is one of the. greatest inventions in human history. there’s fire. and. i’m just going to leave it there i’m a. fan. um and i have uh female friends that. talk about how comfortable yoga pants. are which is what i’m referring to when. i say it’s one of the greatest. inventions because comfort and fashion. is really um really important to me let. me ask about sort of the sociological. aspect of this. so i’ve um. i’ve talked to mark zuckerberg who. uh. the meta who’s the ceo. founder of facebook and now meta and. owns i’ve heard of him yeah he’s a yeah. he uh he uh holds the american flag and. likes the water.

Anyway um. so there’s been criticisms of social. networks and so on. and i just want to ask you about the. broader question here that there’s uh. object objectification of the human body. in the media and that creates standards. for young women. for young men perhaps but more. young women yeah um you mentioned to the. cruelty that women can have towards each. other in terms of well let’s. you know cruelty is already a moral. judgment just you’ve made a statement. about the fact that women. uh. seem to point out imperfections in other. women. um. do you think it’s a problem. in our modern society that. we. objectify each other in this way do you. think this is this is a. fundamental aspect of our biology that. we need. to um. suppress. versus celebrate. just like we might suppress our natural. desire for violence if such exists.

Um in modern society well a couple. couple thoughts on that i i think it is. um damaging um the uh the fact that uh. so many images are displayed in in. social media and so. um what i would say is that there’s. what’s called in in the field uh an. evolutionary mismatch. so we evolved in the context of small. group living. where there was make competition but. your competitors were a small number of. other potential. individuals and so people do comparisons. um. okay but now what we have is. uh this bombardment bombardment of our. visual. system and our sexual psychology and our. mating psychology with with. thousands and thousands of images uh. that are not at all representative of. who our actual competition. is in in in the mating domain. and so i think that um. and there’s actually evidence on this. that um uh. baz luhrmann actually said something.

Like this in his uh sunscreen song i. don’t know if you’ve ever heard that but. it’s like i said it’s a wonderful. like string of advice song about advice. but he says uh oh yeah yeah okay yeah he. says don’t. read beauty magazines that will only. make you feel ugly you know i think that. there’s. truth to that that is especially with. with women they look at all these images. and. you know of course they’re. photographed they’re photoshopped uh. they’re they’re highly selected and and. not at all representative. and so women compare themselves to that. so i think this social comparison is an. evolved. feature of humans i mean males do it. females do it. but it’s exacerbated in the modern. environment in wildly. evolutionarily mismatched ways and so i. think i think that it is it is. destructive it’s harmful. there’s evidence that um it hurts.

Women’s selfesteem. so. here’s just another uh. factoid or fact if you will that at. least in western cultures. uh males and females have roughly the. same overall average levels of. selfesteem. but once. uh puberty hits all of a sudden women’s. selfesteem starts to drop and i think. it’s because when they enter. make competition then they start. elevating the importance they attach to. physical appearance and then as you. point out the the tremendous. objectification. that saturates social media and media in. general is um it’s damaging and harmful. i don’t know how to undo it though i. don’t know how to design a society that. um that undoes that well one of the ways. we undo things just like you pointed out. is we use words when we manipulate. society we manipulate social and status. hierarchies using our words for ill.

And we can do the same for good and. that’s why there’s. a lot of clickbait articles about uh. you know instagram. um. hit you know. leading to a lot of suffering amongst uh. teenage girls and all those kinds of. things. um. i’m criticizing the clickbait bait. nature and not the contents of the. articles but you know and those articles. hopefully become viral in a way that. makes us rethink about how we. build social networks that kind of allow. us to to easily misrepresent how we look. when we are quoteunquote influencers. and what a mental effect it has on the. um. on young people that look up to those. influencers but i guess you’re it’s not. the objectification fundamentally that’s. the problem it’s the. inaccurate it’s the fake news. it’s the yeah that’s. misrepresentation. you still objectify. uh the male body the female body but you.

Do so uh while misrepresenting the. actual truth and and so you’re moving. the average you’re moving the standard. representation of what a male should. look like what a woman should look like. and uh. the dishonesty is the problem not the. objectification here’s just one other. interesting empirical finding on that. and it has to do with another dimension. that i think is harmful and and that’s. the thinness dimension. uh and so if you. and these are studies originally done by. paul rosen but they’ve been replicated. where if you ask men okay what is your. ideal figure in a woman and so they have. these say nine figures that vary from. very very thin to average to to plump. men. give it the midpoint they say the the. the midpoint is in. relative thinness or plumpness is what i. value and you ask women. what is your ideal body type for you.

They give it they say thinner but then. if you ask them what do you think males. ideal body type is they put it in. exactly the same spot that they put. their own idea which is. thin and so there’s actually an. inaccurate perception of how thin. men desire women to be. uh and i think that’s partly. exacerbated by the the fashion industry. where the the models are often real thin. and you know they’re. the lure is that clothes hang better on. thin models and then on tv they say you. gain 15 pounds over what you really are. or whatever but for whatever reason. women misperceive how thin men want them. to be and so you have this is another. huge sex difference. is eating disorders. anorexia. for example bulimia. binging purging where these these. disorder eating disorders are nine to. ten times more common in women. than men.

Can i just take a small tangent because. it is such a beautiful uh the sunscreen. song such a beautiful one if i can read. some of the words from it yeah i i. really enjoy it yeah it’s great it’s a. great song for people you should check. it out it’s called everybody’s free to. wear sunscreen i guess it’s actually a. speech. to a class i don’t know if that’s. artificial or real but it’s it’s a. speech that gives advice and it goes. ladies and gentlemen of the class of 97.. i just remember it even now those those. words where’s sunscreen. if i could offer you only one tip for. the future sunscreen would be it a. longterm benefits of sunscreen have. been proven by scientists whereas the. rest of my advice has no basis more. reliable than my own meandering. experience i will dispense this advice. now. enjoy the power and beauty of your youth.

Oh never mind you will not understand. the power and beauty of your youth until. they’re faded but trust me in 20 years. you look back at the photos yourself and. recall in a way you can’t grasp now how. much possibility laid before you and how. fabulous you really looked. you are not as fat as you imagined. don’t worry about the future or worry. but know that worrying is as effective. as trying to solve an algebra equation. by chewing bubble gum the real troubles. in your life are apt to be the things. that never cost your worried mind. the kind that blindsides you at 4 pm on. some idol tuesday. do one thing every day that scares you. saying don’t be reckless with other. people’s hearts. don’t put up with the people who are. reckless with yours. floss. don’t waste your time on jealousy. sometimes you’re ahead sometimes you’re.

Behind the race is long and in the end. it’s only with yourself. remember compliments you receive forget. the insults. if you succeed in doing this tell me how. keep your old love letters throw away. your old bang statements. stretch. don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what. you want to do with your life the most. interesting people i know didn’t know at. 22 what they wanted to do with their. lives. some of the most interesting 40 year. olds i know still don’t. for me that’s true for 50 60 and 70 year. year olds honestly get plenty of calcium. be kind to your knees you’ll miss them. when they’re gone. maybe you’ll marry maybe you won’t maybe. you’ll have children maybe you won’t. maybe you’ll divorce a 40 maybe you’ll. dance the funky chicken on your 75th. wedding anniversary whatever you do. don’t congratulate yourself too much or.

Berate yourself either. your choices are half chance so are. everybody else’s. enjoy your body. use it every way you can. don’t be afraid of it or what other. people think of it it’s the greatest. instrument you’ll ever own. dance even if you have nowhere to do it. but in your own living room read the. directions even if you don’t follow them. do not read beauty magazines they will. only make you feel ugly. get to know your parents you never know. when they’ll be gone for good. be nice to your siblings. they’re your best link to your past. and the people most likely to stick with. you in the future. understand that friends come and go. but a precious few. who should hold on. work hard to bridge the gaps in. geography and lifestyle for as older you. get the more you need the people he knew. when you were young live in new york.

City once i actually took this advice. this is fascinating advice i remember. this advice. well. uh it’s broadly applied live in new york. city once but leave before makes you. hard. live in northern california once but. leave before makes you soft. travel. accept certain inalienable truths prices. will rise. politicians will philander you too will. get old and when you do you’ll fantasize. that when you were young prices were. reasonable politicians were noble and. children respected their elders. respect your elders don’t expect anyone. else to support you maybe you have a. trust fund maybe you’ll have a wealthy. spouse but you never know. when either one might run out. never mess too much with your hair or by. the time you’re 40 it will look 85. be careful whose advice you buy. but be patient with those who supply it.

Advice is a form of nostalgia dispensing. it is a way of. fishing the past from the disposal. wiping it off painting over the ugly. parts and recycling it for more than. it’s worth but trust me on the sunscreen. so this is uh. thank you for allowing me to read it. it’s almost sentimental for me i don’t. know when i first heard it um. but there’s a few pieces of advice in. that. you know similar to like the poem if by. roger kipling. um there’s some deep truths when you. step back and look at it all and also. the. the places where you live. because i i i. lived for time in i guess northern. california with google. and so on. and one of the reasons i had to leave is. i was becoming i felt i was becoming. soft. this this is my own personal experience. and the same is true for the uh uh. the cities of the east. they can if you’re not careful make it.

Hard because everybody’s super busy and. rushing around and. and uh there’s just a buzz to the city. which is exciting it’s empowering but it. can. it can it can change you in ways and so. it’s one of the reasons i’m here in. austin i fell in love with the city. because yeah it’s been a great move and. yeah i’ve lived on both coasts as well. um boston. area and then uh berkeley california. so um so i’m familiar with both you end. up in. austin as a small side well uh well i. got i got my undergraduate degree here. uh and then left for 20 years and. migrated around. so went to berkeley uc berkeley for my. phd. harvard for my first job university of. michigan and then a job opened up. at university of texas. for an evolutionary psychologist and so. um. they. wanted me fortunately so i was very. happy to so i’ve always loved austin i.

Mean it’s uh yeah the love never died it. was there yeah yeah it’s a great time i. was glad that i left so and experienced. well both coasts and also the midwest. but um happy to be back in austin. let me ask a difficult question now we. did pretty good with some difficult. questions already but. there are people in this world today who. believe that gender is purely a social. construct. you i think are not one of those people. to you what are the difference between. men and women. how much of those differences are in. nature and how much is nurture. i guess if we you’re asking the question. morphologically or psychologically i. assume you’re asking psychologically the. question is what it is. and the answer. sometimes the questions. don’t contain with them the trajectory. you take with the answer right so. i think i was asking both.

And the fact that both our thing is an. interesting thing. yeah so you wrote a book. textbook i should say evolutionary. psychology. right yes those both of those words are. in the book title. psychology that’s the human mind yes. yeah how much of gender how much of sex. is the human mind. and how much of it is the biology the. way that i phrase it so i i don’t like. um. sort of dividing the world into two. categories things that are biological. versus things that are not biological. um. so the biology is actually defined as. the study of life and life processes and. so at that sort of abstract level. everything we do is biological including. culture and our capacity for culture. which i think is an evolved capacity. that humans have. um. when you get to the issue of sex and. gender i mean one cut at your question. is.

Are there universal psychological sex. differences. um and the answer to that question is. yes there are some. so for example. well and this is in in one of your areas. of specialty uh engineering. um one of the interesting things is that. uh it’s called the people’s thing. dimension so. do you want an occupation you want a job. that involves. people social interaction. or are you happy with a job that just. involves things mechanical objects or. computer code or whatever. and this is one of the largest. psychological sex differences that that. exists and it’s true in every culture. so uh in terms of i don’t know um. magnitude of effects it’s a an effect. size of. more than a standard deviation. difference between the means. um on this psychological sex difference. and so one of the interesting things is. so if you go to places like go to the.

Most. gender egalitarian cultures in the world. so places like sweden. uh or norway. uh. which are explicitly. gender egalitarian and and are truly in. many many ways. and but you allow people freedom of. choice the the some of these sex. differences actually get larger the. psychological sex differences and also. assortment into different occupational. uh choices. um now but this this is not something. that i study i study. mating and. the sex differences if you ask what are. the where in what domains are the sex. differences the largest it turns out. they occur within the domain of mating. and sexuality so our evolved sexual. psychology our evolved mating psychology. is to some degree. sexually dimorphic okay with the. uh very important asterisk that we’re. talking about overlapping distributions. so there are some things that so if you.

Look at human morphology um. we talked about breasts earlier women. have evolved. functional breasts that’s functional for. lactation. men don’t so there’s not no amount of. culture or social coercion can cause men. to have lactating breasts. uh psychologically we don’t see. dimorphism that extreme where something. is. literally present in one sex and totally. absent in the other so there’s overlap. in the distributions. so i mentioned earlier that. in the mating domain men men more than. women on average prioritize physical. appearance physical attractiveness. relative youth women on average. prioritize resources resource. acquisition qualities that lead to. resource acquisition like status. ambition industriousness and so forth. but there’s overlap in the distribution. so some women place the. total priority on how physically.

