Thursday, 29 August 2019

The evolutionary law of human attraction or how to find your perfect mate

Many people are familiar with Plato’s story of soulmates. Zeus split humans apart and from then on the two parts had to find each other. But how do you find your soulmate?
Helen Fisher has studied online dating and has found out that certain personality types prefer to pair up. Even though her personality types don’t correspond perfectly with either Myers-Briggs or Big 5, there is considerable overlap. She has found out that “explorers” (SP) tend to choose each other and the same is true for “builders” (SJ). However, “directors” and “negotiators” tend to pair up with members from the other group. The four groups, therefore, would be:
In Myers-Briggs hunter and gatherers would be NT and NF types, pastoralists SP types and farmers SJ types. Farmer types look for helpmates, pastoralist types for playmates and hunter-gatherer types for soulmates.
Given that these types tend to choose partners among themselves, we can expect that these types have more or less typical personality profiles and ideas of what they look for in a partner. I have discussed these traits already elsewhere.
If people keep choosing specific types consistently you can expect sexual selection to take place. Jim Black has found out that the four types correspond to the four different groups. Here is what they look like:

Hunter-gatherers: rectangular face shape for hunters, heart-shaped face for gatherers (male and female patterns are often reversed in modern hunter-gatherer personalities, i.e. females can have rectangular facial shape and males the heart-shaped form. They, therefore, tend to pair in all possible varieties: hunter-gatherer, hunter-hunter and gatherer-gatherer.


San hunter (rectangular face) and gatherer (heart-shaped face) 
Richard Dawkins (hunter) and Lala Ward (gatherer) paring, two soulmates

Pastoralists have oval-shaped faces.

Datoga and Maasai pastoralists: oval faces.

Paul and Linda McCartney: oval faces, artistic personality types (ISFPs), two playmates, a turbulent but successful marriage.

Farmer types tend to be more serious and hard-working. They have typically square or round faces:

African farmers with square/round faces
Geroge W. and Laura Bush, square/round farmer faces

Of course, there can also be successful mixed marriages, but they might be a bit harder as this couple testifies:

Pattie Boyd rock music's most famous muse, who was the inspiration for many famous songs like "Something" by the Beatles and "Layla" and "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton, left George Harrison for Eric Clapton.
Pattie and Gorge - gatherer soulmates

Pattie and Eric - gatherer/pastoralist playmates

Pattie later regretted getting married to Eric and famously said that she and George had been "soulmates",  whereas she and Eric had only been "playmates".

To sum up the evolutionary law of attraction: hunter-gatherer, pastoralist and farmer personalities tend to mate within their respective group (sexual selection). Facial features and personality are two of the main attractors. Other attractors are material status and reliability for farmers, "coolness and fun" for pastoralists and intelligence and kindness for hunter-gatherers. 

Last but not least, I suppose many people don't fall clearly into one of those groups and have mixed features.

Credit for discovering the relationship between facial features and personality type goes to Jim Black 

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The evolutionary psychology of attraction and personality types: r/K selected mating strategies according to subsistence economy


Evolutionary psychologists have been pointing out the problems with our monogamous laws do not correspond to the more promiscuous human nature. The biggest problem, however, has been explaining the variation in human behavior, as some people are clearly more monogamous than others.
So, instead of assuming one monolithic human nature it makes more sense to investigate mating strategies by personality type. Helen Fisher has just done that (quite successfully IMHO), and found out that there are four personality groups and three preference strategies: builders (traditional, family-oriented), explorers (freedom-loving) - both of who prefer to find partners within their respective groups - and directors and negotiators who prefer to bond with each other. Whereas Helen Fisher thinks that these personality types have been present more or less equally since early humans arrived on the scene, I think that their “genotypes” have been predominant in accordance with a  particular subsistence economy.
Hunter-gatherers are usually highly monogamous. Sexual dimorphism (a sign of promiscuity) is largely diminished among hunter-gatherers, both compared to early human ancestors and modern societies (e.g exaggeration of secondary sexual features and digit ratio.

