The Rational Animal
The Rational Animal

The Rational Animal

This deeper inquiry seeks what biologists call an ultimate cause. Ultimate explanations go below the surface, focusing not on the immediate triggers of a behavior but on their evolutionary function. (Location 392)

At the proximate level, people behave one way rather than another because they want to feel good. (Location 400)

Instead, it has to do with the fact that the best food and mating sites change with the seasons. (Location 414)

Without specific education or equipment, most college-age women do not even know when they themselves are ovulating. But if a woman is unaware that she is ovulating, does that mean it can’t influence her behavior? (Location 426)

those in the fertile phase of their cycle chose sexier and more revealing clothing—shorter skirts, higher heels, and sheerer blouses that revealed a lot of skin. (Location 435)

The researchers speculated that ovulation subconsciously led the women to act sexier, leading an invisible change in the women’s hormonal condition to have a very visible economic effect. (Location 440)

An ovulating woman’s hormones appear to do likewise, altering her decisions to maximize her mating opportunities at the precise time of the month when doing so would have mattered most to her ancestors. (Location 449)

Instead, men should be prone to making riskier choices specifically when their behavior could lead to a reproductive opportunity. To see how this works, let’s go Down Under. (Location 494)

When the beautiful woman was watching, guys did worse on the test, suggesting that boosts in testosterone may have shut down this brain area, normally involved in making careful judgments. (Location 511)

Recall that women in all societies around the world are attracted to ambitious men willing to take risks to become successful. (Location 535)

Rather than showing that some people are inherently disposed to be conformists while others are inherently disposed to be unique, the study found that the same person will sometimes want to conform and at other times seek to be unique. When the situation elicited a person’s romantic subself, he or she craved uniqueness and avoided conformity. But when the situation elicited a person’s vigilant subself, he or she now craved conformity and actively avoided opportunities to be unique. (Location 674)

set of crucial social evolutionary challenges. These evolutionary challenges include (1) evading physical harm, (2) avoiding disease, (3) making friends, (4) gaining status, (5) attracting a mate, (6) keeping that mate, and (7) caring for family. (Location 685)

The things a person does to successfully charm a date are different from the things one does to avoid a predator or care for a baby. (Location 693)

have different psychological systems for attracting a mate, evading physical harm, and managing each of the other challenges. (Location 698)

finds that women become particularly afraid of foreigners in the first trimester of pregnancy, the precise time when developing fetuses are most susceptible to serious problems if mom catches a disease. (Location 782)

Friends don’t just share food; they also teach one another valuable skills, like how to fish, cook, and build a hut. (Location 791)

Other animals gain and maintain status mainly by force—by being willing and able to carry out acts of aggression against other members of their (Location 823)

When the inner go-getter is in charge, we are prone to place special value on being associated with successful others and to regard other people’s disrespect as especially costly. (Location 830)

Deciding who might make a good potential partner is not enough, of course. You need to attract that person’s interest in you. If (Location 839)

Hence, people spend lavishly on clothing, salon treatments, and gym memberships and devote time and energy to visiting local singles’ bars, churches, parks, Laundromats, concerts, and other public gathering places, in the hopes of meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right (or sometimes just Mr. or Ms. Right Now). (Location 841)

This subself is attuned to information about whether another person might make a good romantic partner, to our own allure to potential mates, and to what we might do to make ourselves more irresistible. (Location 847)

the females choose the most dominant or attractive local male, stand in line to receive his genes, and don’t worry about the fact that other females are waiting in the same queue. (Location 855)

while also scanning the social horizon for potential interlopers who might be in the market to make your partner happier. (Location 872)

Above all, the mate-retention subself seeks to ensure that a long-term romantic relationship is going smoothly. (Location 876)

revealed that children without both parents are less likely to survive, and if they do, they don’t fare as well as those with two investing parents. (Location 880)