Attractive the guy is and. uh some men. view that as. irrelevant and and and uh so the the. point that i’m making is that there are. there are psychological sex differences. that um make some people uncomfortable. um but you know it’s one of these things. where. i’m. a scientist uh i’m not a. political advocate uh um and so i’m i. adhere to the empirical data on. empirical data are very strong in these. domains so with respect to sex. differences in the mating domain and. sexuality. and things we haven’t talked about like. desire for sexual variety and sex. differences in the whole uh. desire for shortterm mating. huge sex differences there. and these have been documented. universally in all cultures so. okay now are there uh are there things. that are culture specific or social. cultural overlays onto these fundamental.

Psychological sex differences absolutely. but. there’s also an issue of um. levels of analysis levels of abstraction. and how closely you look at the. phenomenon so. quick analogy language so you say well. um in china they speak chinese and korea. they speak korean in brazil they speak. portuguese. they look how culturally infinitely. variable languages are which they are at. that level. but do humans have a universal human. innate grammar and i think the evidence. points to the answer yes to that at. least. that’s what steve pink or paul bloom and. some other. uh others argue so at one level of. abstraction things are infinitely. culturally variable or at least highly. culturally variable and another level of. abstraction there’s universality so. here’s one example in the mating domain. of this so. margaret mead who is a famous um.

Anthropologist. studied the samoan islanders and she. tried to argue basically for the. infinite malleability of things like. gender and gender roles and so forth. she’s and she said look at this culture. the in this culture it’s the men who. paint their face. whereas you know in western cultures. it’s the women who wear makeup and so. forth well it turns out if you if you. look carefully at the culture where men. paint their face they’re painting a. war paint on their face they’re not. they’re not. putting on makeup to enhance their cues. to youth and cues to health they’re. putting on war paint to make themselves. more ferocious or to demarcate what. tribe they’re in what coalition they’re. in and so at sort of one level have a. abstraction you could say well there’s. high cultural variability and. application of face paint but on another.

Level there’s really a fundamental. functional difference in the purpose to. which the paint is applied. yeah and then you can abstract the paint. away and. i mean fashion in general just magnify. the characteristics that are appealing. to the opposite sex because war pain is. probably. you know it is you’re magnifying the. characteristics that are appealing to. you. the other sex so ability to gain. resources maintain resources is um. status. status and the hierarchy all those kinds. of things well but well that’s that’s. part of it but i think another part has. to do with in in that case male. coalitions so we we were. intense this is another unique. characteristic i don’t know if you got. into this with richard rang i don’t. remember you talking about this but. he’s written a lot about male. coalitionary psychology and humans.

Cooperate. uh to an extraordinary. degree forming coalitions. for the purpose of competing with rival. coalitions and so you even see this with. um well you see it in the sports sports. arenas with with team sports you know. where this team wears a different. uniform than that team. uh they have different mascot etc and so. part of that is um. male coalitionary psychology. well you so you write again. returning to the textbook now people. should know you wrote a lot of. incredible book that is maybe more. accessible than the evolutionary. psychology textbook but. uh oh so the the evolutionary psychology. textbook is very accessible yes it is. extremely accessible but that’s not your. thing and on amazon you can’t. you know. it’s a pain it’s a textbook it’s not you. know it’s it’s a little bit more of a. pain to purchase which i did i bought.

All your books. they’re amazing uh we’ll talk about a. bunch of them but. in terms of coalitions in chapter 12 of. your evolutionary psychology textbook. you write about status prestige and. social dominance. so how do hierarchies of status and. social dominance emerge in human society. and what’s the value of status and. sexual selection we talked about. uh cues of individual health and all. that kind of stuff but what the heck’s. the purpose of status why why does it. matter if i’m the big boss. well uh it matters because. status is. influences your access to resources and. your ability to influence other people. within your within your group. and so um this is part of the reason why. women. prioritize a man’s social status uh how. he is viewed in the eyes of others. because high status men have access to. to more resources.

It’s interesting that you ask about that. because um i’ve. just published this is with patrick. durkee a former graduate student of mine. we published a couple papers on. precisely this issue where we looked at. what we call human status criteria that. is what are the things that lead to. increases or decreases in status and we. did this in 14 different cultures. and we found some things that are. universal. but also some things that are sex. differentiated. and so universal things like people. value. trustworthiness they value um. intelligence wisdom knowledge. so it’s even if you go across cultures. uh even to the smallscale cultures that. we alluded to earlier. uh there are these wise wise people wise. men and wise women in the culture who. have. uh people go to for advice for wisdom. and so having. a wide range of knowledge is is a.

Universal status criterion. and there’s some things that are sex. differentiated and they often fall into. the mating domain as well this is where. mating and status are. interestingly related to each other. in that. um successful mating increases your. status but having high status also gives. you access to more desirable mates. um and so. the game gets harder and harder always. so wait uh. so are we talking about what are the. characters what what’s the role of power. and wealth. those kinds of things. so you said wisdom is universal yeah. what about wealth and power yeah well uh. well um i guess it depends on what you. mean by power so i think of power as the. ability to to influence a large number. of people yeah so um. and this is one of the interesting. things about. the fact that cash economies are so. are evolutionarily very recent.

In that we’re people are like so so i. guess recently or it’s about to happen. uh that um elon musk is gonna. buy a. okay where to say it happen. is it happening already yeah okay so. they said like the the. wealthiest or one of the wealthiest men. on earth has now purchased the most. influential media platform. uh. on earth and so obviously you or i. couldn’t um. compete with elon musk and uh. for the purchase of twitter and so. uh the fact that that cash economies. allow the stockpiling of unprecedented. amounts of wealth. produces these tremendous power. differentials that that didn’t exist in. in over most of human evolutionary. history. so their wealth is power but you can. also be. um. the power can be attained through other. ways yeah but but but i would say that. the interesting thing about. wealth. is that it’s.

An infinitely fungible resource. so you can. use it and translate it into. many many other things like buying a. buying twitter or. buying a big house or. or even getting mates or. an artificial um in the i don’t know if. you don’t want to get into that at all. but i need to have these. sex dolls or. virtual virtual reality sex that some. people are are developing. if you have enough resources you can. purchase things like that so. you can trans you can translate wealth. into a variety of other. tangible things in ways that that you. couldn’t ancestrally. so. that’s one really powerful thing but. there is still power. that’s correlated but not. intricately connected to what wealth. which is like being leaders of nations. like technically the president of the. united states salary is not very high. right. presidents and and then you look you go.

Outside of that into the half of the. world that’s living under authoritarian. regimes you have dictators. and there’s uh. those those are very powerful usually. men. uh. and. presumably there’s some. value there in the meeting selection. aspect yeah yeah absolutely and and it’s. not by chance that um. most of them are men. um and this is. gonna sound. strange or and hopefully not offensive. to people but. um. if you ask the question why are why is. it the case that men are in positions of. power. so much more so than than women well in. part it can be traced to women’s mate. preferences so it’s one of the sex. differences that women have over. revolutionary time preferred men who had. power status resources. etc and what that has done is it’s. created selection pressure on men to. attach a high motivational priority to.

Clawing their way up the status. hierarchy um and and uh studies of uh. time allocation distribution show this. where men. are they’re more willing to sacrifice. their their friends their grandmother. their kin or whatever to claw their way. up to the top of status hierarchies. women much less women. spend more effort maintaining. relationships with their kin through. their friends their friend networks and. so forth and so. um and and so in a way uh so. you could say not only are you uh not. only are men in positions of power more. than women now you’re blaming women for. why they are and it’s not it’s not a. matter of blame but i think that that. what i just outlined is is an essential. part of the causal process the. coevolution of women’s mate preferences. with men’s motivational priorities. how much do you think these mating.

Strategies underlie all of human. civilization like what motivates us. uh you know there’s uh. uh becker with the denial of death like. what. why do we build castles and bridges and. rockets and. the internet and all of this is it some. complex mush or is it underneath at all. are we all just trying to get laid. uh well i wouldn’t reduce it to. something. quite as trying to get laid um but i. think i think mating is is is certainly. part of it. um i wonder how big of a part because. also with with uh ernest becker the idea. is that we’re all trying to achieve an. illusion of immortality yeah so we’re. trying to create something that outlasts. us and therefore we create bigger and. bigger things in societies and bridges. and yeah well i think what’s what’s. missing from becker’s analysis is uh you. know i mean it’s it’s it’s a fascinating.

Book to read denial of death but what’s. missing is that i think that the reason. that. and and again i think it’s more men than. women i think there’s a sex difference. on this that men. want to build a a lasting legacy because. that will in turn affect. their lineage. and uh although i i do now woody allen. is out of favor but i remember this. quote from him he said he said he didn’t. want to achieve immortality through his. work he wanted to achieve immortality by. not dying. oh boy the. the funny ones are also. uh deeply flawed often. staying on the topic of sex differences. in a very different way perhaps so. dominance. and submissiveness. something you’ve also written about. what’s the role of that inside. relationships about this human dynamic. of dominance and submissiveness. is that a feature or a bug. so the the stable state that these.

Dynamical systems arrive at. uh is it good. to have an. equality within a relationship. or is it good to have differences in a. relationship uh are you talking about. romantic relationships or just in human. relationships romantic probably because. unless it could be generalized to human. relationships perhaps it could be. generalized to human relationships i. wasn’t thinking that but perhaps it. could be but let’s start with romantic i. guess oneon-one i’m personally in favor. of uh equality uh on that dimension. within romantic relationships and. um in the. in. i don’t talk about my personal life uh. but um but i’ve been in relationships uh. and the best ones tend to be those where. where there’s uh equality and. one person does not uh dominate the. other um but. i guess what i was the reason i asked. you is in what type of relationships.

Because there are some. things like coalitions where. hierarchy is very important to the. function of the coalition. so it’s like you if you’re like a war. coalition or something in small group. warfare. you can’t just have equality you have to. have um. leaders that are. determining the um. the battle plan so to speak. um and so if you have uh. you you’re you’re attacking a. neighboring group or something and. everyone gets an equal say it’s not. gonna work that way and so we tend to. appoint as leaders those who are. just not always work out well but those. who are presumably wise or good. effective leaders and even talk about. and i’m sure you’re. familiar with this and i’m not an expert. on this but you know wartime leaders. versus peacetime leaders and so again it. depends on. you know what the goal is of the group.

That you are a part of. um and so and so i think there is. functionality and utility. to a lot of our evol psychology of. status and dominance and submissiveness. so for example. and you have to look at the individual. psychology and this is actually. something i’m currently studying um. again with with patrick durkee. where. one advantage of these status. hierarchies is that you’re not always. battling. you know so you determine um. and that’s why. here’s another sexually dimorphic. aspect of our psychology. formidability assessment so there’s. there’s evidence that males engage in. this you know can i take this guy or can. he take me like and it’s like it’s the. entirety of my life yes it’s like a. spontaneous assessment of of. formidability. and. and it also the that information is. critical because that means like who you.

Should not. challenge or or who you can challenge. with impunity impunity so. um and and there’s functionality to. submitting uh as well you know because. you you defer to someone. so that you don’t get vanquished and you. live to see another day. uh. so i think we actually have a very rich. psychology of status hierarchies and. dominance and submissiveness so. especially sort of uh. violent. conflict. yes. but back to relationships. so maybe phrased another way. what is masculinity what is femininity. is there value inside of a relationship. for den for differences. you talked about meetings meeting. strategies with the dating stage where. you’re selecting the mate but also. within. you know. mating broadly defined as the entirety. of the process are should those. differences. be magnified and celebrated. or. um. sort of suppressed.

I’ve seen enough different relationships. work and i’ve seen enough relationships. implode to. say there’s no there’s not one size fits. all on on these things so even with. respect to masculinity and femininity. some reduce it psychologically to two. other terms which are agency and. communion so where agency is you know. are you. instrumental goal oriented um get tasks. done et cetera communion is you know. more the the love and forming. connections with other people and so. forth. um and i published a study a while back. on uh on what’s called unmitigated. agency and unmitigated communion so you. there are like good and bad aspects of. agency and communion so they can go so. there’s toxic as they say masculinity. toxic femininity. you can just rephrase that saying there. could be toxic agency and toxic. communion yeah yeah and so and so some.

Elements of masculinity uh the. unmitigated masculinity is uh i think. terrible i was actually walking around. downtown austin earlier today there’s. this example and. this guy um was um i guess stuck and. wanted the car ahead of him to move. and all of a sudden he screamed out of. who’s gonna. move your car like. and and then. jumped out of his car and to a push. to me that’s that’s um. toxic masculinity if you will we don’t. need that you know. yeah so in this by the way as somebody. who worked with cars quite a long time. in terms of human interaction with. semiautonomous vehicles it’s so. fascinating. how the car. and traffic. brings out like the worst. in human nature. in a sense or maybe to rephrase that. it maybe. challenges you to explore something that. uh in terms of temper in terms of anger. in terms of anxiety that you have been.

