Why Pretend?

The homo hypocritus hypothesis I’ve been exploring lately is that large fraction of modern behavior is explained by our evolved capacities and tendencies to pretend to do X while really doing Y.  For each such X and Y, this raises a number of basic questions about how such a situation could be an equilibrium:

  1. Why is X not such a useful thing to do?
  2. Why is Y a particularly useful thing to do?
  3. Why do we like folks to think we usually do X?
  4. Why do we not like folks to think we usually do Y?
  5. Why do we tend to say we do X, and not Y?
  6. Why do we tend to say that our associates do X, not Y?
  7. Why do we tend to say that most people do X, not Y?
  8. Why are we oft unaware that we actually do Y not X?
  9. Why are we oft unaware associates are doing Y not X?
  10. Why are we unaware that in general folks usually do Y not X?
  11. Why do we start out in life assuming folks mostly do X?
  12. Why don’t we learn faster with experience that folks mostly do Y?
  13. Why don’t we believe those who tell us that most folks do Y not X?
  14. Why don’t those aware that folks do Y not X tell more other folks?
  15. Why do social norms tend to favor doing X over Y?
  16. Why do many norms make it easier to hide Y and pretend it is X?
  17. Why do some of us deviate, believing and saying most folks do Y not X?
  18. Why do some of us deviate, saying our associates do Y not X?
  19. Why do some of us deviate, saying we ourselves do Y not X?
  20. More??

I’ve broken this down into many specific questions to make it clear how much detail a full explanation must account for, and to admit I don’t have such a full explanation.  I’ve heard many plausible stories that address some of these questions, but such stories usually make assumptions about answers to other questions.  Some tentative explanation parts:

  • Forager norms cut overt Y of dominance, bragging, sub-coalitions.
  • Forager norms liked overt X of work, peace, sharing, bonding.
  • Those who tend to do X more are more impressive or attractive.
  • Those who better hide their Y, show their intelligence and social savvy.
  • It can be hard to consistently say one thing and believe another.
  • Unconscious communication and coordination is harder to see or verify.
  • Those who believe X is common make better associates, in junior roles.
  • X helps groups more than Y, giving group selection of X over Y norms.
  • Groups that succeed in inducing more X look better to outsiders.
  • Hidden coalitions can help each other hide their Y, and their coalition.
  • Exposing someone’s Y can lead to retaliation by a hidden coalition.
  • More??
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