Thursday, January 17, 2013

Prosocialites vs neurotics

.

In my previous articles I wrote about a theory postulating that our human ancestors broke away from a "herd of apes" collectivistic lifestyle.  Escaping out of a jungle "paradise" where no work was necessary for acquiring food but social interplay and obedience to herd hierarchy and the group authority was paramount for survival  [Sapolsky 1 and 2 ], meant a change over from the collectivistic towards an individualistic nomadic lifestyle.  The lifestyle where one's survival depended more on the individual foraging, hunting and toolmaking skills, as well as one's ability to construct shelters and make warm clothing.    Human development meant shift from social herd animal to industrious self-reliant individual.  It does not mean shift from social life to a complete absence of social life but it does mean interacting with smaller and more mobile groups that is characterized by less rigidity, less formal hierarchy and exhibits flexible social interactions.

The following recent study has illustrated this surprisingly well:


According to a report summarizing years of research, the Big Five – which include openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness,   and   neuroticism – may be a culturally driven model that only really holds true for people in developed, western countries.
...
In his paper, UCSB anthropology professor Michael Gurven details how he and his team were unable to apply the Big Five model to the indigenous hunter-gatherer Tsimane people. Instead, they report, the personalities of the Tsimane appear to be characterized by a “Big Two” pair of traits – prosociality  and  industriousness. And while they report that these Big Two appear to combine certain elements of the Big Five that are used to describe Americans and Europeans, these two core personality traits seem to be a reflection of features that are specific to highly social, subsistence-based societies.

(Note: color highlights are mine)

The fact is, modern academic social science has blown up the pro-social (collectivistic) trait into multiple sub-categories, such as "openess", "consentiousness", "extrovertion" and "agreeableness".  Unsurprizingly, given who they are, the social scientists have shoved the entire multiverse of individualistic traits and skills into just one bin called "neuroticism"!  Why didn't they just call them "nerds" instead?

This study tells us that the social scientists and probably a majority of the society (4 out of 5 perhaps?) has devolved a "stuck in the past" mindset that considers collectivistic prosocial traits of more relevance than the "industriousnes" - pardon "neuroticism".   This is in stark contrast to the stone age people like the Tsimane tribe, whose "industrious" members are described with relevant word, while their pro-social members are bunched into one category rather than splitting them into different party-going monkey categories.

Stan (Heretic) aka Nerd

21 comments:

JC said...

Far too mechanistic and one dimentional.Most of the work we do is in the dream state as well as most of our social encounters....if you believe our favorite philosopher.

The theory ignores the underlying unity of all consciousness.

Stan (Heretic) said...

Hi JC,

It has nothing to do with Seth, dreams or the underlying unity of all consciousness. It does not say much about consciousness other than that it is different from one another. It simply postulates that there are distinct patterns of social behavior as if there were separate species. It is equivalent to stating that wolves behave like wolves and dogs like dogs even though their physical bodies look similar.

Belief in an underlying unity of consciousness does not negate distinct identities.

JC said...

Escaping out of a jungle "paradise" where no work was necessary for acquiring food but social interplay and obedience to herd hierarchy and the group authority was paramount for survival [Sapolsky 1 and 2 ], meant a change over from the collectivistic towards an individualistic nomadic lifestyle. The lifestyle where one's survival depended more on the individual foraging, hunting and toolmaking skills, as well as one's ability to construct shelters and make warm clothing. Human development meant shift from social herd animal to industrious self-reliant individual.

For one example...no work necessary....very Ian Rand but it assumes work in an illusionary dimention...the physical domention.Rand was a strict mechanist(there really is something out there) which differs form the ideas of Seth,who contends that there only appears to be sometning out there because we all agree to experience it.

JC said...

The creation of reality is a totally cooperative venture by ALL of us and so I reject Rands ideas of a talented,skilled rugged independent minded people who demonstrate that type of social behavior.As Seth would say we need a multi dimentional psychology,and he would likely say there are no industriuos self reliant individuals because we are all dependent on each other in ways we can possibly imagine much less understand.

Stan (Heretic) said...

Re: ...the physical dimension. Rand was a strict mechanist (there really is something out there) which differs form the ideas of Seth,who contends that there only appears to be something out there because we all agree to experience it.

It is illusory alright, but at the same time there is something out there, not necessarily physical or "material" in the sense we know it.

I think, Ayn Rand had a problem with the two different mindsets - the prosocial and the industrious one, living side by side where one is creating the "illusory" wealth by applying their industriousness, while the other believe it is OK to appropriate it since the industrious types are supposed to produce more of it anyway (in China?) in return for some paper tokens.

It does work for now, but I somehow do not believe it is healthy and do not think it will work long term, nor that it is good for both sides!

