Cads, Dads, Doms

Patri Friedman ponders which occupations women prefer in men here, and in the comments Hugh Ristik cites a thoughtful ’07 post at Gene Expression:

The Common Side-blotched Lizard shows exactly these three types. The “sneaker” Yellow males, from afar, look just like females, allowing them to fly under the radar and copulate with numerous members of an Orange alpha-male’s harem. The monogamous Blue mate-guarders have only one female to watch, and they cooperate with each other due to green beard effects. …

The proper dichotomy is not “virile vs. wimpy” as has been supposed, but “exciting vs. drab,” with the former having the two distinct sub-groups “macho man vs. pretty boy.” Another way to see that this is the right dichotomy is to look around the world: wherever girls really dig macho men, they also dig the peacocky musician type too, finding safe guys a bit boring. And conversely, where devoted dads do the best, it’s more difficult for macho men or in-town-for-a-day rockstars to make out like bandits. …

Whatever it is about high-pathogen-load areas that selects for greater polygynous behavior … will result in an increase in both gorilla-like and peacock-like males, since they’re two viable ways to pursue a polygynous mating strategy.

This fits with there being two kinds of status: dominance and prestige. Macho men, such as CEOs and athletes, have dominance, while musicians and artists have prestige. But women seek both short and long term mates.  Since both kinds of status suggest good genes, both attract women seeking short term mates. This happens more when women are younger and richer, and when there is more disease.  Foragers pretend they don’t respect dominance as much as they do, so prestigious men get more overt attention, while dominant men get more covert attention.

Women seeking long term mates also consider a man’s ability to supply resources, and may settle for poorer genes to get more resources. Dominant men tend to have more resources than prestigious men, so such men are more likely to fill both roles, being long term mates for some women and short term mates for others. Men who can offer only prestige must accept worse long term mates, while men who can offer only resources must accept few short term mates.  Those low in prestige, resources, or dominance must accept no mates.   A man who had prestige, dominance, and resources would get the best short and long term mates – what men are these?

Stories are biased toward dramatic events, and so are biased toward events with risky men; it is harder to tell a good story about the attraction of a resource-rich man. So stories naturally encourage short term mating. Shouldn’t this make long-term mates wary of strong mate attraction to dramatic stories?

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  • Presitige doesn’t seem like the right word to me. Maybe “cool” to describe the popular short term attractiveness of men who signal their genetic superiority in less clearly useful (but not socially clueless) ways (entertainers, artists, leaders of non-dominant, non-doomed subpopulations).

  • Mitchell Porter

    A few general remarks on mating psychology, the effort to understand it, and the consequences of this.

    First, something I just ran across, Dora Marsden on sexual psychology and the will. I am not keeping track of Robin’s synthesis, so he will have to judge for himself whether Marsden’s article has anything to add to it. But it’s not an ev-psych piece, and this reminds me of what I take to be an omission in ev-psych theorizing, namely, ideas about the specific “cognitive mechanisms” underlying a particular evolved disposition.

    There is an old distinction between “proximate” and “ultimate” causes. Evolution is an ultimate cause, physiology (and psychology, here) is a proximate cause. The flower bends to follow the sun because it gathers more light that way, but the immediate mechanism of the bending involves hormones called auxins. I see a lot of speculation about, say, sexual cognitive dimorphism whose ultimate cause is evolutionary, but not so much speculation about the proximate cause – the “how” of the difference, rather than the “why”. And here I think a visit to an older mode of explanation like Marsden’s – one which is psychological rather than genetic – can sensitize us to the fact that the proximate causes of a behavioral tendency need not be a straightforward matter of being hardwired differently.

    This leads to my second point, which is just that we should remember that human beings actually possess consciousness. This means not only that the proximate cause of a behavior may deeply involve subjectivity, self-awareness, and an existential situation. It also means that all of these propositions about what people do are susceptible to change once they have been spelled out and become part of the culture. It is rather like the stock market: once everyone knows (or believes) something, then that information provides no advantage, creating an incentive for novelty.