Note that this is not the subself that leads us to have children (the mate-acquisition subself takes care of that by motivating us to have sex). (Location 891)

when you started spitting out strange and novel foods with a look of utter disgust. (Location 905)

instead, it is directly linked to the deeper evolutionary goals of gaining status and acquiring a mate (think about how Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera each turned his creativity into a ticket into the arms of many beautiful women). (Location 919)

His manager, who ran a multi-million-dollar fund, was a wily Vietnam War veteran who had acquired a taste for the finer things in life and liked fast cars and the sound of roaring engines. (Location 927)

After years in the industry, he realized an important split in his own personality. (Location 934)

but at home he was a family man with a loving wife, small children, and a cuddly puppy. The financial choices he made in the confines of his family world were much more cautious than the ones he made at the office. (Location 935)

different subselves are activated in different social situations. This has important implications not just for investing but also for understanding the seemingly irrational biases that plague our minds. (Location 939)

When in danger our ancestors may have benefitted especially from avoiding losses so as to retain their lives or limbs. (Location 952)

When dangers lurk, it pays to worry. We would expect our inner night watchman to be particularly loss averse. (Location 979)

who became oblivious to losses and amped up the importance of gains. (Location 982)

Some subselves are loss averse, like our inner night watchman seeking to protect us from danger. (Location 988)

If each of us is really multiple people, then we should not be surprised by hypocrisy. (Location 995)

The self-protection subself compelling you to dine at a popular, well-lit restaurant doesn’t care that your idle mate-acquisition subself would rather explore the unique little out-of-the-way joint a few blocks down a dark street. (Location 1004)

mean that the mate-acquisition subself has also taken a vow of chastity. (Location 1008)

But they can explain why humans often behave like hypocrites: we have only one body, but our brains are inherently divided. (Location 1013)

But as we saw in the study about reversing loss aversion, a man’s mate-acquisition subself is not especially qualified to judge potential losses when there are immediate gains on the horizon. (Location 1015)

Sometimes people’s efforts mesh beautifully, and result in something extraordinary, like Snow White. But (Location 1048)

Even in one-shot games with complete strangers who can’t see or hear one another, and who will never meet, real people often spontaneously decide to cooperate. (Location 1089)

Hundreds of findings across the animal kingdom support this principle. Ground squirrels are more likely to risk their lives by giving a loud alarm signal to warn of a predator if doing so will save their brothers and sisters, as compared to their second cousins. (Location 1124)

Parents are 5.5 times less likely to help pay college costs for stepchildren versus biological children. (Location 1132)

Children living with a stepparent are forty times more likely to suffer physical abuse than those living with two genetic parents, with much of the abuse coming from the stepparent. (Location 1134)

communal sharing, is that used between close relatives, like Walt and Roy O. Disney or the twins in the prisoner’s dilemma. (Location 1214)

Fiske calls this hierarchical system authority ranking. In this mode of exchange—the one used by our status subself—people receive different benefits and pay different costs depending on their position in a status hierarchy, and nobody gets by for free. The (Location 1266)

Human followers, of course, often become very disappointed if their leaders do not provide direction and inspiration. Only a few years after starting Apple, Steve Jobs, (Location 1277)

Followers offer loyalty, obedience, and special privileges for the leader, but this offer is contingent on the leader’s reciprocating by protecting their interests and having the vision to move the group in the right direction. (Location 1286)

The rules of rational economics are deeply rational when the top priority is protecting yourself from getting burned. (Location 1310)

about how many pesos to pay for a pound of pomegranates, market economics typically makes for bad business. (Location 1333)

So, things don’t go so well if you treat your colleagues like strangers negotiating over the price of a mango in a crowded marketplace. (Location 1344)

Remember that even according to the economic rules of game theory, the best outcome in a prisoner’s dilemma comes when both people trust each other enough to cooperate. (Location 1349)

you trust that he is, compared to a stranger in the marketplace, less likely to defect on you, making you more likely to cooperate. (Location 1355)

Kelleher appealed to the workers’ team spirit, asking them all to share a general pay cut to prevent the company’s having to start selectively firing other members of the family. (Location 1385)

as fellow citizens living in the land of Abraham Lincoln, the US Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence—and even as members of a common family, (Location 1400)