Bottling it up there’s something that. where the car. is like a vessel for a psychological. experiment of how much stress you can. take and some people. that stress is like heating. uh it’s making the water boil and it’s. fascinating to see what that results in. i think. if you are the kind of person that. explodes. emotionally. in traffic that means there’s deeper. issues to sort of confront and it seems. like the traffic and the car. is a place where you. get to confront your. the shadow. call young shadow. there’s something deep within that that. we don’t often fish we’re alone with. ourselves and we get to see who we truly. are. yeah well we’re. yeah it can bring out road rage and. also there’s this um i don’t know when. you’re in the vehicle there’s you have. this shell around you and so there’s. this feeling that you are protected from.

Yes. so you could be yourself you could be. your true self in this moment and. sometimes that true self in this moment. is an angry screaming person which means. you have you have to introspect that. shadow shine a light. let me ask you about something that’s. ongoing currently it’d be fascinating to. get your opinion on so um. something i’ve been watching. some of the world has been watching. is the. defamation trial brought by johnny depp. against amber hurt. have you gotten a chance to watch any of. it um i haven’t watched it but i’ve read. some reports of it. what’s your. analysis on this particular. dynamic we talked about toxicity. in the space of agency and communion. what do you make of this. this relationship. that’s presented to the world in its raw. form. you know i don’t have strong opinions on. it i think in the this stage in the.

Trial we’ve heard from. him primarily we have not and we should. say for people listening in case this is. published a little bit later we have not. heard from. amber heard right uh in the world. if we heard from heard we’re doing that. that’s going to be happening this week i. i don’t know i think that. i’ve seen. and this is another topic that i have. studied is intimate partner violence and. some of the nastier. um stuff that goes on within. relationships and i think that. um. when this nasty stuff happens sometimes. sometimes it’s asymmetrical but. sometimes it’s symmetrical in the sense. that they get into these downward. spirals where one is insulting the other. or even with physical violence one. starts pushing the other showing how. they’re hitting the other and then the. other hits back as you get into these um.

Cycles and so. uh coming at one point in time. you know in this case of uh johnny depp. and amber heard. you know uh years later and trying to. disentangle what actually went on in. their relationship. um i i don’t i don’t feel qualified even. to do that. well it’s fascinating to see so first i. mean i have a lot of opinions um. particularly because i’m just a. um. a fan of johnny depp as a person a fan. of giant depth the actor and the kind of. characters he created the person because. maybe this is fiction maybe this is. reality but they tend to rhyme. and uh mirror each other but. his fascination with hunter s thompson. and there’s some aspect of him taking on. the hunters thompson personality. there’s just layers upon layers of wit. and humor and it’s. and also anxiety and darkness with the. drug use and all that kind of stuff it’s.

Very human very real person. and so you get to one of the beautiful. things about this trial is you get to. basically have a longform podcast. and you get to reveal the complexity of. this human the humor. under pressure under. uh under stress. but also just the rawness of love the. things that love makes you do or. whatever that is what. you know. whatever the things that keeps us in. relationships that are toxic. in that turmoil. the hope. the um. the selfdelusion. the the the push and pull. of. longing and. um fights yeah and that the ups and. downs whatever yeah the roller coaster. the roller coaster the the the makeup. sex yeah exactly you know yeah is it in. the questions arise whether that’s the. feature or a bug like why do we why are. we drawn to that you mentioned. in mate selection for longterm made. selection um i think you said women but.

I think maybe both. uh. don’t want a kind of. you had. scientific and eloquent words to use but. basically basically crazy people. you did. yeah so um. uh but here it seems like. maybe maybe we’re drawn to that still. yeah rise to the light right well it can. be addictive but um it’s not good for. longterm relationships i mean that. characteristic and it and there there is. a stable personality characteristic it. goes under different names anxiety. neuroticism emotional lability. et cetera but that’s the single. personality characteristic that’s that. is most predictive of breakups and. divorces. um and and in studies that i’ve done. predictive of conflict in couples. people who are emotionally unstable they. just get into a lot of conflict with. their partner they create create havoc. um so um and they now they can be.

Exciting. but bad for longterm happiness. they seek conflict in order to uh. to attain intimacy so conflict creates. a creates attention. yeah. and. like like. if you take intimacy broadly it it’s. it’s intimate. well you’re like raw fragile you’re. right there. yeah well. and i mean there’s one hypothesis that. was put forward by um. an israeli biologist named amos amos. zahavi. called uh the the testing of a bond and. so he asked the question like why do. people inflict costs on their part even. like kissing you’re you’re. introducing you know it’s a disease. vector you know why do people do these. weird things. um. inflicting costs. or emotional liability is a way of. inflicting costs. and what he argues is it’s the testing. of a bond if the person’s willing to. tolerate. you know this level of stress this level. of cost imposition.

Then that means they must be very. committed to me. and so and i think that’s something. people do in romantic. relationships is they they do test the. strength of the bond they they test the. the commitment of the person. and i think it’s. i think that’s a feature not a bug in. the in the sense that. um. you especially in the early stages of. love romantic love we tend to overly. romanticize and i idealize our partner. so when there’s an absence of evidence. we we impute positive values. and. what you this is one of. my recommendations to peop friends that. i know is is if you’re really. considering a good. longterm commitment to this person go. on vacation with them ideally too. ideally to a a foreign country where. both of you are unfamiliar oh i love it. road trip or something like that yeah so. where where you you experience.

Unexpected things stresses. you get a flat tire or whatever and you. encounter and you see how the person. deals with stress and you see how you. deal with each other under stress and i. think that that’s um. unless you have put stress tests on. relationships you really don’t know. where things stand yeah that’s a. beautiful way to put it i’m a huge fan. of that like road trip and not just. late in a relationship like. day one yeah. road trip. not day one day negative one before it. even happens to see stress test. uh because it makes everybody better it. creates intimacy or creates it it it. creates or destroys. but you know on on the johnny dep so. they they also they both suffered. childhood abuse the one one of the. things that i i took away from the trial. for me it was just. educational i don’t get to. see. uh inside as most of us maybe don’t.

Like toxic relationships or fights and. so on a lot of things that people maybe. do inside relationships and we don’t get. to see it present in such a raw way. so well one of the things i learned is. that. you know in terms of partner violence. a woman. too can be violent yeah absolutely that. to me so emotionally and physically. violent. that um. yeah i almost don’t want to uh you know. amber heard i mean. there’s there’s no limit to my dislike. for that that person in particular uh. because um. because clearly to me at least i stand. with johnny depp to me that guy is full. of love. and. uh but full of demons because he’s drawn. to whatever the chaos that’s created. there but also it’s just an education. for me that. i i tend to associate sort of men with. violence and. toxicity and destruction inside. relationships but.

It was interesting to see that women too. can be like directly. violent yeah and men too. which was also surprising to me. have the capacity. to stay in such a relationship and to. not walk away which is what i thought as. my in terms of toxic violent. relationships i thought. there’s a male figure who will do. emotional and physical mostly physical. violence and then. kind of manipulate the mind. of the female to stay in the. relationship but that dynamic goes but. it can go both ways yeah it does go both. ways and and i think even the. emotional. abuse is sometimes even worse than the. physical abuse i mean you see that in in. studies of uh even like childhood abuse. where it’s the emotional abuse that is. the most damaging. what about. the role of jealousy something you also. written about in a relationship. is uh.

Is that a feature a bug. you cut you started to speak about it. but is. is it good to be. uh jealous of your partner inside of a. relationship how does it go wrong. the pros and cons so uh so i’ve written. a whole book on this uh called the. dangerous passion um why jealousy is as. necessary as sex and love. um and. i think that. one. cut at your question is that um a. moderate so first of all i think it’s. it’s a feature not a bug in in most. cases so. in the in the sense that. you you have to have an adaptation that. is sensitive to threats to a valued. relationship. okay because. and i think i alluded to this earlier. that just because you’re in a. relationship and you’re in a. relationship with a desirable partner. doesn’t mean that. you know you’ve finished solving the. problems of mating that you need to. solve because there are threats from the.

Outside so mate poachers people who try. to lure your partner away for either a. sexual encounter or a more committed. romantic relationship. and then there’s also dissatisfaction. within the relationship so your partner. might become. tempted to be sexually unfaithful or. romantically unfaithful or emotionally. unfaithful. and so and so we need humans. with the evolution of longterm pair. bonding we need adaptations to guard. the relationship and be sensitive to. threats to the relationship. and i think jealousy is one of those i. think that’s it’s a key one. and now. um. that i think that uh there are a variety. of benefits to it but also a variety of. costs or downsides to jealousy because. we know that jealousy. male sexual jealousy is the leading. cause of spousal abuse and spousal. violence physical physical violence.

Probably emotional violence as well or. psychological. violence uh and so that’s why i call it. the dangerous passion it’s it’s it’s a. necessary emotion. but it is also a dangerous emotion. um leads to homicide um you know leads. to uh and. i’ve studied also homicidal ideation uh. which is intersects with this topic in. that. um men sometimes women to a lesser. degree develop homicidal ideation about. people who are trying to poach their. mates or who do poach their mates. successfully poach their mates so what. jealousy does is it is it alerts you to. a threat to the relationship and it. motivates um. checking out the source of the threat. how threatening is this so i think. people tend to increase vigilance. of their partner in the modern world. that includes you know hacking into. their cell phone or computer monitoring.

Them um. uh. sometimes stalking them. but also can include. positive things so it might be that so. one trigger of jealousy is is is a. direct threat to the relation but. there’s another more subtle. trigger of jealousy which is a mate. value discrepancy. so usually when people. mate there’s they they assort or pair up. on overall mate values so the in the. american. 10 point scale the eights tend to pair. up with the eighths the sixes with the. sixes. the tens with the tens and the ones with. the ones american is their other out of. the scales. uh i i wonder if the miracle systems. well there’s a binary i just find it. zero one. sorry but okay i know yeah the eighth. pair is where they age seven yeah yeah. so in general but there are errors in. mate selection you kind of alluded to. the that issue earlier that sometimes.

People make errors errors in mate. selection which they do so sometimes you. think this person is well matched on. mate value but they’re not but then. things change. so a let’s say uh they’re the same you. have two sixes and then all of a sudden. the woman’s career takes off. all of a sudden she’s. you know uh getting promotion she’s uh. uh acquiring wealth she’s. attracting men who are of a different. mate value than she previously did well. that triggers jealousy in the guy even. if she swears she’s going to be totally. loyal and she has no signs of leaving or. no signs of infidelity. a mate value discrepancy is going to. trigger jealousy. now what can it do well it can do. in the broadest sense people can do two. classes of things they can do cost. inflecting things or benefit providing. things so the the man in that situation.

Might. say okay i need to devote more attention. to my partner i need to up my game when. it comes to resource acquisition i need. to. lavish more. attention and gifts on her and so. there’s a whole suite of benefit. provisioning things that can help to. reduce that mate value discrepancy. and then there’s al also cost inflicting. things that and and and humans. unfortunately do both both sets of. things. yeah i there’s also this uh maybe that’s. love i notice um. the people i especially. love or have a connection to. romantically or otherwise there’s a. feeling like i don’t deserve you. so. with friends with so on like i mean i. tend to think that about almost. everything which is why it’s a strong. signal when i don’t feel it that way. which is like i can’t i’m how lucky am i. to have this. uh and that’s a good that’s a that’s a.

Weird illusion of inflation of value or. something like uh i think that the. positive effect of that is makes what. motivates me to be better. i guess on this 110 skill to be higher. and you sort of kind of. have to either. like. it’s a nice feature that your mind sees. others that you have affection towards. as. higher value and it forces you to have. that like i i’m a person that. experiences jealousy and that forces me. to be better yeah i get my together. yeah well and i think that the the um. sometimes the best relationships are. when both people feel lucky to be with. the other person yes exactly it’s. balanced that way and then that’s when. you in terms of jobs in terms of going. to the gym all those kinds of things. and um yeah so a little bit of jealousy. i have discussion with those people i. always wonder.

There’s people in relationships where. like no no they’re there’s no they never. experience jealousy i wonder what that’s. like because they’re very successful. relationships but. and i always wonder you know i’m. currently single so i always doubt that. i know what the hell i’m doing at all. uh but i i’m definitely somebody that. experiences jealousy and kind of enjoys. jealousy. um like. a little bit. of like missing to me that’s like you’re. missing the other person yeah well. longing for the other person and here’s. another uh interesting wrinkle that i. also talk about in the book is. sometimes people intentionally evoke. jealousy in their partner. and i think that’s also a kind of. testing of a bond uh kind of issue yeah. so and. especially women but i think both sexes. interpret a total absence of jealousy as.