With increasingly longer onset of puberty (K selection), hunter-gatherers needed increased parental investment, not only maternal but also paternal and from relatives (grandmother hypothesis) and friends (alloparenting, see Sarah Hrdy). So, monogamy became the norm, making our ancestors more similar to penguins than our close ape relatives, as far as mating strategy is concerned. 
With the advent of farming and pastoralism status could be acquired with the accumulation of more material reproductive resources polygamy started to creep in (which might have been in both male and female interests). As there was less paternal insecurity among farmers, early farming societies actively tried to discourage polygamy (e.g. code of Hammurabi), which made pastoralist societies the ones with the highest degree of polygamy.
The following personality types correspond well with Helen Fisher's types (as well as Myers-Briggs types):
Farmers prefer the traditional type of family we know from the Romans, with the pater familias as the head. Hunter-gatherers prefer more “equal partners”.

hunter-gatherers
farmers
pastoralists
Late-onset of puberty
average onset of puberty
Early-onset of puberty
Tendency towards monogamy; increasing status doesn’t change that much
Tendency towards monogamy; gets lost with increasing status
Tendency towards polygamy
Look for: soulmates
Look for: helpmate
Look for: playmates
Difficulties in finding partners and reluctant to have children in a competitive society
Mostly still  want to get married and have children once they have reached the desired status
Reluctant to get married and have children when there are so many options in modern life
High divorce rates due to partner mismatch and/or prioritizing self-actualization
Lower divorce rates
High divorce rates due to promiscuous tendencies
More egalitarian
more status-oriented
more status-oriented
Out-group social
More In-group social
More In-group social
Often dislike routine, playful and imaginative
Love routine, industrious
Dislike routine, artful

From the first row, it can be inferred that the respective mating strategies are r/K selected and it is therefore not surprising that pastoralists are the least whereas hunter-gatherers are the most monogamous strategy. 

Farmer is the majority personality type and they are also the most adapted to our capitalist society (love routine and 9-5 jobs, making a career, etc.) and are the group of people who are most likely to start a family. Farmer women are the most likely to sacrifice a career to have children.
Pastoralists are freedom-loving and find it hardest to commit. They start early and often change partners in their teenage cliques. They often do settle down once they have children, however. Some, like Donald Trump and Hugh Hefner, might never do, though.
Hunter-gather mating strategies can widely vary. They represent the smallest percentage in society and therefore find it hardest to find a matching partner. Extroverted individuals may be very promiscuous until they find their soulmate and then become very monogamous. Introverted hunter-gatherers find it even harder to find a soulmate and might prefer to stay celibate if they can’t find a partner. In general, hunter-gatherers strive for a high degree of self-actualization (e.g. becoming a scientist) before settling down. They tend to be the last ones to have children among their peers. Once hunter-gatherers have found each other they tend to be very monogamous and not even high status may come in between (examples: Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates).  

When it comes to online-dating, hunter-gatherers are over-represented as it is hardest for them to find their "soulmates" and online-dating might actually have the advantage of getting somebody to know on a deeper level than real-life dating. For farmers, it is the exact opposite, online dating has little to offer to them as far as their prospective mates are concerned. 

The three types have not only distinct personalities but also distinct facial features, most probably due to within-group sexual selection.

Hunter-gatherers: rectangular face shape for hunters, heart-shaped face for gatherers (male and female patterns are often reversed in modern hunter-gatherer personalities, i.e. females can have rectangular facial shape and males the heart-shaped form. They, therefore, tend to pair in all possible varieties: hunter-gatherer, hunter-hunter and gatherer-gatherer.


San hunter (rectangular face) and gatherer (heart-shaped face) 
Richard Dawkins (hunter) and Lala Ward (gatherer) paring, two soulmates

Pastoralists have oval-shaped faces.

Datoga and Maasai pastoralists: oval faces.

Paul and Linda McCartney: oval faces, artistic personality types (ISFPs), two playmates, a turbulent but successful marriage.

Farmer types tend to be more serious and hard-working. They have typically square or round faces:

African farmers with square/round faces
Geroge W. and Laura Bush, square/round farmer faces

Dedicated to Helen Fisher and Sarah Hrdy, whose ideas have inspired this blog post. 

