Kijk even deze video voor een momentje rust:
Vrolijk lachen en zwaaien naar de Koningin doen we nog, maar na het kijken van deze Tegenlicht documentaire realiseer je je dat het voorlopig niet veel lachen zal worden en misschien wel zelfs nooit meer hier in het Westen.
Maar ach, het zal wel doemdenken van linkse Marxisten zijn, toch?
Je leest het overal en ook in mijn colleges druk ik de studenten op het hart dat ‘zelfoverschatting’ niet goed is en leidt tot overmoedige beslissingen met rampzalige gevolgen.
Maar wat blijkt? Het tegengestelde is waar.
Zelfoverschatting (met mate) is goed en leidt vaak tot betere resultaten! Evolutionair biologen onderzochten met behulp van een computermodel van de spel-theorie, hoe (in evolutionare zin) ‘zelfoverschatting’ ons van pas komt.
In het model zijn er twee denkbeeldige individuen, X en Y, die beiden 1 schaarse resource nodig hebben. Als beiden de resource claimen moet er voor ‘gevochten’ worden, en wint de sterkste, maar beiden hebben schade door te vechten. Als slechts een individu de resource claimt, krijgt hij hem voor niks. Als geen van beiden de resource claimt, krijgt niemand iets. In het model kunnen de virtuele tegenstanders hun eigen kracht overschatten of onderschatten en ze moeten omgaan met de onzekerhed van de kracht van de tegenstander. Gebaseerd op deze factoren moeten X en Y besluiten de resource te claimen (met het risico om te vechten als de ander dat ook doet) of te vluchten (de resource niet claimen). Ze kunne hun beslissing alleen baseren op hun inschatting van hun eigen kracht in vergelijking met die van de tegenstander.
En wat blijkt: degene die stelselmatig zichzelf overschat, wint het vaakst!
Zoals ze zelf uitleggen:
So let's say you and I are fighting over some resource. As long as there is some uncertainty about the outcome and the resource is valuable compared with the costs incurred in fighting for it, then overconfidence is the best strategy.For instance, if people are fighting over an island with oil reserves, the benefit of accessing the oil might be a hundred billion dollars, while the costs of the war might be ten billion. But if "if the cost of conflict or competition is high, and all for a fairly worthless prize—you're much better off being cautious.
Uit recent wetenschappelijk onderzoek blijkt dat zwakken de sterkeren kunnen leiden; althans bij vogels, insecten en vissen! Een nieuw computermodel suggereert dat je niet de snelste of sterkste hoeft te zijn om de groep (‘swarm’) te leiden, maar degene moet zijn die bereid of ‘wanhopig genoeg’ is om wat aan de status quo te doen.
Dit blijkt uit onderzoek van Prof. Conradt van de Universitiet van Sussex; een paar hongerigen kunnen de hele groep van duizenden van richting doen veranderen om op zoek te gaan naar voedsel. Omdat het belang van bij elkaar blijven groter is (als bescherming tegen roofdieren), ontstaat dit patroon van zwakken die sterken leiden.
Het onderzoek bewijst dat
Ook bij mensen kan het zo zijn dat in tijden van wanhoop, het leiderschap niet per se van de sterksten hoef te komen.
a small number of highly motivated leaders can manipulate the group dynamics significantly for their own purposes but without destroying the cohesive motion of the flock.
Volgens Csiksentmihalyi kan het gevoel van flow gekenmerkt worden door tenminste een aantal van de volgende acht kenmerken:
- Men heeft een duidelijk doel;
- Concentratie en doelgerichtheid;
- Verlies van zelfbewustzijn: men gaat volledig op in de activiteit en vergeet zichzelf;
- Verlies van tijdsbesef: de tijd vliegt voorbij;
- Directe feedback: succes en falen ten aanzien van de activiteit zijn onmiddellijk duidelijk, zodat men daarop het eigen handelen direct kan aanpassen;
- Evenwicht tussen de eigen vaardigheid en de uit te voeren activiteit: de bezigheden zijn nét niet te moeilijk, maar wel heel uitdagend;
- Een gevoel van persoonlijke controle over de situatie of activiteit;
- De activiteit is intrinsiek belonend, bijvoorbeeld erg leuk.
Heel iets anders dan ‘go with the flow’, wat meer wil zeggen dat je als mak schaap in de kudde meeloopt!
Als er flow is dat zie je t ook:
When I say I am researching how culture exploits men, the first reaction is usually “How can you say culture exploits men, when men are in charge of everything?” This is a fair objection and needs to be taken seriously. It invokes the feminist critique of society. This critique started when some women systematically looked up at the top of society and saw men everywhere: most world rulers, presidents, prime ministers, most members of Congress and parliaments, most CEOs of major corporations, and so forth — these are mostly men. Seeing all this, the feminists thought, wow, men dominate everything, so society is set up to favor men. It must be great to be a man.