A sign that their partner is not. sufficiently committed to them or. sufficiently in love with them. so if you like to say i don’t know if. you you go to a party with your partner. and then you. leave the room for some reason you come. back and your partner is passionately. kissing someone else and doesn’t bother. you at all. that might be a cue to the partner that. well maybe you’re not very in love with. that person or not very committed to. them and so. it’s a good way to it’s a good way to. test that said i mean i love the term. mate poaching by the way i believe here. in texas mate poaching is officially. illegal so. one of my favorite songs by hendrix says. hey joe um. hey joe where you going with that gun in. your hand yeah. and. yeah i actually i always wanted to play. that song but i get uh. i start to think about guns and so on i.

Think it’s supposed to capture a feeling. it’s not actual violence it’s saying i’m. going to shoot my old lady i caught her. messing around with another man. that’s uh. that’s a blues type of feeling like of. anger. of um i guess from mate poaching. for uh mate switching performed by the. partner and then the uh the frustration. and the anger that’s resulting that i. always wondered why the violence. is directed towards the partner versus. the person who did the yeah it’s. the other male tends to be evenly split. um so. sometimes and that’s i mean. men especially uh when someone poaches. on their mate they have homicidal. fantasies. which. well equally specific towards the mate. poacher yeah but but he but equally. split so so it’s uh. um. i think the the nonlethal violence. uh tends to be more directed toward the. mate because it’s it’s and this is a.

Horrible thing of male sexual psychology. but i think part of the violence is. functional. in the sense that it’s designed to. keep a mate and prevent her from. engaging in anything with um. with other with other potential mate. poachers. but um. but people do uh it’s so even it says it. goes back uh. like to the french law where they had. the uh socalled crime of passion so if. the husband walked in and found uh his. wife. having sex with some other guy in bed. and shot him. that was viewed as a crime of passion. it’s still not legal but you get kind of. get a discount yeah. for it whereas if he if he goes home. thinks about it for a while then gets. the gun comes back then that’s. premeditated murder yeah. see to me. i guess everybody’s different to me i. have zero. anger towards the partner on that. situation. to me because that’s definitive proof.

Of disability so like why what’s the. what’s the function of the anger there. yeah to me. uh. all of my anger is towards the the guy. the poacher right because. some of it has to do probably with the. status establishing like it’s uh what. was the term you use the. formidability yeah formidability. assessment assessment and i’m like wait. wait wait did you just say you’re more. formidable than me. in this situation i want to reestablish. at least in my own mind the. formidability. and. and that seems to be. i guess we’re all different but maybe. because i roll around with guys a lot. like grappling wrestling all that kind. of stuff to me to establish status it’s. competing with other males not with the. female because that that’s a break of. loyalty. like why do what’s this what’s the point. of anger at this point that’s just.

Betrayal well except that a lot of it. uh a lot of the mate poaching is is. discovered or accused to make pushings. are discovered before. the consummation of the act so it might. be just like the emotional cheating. leader or of. mild flirtation. sure you know things like that and so. the violence is is um. designed to head off the threat before. it becomes real. boy aren’t human relations especially. romantic ones complicated. so uh but that’s what makes them so. fascinating to study and so fun yes. exactly from a science perspective and. to study from within sort of uh. uh was like richard rangham with the. champs like um you know. be in it. study from the end of one perspective uh. what do you make of polyamory. um so what what the heck is what do you. make of marriage what are your thoughts. about marriage what are your thoughts.

About lifelong monogamy and what’s your. thoughts about polyamory given that. we’ve been talking about ideas of mate. switching and poaching and all that kind. of stuff yeah i think that we evolved to. be i prefer the term a. pair bonded. species so pair bonding is one of the. strategies purebond longterm mating is. one of the strategies but that doesn’t. necessarily mean for decades and decades. or life long because we often pair bond. serially so get into a relationship. that might last a year or five years and. then break up and then form another. relationship so we engage in serial. mating. we engage in. infidelity we engaged in we engage in. some shortterm. mating. and. so we have a what i describe as a menu. of mating strategies and which. particular. mating strategy an individual adopts. depends on a wide variety of factors it.

I think some are just kind of personal. proclivities some depend on your mate. value so if you are. an eight to nine or a ten you have more. options for what mating strategy you. want to pursue. if you’re a one or a two you’re not. going to be able to. be polyamorous uh in in all likelihood. um there’s a lot of attention to. polyamory now. uh and uh it’s unclear whether this. whether there’s an increase in it or. whether people are just talking about it. more. it is the case and i know. i know several people who are in. polyamorous relationships and i’ve. talked. with them in detail about them and. jealousy is often a factor in that and. they describe it as kind of like um. uh an emotion that has to be somehow. tamed or dealt with in in some way. and so and so in polyamory there are. many different types of polyamory so in.

Like one type for example is you have a. primary. love partner and then. some others on the side that are. permitted. usually within in consensual terms. within. a an explicit contract that the cup that. the primary partners work out so it’s. okay if you. you know i know as one couple it’s okay. if you do it outside the city limits of. los angeles but not within. some say it’s okay for thursday but i. want the weekend friday and saturday. nights to me. it’s okay if there’s. sexual involvement but no emotional. involvement so there are different type. different strategies that people work. out and some of them are designed to try. to keep jealousy at bay so i think it’s. an evolved emotion there’s a natural. emotion that that people experience. um now interestingly there’s there’s a. while we’re on this topic there’s a sex.

Difference therein um uh namely if you. contrast sexual. jealousy with emotional jealousy or. sexual infidelity with emotional. infidelity and so we we. in one set of studies i put my. participants or we used to call them. subjects. um into this what i call the sophie’s. choice of the jealousy dilemmas i said. imagine your partner became interested. in someone else. and you discover that they have had. passionate sexual intercourse with this. person. and. they’ve gotten emotionally involved with. them they’ve fallen in love with them. which aspect of the infidelity upsets. you more. and when you. and that’s why it’s called the sophie’s. shirts both terrible choices. yeah uh but men much more likely to say. the sexual. infidelity is what upsets me more women. it’s like why even ask me it’s a. nobrainer 85 percent of women say the.

Emotional infidelity is what bothers me. more. former student of mine uh barry cooley. did a really interesting study of uh. analysis of this. reality show called cheaters i’ve. actually never seen it but. where where if you suspect your partner. of cheating then the detective from the. tv team will follow the person. uh and then they’ll call up and say. we’ve just seen you found your husband. here in the notell motel do you want to. come down and talk to him and so the and. so what he analyzed though was the. verbal interrogations that people had. when they confronted their partner and. women wanted to know. are you in love with her. men wanted to know. did you him. or did you have sex with them and so is. it’s this sex difference in sensitivity. to these. different cues of infidelity and and of. course there’s there’s an evolutionary.

Logic to this to this sex difference and. it’s been replicated not not the cheater. study but um. the hypothetical. sophie’s choice studies been replicated. now in sweden and china and you know. it’s a universal sex difference. so given that sex difference and you. mentioned another one that just returned. to which is uh. in the engineering disciplines. yeah person thing or presentation so. until i started to see. writing about in the sort of psychology. literature. i observed this anecdotally a lot and. the reason i observed it is i was. confused so i care a lot about robots. i’m a robotics person and so a lot of. males in the robotics community really. didn’t care about the what’s called the. human robot interaction problem which is. like robots when they interact with. humans. and then a lot of females all brilliant.

In in the robotics community cared about. the human robot interaction they cared. about the human the what the robot. colleague communicates with the human in. the picture human in the loop. and i was really confused like because. the difference to me in my anecdotal. interactions. but the the n is quite large there like. i you know i’m in the robotics community. i know a lot of people yeah and i was. confused because for me. i really care about human robot. interaction i i see i care about both a. lot. and. and. in the same thing here in terms of. emotional cheating versus physical. cheating. i care a lot about both and i have like. this oscillating brain so i wonder what. that says about. my brain so i often wonder this because. there’s specific sex differences that. are represented in the data in the. literature and i seem to oscillate.

Depending on mood. yeah and i wonder what that says about. me. why do i care so much about that robot. on the floor. i care not. uh half i care about how it works. and the other half how makes other. people feel yeah what is that yeah so so. i guess what i would say this gets back. to our earlier discussion of agency and. communion where. i actually think that. it’s a sign of being. well balanced to have both capacities. uh within use and so. you get. people who are um. unimodal or do they just have one mode. of operating let’s say it’s the thing. mode which which engineers tend to be. good at you know you have to be good at. it to be a good engineer because things. have to actually work yes you know it’s. not in some you know dream or. hypothetical state things have to have. to actually work. but with the agency and communion i.

Think it’s good to have a balance and. that’s why i think some of the best. romantic relationships are those where. people are. they’re high on what they used to call. androgyny where they have both the. positive. features of agency and communion the. positive features of masculinity and. femininity. uh within the same mix but also with the. footnote of not the unmitigated agency. or unmitigated communion both of which. can be. negative and so i view these as um. capacities and. some people are out of balance some. people have a good balance between the. two it sounds like you have a good. balance between the two well but also. the allocation i feel like it’s a very. dynamic thing. it’s like uh. um. um at least that where. for me personally. of the beauty between humans. of the dance of the push and pull. of the different moods.

It’s like a dynamical system it’s not. two static entities fully represented. and consistent through every interaction. sometimes you know um. people might confuse the fact that i. often talk about love and i. i love humans that i don’t have a temper. that i don’t have like. i lose my all the time. especially like on things i really am. passionate about like people i work with. and so on yeah i’m all over the place. and there’s but underneath it there’s a. deep love and respect for humans but. like i lose my all the time um. and. that that chaos that roller coaster. i think that’s what makes human. relations awesome i mean that the the. push and pull of it of course it can. oscillate too far which is when it. becomes. a herd type of situation when it turns. to emotional or physical violence when. it turns to jealousy crosses a a line.

Where it’s hurtful and there’s like. that it crosses that. vast gray landscape of what is abuse. uh versus what is. just a. beautiful term of human nature right. yes. yeah and it’s it’s complicated it’s uh. yeah yeah it’s complicated and it’s it’s. dynamic and. i would just add i thought you phrased. that brilliantly um. but i would just add to that it also. depends on sort of what you’re trying to. do and so i think some of the. oscillation. can be what. task what problem you’re trying to solve. and so if you’re i don’t know trying to. you know build a bridge or something you. need to be very thin oriented and. uh. you know make sure the damn thing. actually. works and doesn’t collapse when a car. goes over it um. uh if you’re trying to. form a relationship um you know and. you’re entirely thingoriented it’s not. going to work you know.

And that’s that’s one of the people one. of the things that with and males tend. to be more. on this on the socalled spectrum. uh side of things where. one of the hallmarks is a deficit in. social mind reading. just to add to your point about i guess. i’ve already made it that of the dynamic. properties of the roller coaster is. depending on what problem you’re trying. to solve you might want to toggle back. and forth to one pole or the other. you wrote a book called why women have. sex. understanding sexual motivations from. adventure. to revenge that sounds fun and. everything in between. so why do women have sex well i cowrote. it with the female this who’s cindy. meston. a wonderful. friend and colleague and coco author and. cocollaborator um i wouldn’t be. presumptuous enough to write a book. called why women have sex by myself as.

As as you can contribute anything to. this book i’m just kidding i i did but i. have to tell you a story about the um. the origins of this idea. uh which i give credit to cindy meston. for um. and we were we would she’s a colleague. in in the psychology department with me. and we would go out to dinner once a. week or so and and we were just talking. about that she raised this issue and so. we started to brainstorm. originally it was why humans have sex. that’s the the scientific article we. published was why humans because we’re. interested in males and females and so i. said um i would come well uh they have. sex because of x and then. cindy maestrom would come up she’d say. oh here are seven other reasons and that. i’d come up with one more she came up. with another seventh so it was like you. know so so she’s in in some sense.

Importantly the um. you know originator or fountain of this. of this idea but. oh so she’s able there’s something about. the way she thinks about sexuality. that’s able to deeply introspect about. reasons for sex yeah and probably. especially about female sexuality and. this is one of the interesting things. and why it’s so fun for me to. collaborate with with in this case. female. because they do have a different sexual. psychology than males and so and i’ve. noticed this that’s why in my graduate. society like i’ve had 30 or so phd. students about half of them male half of. them female. and the the the women come up with. different questions different scientific. questions that i wouldn’t have thought. of necessarily. um and so um and so anyway so it turned. out to be the collaboration i will i. will say that we we cowrote it and that.

I did contribute to it. and uh especially the the um the. evolutionary insights. so is there a good few words you can say. uh. to why women have sex what are some. primary motivations well we we. originally came up with a list of 237. reasons uh for why uh why humans have. sex and they range. from you know some of the obvious ones. because it feels good uh. because i wanted to relieve stress uh. be to relieve menstrual cramps to get. rid of a headache uh to. get my boyfriend off my back so i could. get some work done yep um so things like. that too to. others. like um. there’s another one uh so that he’d take. out the damn garbage yeah. but another one it was kind of. interesting that uh someone one. nomination was uh to get closer to god. so this there were some that were kind. of spiritual spiritual motivations for.