Credit for discovering the relationship between facial features and personality type goes to Jim Black 

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Playing to learn - geeks, aspies and hunter-gatherers



Unfortunately, learning has become serious “business” nowadays and it has been considered “work” for a long time, which is a bit odd considering that in other species as well as for human toddlers playing and learning are basically one and the same thing. When did that change all for homo sapiens? Surprisingly recently: with the advent of farming.
As Peter Gray convincingly argues in his wonderful book “Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life” in hunter-gatherer societies kids turn into successful grown-ups exactly because they are free to learn by self-directed learning and from their older peers. Unfortunately, fun, game-based learning, peer-learning, and autonomous learning are not usually writ large in schools, even though all of them have elaborate pedagogical frameworks.
In farmer societies learning probably had to be enforced as children had to help - in contrast to hunter-gatherer societies - early on with farming work. Nowadays we have got a mixed farmer hunter-gatherer situation: children don’t have to work until they are grown-ups, but we do have enforced learning from an early age and the situation seems to be aggravated by more and more international competitive thinking. Teaching to the test has become the norm. This situation seems to be highly counterproductive because you don’t create fully functioning adults from kids who have to go through what they consider prison labor.
Adult play is also very important in hunter-gatherer societies as it is a part of their social-cohesion kit. In our business dominated world, it has often disappeared, with geeky computer players one of the most notable exceptions. It is not unlikely that childlike open minds helped hunter-gatherers survive in changing environments, whereas early farmers had to rely more on hard work, conscientiousness, and routine.
As Dean Falk notes in her highly recommendable book “Geeks, Genes, and the Evolution of Asperger Syndrome” geeks and aspies (who probably inherit a lot of hunter-gatherer traits) do not only share a love for computers, tech, and videogames but also a passion for science and history.
It is not very hard from the following statistic about which personality types play a certain video game to see which types tend to have the most hunter-gatherer traits (INs) and which types the most farmer traits (ESTJs/ESFJs). Considering that Fs are way more often females than males, it is amazing to see how many IN girls are geeky gamers (not that many in reality, because IN types only make up about 10% of society).
The takeaway from this post: we should value play again and definitely not take it away from young children. We should value geeks and aspies more, so that they don’t have to seek shelter from society in video games so often and because they are most likely the ones who will find solutions to future problems. Diversity is a good thing. Life on this planet has become much easier than it used to be for hunter-gatherers and, and yet those folks played more and laughed more than us whereas we have become so serious and pessimistic about life.
Dedicated to Peter Gray, to whom I am grateful for his inspiring discussions and his wonderful book “Free to Learn”
and to Dean Falk whose books I also have enjoyed reading immensely and her granddaughter Eve, who reminds me so much of my oldest son.

Friday, 9 August 2019

The hardest problems for evolutionary psychology - part two: voluntary childlessness

The basis of evolution is differential reproduction, so all life is programmed to survive and reproduce. Therefore the most perplexing problems in evolutionary psychology are when life seems to be programmed to self-destruct or voluntarily give up genetic reproduction.  I will try to provide a tentative answer to these riddles, based on personality types.

