How to spot a rich guy
We laugh our asses off at this joke, but why is it funny? It is funny because human beings, like many other higher order animals, have the innate ability to make cognitive comparisons on a subconscious level. The reason it’s humorous is because we see an imbalance in a system and make deductive conclusions with regard to individual conditions. This is the basis of the Social Matching Theory.
Social Matching Theory, in essence, is defined as follows: All things being equal, an individual will tend to be attracted to, and are more likely to pair off with, another individual who is of the same or like degree of physical attractiveness as themself.
Just as an aside, this is a well recognized social psychology theory, not something manufactured by Game theorists. However, in a nutshell it outlines the sexual marketplace dynamic, before adding variables like Game, status, provisioning, etc.
This is a naturally occuring commonality among many specific aculturations and societies. The trick to this theory is of course that ‘All Things’ are rarely equal. However, my point to this isn’t to naively assume that attraction and sexual pairing happen in a vacuum – far from it. It is to illustrate an underlying psycho-biological principle that operates beneath our consciousness that prompts other psychological schemas from an intimately personal (micro) level to the social psychology of an entire (macro) culture.
As I’ve posted in several forum threads with regard to “Why Women Cheat” or why men are so compelled toward sex with archetypically attractive women, the root of this desire is a psychologically evolved opportunism that is founded on our ability to make and assess these natural comparissons in order to better facilitate our own survival and the survival of our offspring. It has served our species so well over millennia that this natural comparisson making capacity has become an autonomous and subconscious aspect of experiencing our environment. We understand that eating a large apple is preferable, from a survial standpoint, to eating the small one. We have a tendency to want what our biologies compel us towards and develop idealizations based on what we think would best satisfy these ends.
As I stated, I understand that attraction and intersexual relations do not happen in a vacumm and there are many (generally predictable) variables that influence this, but Social Matching Theory isn’t about the process of attraction or pairing so much as the motivations for selection. I’m often asked about the importance placed on physical appearance, prowess, etc. bearing influence on attraction, and I can speak from my own experience saying yes, it absolutely does. A fat guy is simply not going to attract a Fitness America competitor without some very unique circumstances influencing this attraction. Neither would I support this attraction being based in a qualitative, genuine physical desire for the fat male. It is an imbalance in a system.
All things being equal; socio-economic, intellectual, emotional levels etc. you will have a tendency to attract and be attracted to people of similar physical presence as yourself. This is the root of the psychological schema many men and women apply when they follow the “He/She’s out of my leauge” mentality. They are manifesting this subconscious understanding that the prospects of another person of a more idealized physical presence being attracted to them or pairing with them would be an unlikely match. They self-perceive this imbalance and thus limit themselves to opportunities that have a better likelihood of success in gratifying their need – in this case sex.
Look at the ‘Rich Guy’ picture again. The woman in this imbalance we might presume is a ‘Golddigger’. This too is inspired by an innate understanding of the Social Matching Theory. Why else would an (arguably) attractive woman in comparatively good shape, wearing a thong (indicating sexual availability), be with a morbidly obese male if he didn’t posess some other redeeming variable to inspire the match? We see a picture and laugh, and women make the internalized rationalization that she’s not genuinely interested in the guy, but is ‘in love’ with his provisioning means. Superficial? Perhaps, but it still illustrates this comparative instinct we have, particularly when we know nothing about individual circumstance. The possibility does exists that this woman genuinely loves the guy, or is attracted to him, but this isn’t our first impression. In fact it takes significant, trained, mental effort to consider the possibility because the Social Matching comparison IS our natural default.
Finally, I should add that the Social Matching Theory is also one of the primary foundations upon which AFCism and ONEitis is based. This natural fear of rejection associated with both of these schema stem from a subconscious understanding of this theory. ONEitis in particular can be traced back to this self-perception of imbalance leading to the “I’ll never find a better woman/man than this person” mentality in so much as it represents a limitation of opportunism. In other words, it becomes preferable for a person to stay and accomodate an otherwise intolerable relationship if that person has internalized the understanding that their relationship represents an imbalance in this Social Matching. Abuse endured from the more idealized mate becomes preferable to rejection from anonymous, less idealized sources of intimacy.
At this point you may be wondering what brought this post to the surface. I recently got into a debate with a self-described feminist who entirely rejected notion that a sexual marketplace should even exist in contemporary human society. It wasn’t that she was denying the underlying dynamic of the sexual marketplace, but rather that it was an antiquated and dehumanizing influence in the human condition. Up until this conversation, I’d always taken the idea of a sexual marketplace and sexual market value as applied to individuals as a given. The SMP was a recognized universal framework in which we maneuver – some successfully, others with difficulty. The rejection of this idea, or the desire to alter it sociological, seems absurd to me, even though I would agree that it is a brutal game we play. My counterargument with her was that the SMP is actually more representative of our humanity, in that it’s healthier to accept that the way we evolved as a successful species was due to the harsh reality of the SMP. She wouldn’t hear it.