Psychology

Body Language

I have a feeling I’m going to get myself in trouble with this post. One thing I’ve learned from sixteen years of writing in the manosphere is that people take the issue of Looks are very personally. I think there’s something engrained in how our minds evolved to make us aware of where we fit in as far as image is concerned. I think maybe that’s the root of where we get the idea of leagues with respect to sexual market value. I’ve mentioned before that it’s my belief that everyone is keenly aware of their personal conditions on some level of consciousness and how we look to others is part of that awareness.

My friend Tanner Guzy wrote a great book this year titled The Appearance of Power and I learned quite a bit from it with respect to the, often derided, subconscious choices we make in how we present ourselves to others. A lot goes into what we think is the very simple task of dressing ourselves each day and the message we’re conveying to other men, women, our families, our coworkers, our church, etc. We all have at least a peripheral awareness of what we’re communicating with our clothes, our behaviors and our speech.

Another great book I’m presently reading is the new title from Joe Navarro, The Dictionary of Body Language. Joe was one of the speakers at last year’s 21 Convention and I had the pleasure of talking with him for a bit there. For 25 years he worked as an FBI special agent in the area of counterintelligence and behavioral assessment. Today he is one of the world’s leading experts on nonverbal communications and this book is a very good resource for a lot of reasons. I’m not sure Joe likes being affiliated with the manosphere, but there’s no doubt that what he’s studied and written about for so long can be an invaluable tool for reading the sub-communications of women in Game applications. 

Way back in 2011 I wrote a brief essay called Learn to Read. At that time my focus was on emphasizing the need to be aware of the information a guy could glean from his surroundings, understanding the social environment and also the sub-communications a woman might be relaying to him in that moment. We tend to take it for granted, but there is a lot of information our brains need to process in social settings. For the most part our subconscious minds push out the background noise and less important information to our peripheral awareness so our conscious minds can focus on what we think is most important. Sometimes the part we take for granted, the information that our subconscious processes can be at least as important as what our consciousness is sorting out.

I’m calling attention to this process (as well as Joe’s work) because I want to stress the importance our Instinctual Process plays in interpreting what we see with respect to social interactions, but more importantly for our purposes, when we see men and women interact with one another. For the past 12 years my career in the liquor and gaming industries has put me in the unique position of being able to people-watch and study the unspoken communications that goes on between men and women in settings where they’re primed to apply their interpersonal skills (or lack of). However, it wasn’t until I started contrasting what I was seeing with what I understood about behavioral psychology, evo-psych and the sexual strategies men and women evolved for.

And this, this is the part where I get myself in trouble. In that time I think I’ve developed a pretty good ability to read what men and women are communicating with their clothing, expressions, posture, physical positioning, etc. and interpreting it with a Red Pill Lens. I get in trouble with this because, like I said, people tend to take my reading into things very personally. Even if I’m reading the photograph of a couple they know nothing about they associate something in the image that with how they perceive themselves.

Most of us were taught from an early age never to “judge a book by its cover.” We were taught it’s wrong to be judgmental and it’s what’s on the inside that counts. This has never really sat well with me, but you run the risk of sounding catty when you judge a person by their looks or whatever it is they’re doing in a picture. They say you sound like a gossipy woman, or else it’s supposedly some indication that you’re projecting your own insecurities onto whoever it is you might be critical of. This is unfortunate because our Instinctual interpretive process makes judgment calls all the time in our peripheral awareness. We all make comparisons in our hindbrains, it’s just impolite to give voice to them. This does nothing to help us objectively assess what sub-communications are taking place.

So, fair warning, I’m going to make some reads on some pictures here and if what I interpret seems a little self-serving or judgmental just know that I’m doing my best to stay objective.

For the past 3 months I’ve gotten into the habit of reading the images of various couples that guys on Twitter have been sending me. If you want a brief primer for this I talked about it with Tim Wenger last August here. For the most part these guys wanted me to determine what they were seeing were Alpha Tells or Beta Tells in the body language between the couple. In the majority of these shots, the Beta male body language was fairly evident even to the untrained eye. What was less evident was what the woman’s sub-communications were conveying.