Either mindset lives an illusion, the issue is whether should they live together creating a schizopherenic (illusory) reality of partying socialite "master" race living off the wealth (illusory) created by the industrious people with engineering and productive skills. Perhaps both types of consciousness should part their ways or trim the excesses (on both sides) rather than sticking it out together like a bad marriage, holding back each other? I think, either side ought to refrain from judgments of any kind, that are always based on their own partial criteria. For example a socialite would judge me based on my social skills compared with his (which I would of course "fail"!). The same - vice versa!

H.G. Wells described this dylemma in his Time Machine book. Ayn Rand wrote about the same issue in her "Atlas Shrugged".

Wells did not propose a solution - in his reality the degeneration of both types living together seemed inevitable leading to a total split and decay.

Ayn Rand on the other hand, did propose a solution - a divorce!

Is it viable? I think it is! Will it hurt the "other" side? I don't know, but I doubt it. They will simply create their own realities, one each!

Without us...

8-:)

Best regards,
Heretic

Stan (Heretic) said...

Re: The creation of reality is a totally cooperative venture by ALL of us and so I reject Rands ideas of a talented,skilled rugged independent minded people who demonstrate that type of social behavior.

Yes it is! Absolutely! It is a cooperative venture where consciousness of every tree and every bear in our forest as well as myself, are adding up. It is a cooperative venture where bear prefers to sleep in the forrest rather than sleep in my bed. He lives there and I live here. I let the prosocialites enjoy their parties, out there, but not in my house and without me! I am not simply of their kind! We do create our greater reality - each one it its own preferred "space".

Re: As Seth would say we need a multi dimentional psychology,and he would likely say there are no industriuos self reliant individuals because we are all dependent on each other in ways we can possibly imagine much less understand.

One does not necessarily lead to another. This logic is flawed.

I think there are industrious self reliant individuals and also I think that every consciousness (industrious, prosocialite and other type) acts indeed cooperatively with one another.

The only aspect which you are probably missing is that we do not have to sleep all in one bed...

8-:)

Best regards,
Heretic

JC said...
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JC said...

If by rugged individualist you mean those who will not accept the conclusions of the masses and put a premium on thinking for onesself then I agree 100% but if you mean that the less fortunate should be left to fend for themselves then I have to disagree.

We are not able to grasp that even the homeless living on the street contribute to the successes and abilities we have.Sounds ridiculous to give credit for ones talent and abilities to some "homeless bum"....unless one has read the Seth Materials.

JC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC said...

We also have to be very careful that Rands ideas and your theory are not used to justify a return to the days of "seperate but equal",where the races were segregated and had different schools and even different water fountains.....or any extention of that where any two groups are considered to be different and need different accomodations.... and no resonsibility for the wellfare of the other is needed.While we may have numerous abilities and characteristics in this lifetime we nay not be so lucky in the next.You may be a prosocialite in your next incarnation!

Stan (Heretic) said...

Re: ...but if you mean that the less fortunate should be left to fend for themselves then I have to disagree.

Nobody is suggesting that, even Ayn Rand did not. In her vision there is a place for teachers, housewives, artists and many other. Her world includes an interest-free compassion and camaraderie.

She describes a situation where things go out of control: working population does support those who cannot or would not work till the very end, until the time when they get so abused and vilified that they cannot take it any more and quit en-masse. We are not talking about some unfortunate people who got ill cannot work and need some support. She was describing something else - an entire social caste of unproductive social parasites IN HIGHER ECHELONS that not only would not learn productive skills and work constructively, but at the same time tried to oppress and subdue those who did. Sounds familiar, perhaps?

Re: We are not able to grasp that even the homeless living on the street contribute to the successes and abilities we have.

Strangely, I agree with that! That however has nothing to do with Ayn Rand. Her "looters" and "moochers" social classes were not street bums, they drew government grants and salaries!

It were the engineers and the productive workers thrown out of jobs by the "Trade Union Board" who ended up in poverty and homeless!

Remember a thread from her book involving a tramp, a former metal worker, met on a train by Dagny?

Isn't it interesting to see how compassionate people get about a plight of an unskilled unemployed street person, yet see no reason to be equally compassionate about a SKILLED homeless engineer, scientists or an artist?

Stan (Heretic) said...

JC wrote:

While we may have numerous abilities and characteristics in this lifetime we nay not be so lucky in the next. You may be a prosocialite in your next incarnation!

I doubt it. I remember only 3 (vaguely) and I were not a "prosocialite" in any of those. My communication skills and emotional attributes were different but my attitude and character were not that much different.

Re: We also have to be very careful that Rands ideas and your theory are not used to justify a return to the days of "seperate but equal", where the races were segregated and had different schools and even different water fountains.....or any extention of that where any two groups are considered to be different and need different accomodations.... and no resonsibility for the wellfare of the other is needed.

It has nothing to do with race or nationality.

I totally disagree with segregation or any other form of social oppression or rules. I only require a freedom of choice for me not to pay taxes for those social boondoggles that I disagree with.

JC said...

I doubt it. I remember only 3 (vaguely) and I were not a "prosocialite" in any of those. My communication skills and emotional attributes were different but my attitude and character were not that much different.