Having sex. and then some of the nastier ones like. to get revenge. on my you know on my partner or to get. revenge on arrival so that’s sleeping. with my. you know rivals boyfriend you know so. there’s some nasty stuff and some good. stuff in there. it’s so fascinating because yeah sex has. such a. powerful role in our psychology but also. in our culture. so you can make. significant statements. about the in the status hierarchy. uh. about. your sex. the selection of your sexual partner. it’s interesting so it’s not just. because you’re horny it’s all those. other kinds of things yeah mornings is. one. but there are there are other reasons. what about different kinds of sex. so you know what’s uh again this is not. the human lab podcast. rough sex versus quote making love. what’s the explanation between all of. that all the various king now that’s.

Just a basic sort of split. but all the different kinks that humans. establish all the different fantasies. and all those kind of yeah yeah well. that’s a complicated question um. for for which i don’t think we have uh. sufficient time to get into that you. know in detail and and it is complicated. because there are some. sexual fantasies that uh sexual. fantasies by the way i think a really. fascinating window into our sexual. psychology because in a way they’re. they’re unconstrained by. you know things like rules and norms in. society and. cultural presses that you’re kind of. free to. fantasize about whatever you want to. fantasize about so i think it’s it. provides an interesting window into. human sexuality. uh and there are some predictable ones. and then there are some also. individual or idiosyncratic ones and.

And um. the. again the there’s a fundamental sex. difference in in this in that. uh when you talk about like fetishes or. like shoe fetishes leather fetishes. different types of um things males are. much more prone to those than females. you’ve had as you said. almost all fetishes. males are overrepresented and i think. it’s partly because. there’s some evidence that they’re. classically conditioned so i think that. first or early sexual experiences that. people have kind of condition them to. the cues that are present during those. early. ones and so if your first sexual. experience happened to be. you know um involve visual images of. shoes or you’re having to look in your. shoes when you first had sex. it’s just an example or leather or. zippers or whatever the case is. that people develop these very. individualistic um.

Sexual turnons based on these early. sexual experiences. uh so it could also be you said have sex. but it could also be sexual feelings. early sexual feelings like because it. yeah. um. so i wonder what that is about men. that they have a more when they first. start experiencing sexual feelings that. they’re more sensitive to the cues and. those cues somehow have a deep. psychological effect on their. development of their sexuality so if. they have kinks that means they’re. somehow. more q sensitive. and maybe. does it matter if society like slaps. them on the wrist for it does that help. solidify. the kinks yeah i don’t know about the. society’s slack on the wrist but i think. what it is is this i think this is the. evolutionary uh hypothesis anyway about. why there’s this sex difference and that. is that men are. conditioned to anything that’s going to.

Lead to sex because uh. whereas women don’t have to be uh. from male perspective because of women’s. greater investment because the. ninemonth pregnancy. etc. in order to reproduce women have to. invest this tremendous amount. uh men don’t one act of sex can produce. an offspring and so. uh for men but not for women and so this. huge asymmetry and investment means that. the. payoff. matrix of different sexual strategies. differs for the sexes. in that context. women become the valuable and scarce. resource over which men compete so. anything that leads to successful sex. is going to be selected for and so. men are very sensitive to being sexually. conditioned that’s what’s called sexual. conditioning to whatever cues are. associated with sex happening. um from a woman’s perspective sex is not. a um. a scarce resource so a woman could go.

Out here in austin. any night or probably any day on sixth. street and have no problem having sex uh. with a guy. within 10 minutes. okay. guy. would have more difficulty um. he’s not gonna go out you know unless. he’s unless he’s johnny depper really. really charming. yeah. yeah. yeah that’s a fascinating dimorphism or. asymmetry in in our um. made selection what do you think is the. effect. on this young male brain a female 2 of. pornography so one of the fascinating. things that the digital world. brought us. now. i i grew up at a time. when like a magazine like a victoria’s. secret magazine was like. my source of um. sexual inspiration. uh. but that was so that was before the. internet and now the internet with. pornography makes it extremely. accessible. all kinds of kinks all kinds of wild. variety. i mean. variety and quantity.

Is. immense so what do you think that has. how that affects. mate selection. mating. and just the human psychology of the of. the of the two. sexes of the species yeah great question. a big question. uh so i mean we could have a whole. podcast just. on that or at least talk for a while. about it so i’ll just say a couple of. things. uh about that one is. again there’s a sex difference then i. feel like i’m a broken record here. hammering on this but uh it is a lot of. just to actually echo the thing please. be a broken record because it’s it’s. interesting the more we get to the. mating. the more there’s sex differences. represent themselves they serve yes yeah. that’s right and in many psychological. domains there are no sex differences or. the sexes are very similar. but pornography is consumed about 80. percent of the consumers are men.

So it is very heavily a male consumer. industry. if you will and. i think that. it can have positive and negative. effects depending on the circumstances. so. one um. potential negative effect is that. men. might develop unrealistic expectations. about what sex will be like or should be. like in in real life. uh and so and so i remember actually. this i just heard about this one case of. um i don’t mention any names where um. a man got married and he. had been accustomed to seeing. very large breasts in his pornography. consumption. and. discovered that his. wife had. what he perceived to be very small. breasts. in fact they were actually just. medium size. but because he had been so. heavily exposed to pornography and the. artificially enhanced. breast size that is often depicted in. pornography that um. he had. come to expect something that was that.

Was unrealistic in this case. um. not leading that’s not not the way to. lead off to a great sex life with your. wife by being disappointed in her breast. size. so i think that people can develop. in this case men unrealistic. expectations also about the kind of. sexual acrobatics that porn stars engage. in and when they get in real life. situations can put pressure on women to. become. you know uh to fulfill those those kinds. of images. um but the other thing the other kind of. detrimental effect that it has is and. this is something that is emerging. culturally. is i think it has a dampening effect on. men’s pursuit of. reallife relationships. because in some sense it kind of. bleeds off some of that sex drive or. sexual desire sexual energy. um and so they’re. and some men get addicted to it so. they’re spending hours and hours and.

Hours a day consuming pornography. uh and so i think can have a detrimental. effect. on even on men’s ambition yeah that. there’s something really powerful about. that sexual energy. not to be all like. spiritual about it but. it seems like that’s somehow correlated. with ambition. so like uh one of the things that. pornography can take away is like. exactly as you said is your pursuit of. love out there. including women but also love of things. meaning like building awesome epic. things. the love of both bridges and women yeah. uh bridge building and and uh and. relationship building yeah there’s. something about that energy and um and. also. uh. yeah there’s a sort of a vicious. downward spiral because it somehow. staunch your development because it. limits social interaction that. the push and pull of. of uh. romantic social interaction it.

Cuts the edge off of that and it forces. you to be. to spend way too much time with yourself. without the development of that social. interaction. yeah i don’t know but there so outside. of the um the expectations on all those. kinds of things it seems to have a. detrimental effect on the development of. the of the human mind yeah what is that. i don’t i don’t because some of that is. echoed and you know people talk about. the metaverse that some of our life will. be in the digital space. and it’s like on one hand well if it. brings you happiness it brings you joy. short term and long term. why is the metaverse not. the same or better than the real world. but there is something still missing and. what is that. um. something of the pleasure you feel with. porn. is. still missing it’s really not. representing some of the fundamental.

Pleasure you feel. when you interact with real people and. that could be just the growth you. experience like real people can reject. you. the challenge the the again the push and. pull all of that the dance of human. relations yeah yeah and the. exploration of your sexuality so um on. porn you can. kind of passively explore because you. can see you know as as you mentioned uh. a wide variety of things and and and. people people do that but. in terms of exploring your your own. sexuality i think there’s no replacement. for a real human being. so you’ve written about violence and. here we’re talking about porn and sex i. don’t know if you have thoughts on this. but i’d love to ask your opinion on. quote in cells. so here i would like to quote wikipedia. that define incels as members of an. online subculture of people who define.

Themselves as unable to get a romantic. or sexual partner despite desiring one. they also write. now i don’t know if wikipedia is the. accurate source of bot in cells but here. it is. there i quote at least eight mass. murders resulting in a total of 61. deaths have been committed since 2014 by. men who have either selfidentified as. as themselves or who had mentioned incel. related names and writings in their. private writings or internet postings. insult communities have been criticized. by researchers and the media for being. misogynistic encouraging violence. spreading extremist views and. radicalizing their members. is there some insight that you draw from. this connection of sex and lack of sex. to violence. well uh i think sex and violence. are. linked in in various ways. and uh it’s. it’s it’s not just it’s not just incell.

So uh. uh. if you look at um. serial killers for example uh and this. is another thing that i’ve i’m true. crime is. kind of a avocation of mine i just enjoy. reading about true crime and following. true crime stories application. of. hobby a hobby side. subside interest super fancy word for. hobby i got it yeah. uh that like ted bundy. um he was actually very charming and and. didn’t have any trouble attracting women. but. his killing spree. started shortly after he was rejected by. a very. high status. attractive woman. and he felt a rage. about being rejected by her. uh now who knows that’s an n of one and. we don’t know if you know. you know being rejected um causes serial. killing per se but sex and violence are. related in in different ways. i. argue and and i haven’t studied the. insult community in detail i actually.

Have an incoming graduate student who’s. going to start in the fall who who has. been studying the insults and so he’ll. have a more. informed picture but. my attitude is. there are ways to improve your mate. value if you’re having trouble. attracting a mate there are ways to. improve your mate value because a lot of. things. that women want in a mate are improvable. you know they women want guys who are. um compassionate who are understanding. who uh are. ambitious who who acquire resources etc. they’re who are physically fit there are. things you can do to improve your mate. value and so i would say rather than. i would encourage in cells or the. insulin communities rather than being. hostile toward women or being angry at. women. um. just do things to improve your mate. value and then you will be more. successful at attracting women yeah i.

Mean some of it that’s so fascinating so. um your student will be studying that. there’s a. um listen i love the internet. the internet always wins and there’s a. fascinating aspect too which is just. humor. and i um. i’m fascinated by seeing the humor. whether it’s 4chan or reddit and all. that kind of stuff. or where people maybe will selfidentify. as incells as a joke is it kind of. basically representing the fact that you. know it’s hard to get women. this this the struggle the struggle and. for women it’s hard to get a mate that. they you know. they’re basically jokingly representing. the the the challenges the difficulty of. the mate selection process that the. desirable group is smaller than the. entire group that’s it and they’re. joking about it but then it’s. interesting how quickly humor. uh again a dynamical system it can.

Turn into anger. and that on the internet is so. interesting to watch like how trolling. light trolling is humor. but it can turn into aggression. and i i’ve just. seen. it’s weird. it’s weird how. this is true on the internet but you. also just look at the dark aspects of. the 20th century that i’ve been reading. a lot about. how kind of. lighthearted things. turn dark quickly. and it’s interesting i i don’t know what. to make of it because uh it’s basically. sexual frustration that. all humans feel it’s you know dating in. general. can turn into. anger. uh can turn into sophisticated. philosophical constructs like uh about. how the world works. of who really is pulling the strings. right. and. that turns some of the worst crimes. committed uh by the nazis for example. were by extremely intelligent people. that constructed.

Models of how the world works. and there’s there’s something about. sexual frustration. is one of the really powerful forces. that could be a catalyst for. constructing such models and once you’ve. done that. gets a lot more serious. and it’s no longer joke it’s serious but. at the same time when you just look from. the surface it’s kind of jokes yeah it’s. weird that’s interesting. points that you’re making i i think that. there’s this is one way in which. evolution has built into us um. a. a feature which is really bad for our. overall happiness uh and and that is. that it’s created desires that can never. be fully met. you know and that includes in the mating. domain so even with people who. are successful in attracting. you know. somewhat desirable mates maybe they want. you know giselle bunchen or some you. know they desire.

Things that are there women that are. higher and may value or. uh. or a larger number of partners than they. can successfully attract and and in a. way i mean these serve as. evolutions built into these because. they’re motivational devices they. motivate us to try to get what we want. but it also makes us miserable or at. least unhappy or dissatisfied because. there are desires that can never be. fulfilled and this is and this is. mentioned one more sex difference this. desire for sexual variety meaning a. variety of different partners is much. much greater in men than women. um and so that’s why even like in in. pornography consumption men will like. you know go through. multiple multiple multiple. um images and sex scenes and so forth uh. compared compared to what women. who consume pornography go through. but this desire for sexual variety is is.

Something that makes men miserable. because it’s something that they can’t. most men unless you’re a a king or a. despot or. um. you know. have have a harem it’s something that. can never be fulfilled. in everyday life and so i even think. that. you know you talk to men who are walking. down the city block in austin or new. york city or san francisco or wherever. and they pass by they could pass by six. women. and feel a sexual attraction to six. different women in one city block. you know. now and so this is again where evolution. has. created in this desires that can never. be fully met and an evolution well it’s. useful right and the the hilarious thing. that this always up my own mind. by just observing people once you get. that 10. or that uh. beautiful woman that you’ve been lost. you take her for granted move on to the.