Leaning In

Of the more than a hundred shots I read, the number one most common position for men was the lean in. This posture is something Roissy once called attention to as the hallmark of a Beta subconsciously manifesting his mindset in his body language:

The lean-in is easily identifiable, and while I don’t think it is alwaysBeta Tell (depends on context) it’s certainly the starting point for other manifestations of men with a necessitous subconscious. What I mean by that is that the lean-in is a physical display that illustrates how a man’s subconscious has decided that his woman’s Frame is the dominant one in the relationship. He feels the compulsion to put himself into her space as his natural impulse.

It’s also important to bear in mind that when we are photographed with others, in this case women, we are, or would like to be intimate with, there is a subconscious recognition that anyone viewing the image will infer a relationship context. More on this later, but for now keep in mind that some of these inferences will be related to mate guarding behaviors.

The reflexive critique of this lean-in is usually “Well, that’s just that one shot” or “The photographer told him to lean in” to which I can only say that the predominance of couples shots, candid and staged alike, most consistently pose a man as the leaner.

Lean out

The counter to this leaning-in is a woman leaning out or away from the man. It’s almost as if there is an unspoken conflict of hindbrains going on. A (Beta) man leans in to find inclusion and acceptance in a woman’s Frame while her own hindbrain instinctively reacts and attempts to lessen any inference of intimate acceptance to a larger audience.

Above are some examples of the lean-out. In some of these the latent message the woman’s hindbrain is conveying is almost “Get him offa me!”, but with a smile so as not to be too obvious. Also notice the positioning of the free hand in most of these pictures. We’d like to rationalize this as a gesture of affection after the fact, but in the context of these shots the unspoken message is a defensive one against the man’s lean-in. Again, this is one more manifestation of a war playing out between the couple’s subconscious.

The Eyes Have It

I also want to draw attention to the facial expressions of these women. Notice the commonalities in gaze direction and the message their eyes and expressions are sub-communicating. Women are keenly aware of the permanency of an image and what that image communicates. I’ve pointed out in many a prior essay that women’s brains evolved to give them a much fuller capacity for communication and a sensitivity to nuances than men. Men prioritize the content (information) of communication while women prioritize context (feeling) of communication. This is a truth we have to consider when we analyze the expressions and physical communication of women in photos.

I joked with the guy who sent me the second image here that she looks like she wants to bang me, not the guy doting on her. There’s more than a bit of truth in that assessment. Women today are hyperaware of how an image can be used to facilitate or handicap their sexual strategy. It’s no accident or casual glance when a woman directs her attention towards the viewer. It’s not a person behind the camera that she has in mind when she knows she being photographed, it’s the potential audience – an audience that’s grown exponentially in the age of social media. 

In all these shots the woman’s attention is on how she will be perceived by any viewer of the shot. In some other images I was sent the woman’s focus was on anything other than the men whose only focus was her. In advertising there’s a presumption that when two or more people appear in an ad the one with the presumed dominance is always the one looking away or out at the viewer. The submissive party was the one whose attention is directed at the dominant person. The dominant person is the one telling the story in the ad. A common complaint among feminists about magazine ads in the 60s through the 80s was that it was women who were always disempowered as a result of being posed in subservient positions where they focused on a male in the ad image. The only exception to this was in what feminists still refer to as the Male Gaze wherein the dominance a woman was afforded was limited to her sexual viability and her capacity to hold the attention of any men in the ad and men viewing the ad. 

These concepts are an interesting contrast to the millions upon millions of photos girls and women post of themselves on social media every day. Think of the gender power dynamics in all these shots. It may seem like I’m splitting hairs here, but the reflexive impulse a majority of women default to is one of advertising themselves for potentially better options in the sexual marketplace.