If all life is programmed to survive and reproduce, voluntarily childlessness (genotypical suicide) is a similar problem as suicide (phenotypical suicide). So, how can this paradox be explained?
The most common answer you get when you ask people why other people don’t want to have children is “selfishness”, i.e. they want to have an easier life without children. Why should people want to have easier lives, when life for humans is getting easier all the time and not harder, though? Another problem with this answer is that evolutionary theorists maintain (and they are right) that it is actually selfishness (on a genetic level) that should people have children instead of none. So what kind of buggy selfish genetic program codes for phenotypical selfishness that leads to genotypic suicide?
As not all people would want to live childlessly, the answer most likely can be found in their personality types. As you can see in the table, the top common types are S types, whereas the N types populate the lower half of the table. Given that personality type is about .5 heritable we can assume that N types tend to have fewer children. Why should that be so?  N types have inherited more hunter-gatherer traits than S types, who have inherited more early farmer traits.
Hunter-gatherers rely much more on alloparenting than farmer, where most of the parenting is done in the close circle of the family. There is a saying “It takes a village to raise a child”. The village has gone and the burden of child-rearing lies nowadays mostly with mums. It is, therefore, no big surprise that women want to have fewer children nowadays. For “hunter-gather” women this burden may seem much bigger than for “farmer” women, as in the past farmer women already had to adapt to the burden of additional child-rearing chores. This might be one reason why “hunter-gatherer” women don’t want to have any children at all nowadays.
That is not all there is to the story, however. Everybody knows how important self-actualization is nowadays. Many people don’t want to have children before they feel self-actualized.
For farmers, this means acquiring the desired social status and material wealth for founding a family. This is easier for the more conscientious and ambitious -J types than the “lazier” P types. Moreover, introverted S types seem to want to have more children. This is likely due to the fact that their introversion limits their ability to climb up all the way to an alpha position, so they probably want to settle down earlier than the ES types whose possibilities in modern work environments are less restricted. Introverts earn considerably less money than extroverts and have high early-retirement numbers.
There is another highly interesting pattern visible in type distribution. For N types the opposite holds true: the more ambitious J types have fewer children than the less ambitious P types. What is more, the NJ types tend to be in the average to high-income segment. According to standard evolutionary theory, they should, therefore, have more offspring than the less successful NP types. So, what is going on here?
My point is that self-actualization for “farmers” and “hunter-gatherers” are different. Whereas farmers will be content to settle down once they have achieved the desired material success, hunter-gatherers are not programmed to achieve material success, but their reproductive success rather depends on reputation and achievement for the group. So, hunter-gatherers would rather go for jobs that are less well paid than managers, bankers, etc., but bring them a higher reputation, e.g. university professors or artists. For a university profressor, the highest kind of reward is most likely not monetary compensation, but publication in a prestigious scientific journal. 
NJ types tend to become experts and therefore find fewer potential partners who share their interests. Think of a university professor who finds it hard to find an equal. What is more, N types, are more egalitarian than S types, they don’t easily conform to the “man the breadwinner cliche” and so both man and woman might prefer to follow a prestigious career, which might leave little time for children.
These are the reasons why ISTJ/ISFJ are the most common types and INTJ/INFJ are the least common types. If this trend continues it can be expected that in the future there will be fewer hunter-gatherer genes in our gene pool.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The hardest problems for evolutionary psychology - part one: suicide


The basis of evolution is differential reproduction, so all life is programmed to survive and reproduce. Therefore the most perplexing problems in evolutionary psychology are when life seems to be programmed to self-destruct or voluntarily give up genetic reproduction.  I will try to provide a tentative answer to these riddles, based on personality types.
I have argued before that it is a mistake for evolutionary psychology to assume that all human minds are the same. I do strongly believe there is a human nature, but there is a considerable variation to it. So, if we want to understand a phenomenon like suicide, the first idea we have to give up is that all humans are prone to it to the same degree.
I have argued before that evolved personality types can be considered to have more or less hunter-gatherer genetic heritage. Hunter-gather minds (INTP/INFP in Myers-Briggs) are more likely to have problems with our capitalist world than farmer minds (ESTJ/ESFJ).
While suicide might be understandable in some cases it mostly leaves us speechless. What is perhaps even more surprising is that a whopping third of all suicides are committed by the rare (3%) INFP type. Leaving out the sensitive ISFPs (artistic type) it is easy to see that suicide affects mostly (I)NF types (INFP, INFJ, ENFP, ENFJ, in that order) plus INTPs.
NF types are called “Idealists” in Myers-Briggs (Hellen Fisher calls them “Negotiator”). It seems like our world is not a great place for idealists to live and I suspect that they have the highest rates of depression, BPD, bipolar and other mental problems.
INTPs are rational types, just as rare at 3% as INFPs and have the highest rate of suicide among T types. In my experience, INFPs and INTPs are the two types who feel most alien to this planet. I, therefore, assume that these two types most closely resemble hunter (INTP) and gatherer (INFP) minds. These two types are overrepresented among gifted kids and you will probably find many university professors among them. Paradoxically these two types also are among the lowest income types, so I suppose there is a high number of unemployed and homeless people among them. Even if they have a good income they might find themselves at the edge of society and find life harder and more frustrating than the other types.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