The mistake in that way of thinking is to look only at the top. If one were to look downward to the bottom of society instead, one finds mostly men there too. Who’s in prison, all over the world, as criminals or political prisoners? The population on Death Row has never approached 51% female. Who’s homeless? Again, mostly men. Whom does society use for bad or dangerous jobs? US Department of Labor statistics report that 93% of the people killed on the job are men. Likewise, who gets killed in battle? Even in today’s American army, which has made much of integrating the sexes and putting women into combat, the risks aren’t equal. This year we passed the milestone of 3,000 deaths in Iraq, and of those, 2,938 were men, 62 were women.
One can imagine an ancient battle in which the enemy was driven off and the city saved, and the returning soldiers are showered with gold coins. An early feminist might protest that hey, all those men are getting gold coins, half of those coins should go to women. In principle, I agree. But remember, while the men you see are getting gold coins, there are other men you don’t see, who are still bleeding to death on the battlefield from spear wounds.
That’s an important first clue to how culture uses men. Culture has plenty of tradeoffs, in which it needs people to do dangerous or risky things, and so it offers big rewards to motivate people to take those risks. Most cultures have tended to use men for these high-risk, high-payoff slots much more than women. I shall propose there are important pragmatic reasons for this. The result is that some men reap big rewards while others have their lives ruined or even cut short. Most cultures shield their women from the risk and therefore also don’t give them the big rewards. I’m not saying this is what cultures ought to do, morally, but cultures aren’t moral beings. They do what they do for pragmatic reasons driven by competition against other systems and other groups.
The Most Underappreciated Fact
The first big, basic difference has to do with what I consider to be the most underappreciated fact about gender. Consider this question: What percent of our ancestors were women? It’s not a trick question, and it’s not 50%. True, about half the people who ever lived were women, but that’s not the question. We’re asking about all the people who ever lived who have a descendant living today. Or, put another way, yes, every baby has both a mother and a father, but some of those parents had multiple children. Recent research using DNA analysis answered this question about two years ago. Today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men.
I think this difference is the single most underappreciated fact about gender. To get that kind of difference, you had to have something like, throughout the entire history of the human race, maybe 80% of women but only 40% of men reproduced. Right now our field is having a lively debate about how much behavior can be explained by evolutionary theory. But if evolution explains anything at all, it explains things related to reproduction, because reproduction is at the heart of natural selection. Basically, the traits that were most effective for reproduction would be at the center of evolutionary psychology. It would be shocking if these vastly different reproductive odds for men and women failed to produce some personality differences.
For women throughout history (and prehistory), the odds of reproducing have been pretty good. Later in this talk we will ponder things like, why was it so rare for a hundred women to get together and build a ship and sail off to explore unknown regions, whereas men have fairly regularly done such things? But taking chances like that would be stupid, from the perspective of a biological organism seeking to reproduce. They might drown or be killed by savages or catch a disease. For women, the optimal thing to do is go along with the crowd, be nice, play it safe. The odds are good that men will come along and offer sex and you’ll be able to have babies. All that matters is choosing the best offer. We’re descended from women who played it safe.
For men, the outlook was radically different. If you go along with the crowd and play it safe, the odds are you won’t have children. Most men who ever lived did not have descendants who are alive today. Their lines were dead ends. Hence it was necessary to take chances, try new things, be creative, explore other possibilities. Sailing off into the unknown may be risky, and you might drown or be killed or whatever, but then again if you stay home you won’t reproduce anyway. We’re most descended from the type of men who made the risky voyage and managed to come back rich. In that case he would finally get a good chance to pass on his genes. We’re descended from men who took chances (and were lucky).
The huge difference in reproductive success very likely contributed to some personality differences, because different traits pointed the way to success. Women did best by minimizing risks, whereas the successful men were the ones who took chances. Ambition and competitive striving probably mattered more to male success (measured in offspring) than female. Creativity was probably more necessary, to help the individual man stand out in some way. Even the sex drive difference was relevant: For many men, there would be few chances to reproduce and so they had to be ready for every sexual opportunity. If a man said “not today, I have a headache,” he might miss his only chance.
Another crucial point. The danger of having no children is only one side of the male coin. Every child has a biological mother and father, and so if there were only half as many fathers as mothers among our ancestors, then some of those fathers had lots of children.
Look at it this way. Most women have only a few children, and hardly any have more than a dozen — but many fathers have had more than a few, and some men have actually had several dozen, even hundreds of kids. In terms of the biological competition to produce offspring, then, men outnumbered women both among the losers and among the biggest winners.
To put this in more subjective terms: When I walk around and try to look at men and women as if seeing them for the first time, it’s hard to escape the impression (sorry, guys!) that women are simply more likeable and lovable than men. Men might wish to be lovable, and men can and do manage to get women to love them (so the ability is there), but men have other priorities, other motivations. For women, being lovable was the key to attracting the best mate. For men, however, it was more a matter of beating out lots of other men even to have a chance for a mate. Tradeoffs again: perhaps nature designed women to seek to be lovable, whereas men were designed to strive, mostly unsuccessfully, for greatness.