    Finally, the consequences of new beliefs about the how and the why of human nature and human behavior. Right or wrong, theories already begin to have consequences once they are taken up and incorporated into subjectivity. We really need a new Foucault to take on this topic.

  • nazgulnarsil

    to answer the question: country music stars.

    • Blake

      That’s fake machismo. Correct answer is Jay-Z.

      • nazgulnarsil

        no such thing as fake machismo unless you’re caught.

  • mjgeddes

    Recall my three-fold ‘character sheet’: Warriors, Tycoons and Wizards. Based on the sold science of Alan Fiske’s Rational models. (His three types of relationship, Authority Ranking, Equality Matching and Communal sharing corresponds to the mind-set of my Warriors, Tycoons and Wizards, respectively).

    Warriors seek dominance, they are the athletes, political activists and fighters.

    Tycoons seek resources, they are CEOs and high achievers.

    Wizards seek adulation, they are the rock-stars, artists and entertainers.

    The equation for mating is simple:

    Warrior (cocky) + Tycoon (generous) + Wizard (funny) = Laid.

    • 12341234

      Funny and friendly (nothing sexual ) = “Let’s just be Friends”

      Direct and Sexual (no rapport ) = Maybe fuck-buddies or one night stand

      Sexual and Playful (+ Rapport) = Boyfriend

  • mjgeddes, in your formula I would switch tycoon or ceo for investor or philanthropist. Tycoon and CEO primarily signal dominance in social relationships, it seems to me.

    • mjgeddes

      All three personality archetypes I mentioned signfiy a different type of social status.

      Woman want three things: someone to fight for them (the Warrior), someone to provide for them (the Tycoon) and someone to excite their emotions or entertain them (the Wizard).

      In this context,

      Dad= Tycoon
      Cad= Wizard

      To repeat:

      Dom (Cocky)+ Dad (Generous) + Cad (Exciting/Funny) = Laid

      I could have found the fundamental equation of PUA theory 😉

      PS Watch this excellent PUA analysis video of a master Cad (Robbie Willaims) in action:

      • Why “tycoon”? It seems to unecessarily conflate Dom and Dad to me.Tycoons seem to me to be an archetype for dominance as well as resource wealth.

  • Zdeno

    I’ve always been confused by the right’s virulent opposition to homosexuality, but I think this post suggests a theory. Gay men effectively occupy the “yellow” reproductive niche – they are always surrounded by babes, and trust me, many gay guys will take a few swings for the other team on occasional. Intolerance of homosexuality is just part of the right’s general opposition to our society’s transition from a Dad-heavy equilibrium to a Prestige-Cad/Dominance-Cad equilibrium.

    My opinions on the morality of homosexuality remain unchanged, but at least now I understand that there is a cogent argument against them…

    • An interesting thought.

      • Taliesin Beynon

        I suppose the idea here would be that from an evolutionary psychology point of view, homosexuality might be a “ruse” to convince other members of the same sex that one poses no threat to their mating relationships. A ruse that to be convincing must be totally unconscious. So, just like irrational anger and irrational love serve game-theoretic purposes, so too does “irrational sexuality”.

        Another, related idea: is early childhood the “sampling window” in which one decides which sexual strategy to engage, based on the prevailing sexual strategies as indicated by one’s parents?

        These aren’t my views, but fun to speculate about such things sometimes.

  • A man who had prestige, dominance, and resources would get the best short and long term mates – what men are these?

    Wilt Chamberlain comes to mind so maybe these are professional athletes.

  • I think the short-term value of Dom types isn’t so much good genes (usually that’s signaled by dreamy looks) as it is protection from physical violence. Women demand these types in their popular culture when violence rates shoot up, as we saw with Clint Eastwood during the ’60s through the ’80s.

    (Cads also become popular because when violence surges, people discount the future more and are more interested in having short-term excitement with a rock singer type.)