The evolutionary psychology of personality


Scientists used to think that the human mind was a blank slate (John Locks’s famous tabula rasa) which was written on by culture. However, evolutionary psychology and increasingly genetics are disproving this idea. A lot of traits have a genetic component, e.g. how conscientious a person is, their parenting style, or whether they are night owls or early birds.
Evolutionary psychologists used to believe that everybody is a hunter-gather psychologically speaking. However, that is not true. The few thousand years since the time farming was invented did have a genetic impact. Farmers compared to hunter-gatherers needed to be more hard-working, more conscientious (cf. Daniel Nettle) and more defensive of their property. On the flip side, they have become less generous (but only to outgroup members), less egalitarian and more status-seeking (accumulated wealth allowed for status). As William von Hippel points out in his great book “The Social Leap” the highly sharing and caring hunter-gatherer attitude towards everybody in the group would have been highly disadvantageous for early farmers.  
Farming would have involved quite a lot of cognitive, personality and behavioral changes. Strong focus on work, routine and conscientiousness were among them. Hunter-gatherer, on the other hand, needed to be more flexible and vigilant. Thom Hartman argues that ADHD is a manifestation of the hunter-gatherer mind, which is easily distractible (potential dangers, etc.) but has the ability to hyperfocus. Unfortunately, in our modern world ADHD minds often become dysfunctional as a farmer mind would obviously be much more adapted to a 9-5 job or a long school day than a hunter-gatherer mind. Sleep patterns might be part of the package: hunter-gatherers needed to be flexible, whereas for farmers is was more advantageous to get a good night's sleep and rise with the sun. Night owls are therefore more likely to have inherited a hunter-gatherer mind than early risers.
Another problem for early farmers would have been parenting and teaching. As Peter Gray shows in his highly recommendable book “Free to Learn” hunter-gather children spend most of their time playing, thus learning everything they need as grown-ups through peer-learning and self-directed learning. My hunch is that the majority of kids with oppositional defiant disorder in addition to those diagnosed with ADHD and a tendency to be autodidacts in schools have inherited hunter-gatherer minds, whereas the ones who easily adapt to the school system have inherited farmer minds. For farmers it was probably highly important to formally teach their children early on so they could help with the many daily chores.
Not only children are treated in this egalitarian way, but also women are considered equal and not supposed to be submissive to their husbands. There is no concept of “pater familias” and there is less sexual dimorphism than in farmer societies, which can not only be seen in cultural artifacts (e.g. fewer and less opulent jewelry) but also physically as men don’t show typically male digit ratios.
The following table shows a list of traits typical for hunter-gatherer vs. farmer minds. All of them have been found to have a genetic component. Of course, also mixed traits occur and culture and an individual’s life trajectory might override genetic tendencies.  



hunter-gatherer
farmer
High on personality trait “openness”, low on “conscientiousness”
High on personality trait “conscientiousness”, low on “openness”
Strongly (actively) egalitarian
status-seeking
Tendency towards out-group sociality, more accepting of diversity (e.g.  different sexuality, refugees, etc.)
Tendency towards in-group sociality (identifies more strongly with a core group, like family, religious group or sports team)
More liberal ideology
More conservative ideology
Less sexual dimorphism
More (display of) sexual dimorphism
Later onset of puberty
Earlier onset of puberty
More monogamous tendencies
Less monogamous tendencies
Tendency to wanting fewer children
Tendency to wanting more children
Relaxed child-rearing attitude
Authoritative child rearing, “helicopter parenting”
Night owls
Early risers
“Lazier” (when it comes to physical work and chores)
More hard-working
highly rebellious when feeling personal freedom and values are threatened
individualistic, but also more conformist and highly loyal to their core group
Less interest in small-talk and gossip
Higher interest in small-talk and gossip


There is a third group of personality type: pastoralists, who have mixed traits and the earliest onset of puberty. The three groups show an r/K-selection range. They are also distinguishable by facial features. 

Hunter-gatherers: rectangular face shape for hunters, heart-shaped face for gatherers (male and female patterns are often reversed in modern hunter-gatherer personalities, i.e. females can have rectangular facial shape and males the heart-shaped form. They, therefore, tend to pair in all possible varieties: hunter-gatherer, hunter-hunter and gatherer-gatherer.


San hunter (rectangular face) and gatherer (heart-shaped face) 
Richard Dawkins (hunter) and Lala Ward (gatherer) paring, two soulmates

Pastoralists have oval-shaped faces.

Datoga and Maasai pastoralists: oval faces.

Paul and Linda McCartney: oval faces, artistic personality types (ISFPs), two playmates, a turbulent but successful marriage.

Farmer types tend to be more serious and hard-working. They have typically square or round faces:

African farmers with square/round faces
Geroge W. and Laura Bush, square/round farmer faces