Next thing there are classic cases like. um. i don’t know if you you remember this. this case but the hugh grant um was with. elizabeth hurley who is a gorgeous model. and he was caught having sex with a. prostitute i think it was in la or. whatever he’s he’s got elizabeth hurley. why are you having sex with a prostitute. but it’s the. male desire for sexual variety. uh well let me uh do. a little bit of a tangent here and ask. you about. just your work in general. in terms of its interaction. with the scientific community and with. the world at large so many of the ideas. you do research on are pretty. controversial or at least. the topic is controversial. somehow maybe you can speak to that but. what are your thoughts in the current. climate of cancer culture. or maybe there’s a better term for it. that word is like loaded now.

Uh about you doing research in this. space that is so sort of uh. essential so crucial to understanding. human nature how what are the. difficulties what are the concerns for. you to be able to freely explore yeah. i’ve been doing. um. research on these things so. when you when you combine. um sex or sexuality. with. sex differences. with. evolution each of these topics are. controversial. by themselves and you bring them. together the intersection becomes. especially controversial. uh but i. uh i guess. view myself as a scientist and so. um and so i would rather be. uh scientifically correct than. politically correct uh if you will so. i don’t i have no interest in i don’t. have a an agenda i don’t have a. political agenda i don’t have any. agenda other than discovering human. nature that’s what i’ve devoted my. scientific career.

Toward and i’m. and that’s why i do the studies in. responsive to empirical data and. and the best theories that we have. available the best conceptual tools. so. do some of these things upset people. yeah yeah they do as a matter of fact. even. early in my career before i started. publishing on. some of these things i gave a talk in. the sociology department this was at. university of michigan and a female. professor came up to me afterwards. and said. you know you really shouldn’t publish. the results of your studies. um and i said why not and she said that. it would. that people women have it hard enough as. it is without. you know knowing about these things. and my view is um. my view is that’s naive i i think. suppression of scientific knowledge is. is a bad thing and suppression of. scientific knowledge about sex.

Differences is is a bad thing. uh men and women are not psychological. clones. uh especially when it comes to the. mating domain and sexuality domain the. only the only other domain that shows. massive sex differences that we haven’t. touched on is aggression and violence so. the the leading cause of violence. is is being a male. uh males have a ma and the more extreme. the violence. the more males have a monopoly on us. when you get to homicide. warfare. may also have a monopoly on it and we. need to understand. human nature and we need to understand. sex differences therein. in order to. be in a position to effectively. solve some of the social problems that. these sex differences create um so um. you know so i’ve been. uh gotten some flack uh uh no one’s. tried to cancel me uh in my work so far. so i’m i’m i’m just wait yeah just uh.

Yeah but does it hurt you personally. just is it is it psychologically. difficult you know to do this work. because uh what is research is thinking. deeply through things and uh. um. like. doing studies but also interpreting them. and thinking through what is the right. questions to ask. what does this mean. and for that you have to have a clear. mind a um. an optimistic mind a free mind and all. that so it’s you’re just a human so. psychologically is it difficult. does it wear on you. yeah um yeah i would say not not really. but um i’ve been i think fortunate so. even. say my latest book i published a book. recently on conflict between the sexes. and um and it deals with very. controversial topics including intimate. partner violence like with the johnny. depp amber heard thing. and i don’t talk about that in the book.

But. um. and uh and it’s been largely well. received you know and i think partly. it’s because i. am careful in my publications not to. endorse it so one of the common. conflations that people make is they. think that. uh it’s something that you think is good. you know that you know um if you find a. sex difference that there should be a. sex currencies the is odd confusion um. and so i try to make it very clear. uh. that i’m studying what is not what ought. to be and a lot of things that i. discover about what is the case i would. prefer. them not to be and i think you kind of. alluded to this earlier by saying that. we. um. have to override some of our violent uh. inclinations or impulses or. uh the way i would phrase it is we have. to. um control them control or keep. quiescent or suppress uh some of the. nastier sides of of human nature and and.

We’ve successfully done that in some. domains so. um you can talk about like one group. that fascinates me is uh the vikings and. the whole that whole um. uh uh era. and so you have you have in in sweden. norway for example uh these are these. have. like the lowest homicide rates on earth. um but you go back. 400 years ago 600 years ago. people were killing each other right and. left you know and so and so. finding. that uh so this is let leads me to be. optimistic that we can. um. change conditions to suppress. our evolved proclivities just like the. one one physical example that i. sometimes use is. callous producing mechanisms we have. evolved callus producing mechanisms that. are very valuable we develop thickness. in the areas of our skin that have. experienced repeated friction. but. we can in principle design environments.

Where we don’t experience repeated. friction. and so we won’t grow calluses and so you. design an environment that. basically prevents the activation of our. callusproducing mechanism i think we. can do the same thing with some of these. other inclinations. um and and have succeeded. in. you know reductions of homicide in even. in the last couple hundred years and. some of that has to do with the myths. and stories we tell ourselves like again. it’s language because i i mean i love. the vikings. uh valhalla that idea yeah that’s a myth. that’s an idea. that’s a promise. for the for the great land beyond over. there beyond the mountains it’s like. animal farm sugar caney mountain. that is promised to you if you’re a. great warrior. i believe valhalla is where. half the soldiers go. um as a reward for. for great soldiering for being great.

Warriors and the thing i just recently. have been reading quite a bit about. valhalla which is um. it’s such a fascinating how the these. myths are constructed. the. i believe. i just. think this is such an awesome setup in. terms of. a kind of heaven which is they spend the. entire day fighting. so they for joy and if they die they’re. reborn the next day so it’s it’s you’re. basically. the passion the thing you’re passionate. about without the consequences on top of. that. i think there’s a pig or a boar. that. is they keep eating so it’s regenerated. every single day so unlimited food and. there’s unlimited beer i believe so it’s. like it’s like or mead. yes yes yes yes mead i don’t know that’s. that’s fascinating that we construct. these myths and at the same time. uh. these myths can be used. to get humans to do some of the worst.

Atrocities. so some of the violence requires us to. have those myths of what is waiting for. us beyond death sort of beyond. over there in sugar candy mountain as uh. crow says that in animal farm and so. you know i think the more and more in. this modern society the positive of not. constructing so many myths is that we. get to live more in the moment and that. forces us to optimize and improve the. moment and we get to face. the irrational and the painful aspect of. violence maybe we should reduce that in. the here and now. yeah the downside is we may not if we. dispose of god or these kinds of. religious and spiritual ideas. we might. descend into a you know what nietzsche. worried about with nihilism. and it’s a beautiful dance because. humans seem to tie themselves together. with narratives yes yeah and with myths.

And stories that we all believe if you. completely dispose of them. a society i don’t know we don’t know we. don’t know yeah it’s going to happen if. it’s going to collapse or if it’s. actually going to rediscover better. myths better stories more scientifically. grounded ones uh ones that are driven in. data and all those kinds of things. um yeah i i don’t know i mean it’s an. interesting question i mean i don’t have. any um brilliant insights into it other. than that you know. to agree with you that people. construct narratives uh well of their. own lives and sometimes the. the life after death um. but i guess i would add and this is. maybe a more cynical view but you. mentioned atrocities i think that. leaders can sometimes. exploit. those under them. to create. forms of uh violence or justification. for um. for warfare.

Like in you know the like the the group. that we are conquering they are uh. subhuman they’re. they’re insects they’re an infectious. disease that is. you know and so these. these narratives can be used by leaders. to exploit and motivate um people under. them to commit these atrocities. so it’s a nastier part of our psychology. both that leaders do that but also that. people are vulnerable to narratives of. that sort yeah it’s fascinating to look. preinternet you hope the internet makes. us more resistant to that which i do. have probably a question on that but if. you look at just the propaganda machines. during world war ii on the nazi side and. on the soviet side. on every side but. particularly in those two it’s so. fascinating both how effective a simple. message can be. in. a leader being able to convince. the small inner circle around them.

Uh convince themselves which is. fascinating propaganda and you start to. believe the propaganda degenerate and. then how easily the the populace is. convincible again you hope that the. internet the distributed nature of the. internet makes it more difficult to run. a propaganda campaign at least of the. classical sort i do have uh a question. about this because you mentioned elon. musk when we’re talking about status. hierarchies. like you and i can’t buy twitter and. wealth accumulation yeah what do you. think about elon buying twitter. um in particular. in the reason. the state of reason. uh that he’s doing so in um. emphasizing free speech that’s an. interesting question but i don’t really. have an informed opinion about it you. know i don’t know. um uh it’s not my area of expertise and. i don’t um i don’t know enough details.

And i also don’t know what his plans are. for twitter what what changes he plant. proposes to implement well the reason i. bring that up is because. and you you’ve kind of said you don’t. necessarily feel a tremendous amount of. pressure but in doing controversial. research. and doing research on controversial. topics. you’re also a communicator. and twitter is a platform which you. communicate and there’s going to be if. you get canceled somewhere you get. cancelled on twitter yeah and so there’s. pressure. so what does free speech look like. in these public platforms it’s. communicating difficult ideas. it’s changing your mind is exploring. ideas and not fearing. the mob. the mob that pressures the platform to. remove you from the platform or to ban. you shadow ban you from the platform. decrease your reach artificially on the.

Platform and those are really. fascinating questions that we get to. deal with in this new digital age so. there’s a lot of ideas. what you said what elon is planning to. do. forget elon how do you do this well. that’s the question. and uh there’s sort of an absolutist. view of free speech let anyone say. anything and i tend to be a person that. believes. everybody should have the freedom to say. anything the question with a social. media platform is. well. uh. can you force anyone to hear what you. have to say. because the virality the viral nature of. communication. means that. you can. control who hears what you say yeah the. virality of that the search and. discovery aspect. and it’s i think that’s a fascinating. question from the algorithmic. perspective. the amount of data out there just like. papers there’s a huge amount of papers.

What you want is to find. best papers. the ones you agree with but also the. ones that challenge you. and you don’t want to nonstop read the. papers that challenge you you’re going. to be mentally exhausted there’s a. bucket of attention. and focus and mental energy you can. allocate the ones that really challenge. you the ideas that really challenge you. are exhausting it’s good just like going. to the gym is good but then you also. want to read um. things that are fun for you and those. are you know. um. if you spend your whole life in. arguments that’s going to be exhausting. you want to hang out chill with your. friends. watch some netflix have fun whatever. easygoing and sometimes have difficult. academic arguments with people for. example people you disagree with but not. all the time you have to have a platform.

What is free speech actually looks like. it’s a platform where everybody can. challenge anybody. but not. destroy them by doing so mentally so you. have to balance. uh personal growth of each individual. person on the platform but definitely. removing people from a platform is a. terrible thing so on top of that. it’s like how do you get measures. that the platform is doing good. what i really like what elon said and. i’ve talked to him about this is uh. pissing off. everybody equally the extremes of every. side equally in the political spectrum. you could say the left and the right. is uh measuring by pissing off the. extremes equally because currently there. seems to be an asymmetry in that so. that’s one good measure that allows you. to maximize as he says. the area under the curve of human. happiness. uh. that’s one thing the the other is repres.

People representing themselves. honestly so removing the bots from the. platform it’s such a weird world we live. in where you don’t know who’s real or. not. so anonymity is an awesome thing. the awesome. aspect of anonymity is it protects. people’s privacy it actually gives them. freedom to think freedom to speak even. more so. but when anonymity is weaponized. it allows you to be cruel to others. without the repercussion of cruelty that. you would feel in the physical world. right so you want to use anonymity as a. shield versus as a as a sword. so to protect yourself from the attacks. of others but not as a way to hurt. others and those are all. really tricky things to figure out. and it’s not you know not all of it’s. going to be solved with an edit button. which i believe is the most requested. twitter feature.

Anyway i think i think it’s really um. i think this is fascinating not just for. people. talking about politics which is what. everyone seems to care about but also. for science. for people. challenging each other in the scientific. domain because i i at least have hope. for scientific communication where. people can. start playing around with different. mediums of communication so not just. academic papers but just ideas playing. with those ideas yeah absolutely. especially when you have so evolution. psychology well no that even that it can. be super high turn. turnover rate of importance but you know. you have with kovid. it seems like the progress of science. and scientific debate. uh is most powerful in that context if. it’s done really quickly and it feels. like twitter like most most of the best. things i’ve learned about covet and to.

Stay up to date. was uh was on twitter it’s so exciting. to see. uh signs happening so so quickly and all. kinds of domains there and that. that was great but then you step in with. labels of what’s misinformation. you have this kind of. conformity seeking. labels. of what is true and not which is a very. unscientific thing to me in the name of. protecting the populace the weird it’s a. weird um. impulse that people have which is. well here’s an organization here’s an. institution that is a possessive of the. truth and everybody else is untrue now. a lot of the time maybe. majority of the time that institution is. going to be correct. this consensus consensus is the. consensus because it’s usually correct. but the biggest ideas. are going to be against the consensus. and certainly that’s true in. evolutionary psychology.