Whether or not this is a practiced or unconscious tact, the latent purpose of women’s responses to their men’s Beta Tells is to advertise their sexual availability to the audience. Some guys have said that women default to these expressions as a means of ego aggrandizement and I’m willing to accept that there’s undoubtedly an element of egoism (certainly solipsism) involved. No doubt women often enjoy the envious attentions of other women on Instagram in the right context. However, these ‘ego shots’ almost universally center on the woman in the power dynamic. In each of these images the power belongs to the woman.

Mate Guarding

Another common Beta Tell is the death grip pose many men will opt for in their couple’s photos. This is a position where the man locks an arm around his woman or drapes an interposing forearm barrier between the viewer and the woman who is trying to coyly escape his mate guarding message. 

In a lot of these the woman often has her hand on his hand as if trying to pry him off to release her. It seems like a reciprocation of affection – similar to the hand on the chest pushing him away – but this is afterthought rationalization. Death grip is a clingy positioning, but again the battle between his and her subconscious centers on the guy mate guarding and her own subconscious desire to broadcast her sexual availability in spite of him.

I Love Mommy

In almost all of these images the male is focused intently on the woman. From a Red Pill perspective, I see this as a manifestation of how these men have been Blue Pill conditioned to make their women their Mental Point of Origin.  Even in the images where the man is looking at the camera his sub-communication is one of clear abasement to, or guarding of, his most important priority.

However, the most disturbing trend I’ve seen in couple’s photos is what I’ve dubbed the I Love Mommy pose. Maybe it’s my instinctual interpretation of it or maybe its’ an obvious Freudian connotation, but in these shots the Beta assumes and almost childlike position of kissing on his woman. 

Okay, so the last one is a press shot, but you get the idea. You can see the I Love Mommy positioning in a few of the prior photos above as well.  I could probably dedicate an entire essay to all of the psychological implications of this phenomenon. I had one critic on Twitter ask me if I genuinely thought this tendency was due to unresolved issues these men had with their mothers; it wasn’t until later he admitted he had a tendency to do the same and was honestly concerned. 

I’m sure the possibility exists, but more importantly I think this habit is due to men internalizing the myth that vulnerability is endearing to women. There’s this persistent lie that accompanies the vulnerability myth. That’s the lie that men can let their guard down and ‘relax’ around the woman they feel securely paired with. As a result they mentally revert to the boy who didn’t need to qualify himself for his mother’s love and they regress to a subconscious comfort in that vulnerability they believe will endear them to their woman. They sub-communicate all this in the I Love Mommy position.

I’ll have to return to this Mother Issues concept in a future essay, but for now, how do you suppose a woman’s hindbrain imperative for Hypergamy will perceive this habit, particularly in light of how image conscious women are in the Instagram generation? My first impression is that it would be one of revulsion, apprehension and resistance. Nothing turns off a woman more than a man indicating that he’d rather be her child than her lover or husband.

Alpha Tells

So, if all of this reads like the overly-critical projection and nitpicking I told you most critics will accuse me of earlier, maybe I can assuage your own judgment by presenting some Alpha sub-communications examples here. Finding these examples can be a tall order in an age where any man photographed in a position not entirely focused on his woman runs the risk of being called ‘toxically’ masculine. Today, men who are confident enough to default to body language that communicates they are their own mental point of origin get accused of ‘abuse’ or at least being self-centered. But as you’ll see this isn’t such a bad thing.

The best example of Alpha Tells in couples photos focus on the man being the center of importance in the shot. Yes, this is Vincent Cassel (51) and his wife Tina Kunakey (21). I have no doubt some hater will come up with some reason in the comments why Vince doesn’t align with whatever their interpretation of Alpha is, but for our purposes these images illustrate the opposite of a lot of the Beta sub-communications we just went through. So try to look past the celebrity and see what’s being displayed here.

First off, notice how Tina’s focus of attention is always on Vince. Women who hold genuine admiration for their men consistently make them the story in photos. Even in the shot where they look at each other her focus is on him. It’s not difficult to assess the power dynamic in their relationship, but you can also feel a genuine desire emanating from Tina.

