Personality Characterizations

Personality is your essence. In Psych 101, I remember being surprised by this, thinking personality was psychology. But no, you have a personality and then you develop (developmental psychology), you learn things (behaviorism), you socialize (social psychology), you commit crimes (forensic psychology), you manipulate (marketing), etc etc. Personality is therefore it’s own branch of Psychology. It boils down to who you are. Sure, we’re all unique, but not really. I you’ve ever said “I know the type” then you know that we can categorize people like we categorize anything else. Just how we categorize them is a subject of discussion. Different psychologists coming in from different angles and different psychology branches will find their own way to categorize people. Here are a few. The Big Five This is an official personality characterization scheme which doesn’t use categories, but rather scales. The scales are as follows: Extraversion Agreeableness Conscientiousness Neuroticism Openness to Experience Have a look here for a more detailed description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits The Enneagram This categorization is not officially recognized by mainstream psychology but in my experience is worthy of a good hard look. It splits people up into 9 types: Reformer Helper Achiever Individualist Investigator Loyalist Enthusiast Challenger Peacemaker Like I said, it’s worth a look. I’ve found it quite accurate in explaining myself as well as other people close to me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enneagram_of_Personality Others For a look at other set ups, please visit our good friend...

Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God

I’ll call this the third in Robert Wright’s Trilogy. He shows us that just like all organisms on the planet, religion itself also developed through the process of evolution. As God is an invention of mankind, the Evolution of God runs in lock step with our own evolution. In short, the notion of God changes as we change, and we are changing for the better. Wright starts us off with the beginnings of religion – when there was no religion to speak of, just superstition. Humans have always had things they couldn’t explain and superstition was the way we explained it to our groups. He states that this was in fact the beginning of religious belief, the drive to understand why bad things happen. Bad things are those things that limit our ability to proliferate our genes. As with any species, we are out to stop bad things from happening, and as an emerging smart, talking species, we were able to try to figure out why bad things happened and how we could prevent them. Obviously, with a huge gap in knowledge in early civilizations, we would simply conclude that God did it. When our group could all agree on why that person randomly died or why a big storm came and killed a few people,  they found they were stronger. Beliefs are a unifying force and groups that believed the same things had better chances of survival against our now major rivals: other groups of people. Thus began religion as a major adaptation to humanity. But with so much war in early life, religion took on very dark tones....

Larry David comparing lobster to Christianity

Here we see Larry David complaining about how Christians want you to be Christian too. He compare their love of Jesus to his love of lobster, and argues that he does not try to convert his friends to lobster eaters. In reality this is not true. He does want you to like lobster and I argue in Quanology that we all want people on our team, and that means we want them to like the things we like. This is how we “impregnate” people culturally, we get them to align with our cultural fancies and beliefs. In some ways, liking lobster is the same as liking Jesus, and anything you like you want other people to like. Preferably, you want them to like it and accredit you to having gotten them to like it. Jesus, or lobster, is in some way who you are and when other people like it, they take in a part of you. As cultural beings, this is subconsciously what we want. We want to put our genes in other people, and we want our ideas in their heads, running around doing things that ultimately help out our genetic lives. None of this is conscious – we don’t want to pass on our genes, we just want to have sex or raise a family. And we don’t want to make people like what we like, we just want to share something special we’ve found. It is fascinating that Larry David and Christian evangelists don’t see this going on. They see the other team doing it and think they are silly, while they themselves pretend not to want the same...

Matt Ridley’s The Red Queen

Subtitle: Sex & the Evolution of Human Nature. What’s more interesting than that? Ridley’s The Red Queen is about how much of our evolutionary development was an attempt to beat the burden of parasites. Sex is the secret weapon for all sexually reproducing organisms. Sex allowed us to create an unpredictable environment that parasites could not easily adapt to. When I take my genes and shuffle them up with my wife’s genes, we create a creature sufficiently different from both of us to stump the parasites’ ability to profit from our energy. Parasites have been a part of nature forever, and so early animals and plants gained an advantage in defending against them over the creatures who simply split in two, providing parasites the same playing field as past generations. This is the beginning of sex in evolution. Ridley takes it all farther by showing how the sex drive in all animals shapes how they behave. In Quanology, I’ve called this The Sexual Landscape. It is a set of circumstances that shape who we want to mate with and how we compete for mates. Ultimately, we see that the desire for good mates and the things we do to get them have been the forces shaping our modern society. These are fundamental, universal characteristics of humans. Men like pretty women, and women like wealthy, powerful men. Ridley argues against the behaviorists who believe that these things are taught by society. The Red Queen, as a concept, is there to explain the pendulum of evolution – that whenever an advantage is found, it creates a “hole in the market” that will...

Robert Wright’s Non-Zero

In the games we know: football, baseball, tennis, etc, one side wins and the other loses. They are zero-sum games. Is life a game? Well, you could argue that we have goals and either we get them or we don’t. But really we sort of have a smorgasbord of goals, many shared, and many people sort of on our team and sort of not on our team. And so cooperation is on the menu for us in a way that it is not for zero-sum games like sports. Robert Wright shows us how much of the progress of mankind comes from the mathematical fact that competition leads to better gene proliferation than competition. If you’ve ever wondered…ok…you’ve never wondered how game theory can explain our modern life, but really you should have thought about it. Wright sees “progress” as built into the fabric of life simply by the statistical fact that working together yields slightly better results than working against. Cooperation is an adaptation. The animals that cooperate well had a leg up on those that didn’t, and now we see wolves hunting together, lions hunting together, and the animals they hunt working together to foil their plans by encircling young ones and risking their necks by giving warning calls. In humans this has taken a steeper trajectory. Groups that cooperated well could grow larger and thereby defeat smaller groups. Much of history is about warring and conquering and cooperation was a adaptation to excel at this. He’ll take you on a fascinating ride through history to show the unstoppable tendency for cooperation. Even the nasty moments of war eventually end up creating larger...

Dating site data on mate preferences

Dating sites hold a huge wealth of information on human behavior. We may say we are this, or want to be that, but data takes our opinions out of the loop and shows us the facts. Mate preferences are a big piece of the puzzle when understanding people. What do men prefer and what do women prefer when it comes to a mate? The age of big data shows some clear trends. We can all have our own preference for a type of mate – be it blonds, older women, younger women, long hair, short hair, whatever – but large chucks of aggregated data show us that there are more universal preferences. The dating site (which I have never been to) is so kind to share their data with the world. Have a look at see what our subconscious minds are telling us. The data here is not from a survey! Our conscious minds will come up with all kinds of bullshit, but big data IS our subconscious mind and it has some interesting things to say. For one, women tend to look for men around their own age. Men, however, regardless of age, tend to search more for women in their early 20’s. If that wasn’t shallow enough, we see that attractiveness exponentially outweighs other criteria. Good looking people get far more messages on OK Cupid than their average counterparts. There is even data from a job site which shows the same searching trends by men. They look for female candidates the same way they look for female partners. What are we to conclude about this data? We’re shallow? We knew...