    Athletes are not Doms; they are Cads. They do not associate with other Doms, as lawyers, doctors, politicians, etc. do. They show off their genetic quality through performance before a rapt audience, and so are entertainers.

    There has been no transition from a Dad society to a Cad/Dom society — maybe for the period of the ’60s through the ’80s, but the counter-Countercultural revolution of the early 1990s did away with that. There are no more ballsy exciting rock singers or other fly-by-night charmers, and there are no more guys like Dirty Harry, Rambo, or Bullitt. Now the drabber but more long-term dependable Dad is in vogue.

    Again probably due to the violence rate plummeting since the early ’90s — things whose value is slow to mature will be demanded more when the future looks safer.

    • A subset of athletes are close to pure dom archetypes: 1 on 1 sport athletes with clear winners and losers and world champions, Mike Tyson, Brock Lesner, they’re primarily dom.

      Teams are pageants and thus team members can be more caddish: for example Dennis Rodman was primarily cad. But usually the guy at the top of the winning team is primarily dom (the MVP quarterback), it seems to me.

      I agree the lawyer is primarily a dom archetype -particular solo judges, chief justices, and chief prosecutors/district attorneys.

      I agre politcians are primarily dom archetypes.

      Doctors, I think are primarily cad archetype, but I think they’re very noisy signals. They’re not generalized leaders or dominators so I don’t think they’re primarily doms. I think bad boys are a subset of cad, they’re not a perfect conflation with the category.

  • There may be some reluctance to glorify cad type guys directly in the media, but there sure is a lot of glorification of bad boy chasing and general partying among young girls in popular music lately. Nelly Furtado singing about being promiscuous, Kesha singing about brushing her teeth with Jack Daniels and how the rush of falling in love with a bad boy is “worth the price I pay.” And let’s not forget Rihanna’s recent # 1, Rude Boy, a raunchy ode to sex with street thugs.

    Also, there may or may not be some diminution of promiscuity in certain sectors of society, but STDs are on the rise, so large swathes of society things are likely as crazy or crazier than they ever were.

    The bad boy lives.

  • Jake

    Congratulations Robin, you have figured out women.

    • mjgeddes

      Now can Robin do the same for Men? – there should be a complementary set of core archetypes characterizing what men look for in females.

      Without even bothering to check scientific literature, and using only my fabled ‘super clicker’ intuition I will attempt to state what the core female archetypes are:

      Disciples: The devoted and loyal follower
      Mother Hens: The nurturer and comforter
      Sirens: The sexy seductive beauty

      Cross-pairing the archetypes, we see that they are indeed complementary:

      DadMother Hen

      • Jake

        All this deep social insight is overwhelming. I’m going to need a bigger armchair if I hope to keep up.

  • Robin, glad you found that post as intriguing as I did. I’m glad to see status being differentiated into dominance-based and prestige-based status.

    I’m going to continue making the case I was making at Patri’s, which is that female attraction to males includes major factors other than status of either sort. There is an effect of good genes, as demonstrating by musical, artistic, and athletic ability, independent of status.

    Female peacocks don’t go for males with showy tails because the tails grant status in peacock society.

  • Patrick (orthonormal)

    > A man who had prestige, dominance, and resources would get the best short and long term mates – what men are these?

    Politicians would certainly count, except for the incentives in the U.S. where an affair or “trading up” on spouses looks bad. But in other cultures, well, think of Sarkozy and Berlusconi.

  • tgrass

    Shouldn’t this make long-term mates wary of strong mate attraction to dramatic stories?

    Unless one is merely assuming a role of long-term mate to engage the interests of other short-term mates who are attracted to the machismo-dad.

  • Konvkistador

    Shouldn’t this make long-term mates wary of strong mate attraction to dramatic stories?

    Be careful. If the dramatic story is told in front of a group, like dramatic stories often are, the attraction of any individual female may be due to preselection not necessarily her personally being in short term mode.