I agree with much you have said but the above statement is the one thing you are likely wrong about.Seth said we can't remember all of our incarnations and mentioned numerous times the need to experience "both sides" so its very likely if not assured you will be a prosocialite in upcoming incarnations.Just don't drink too much at all those frat parties.

Jenna said...

"The orchid hypothesis suggested that this particular allele, the rarest and riskiest of the serotonin-transporter gene’s three variants, made me not just more vulnerable but more plastic. And that new way of thinking changed things. I felt no sense that I carried a handicap that would render my efforts futile should I again face deep trouble. In fact, I felt a heightened sense of agency. Anything and everything I did to improve my own environment and experience—every intervention I ran on myself, as it were—would have a magnified effect. In that light, my short/short allele now seems to me less like a trapdoor through which I might fall than like a springboard—slippery and somewhat fragile, perhaps, but a springboard all the same.

I don’t plan to have any of my other key behavioral genes assayed. I don’t plan on having my kids’ genes done, either. What would it tell me? That I shape them in every encounter? I know this. Yet I do like thinking that when I take my son trolling for salmon, or listen to his younger brother’s labyrinthine elaborations of his dreams, or sing “Sweet Betsy of Pike” with my 5-year-old daughter as we drive home from the lake, I’m flipping little switches that can help light them up. I don’t know what all those switches are—and I don’t need to. It’s enough to know that together we can turn them on."

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/12/the-science-of-success/307761/1/

http://www.psypost.org/2013/01/dopamine-receptor-gene-variant-linked-to-human-longevity-15804


Stan (Heretic) said...

Re: Just don't drink too much at all those frat parties.

ROFL

Stan (Heretic) said...

Jenna,

This is a fascinating topic! In fact more than one issue. I was like that! I remember from Poland, there was a psychologist who coined a term "Positive Disintegration". He meant by that a positive outcome in life is often associated with a somewhat dysfunctional "disintegrated" personality - an "orchid" as per your link. He used to describe that phenomenon as the people like that being vulnerable and not well adjusted to the mainstream social life style. On the other hand, people like that tend to write books, produce art, and make inventions rather than spending their entire life energy socialising in one way or the other, or wasting their time in the pubs like most of the "normal" people. 8-:)

The fact that it is genetic is also very remarkable. It means that such traits as ADHD are definitely desirable in a population and if such people are treated decently rather than being picked upon, chastised and drugged, they can contribute and everybody will benefit.

That experiment with the hyperactive children being read books by their mothers is very remarkable. One of the principle of Waldorf/Steiner's education is through reading to the children from some art books and stories, which is then followed by letting them express themselves, again through art, dance or sport - rather than forcing them to sit tight for hours in their school-benches. My wife did teach Waldorf program for about 4 years while our girls were small, after they got thrown out of a primary school for incomplete vaccination records.
Best regards,
Stan

JC said...

rather than forcing them to sit tight for hours in their school-benches.

I agree...."Summerhill" by AS Neil also explores some interesting alternatives.

Anonymous said...

If 80% of the population does not fit your hypothesis (4 out of 5), it's not the population that's the problem.

Stan (Heretic) said...

I don't perceive it as a problem at all, do you? I am happy and empowered to be a part of a tiny minority, much much less numerious in fact than the 1/5 of the total. I would not consider it to be advantageous belonging to a very large group. Would you?

Zorica Vuletic said...

"I don't perceive it as a problem at all, do you? I am happy and empowered to be a part of a tiny minority, much much less numerious in fact than the 1/5 of the total. I would not consider it to be advantageous belonging to a very large group. Would you?"

I consider myself to be very lucky and in a sweet spot socially speaking. I am very extraverted, but I don't like big crowds. I don't go to the bars and pubs (ew) but I enjoy family gatherings which involve camping (and of course drinks). I feel like I have 'many' friends but if you count it's a small select few (the way it should be). Now, it could be b/c of my reality that I live in, but I sometimes feel like 'ah nobody really likes the huge parties and wants that' but then again I don't hang around that crowd anyway.

I agree with the human species evolution of social groups, but in small numbers. The nomadic groups, sort of thing.

I do like to approach random strangers and have interesting and weird stories exchanged. It's a form of entertainment and I learn a lot just from these exchanges. This makes me quite social, but on the other hand I don't think some of the 'pro-social' people that you refer to would be interested in this. They would get 'shy' or something like that.

It's kind of strange, but the super 'social' people I think is not very natural. I think many of them feel very hollow and are quite insecure. Although interacting with some of these people (in a work environment) for instance might make me annoyed, but as a 'population' I feel very very sorry for them---very lonely people.



I say all of this and I am by no means a 'nerd'. I like my computer, I don't watch tv (hardly), I spend a LOT of time outdoors, I have coffee/drinks/meals with friends, I love my family, I train in karate, I play music. On some accounts some people would accuse me of being a nerd...my life is very rewarding. :)

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