Also, women who genuinely admire their men are unconcerned that their actions in a shot might be read as subservient or ego-abasing by women’s audience. I’d go so far as to suggest that the attention a woman receives from a man her Hypergamous hindbrain confirms as Alpha is far more valuable to her ego than any lower quality attention she might temporarily enjoy by appeasing her audience. Much of this observation is rooted in the Desire Dynamic. Hypergamy cannot afford to have a high SMV man be confused about her desire or motives. A woman who is proud of the association with man she’s paired with is less concerned about the perception other women might have of her actions – in fact, she’ll convert any disparaging opinion of them into a point of pride, if that man is above her own sexual market value.

When a little girl thought a little boy on the playground was cute her reflexive response to him was not something she had learned to consciously control at that age. That response is often reflected in the expressions of adult women when when their peripheral awareness of an attractive man connects with their Hypergamous hindbrain. The biting of the lip, the beaming admiration, the laser eye focus and the hopeful smile followed by a coy embarrassment of what she’s doing when she regains her composure are all the physical cues of a woman whose primary concern is the man she’s with.

Now, contrast these images with the earlier ones in which the men are clearly the hangers-on of the women in those photos. I’ve mentioned before that a natural Alpha man is almost never aware of his own Alphaness and that’s what really stands out in these photos – the men aren’t trying to evoke the reflexive responses of the women. They fluidly (almost Zen-like) prompt these reaction in women. There is no pretense or the obvious mugging for the audience that you see in shots where the Frame is clearly being directed by the woman while the hapless Beta tries to prove how in love he is by kissing on her while she finds something more interesting to occupy herself with. When a woman admires her man he is literally all she can think about.

In closing here I want to reiterate that I’m aware that all of this is going to come off as self-serving or catty. It’s impossible to objectively interpret body language without someone resorting to point & sputter insults about how they think you’re just being petty or you’re jealous of some celebrity’s life. Be that as it may the discouraging of anyone attempting to understand sub-communications only serves the the party that has the most to gain from a larger ignorance of them. So I hope this breakdown has provided at least some useful references to consider your own, or your woman’s, default behavior when the cell phone cams come out at a party.

But if you learn nothing else from this post, and you need one take-home message, please, whatever you do, don’t be this guy in your next couples shot.

Instinct, Emotion and Reason

Before I dig in here today I want to give credit where it’s due. I was inspired to consider what I’m about to go into here by a quick-hit Tweet from Illimitable Man. I didn’t bookmark it so I apologize for not linking it here today, but the general gist of it was about the mental processes humans go through when we’re presented with environmental stimuli that demands interpretation and a behavioral response. I considered this process quite a bit while I was studying behavioral psychology – Instinct, Emotion and Reason (or rationality if you prefer) – and I’m almost embarrassed that I haven’t covered this in terms of a Red Pill perspective in over 600 essays now.

The idea is fairly simple; when we are prompted by environmental (and sometimes internal) stimuli human beings process this information using three psychological mechanisms – our primal instincts, our emotional interpretations and our rational (reason) facilities. I’m not sure these processes get their proper due in Red Pill theory today.  I’ve detailed all of these processes individually for years on this blog, but generally they were outlined in the context of whatever topic I was focusing on. In this essay I’m going to elaborate on these aspects individually. Later, as part of this series, I’ll explore how they act in concert for our overall cognitive process, and then how they influence intersexual and intersocial dynamics. I think this is a useful exercise because a lot of foundational Red Pill ideas stem from these processes as well as the social conventions and interpretive priorities the Feminine Imperative relies on today.

For sake of clarity I am going to use a few behavioral psych terms like stimuli in this essay. This isn’t to throw $10 words at you, it’s just easier to elaborate on these processes with abstract terms. For example, when I use stimuli I mean any physical, environmental or cognitive prompt that our conscious or unconscious mind demands an interpretation, processing of and response to. That can be a wide variety of things so, stimuli serves as a general term.

