Gendernomics: On Value Part 5

This is the 5th and final part of a 5 part essay. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

My reason behind writing this essay was to demonstrate the many factors¬† that goes into determining a person’s sexual market value, and why one will never be able to create an iron-clad framework to ensure 100% success rate. While some argue that economics is perhaps not the ideal system to apply to the mating market, due to the irrational nature of human mating decisions, I do not consider human mating decisions to be irrational. In my view, humans act in the mating market as rational actors, meaning that they are goal oriented, reflective and consistent as opposed to being irrational, namely random, impulsive, conditioned or imitative [1]. For example, most people tend to have a “type” of partner that they display a preference for, which demonstrates consistency. There is a tendency for people to act in a goal oriented manner seeking out partners based on a range of characteristics such as relationship type, partner type or various others. People tend to reflect as they gain experience on which characteristics they do not want in a partner as well as which characteristics they want, which demonstrates reflective evaluation.

If partner choice was truly a case of being random, impulsive, conditioned and based on imitation, one would not expect to see many if any patterns, yet every piece of advice written on how to improve ones romantic life is based on the observation of patterns. However, one must keep in mind that rational behavior as per rational choice theory, is not the same as conscious and deliberate behavior. When an economist uses the term “The rational actor” he is not stating that people consciously sit down and compare the specifications of every single vacuum cleaner that is available to them, list out their choice criteria in a bullet point list, weigh them out, evaluate each product against the choice criteria and his budget for a new vacuum cleaner. He is stating that people evaluate their options and elect the one that is utility maximizing often subconsciously, and demonstrate a preference over time.

My goal was to elaborate on some of the underlying factors that affect such largely sub-conscious evaluations that we conduct every single day and that affect our mating behaviors. As I was writing this essay, it started to become clear that creating an iron-clad, objective system for valuation within the sexual market place is somewhat of an impossibility. While it is entirely possible to outline the major variables that will be involved on both sides in such an equation, and while it is also possible to understand the aggregate level strategies of both men and women, the interaction between variables is infinitely complex. Furthermore, the inherent limitations of rational choice theory, have been covered by authors such as Daniel Kahneman and other researchers into decision theory, and to put this in the terms Kahneman utilizes in his book “Thinking fast and Thinking slow”, a majority of mating decisions are most likely made using system 1. [2] Continue reading

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Gendernomics: On Value Part 4

This is part 4 of a 5 part essay. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Valuation of Self and Others

The valuation of self is closely tied to self-awareness. One could argue that there are two extreme cases that illustrate the spectrum on which humans exist. The neurotic on one hand has an extremely depressed view of his own value, as a result of being very critical of self, whereas the narcissist has an extremely optimistic view of their own value as a result of poor self-awareness. In both cases, the person is inaccurate in their self-valuation, and suffers consequences due to this factor.

Neurotics minimize their strengths and magnify their weaknesses in their own internal perception of self.  This can lead to two broad spheres of results, on one hand one has the neurotic person who achieves great success as a result of constantly improving self, and seeking better results. On the other hand one has those neurotics that view their weaknesses as too great to overcome and as a result do not work to improve themselves. In the first of these situations, the neurotic can often become a high achiever, whereas in the latter they often fail to achieve at all. The former type of neurotic often has a large gap between their perceived value and their objective value, while the inverse is true of the latter.

Narcissists maximize their strengths and are to varying degrees ignorant of their weaknesses. This can also lead to two broad spheres of results. The narcissist that is also a high achiever and as a result of this has a smaller gap between their self-perceived value and their objective value. On the other hand the narcissist that is a non-achiever, and has a large gap between their self-perceived value and their objective value.

A common observation in the valuation of self is to what one is comparing. A person in isolation can be valued differently, than a person who is valued in contrast to another. This is similar in part to how a company has a stand-alone valuation, and a benchmark valuation, the latter being when the company’s metrics are compared with that of other comparable companies. The latter is also vulnerable to the contrast effect, where a person is viewed as more or as less due to the stature of another person or another group.

When valuing others the factors that affect valuations are much the same, except that one is working from much less information. One can compare this to “insider buys” in a stock market, where someone in an advantageous position within a company, such as a member of the executive team, or the board buys shares in the open market. This is often viewed as a positive signal to the market as it means someone with a greater degree of knowledge of the company views this time as a good time to buy. When we value ourselves, we have access to every single piece of data, when we value others we have much less.

The psychological system 1 and system 2 factors outlined by Daniel Kahneman, where one can often make rapid valuations based on available visual characteristics, that have a greater margin of error than the same valuation conducted through system 2. A ready observation of pedestalization for instance, is that such valuations have been conducted in a system 1 fashion, with little attention being paid to identify the underlying axioms and premises of such a valuation.

The characteristic of system 1 is that it trades speed for accuracy, much in the same manner that shooting from the hip does for firearms. When conducting such a valuation or superficial analysis, one must always be mindful that the probability of error increases at every level of the judgment. Not only do we have access to limited data, we will tend to value what little data we have very highly, but we lack enough to identify a pattern within the observations, our sample size is very small, and we are prone to make rapid decisions. Thus, it follows that our snap-valuations of others will be heavily biased by these factors. When the context factor is added, for instance by the person being put in a position of power, in an environment with a high volume of social proof, or other situation our valuations will increase, if the converse contexts take place, our judgment of their value will be less. Continue reading

Gendernomics: On Value Part 3

This is part 3 of a multi-part post. Part 1Part 2

Internal and External Value Multipliers

I’ve written about value multipliers previously, in “Game as a Value Multiplier“, where I define a multiplier as:

“A multiplier is a very simple concept, it’s an added variable that either serves to increase or decrease a given value. “

One of the things I think I neglected to adequately cover in that essay is the fact that a multiplier can be both positive and negative, and how it is regarded may be context dependent.

It’s quite common to make the distinction between internal factors in a company that contribute to its performance, and external factors that affect its performance. The idea of “core competencies” is perhaps the clearest formulation of how a company’s unique configuration of competencies, qualities and traits can become a source of competitive advantage. Examples would be 3M’s focus on innovation and new products, WalMart’s focus on high volume logistics, or Apples focus on high quality design work.

When applying the core competencies principle to a person the internal multipliers would be those things that alter the behavior of a given variable or set of variables based on a person’s internal characteristics. Men who write “How to vet a wife” articles often draw on such variables as a woman’s history of self control, loyalty or self-discipline, not due to these factors in and of themselves, but because the combination of these variables build a barrier towards external negative multipliers.

A woman who has a combination of love for family, traditional values and self-discipline as a core competency is according to these men a better prospect for marriage because they act as barriers for promiscuity, divorce and impulsive behavior, all of which are encouraged externally in our present social order.

External multipliers are those a person has little control over and which exist outside of that person. For instance, most are familiar with the example of going out with a wing who is shorter than you, so that you look taller by comparison. Likewise a woman may be a 10 in a small town, but a 6 in Los Angeles or Miami where beautiful women tend to congregate.

In my day job I’ve frequently utilized examples such as industry legal issues, or multi-national legal issues as an example of external negative multipliers, as these have a negative effect on the revenues of each company within an industry, yet are unrelated to the aspects of performance that a company has control over. Continue reading