Where it seems like. are we even is the cake even baked yet. it feels like there’s a lot of turmoil. in terms of figuring out human. psychology well there’s a lot that we. don’t know i mean if human psychology if. if it were a simple. thing and we only had. you know three or half a dozen. psychological adaptations we would have. discovered all of them by now it’s it’s. that it’s so complex. multifaceted multimechanism. um. part that describes human nature that. it was what makes it exciting but also. the amount that we know is small. compared to the amount that we don’t. know and so that’s why you have to. approach these things with um with a. certain. humility and that’s why even like in the. in the mating and sexuality domain which. i’ve been studying for a number of years. i i keep coming across things that i. don’t know questions that are unanswered.

Um which which. is is um. makes it exciting from my perspective i. mean that’s what the joy is of being. being a scientist. you mentioned i gotta return real quick. to uh ted bundy you mentioned you have. uh so you you you’ve written about. murder and violence right. in a long distant past but the thread. runs through your work today. who to you is the most fascinating. serial killer. of of the of the true crime. yeah uh things that you’ve explored i. think well ted bundy’s way up there uh i. think uh charles manson um. uh. yeah and is another um have you seen on. ted bunny because i find him super. fascinating have you seen uh there’s a. lot of movies on him. extremely. wicked shockingly even and vile. it’s a retelling of his life from the. perspective of his girl long term. girlfriend no i have not seen that one. which ties together a lot of our.

Conversation. so i it’s probably my favorite one a lot. of people say it’s the best movie on ted. bondi you should definitely watch it i. will uh i recommend it to others but. it’s from a perspective. uh of the relationship and it just. one of the really powerful. windows into a serial killer that i saw. there. is that from the perspective of the. relationship you can have just this. healthy looking relationship yeah. there’s some fights and so on but the. usual dating and all that kind of stuff. was all there so all the murders he was. doing he had a long. term girlfriend throughout all of that. and also throughout all of that i’ll try. not to give away in case you don’t know. the story throughout all that she stood. by aside. she refused to believe everything that. was happening yeah until until. um. you know the very end of course it.

Shifts in the very end and that’s a. fascinating shift of the. the breaking of the the illusion but. it’s really fascinating that you can. have those two things that. you yeah well i think that. part of it is we. have these stereotypes that we expect. people like serial killers to be these. um. ugly um drooling creatures that are sort. of uh. evil all the time. uh and so um. that’s why even like you had um i don’t. know if this is. if i’m remembering this correctly but. like stalin who killed you know. millions of people apparently like. loved his kids and loved his family and. people so so we have this part of the. complication uh the complexity of human. nature and human psychology is we we. don’t have just this one. you know this one property that. dictates how we behave in all. circumstances. yeah the devil. is going to be charismatic.

That’s why. that’s one of the things i’ve learned. about just looking at evil people. looking at jeffrey epstein. who seemed to have hoodwinked quite a. lot of people yes yeah that’s another. that’s another fascinating case yeah i’m. not a he wasn’t a serial killer but a. serial sexual predator. and a lot of people. i. know and respect. didn’t. see. the evil yeah. and. so i never met the guy. but it’s like. are you guys oblivious like what what. was there must have been something and. from everything i see is purely just. charisma. it’s it’s the it’s the smoking mirrors. yeah that uh he was very charming. psychopath yeah but i i think every. psychopath to be effective has to be. charming yeah the successful ones yeah. yeah successful psychopaths. oh. yeah and that was i mean ted bundy was. one he was a good looking guy um.

Intelligent and. could turn on the charm. and and then had this evil. is there something interesting to be. said that i think a large percentage of. the fan base. like i’ve seen numbers like 80 plus of. the fan base for true crime shows is. women. is there is there some psychology behind. that i haven’t seen that i’m not aware. if a sex difference that i’m not aware. of that you should. i mean i i’ve heard that in a lot of. places so i wonder if there’s some um. there’s something about troop crime. maybe because it’s um. just just like sexual kinks for for men. develop early on for the. the cues. maybe for women there’s the cues of the. threat of violence. the attentiveness to violence. it develops early on and so and. therefore fascination with violence well. well i think that i mean one thing is. that. well with serial killers specifically i.

Don’t know if this is true of true crime. in general but. serial killers like you you find like um. a lot of people well a lot of women fall. in love with them. or you know even if they’re they’re. jailed for serial killing. and i think one of the features of it is. that. it it parasitizes or hijacks. status mechanisms in that a key cue to. status. is the attention structure that is the. high status people are the people to. whom the most people pay the most. attention and so serial killers garner a. lot of attention and. even though for. evil deeds um it’s still attention. so i think that that hijacking of our. status allocation adaptations is partly. responsible for that. is there given the the trajectory of. your life you mentioned berkeley and the. east coast and michigan. you got you got everything is there. given the trajectory of your life.

In geography and in science can you give. advice to young folks today. high school college thinking about how. to make their own trajectory how to make. their own way through life that they can. be proud of either career. or just. love life. or life yeah well not necessarily on on. careers but i can give advice on. on the mating you know and i i think. it’s one of these things where. um you know we have requirements. in. for the courses that students have to. take in high school for example and i. think there should be a required course. on relationships on on mating. so not just sex. yeah not not not sex at all yeah because. i mean most of what’s taught is that. they teach about sexual health and how. not to get an sti and so forth yeah my. my teacher uh put a condom on a banana. right right but. very excited but um how how to select a.

Maid um how do you know if you’re in a. bad mating relationship uh how to how to. get out of a you know a bad mating. relationship um i think that. um that there’s at this point in the. science even though there’s a lot that. we don’t know we know enough to at least. provide some heuristics or general guide. guidelines to. things to watch out for so just as a. concrete example. uh with intimate partner violence uh. and this is male to female. there are statistical predictors of is. this guy. does he have an increased probability of. beating you up. uh and there are things like if he. starts to insist on knowing where you. are at all times if he starts cutting. off your relationships with your friends. and your family. um. so there are these kind of early warning. signs and i think women should know. about those. uh or even things like um.

That women are most in danger of being. killed by an ex during the first. three to six months after they’ve broken. up with him. you know that that sometimes they think. it’s you know the guy will say. meet with me one one last time and then. i won’t bother you again. um no this is a dangerous time so i. think there’s some knowledge. that we do know that can be used to make. informed decisions about our mating. lives and i think that should be taught. so consider that. like take that the the ma the mating. strategies the main demanding life. seriously. yeah yeah absolutely and uh because um. you know aside from. a small number of people who are totally. uninterested in any kind of mating. or sexuality and there are a small. percentage that fall under that category. um we all confront problems of mating. how do you you know there’s that uh um.

Called the mathematical model like. secretary problem marriage problem i. don’t know if you’re familiar but. basically you have a it’s it’s a silly. perhaps not. uh. it’s a formalized simplified. cueing theory type of thing where it’s. you have and and subjects and. you get to date some number of. um. people. and then there’s a stopping condition i. believe it’s n over e. beyond which you pick the next partner. which is better than anybody you’ve. dated before. so. uh yeah let’s not over emphasize that. idea but. um. if i were to psychologize it i would say. that. some exploration is good. some dating is good but at a certain. point you pick somebody given the set of. people you’ve explored. you pick somebody. who is uh. pretty desirable within that group yeah. yeah but i would add that what you also. want to do is you want to.

Um. mate with someone who’s equivalent in. mate value. or or has even what’s more difficult is. has a. likely. equivalent future mate value trajectory. because nothing remains static yes uh as. beautiful. but it’s also the case that there are. individual things we haven’t talked. about these but things like um. religious uh orientation political. orientation. uh values these are extremely important. to be compatible on and so you do have. cases of let’s say. a democrat marrying a republican. and that sometimes works but you’re. going to get into a lot of conflict. other things being equal or someone. who’s. deeply religious versus someone who is. not all religious this is gonna be a. problem or someone who’s of a different. religious faith. um and and so. uh compatibility on those things. compatibility also on personality.

Dimensions i think there’s some main. effects like so i would i would. recommend avoiding that dimension we. talked about of emotional instability. because. if you sign up for that you at least. should know you’re going to be in for a. lot of conflict it may be exciting at. times but there’s going to be a lot of. ups and downs know what you sign up for. what about how much to date. so there’s a culture. i’m. speaking soon to a founder and. longtime ex-ceo of tinder. so there’s that culture of. digitalized dating of swipe right swipe. left. uh. is it positive negative how much did you. date. yeah what’s the number and also. what number of sexual partners should. you what’s optimal asking for a friend i. don’t know if there’s a single uh. optimum there um let’s hope. i think is it. is it single digits or double digits i.

Need answers well i don’t know i get. some of my wisdom from lyrics from uh. songs so um. uh. this uh eagles song i think don henley. you know said something like a there are. too many lovers in one lifetime ain’t. good for you or. something like that yeah but um. you know. i think there there is a uh take it easy. is a good one too. yeah basically don’t don’t get don’t get. too attached don’t take it don’t take. heartbreak too seriously. yeah so but but i think i mean you know. internet dating and you know there’s. there’s been some work on them i think. has its pluses and minuses you know i. and one of the pluses is it gives you. access to potential pools of mates that. you could never possibly meet in real. life you know where mating and dating. used to be either people you knew or. friends of friends or you go out to bars.

Or parties but so that’s the good thing. gives you access to those. extended pools but also it gives people. the um illusion that there’s always. someone better out there for you someone. who’s just a little more attractive a. little more compatible a little more and. so uh it produces what’s sometimes. called decision paralysis. you know you have too many options and. you you can’t choose i think one one. other. potential um. negative which i think could be. corrected by these internet dating sites. is that the. picture the photographs. uh the of the of the face and body tend. to overwhelm all other sources of. information. and so especially if you’re if you’re. just looking for a sex partner that’s. one thing physical. appearance is it’s fine for that to be. overwhelmingly important but if you’re. looking for longterm mate there are so.

Many other things that are really really. important. and so. but but people tend to be. uh swamped by the. visual input which is natural because. that’s where we evolved to respond to. visual input we’re not. you’ve ought to respond to words. you know like uh oh i’m. i like to go fishing or something like. that uh so if there’s some way for these. sites to. in longterm waiting for. these other characteristics to be made. more salient in people’s information. processing i think that would be a. valuable uh improvement yeah because. even. forget longterm beauty even sex appeal. is is. um like even the word appearance. it feels like to me people that are. super sexy in real life. are a lot more than their picture yeah. yeah like. they’re it’s actually surprising like. they come to life in different ways yes. it could be either submissiveness of.

Shyness or ex extravagant. um wit and humor. or like uh super confident or super like. whatever they are the whatever the. weirdness that they are comes through. immediate so when people say well. that was just the case of the uh of sort. of proponents of dating apps it’s like. when you meet somebody at a bar you’re. getting the same experience as you do on. a dating site you have very little. information all you get is appearance. but i don’t think. appearance on the screen is the same as. appearance in real life especially with. people that for some reason you find. super sexy because like and again the. objectification that we mentioned. earlier is the. um. it over optimizes for people who are. good at taking pictures of themselves. like they’re representing themselves. inaccurately. they’re. not just even in the physical features.

But in the way those physical features. are used in physical reality. like in terms of body language in terms. of flirtation in terms of just. everything everything put together so i. just um there i i wonder if there’s a. way to close that. uh to close that gap. and i don’t know what that is exactly i. tend to believe more information is good. on dating i think i don’t use actually. dating apps i just because they don’t. make any sense to me because there’s not. enough information. like what this like uh. to me. like whether you know dostoevsky you’re. not as important. and i don’t mean that because you’ve. read specifically a book by dostoevsky. but there’s something about. have you suffered have you thought about. life deeply have you been shaken in some. way. and that’s not sometimes books can. reveal that sometimes something else can.

Reveal that but this kind of. very shallow resume like i like to. travel. i have boobs all right it’s like this. kind of thing is it loses the humanity. of it all yeah i want because listen as. a fan of technology i would love. dating to open up like you said the pool. of possibilities out there the soulmate. idea like. i believe that there’s an incredible. people out there for you that is an. emotional connection not just a physical. connection and so that the promise of um. digital tech is that you can discover. those people and that’s not just for. romantic relationship it’s for. friendships it’s for business partners. it’s for all that kind of stuff like. your your friend groups. but yeah there’s something seems broken. about dating sites yeah well that’s why. i mean. when i’m asked for advice on this i say. if you feel like you have a connection.

With someone. meet them in person you meet them in in. real life and because the road trip be. like you said yeah. stress test it yes yeah because there’s. only i mean. so much you can learn through. messaging and so forth. amongst all of this we didn’t really. we didn’t really mention love which is. hilarious. so let me ask you as uh. in the last just a few questions what’s. the role of love in all of this in in. the human condition. so if um. we talked about mating we talked about. made selection. we talked about all the things we find. attractive and inmates the status. hierarchies and all that kind of stuff. what about that deep connection with the. human being that’s hard to explain. well we talked about it a little bit but. so we’re talking about love like like. romantic love um. i think it’s an evolved emotion.