Lastly, the following here is my interpretation of these processes. While a lot of this will align pretty well with established theories, this is my take on them and not some official, settled science of facts. If you think I’m full of shit please tell me why, this is still a work in progress for me.

Instinct

Instinct seems like the easiest of these processes to understand, but it’s really the cognitive aspect that’s most misunderstood, marginalized and often demonized. The reason for this is because our instincts reside in our subconscious (hindbrain) processing of stimuli. When I refer to men or women’s evolved mental firmware in my essays it’s our instinctual process that I’m referring to. These are the unlearned, inborn aspects of our human nature that influence the other processes and remain largely in our subconscious. Our instinctual processing is a direct result of our evolution. It evolved as a vitally necessary aspect of our cognitive processing in that it aided in our ability to survive in, and adapt to, a chaotic, primal environment when food was scarce, predators and rivals wanted us dead, and reproductive opportunities and raising a child to a survivable age were at a premium.

There are a lot of examples of our instinct level processing and each instinctual response triggers more complex processing up the cognitive chain through emotion and reason. If we were presented with a dangerous stimuli (a sabertooth tiger) our instinctual process triggers a fight or flight response physically in our bodies (adrenaline release). Needless to say this was an evolved adaptation that served our species well and was passed along genetically as part of our mental firmware. I’m going to use some simplistic examples here but, if you really want to dig into our preloaded mental firmware and how we developed it I would suggest looking into the earlier works of Dr. Steven Pinker and The Red Queen by Matt Ridley (I’ll post links in the comments).

Another example is human beings’ innate fear (reservations at least) of snakes and spiders – poisonous animals that looked easy to kill, but could kill humans without warning. That’s an example of relatively beneficial firmware, but the reason instinct gets a bad rep is due to the instincts that once were beneficial to us individually, but are less beneficial to us socially. Greed and gluttony were very practical, instinctually motivated behaviors that stemmed from a need to survive in a time when resources were scarce. Today greed is (mostly) seen as anti-social and a compulsion to overeat in a time when food is abundant is why we presently have an obesity epidemic.

Those are easily understood examples, but where things get more complex is in how our instinctual process influences the other processes (emotion and reason). Instinct gets demonized because in our ‘enlightened‘ era we like to believe that instinct is more trouble than it is beneficial. Most of that is due to a belief that our other processes are superior to (or at least should supersede) our instincts. Most of what we call sin or immoral behavior is motivated by the instinctual process. In fact, the only time our instinctual awareness and reactions are really credited with anything positive is when it gets us out of some life threatening situation or it leads to some prosocial outcome. For instance, the male instinct to protect women by putting ourselves between them and danger; that’s an instinct and resultant behavior (seemingly altruistic male self-sacrifice) that gets a lot of praise in our feminine-primary social order. However, for the most part, we tend to judge ‘baser instincts’ as a net negative.

The truth about the instinctual process is that none of our other processes function at full efficiency without it. Today, as a result of our feminine-primary acculturation, we want to relegate instinct’s influence to something “we’ve evolved beyond”. The popular consensus is we’ve raised ourselves above base instincts by either acknowledging the importance of the emotional process or that rationality and the self-control based on it immunizes us from its influence. Not only are these belief foolish and hubristic, they’re provably untrue. When it comes to concepts like the ‘selfish gene‘ and the physical differences in the evolved instinctual processes of men and women, it becomes necessary for a social order based on blank-slate equalism to demonize and marginalize the influence of, and behaviors attributed to, instinct.

The survival benefits and behaviors that make up the instinctual process were so necessary that they had to become part of our unconscious species firmware. Because the instinctual process is part of our animalistic hindbrain mental subroutines it’s something we have little or no direct control over until its effect is brought (often forced) into our conscious awareness. As such, and because we prefer to think of ourselves as emotional and rational beings, we tend to think of the influence of instinct as something we either have or need to have mastery over, and to a large extent this mastery makes sense. The truth is that instinct is an aspect of ourselves that needs to be controlled as well as embraced depending on circumstances.