Some observers speculated that this startling episode might be a ploy by an evil dictator hoping to bring his people to their knees. (Location 1430)

To the Zambians the thirty-five thousand tons of crops from the United States were not food but poison. (Location 1436)

There was no fire after all—the neighbors were just burning wood in their grungy, resin-coated fireplace. (Location 1493)

though, his young daughter became visibly distraught. “But daddy,” she cried, “what if there is a fire and the alarm doesn’t sound?” (Location 1496)

Our brains have similarly evolved to make judgment calls without having all the pertinent information. (Location 1505)

Like a good smoke detector, our brain is rigged to sound the alarm even when there is no fire, forcing us to tolerate the inconvenience of false alarms to avoid potentially lethal misses. (Location 1520)

From an evolutionary perspective, the cost to a man of overlooking a sexual opportunity (a miss) is greater than the cost of occasionally wasting time pursuing a disinterested woman (a false alarm). (Location 1643)

He has long realized that trying to understand probabilities and likelihoods is the evolutionary equivalent of writing as compared to talking—an unnatural and difficult variant of something that’s easy in another format. (Location 1907)

Some animals follow a “slow” life history strategy, investing a great deal of time and effort in somatic development before turning to reproduction. (Location 2194)

The answer appears to be no. Because young adults are more likely to be blinded by myopic optimism and naïve enough to bet everything on one hand, a few will succeed. But many more will fail. (Location 2320)

Slow strategists tend to be late bloomers. They actually grow up less rapidly, start puberty at later ages, and age biologically at a slower (Location 2408)

Just as we saw for tenrecs, it has been evolutionarily adaptive for people in dangerous and unpredictable environments to follow a fast strategy. (Location 2441)

their brains were calibrated to live fast because they did not know what tomorrow would bring. (Location 2462)

Rather than seeking to help Mother Nature, is it possible that people are instead seeking to help themselves—by going green to be seen? (Location 2638)

Across a wide range of species, males do most of the boastful swaggering. (Location 2730)

a male has the time, energy, ability, and resourcefulness to build, decorate, and maintain a giant bower, for example, it indicates that he carries genes that have allowed him to thrive. (Location 2740)

When there are more women, as happens during and after major wars, there is more promiscuity, people get married later, and more children are born out of wedlock. When there are more men, on the other hand, guys start getting more committal, marrying earlier, running around less, and investing more in their families. (Location 3166)

by the economy’s financial cycles (as when women boost their spending on beauty products during an economic decline). (Location 3217)

Virtually every successful organism attracts the company of leeches, moochers, stowaways, and manipulators seeking to take advantage of its evolutionary success. (Location 3244)

Madoff preyed on people with whom he shared common bonds of affinity and religion. (Location 3252)

sounds too good to be true, a common heritage with Madoff provided a reason to trust that he was offering an inside deal. (Location 3255)

From Alabama to Zanzibar, all humans need to affiliate with friends, get respect, keep themselves safe from the bad guys, avoid disease, attract a mate, maintain a loving relationship, and care for family. (Location 3301)

And the need to avoid pathogens contributes to a $27 billion soap and detergent industry, designed to keep our homes, clothes, and bodies scrubbed clean of all those nasty little microbes. (Location 3312)

Once you meet someone special, the need to hang on to that mate is facilitated by the $70 billion wedding industry (throw in a few billion extra for the honeymoon industry). And if you’re not yet broke, the need to care for (Location 3316)

Of all the businesses started in the United States, 34 percent disappear within the first two years, and 56 percent are gone within four. (Location 3328)

If you used the most common pricing strategy, called cost plus, you would take the cost of producing the shoes and add some extra on top for profit. (Location 3332)

Meet Kevin Trudeau. Like a growing number of people, Trudeau believes that the drug companies are hiding and suppressing information about natural ways to cure disease. (Location 3521)

Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. (Location 3524)