That evolved. in part to solidify longterm. pair bonds. uh and is it different from the love of. a parent for a child or or brotherly. love or sisterly love or. other friendship love i think these are. different phenomena but if we’re talking. about roman romantic love i think it’s. an evolved emotion. um. leading hypothesis is that it’s a it’s a. commitment device. uh so if i. say to a potential mate um. oh uh you exceed my minimum thresholds. on intelligence and and looks i think we. we make a good couple it’s a good pickup. line yeah it wouldn’t um it wouldn’t do. much um emotionally but if but if you. say you know i i love you it’s i i can’t. i can’t stop thinking about you i it’s. this uncontrollable emotion that i feel. toward you it’s it’s a sign that you. know um that i’m committed to you. uh at least for a while.

Uh and i’m not gonna abandon you when. when you know if you’re an aide and when. an 8.5 comes along i’m not going to drop. you and go with the 8.5 yeah. it’s that’s so interesting but that’s. you know it’s still. still the reality of the emotion is. there. however it evolved it’s still there and. it’s interesting it’s one of the more. puzzling pieces. here. um even broader than romantic love but. in romantic love like what is that. uh how much of that is nature how much. of it is nurture because. even. i mean i ask that myself all the time. like i’m deeply romantic. how much is that is nature. how much of it is nurture how much is. the. the people i spent my childhood with. the ideas i mean. um. the soviet union sort of is known for. the literature and the movies and so on. that are. that are very over. they’re heavily romanticized i don’t.

Want to say over romanticized maybe. there’s no such thing but so maybe what. is that is that my upbringing or is that. some somewhere in the genetics. um that i value that emotional. connection. yeah well. most. humans. have. the capacity. for love. you know whether it is um. activated in any individual person such. as you uh or anyone else. it is going to be. adjusted or suppressed. by different social and cultural and. upbringing factors you know i mean there. there are cultures where. parents basically walk away girls they. cloister them and so they can’t ever. meet anyone else until they the parents. arrange to marry him so they they’re. they override any possibility of um. of love. um but i i think i think it’s an evolved. emotion. and. um i mean one. kind of test of this and this is just. slightly. circumstantial evidence but in.

China historically there have been. arranged marriages and then. you know individual choice marriages. the arranged marriages tend to have. higher breakup rates and lower. child production. than the ones that are sort of. voluntarily chosen. you know so i’ve heard of me sort of. contrasting stuff from india. i wonder uh contrasting so that where. the arranged marriages. are longer lasting you know i. it’s so interesting because you say. china yeah i would love to see the data. and the dance of that because. there’s a lot of other interesting. factors like how the arranged marriage. is arranged yes um is it for the. families. is the interest of the families for some. kind of like in the monarchies. to make agreements to trade resources or. is the interest of the family to. maximize the success of the marriage so. compatibility is it are they looking for.

Maximized compatibility are they looking. to maximize resources well historically. it’s often been an arrangement where. they’re trying to maximize the. status and power of the ala of the. alliance with this other extended family. um. but but that also varies from culture to. culture like there’s the uh the tiwi. culture where there’s uh. you know the the the men basically. bestowed the dot their daughters on. other men and they they try to gauge. which men which of these young. up and coming men are really going to be. you know chiefs high status guys and. which ones are going to be losers and so. um you have this weird phenomenon they. have polygenic marriage. where uh a guy will get one. daughter bestowed on him and then other. men use that as information. uh that this guy must be rising in. status and so they give their daughters.

To the guy as well as. have we go from like zero to seven wives. and very short stories richer that’s. fascinating. uh the game of thrones. uh insects is a part of that game. let me ask you about yourself your own. self who mentioned richard rangham. think about mortality do you think about. your own mortality. are you afraid. of death. yeah interesting i’m not afraid of death. um i i agree with with richard wrangham. i i i’m not eager to leave the party i. don’t want to leave the party soon. i enjoy life um in all of its. interesting complexities i enjoy. my scientific work i enjoy my. relationships with other people i enjoy. exploring the universe so i’m not eager. to to leave but i’m not afraid of it and. i think. um part of that is that. um i was married for a while and um my. wife died. uh prematurely uh of cancer and so i.

Spent basically eight months with her. watching her diet she after she was. diagnosed and there’s some weird it’s a. horrible time for me and for her. obviously but. there’s some way in which it kind of um. made it more familiar so that it’s. uh became a lot less frightening. you know um. but um. how did that experience change you just. as a scientist as a thinker about. humanity. um. as a as a human yourself well i guess so. you’re saying you felt. like you felt a little bit more ready. for this whole. end of the party well yeah it’s yeah. because. we tend to be. afraid of things that we’re not familiar. with you know and so if you’re familiar. with it. um. at least in my case that that caused a. lessening of um fear on that dimension. but. i don’t know i it also kind of you know. there are these existential. thoughts that it brought about like how.

Ephemeral. life is and um and i remember this. richard dawkins quote he said something. like um. we are all going to die. and we’re the lucky ones. you know. uh yeah that we got. we even got a chance yeah or or even uh. uh you mentioned russian writers one of. my favorite writers is uh nabakov. vladimir nabakov i don’t know if you’ve. read. him but he he said once that um life is. a of light between two eternities. of darkness. and you’re saying that’s not terrifying. to you. well i i’d prefer i’m happy with the. prior the first eternity of darkness i. prefer the second um not to occur but um. but it’s going to occur i mean it’s um. we know that uh. um elon musk aside i i i’m. skeptical that we’ll be. colonizing other planets in any. substantive way. uh and so our our star our sun will will. burn out. and so it might it’s going to take a few.

Billion years or so but. um it will eventually the earth will. become a cold lump of um. dirt. floating around in the universe with no. life on it so it’s not just. your light the light of your. consciousness. it’s the light of. our human civilization that will. eventually go out yes everything. at least here. i do believe that there is life and. intelligent life in other. parts of the. universe on other planets. i sometimes wonder. if. the second eternal darkness. is the thing that makes the light. possible so in the other places out. there. i wonder how successfully can you truly. be without the deadline of death both at. the human scale. and at the civilizational scale. i feel like we in order in order to. create anything beautiful we have to. live at the on the edge of destruction. that seems to be. um you know some people would say that’s.

Just the future of our past. that our future can be otherwise but. you know like you i’m uh somebody that. looks at the data. and currently the data says otherwise. but uh. of course we’re constantly changing the. data because we’re there’s change. so we’ll see what we see i wonder what. the future uh future holds for us. speaking of which as a. you know as somebody who wrote the. textbook on. evolutionary psychology. what do you think is the meaning of the. whole thing. what’s the meaning of life. um you’re very good at describing how. the human mind is the way it is. but why is it here at all. what’s the purpose well i can give you. my answer to that but i would actually. love to hear your answer because i know. you’ve asked this question of dozens and. dozens of people on your podcast and. what what are what are your thoughts on.

That well first of all my mind changes. on that at all a lot and i think the. process of answering the question is the. fun thing. not the actual final answer i think the. question itself is the most fun thing. but for me usually. is. two things. one is. love and we can talk a long time what i. mean by that is it’s not just romantic. love. and two is to create and hopefully to. create beauty. so. and again i can talk forever what that. means for me personally. creating beauty means. engineering. and creating experiences like connection. with others. on the love side. it’s just. the actual feeling the experience. of deep appreciation. of um. everything around you like the sensory. experiences of everything around you. just feeling it every single moment. saying. i’m damn glad to be alive. that light with the darkness on your.

Side just being appreciative like being. in the in the experience of. of truly. present and experiencing it. because um. because it’s not going to be there for. long the whole thing ends and that that. to me is love and. the the reason romantic love is so. important is um. is that other people are just awesome. they’re. they’re. fascinating black boxes that can. generate awesomeness. so can like other animals and objects. for me but uh humans in particular for. some reason are just generators of. awesomeness yes they surprise us. yeah. yeah and therefore a good target of love. well so that’s a much more eloquent. answer than um than i could give but. i’ll just say a thought or two um on. that and. uh i mean one of the things. that. you know what is the meaning of of life. i mean in some sense. um. if you’re thinking about some eternal.

Purpose. meaning like if we. look five billion years hence you know. will any of this mean anything i think. the answer to that is probably no okay. but. and this is i think where my answer. would concur with yours is that i think. we have a rich. evolved psychology that contains. many complex. adaptations. and at any one moment in time. most are quiescent most are not. activated. but. for me part of the meaning of life is. experiencing. the activation of. a lot of these complicated evol. psychological mechanisms and they. include. romantic love they include friendship. they include being part of a group or. coalition because i think we’re an. intensely coalitional. species so there’s something about being. a group. member so like just even i don’t know if. you’re in in sports if your your team. wins you feel that somehow that’s your.

Part of that. um. uh and but this goes for both the. positive and the and the uh darker sides. of things so. so for example. warfare. um you see these. men who have been through a war together. and who where their lives have depended. on each other and they’re like. best friends for for life and have a. bond that is. stronger than most people form with a. friend ever in their life because. they’ve been through the these life or. death. experiences and so. you know i i wouldn’t want to um. you know. doesn’t cause me to want to charge off. and be in war but. uh but there are some. types of adaptations even like warfare. adaptations where in principle. i would like to experience them i would. like to experience and and never will. but. uh you know what is it like to be. in a. coalition where you are in combat with. another coalition and not not in modern.

Warfare because it’s it’s you know. horrible but where your life is in. danger where your life. you. depend for your life on other people and. they’re depending for their life on you. and there’s this kind of coalitional. solidarity that is. um is unique. now um. uh another thing that of course i’ll. never be able to experience this is. murder because i’m never gonna murder. anybody okay but. he’s young but studying homicidal. ideation really gave me a it wasn’t it. was an eyeopener it was as interesting. as. studying sexual fantasies because. the if you ask what triggers homicidal. thoughts ideation most people have had. them. uh and uh and i because i asked this. question have you ever thought about. killing someone. and and i get that 91 percent of men say. yes about 84 percent of women say no and. even when i talk to people they say uh.

Oneon-one they’ll say oh no i’ve never. thought of telling someone what kind of. person you think i am and then 10. minutes later i say actually there was. this one time when i got this guy. humiliated me in public and i. you know and and so. but i think um thoughts about. killing um homicide ideation and they’re. very predictable from an evolutionary. perspective if you look like we. mentioned mate poachers earlier and. uh infidelity and there are other things. but. uh things like that being humiliated in. in public status loss you know do. trigger homicidal thoughts. so so anyway i don’t go off too much on. that but i guess what i’m saying in. answer to your question is. is. experiencing the rich array of. complex psychology that we have within. us. most of which. remains unactivated and some of which. will never be experienced um.

Like you know there are some people who. never never experienced love for example. because of you know cultural. restrictions or or whatever and so. uh to me that that’s part of the meaning. of life so that’s that’s so beautifully. put the saying that they’re kind of. dormant inactivated aspects of the uh. so the psychological mechanism so we. have the capacity to experience a bunch. of stuff it’s almost like in video games. you can unlock levels and so on and so. this is basically. there’s all of these things that are. dormant in our mind that we have the. capacity to experience. and part of the meaning is to try to. experience. um as many of them. or uh as many new ones novel for the. particular society or maybe the entirety. of human civilization who knows. psychedelic drugs. like you said violence. uh experiences that might have to do.

With brain computer interfaces the. interaction with all of those are. experiences and so the question is what. is the ceiling what are like. how uh. infinite or nearly infinite is the. capacity of the human mind to experience. all those things and we’ll get to uh. we’ll get to discover those things so um. i’m glad you never got a chance and. never will get a chance to murder but i. just want to put it on record that. you know that’s definitely something on. my bucket list why do you think i dress. like this. anyway um. there is something appealing like one of. my favorite movies is leon the. professional oh i love that movie. what is that why is that so exciting. listen maybe it’s the ocd thing. like killing other bad guys. no women no children. women no children. also loving that with uh uh natalie. porter natalie portman incredible.

Actress uh. also the complex whatever that is the. fatherly or romantic whatever that is. like lolita type of thing i don’t know. what i i’ve never like. read a phd thesis on that interpretation. of that movie but. that’s a fascinating one violence and. violence and love and sex that’s what. makes uh. life worth living that’s what makes it. fun david you’re an incredible person. incredible scientist it’s a huge honor. to share a city with you or i’m i’m the. visitor you own this place you run this. place oh i don’t i we vote we both live. here now yeah and uh. it’s been great talking to you it’s a. great honor for me um i’ve mentioned. i’ve followed your podcast for a long. long time now and. tremendously enjoy your your interviews. and. you have a very. um. inquisitive. inviting style that brings out things in. your guests which i think is fantastic.

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