Monday, February 14, 2005

Self-love

There's another take on the psychology of romance in the New Zealand Herald. In this view, called implicit egotism, people's good feelings about themselves cause them to be more greatly attracted to "nearly anything associated with the self." This can affect choice of dogs, places to live, or, of course, romantic partners, as shown by statistically measurable "assortive" choices.

I like this article because it does not try to relate this to an evolutionary drive but instead sticks to phenomenology. But at the same time, it's pretty weak phenomenology! The measures in the dog story are not far above statistical noise.

I think psychologists should consider that, for example, that the marriage market is not optimized (for example no one can meet all eligible partners worldwide),and for this reason alone a reasonable fraction of people are going to marry "within the village." Beyond that, I think compatibility is a big part of the work of marriage (or business partnerships), and shared cultural values can help. For both these reasons, I think physical resemblance and other traits which segregate with geography/culture might appear in marriages and partnerships for very trivial reasons. Once these geographical factors are subtracted out, I think you'll find very little self-love there. I can't explain the dog stuff though.

What I do believe very firmly is that the judgement of "like me" versus "not like me" informs pretty much our entire lives.

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