Emotion

From an evolutionary perspective, the emotional process of interpreting stimuli is a mechanism of how our brains and biochemistry interact to affect our moods, demeanor and ’emotionality’ in response to both instinctual cues and the raw information of stimuli itself. Furthermore, the emotional process can also be influenced and/or modified by the rational process. I’m trying to be concise here, but our emotional response to information/stimuli is very much an evolved dynamic with latent purposes and practical functionalities. I’m making this distinction here because for millennia we’ve raised the effects of emotion to a mythical, metaphysical, importance.

While emotion often has immediate effects on us, emotion also has long term effect with regard to the stimuli it processes. There are dozens of definitions of emotions and there’s no way I’m going to lay them all out for you here. However, popular psychology asserts that there are as many as ten and as few as six base emotions:

  • Anger.
  • Disgust.
  • Fear.
  • Happiness.
  • Sadness.
  • Surprise.

Sometimes Contempt is added to this list. If these seem overly simplistic they are, again, abstracts to build more complex emotions on (some paleo-researchers insist there are only four base emotions across our evolved ethno-histories). For our purposes these base emotions will serve to show the connections between the instinctual process which prompts them and the rational process that modifies and sometimes informs them.

Each of these emotional responses is prompted by how our senses, brain and then instinctual process interprets a stimuli. Again, using our sabertooth tiger example, the instinctual process determines imminent danger and triggers a synaptic and hormonal response to that danger. As a result of that instinctual process an emotional process and response is triggered – likely fear (flight in most cases), but sometimes anger (fight).

Another example: you see an arousing woman (stimuli) at a party who is displaying behavioral cues and environmental indicators of interest (IOIs). Your instinctual process determines a high potential for a reproductive opportunity. From there the emotional process kicks in: hormones and dopamine (and not a small testosterone spike) that your instinctual process triggered flushes your system and serves as the basis for your emotional process to form an emotional response to the same stimuli. If it all passes the smell test that response (hopefully) will be happiness (and a little surprise mixed in).

There is a visceral biochemical interrelation between emotion and the stimuli/instinct relation that prompts the reaction. Adrenaline is one easy example, another is oxytocin or the “love hormone”. This is a bit of a mischaracterization of the hormone. Oxytocin induces feelings of trust and comfort and is thought to be a significant factor in human’s forming pair bonds and parental investments. There’s a lot more to oxytocin’s implications to our evolution than that, but for now lets look at how our biology influences the emotional process.

We proceed from stimuli to an instinctual response. If there is nothing mitigating that response (such as a rationally learned buffer to mitigate it) the next step in the chain is a biological reaction to that instinct – such as dumping adrenaline into our bloodstream or a post-orgasm flush of oxytocin after sex. From there the emotional process picks up the interpretation of this information as prompted by the cocktail of chemicals moving through our bloodstream and affecting our mental and physical interpretation of that stimuli. That biochemical factor prompts one, or a combination, of the base emotions listed above.

From there more complex emotions (feelings) and combinations thereof begin to form an emotional interpretation and response. This emotional response can be anything from a fast, reflexive one to a more nuanced and contemplative one. Furthermore, this emotional interpretation and response can also be modified by our rational mental process as well as our gendered capacity to process emotions. One thing to bear in mind about our emotional process is that it can imprint its interpretations into our ‘hard memory’ – sometimes so significantly that the memory of that stimuli can re-trigger that physical and emotional response.

Gender-modified interpretation of our emotion process is an important aspect to consider in Red Pill praxeology and one I’ll be elaborating on in the next part of this series. Until recently the accepted ‘science‘ about our emotional process has been based on a blank-slate equalist approach to emotion. In fact we still suffer from the outdated presumptions of academia that both men and women process emotion in the same manner, and, in theory, ought to be expected to have an equal capacity to interpret, respond and express emotion. In light of new technology and new research in a variety of interrelated disciplines we know this is old presumption is patently untrue. Men and women have different mental hardware and are born with different mental firmware. Both sexes interpret and process emotion in gender-specific manners.

