If you are going for a job that almost nobody is going to get, it’s worth trying to be unusual. Better that one in a hundred employers loves you and the rest hate you than all of them think you’re mediocre.
1) It's simply feels worse to think of yourself as failing/doing worse than it feels better to think of yourself as doing better.
This seems to be a redescription rather than an explanation.
2) In contrast to bankruptcy, cultures aren't protected from bad results. Rather, too many individual failings amount to complete social collapse and so evolution favors avoiding downside risk.
I think group-selectionist hypotheses are disfavored these days by evolutionary biologists.
Or some other quick possible explanations.
1) It's simple feels worse to think of yourself as failing/doing worse than it feels better to think of yourself as doing better.
2) In contrast to bancruptcy cultures aren't protected from bad results. Rather, too many individual failings amount to complete social collapse and so evolution favors avoiding downside risk.
Can you test it? Almost certainly not. No one thinks we shouldn't be risk averse with our money since it's well known happiness is sub-linear in wealth. The question is whether we are genuienly risk averse and if so why.
But one can easily prove that any Pareto optimal strategy can have a utility function perfectly fitted to it. So short of a happiness/utility reader I despair of learning much about these questions beyond my priors by way of the usual economic experiments.
I also think prospect theory has something to do with friends, but more in terms of promoting the taking of social risks to avoid the small loss of social status. Most of the time, conformance and cooperation is risky for your individual well being. If you were on the positive side of the curve, you might decide not to do it. It's a good thing that humans are structured to want to take risk to avoid small losses. This is what greases everyday interactions and doing small favors for others.
Your endorsement applies to prospect theory, not to Katja's explanation for it.
The theory rings true. We expect reputation-based institutions (universities, religions, etc.) to be willing to take big risks to avoid small reputational losses but much less risk-taking for gains. On the other hand, we expect undistingished students to large risks (cheating, etc.) since most will be rejected anyway. The friendship threshold makes sense as well.
I think this is could be accurate for most of the human population historically, but I'm not sure that the sort of intelligent, enlightened person who reads OB is that prone to ditching their friends as easily as this. Just because two people have a friend-ish relationship with one another doesn't mean they actually like each other or understand each other on a deep level.
Heck, what if you were to go through Katja's post and replace every instance of "friend" with "acquaintance"? I think that would fit my model of human social interactions a bit better.
Replace friends with prospective mating partners and you have a reasonably plausible ev-psych just-so story!
I blogged a similar idea a few years ago: http://robertwiblin.com/201...
"This helps explains our caution in telling others about the things we apply for. If we fall on the bad side of the threshold we don’t want them to know we even tried. If we are risk averse with our reputations, this helps explain our reluctance to apply for jobs that we might not get or flirt with people who might reject us, even when we use only a little time and effort in the attempt. It probably contributes to the distress of a divorce or breakup; a marriage that is just short of a divorce can look OK from the outside but if your wife leaves you for all a distant onlooker knows you were a terrible husband. The less effort can substitute for underlying quality when we especially care about the signal we’re going to send, the more threatening a threshold."
Whereas life and death surely is.
Why single out friendship as a scenario displaying threshold effects? If the primal situation was one where loss often meant death, you have a threshold to explain the adaptativeness of risk-seeking when you face loss and risk aversion for gains.
Also, it's not clear whether you are providing an evolutionary or psychological explanation.
The argument depends on Robin's assumption, "Whether you are above or below certain friend and enemy thresholds matters more than how far above or below those thresholds you are." Is there independent evidence for this assumption--as opposed to there being a continuum without thresholds from acquaintanceship through friendship, etc.
A problem for your hypothesis, if it's intended to be psychological, is that loss aversion applies to groups large enough that friendship opportunities aren't affected, for example, "entitlements."
Is friendship such a binary property?
You record repeated interactions of a subject with other subjects.
You compare the variance in words/concepts/stories (don't know) across different interactions.
If your theory is right, when they get friendly their wording, concepts talked about, or stories they use should get locked in. Also there should be a greater variance comparing interactions with different subjects than different interactions between the same subjects.
And if they don't like each other you wound't observe this lock in of things.
Maybe the difference in words used and words most common in English is relevant also. Really don't know what you should measure.
Another way to think of this is that people are homeostatic with respect to their place in tribal status hierarchies. This makes sense from a group perspective because status volatility produces intra-tribal conflict and is bad for the group, and the group is well positioned to punish it.
"Robin has suggested that people should have high variance when they are getting to know someone, to make it over the friend threshold."Pick up artists suggest this too. It is better to have one girl love you and one girl hate you, than to have two that are on the fence.
*Typo above. Experience should be Experiment.
Hmmm. This strikes me as being similar to being on vacation. You are either alone, or so secure in your friendship with the people you are with that you aren't worried about embarrassing yourself. In this case, people seem to be inclined to act in a more risk seeking manner, seemingly in favor of this hypothesis. Granted, there are plenty of confounds here, and sending people on vacation isn't a particularly good experience
Off the cuff ideas- Measuring variance in expressed political views on anonymous vs. non-anonymous online forums (Difficult to quantify). This is based on the notion that more extreme political views are socially risky to hold.- Playing an economic game with a chance to email your strategy to a friend.- An economic game pitting two groups against each other. Subjects group will contain friends or not, and evaluating the strategy in either condition based on how risky it is.