I’ll be getting into the personal and social implications that the legacy of this (deliberate) misunderstanding presents in the next essay. For now it’s important to consider that human beings have an innate predisposition to elevate the emotional process above instinct and reason. Likely this is due the to the survival dependency we had on our feelings in our evolutionary past. In a time when we lacked the greater rational facilities and information we’ve developed in our more recent past, depending on and learning from emotion, and the latent purposes it serves, was a species-beneficial system. We depended on our emotions to guide our behaviors (long and short term) for us more in our prehistory when we lacked the more developed rational process we take for granted now. Emotions served latent evolutionary purposes for us in our prehistory and today are still overly emphasized – often to metaphysical attributes – as superior to reason. More on this soon.

Reason

The final piece of our interpretive process is reason, or rationality (I’ll use these interchangeably). Ironically, for all of the social preconceptions that our emotions have made us “more evolved” above instinct, it is our rational process that has evolved us above both instinct and emotion. From and evolutionary standpoint our rational process is a relatively recent development; pushing us past the limitations of instinct and emotion. The definition of rationality is the quality of being based on or in accordance with reason or logic. It is the quality of being able to think sensibly or logically and being endowed with the capacity to reason.

Biologically it’s postulated that our larger brains allowed us to develop a capacity for reason, but that doesn’t mean other animals lack the same facility, it’s just that the rational process is less developed (some would say less environmentally necessary) in those animals by order of degree. Dogs, for example, rely primarily on the instinctual process and the mental (vestigial) firmware they’re born with to solve most of their existential/environmental problems. That doesn’t mean that they lack the ability to learn and form novel (adaptive) behaviors using a rudimentary form of logic. Animals can be taught things, but their capacity to form novel ideas and behaviors is limited to their cognitive abilities. Humans, being the apex species on the planet, had the leisure to take the time necessary to evolve a capacity for logic and as such the rational process developed in us.

Of all our interpretive processes reason is the one that takes the longest to function. Our rational process forms our interpretation of stimuli based on information dissociated from the interpretations of instinct and emotion. Reason requires (accurate) knowledge derived from learning and experience, but there is also an improvisational element to the process.

Before I get too far in the weeds here I need to make a distinction; what I’m outlining is the rational mental process we employ to interpret and interact with stimuli, not rationality, the concept of reason or rationalism. That’s important because it’s all too easy to get lost in philosophical implications of reason when we look at the process of how we come to it.

As mentioned above, the rational process modifies the instinctual and emotional processes. Example, in high school, in drivers ed class, we’re taught to turn into a skid rather than turn with the skid. When we’re driving and we find ourselves in a skid our instinctive impulse is to slam on the the breaks and/or, worse still, to turn with the skid. Our self-preservation instincts tells us to do this, but all it does is make a precarious situation worse. However, when we’re taught, and we practice, not hitting the brakes and not turning into the skid, we make this our default reaction and we avoid disaster. This is the rational process interpreting a stimuli and forming a novel behavior that modifies the interpretation of the instinctual process.

The limitation of the rational process is in its necessity to take time to interpret information and develop a new apparatus. Where instinct and emotion are intimately linked with our biological hardware and psychological firmware, the rational process is dissociated from them in the same immediacy. Instinct and emotion are processes that evolved from a survival-need for fast interpretation and reaction. The rational process requires time, repetition and the right biological structures to be effective. Human beings are remarkably fast learners (even with complex challenges), but the learning that the rational process leads to is slow in comparison to instinct and emotion – which are essentially preloaded firmware in humans.

The rational process deals with the nuts and bolts of what we can understand of our reality. From there it can modify the other processes or it can serve to interpret stimuli on its own.

In the next part of this series I’ll be exploring how these cognitive processes interact and cooperate and conflict with each other. I will also consider the gendered advantages and disadvantages these processes represent to our individual experiences as men and women and the influence they play in intersexual and intersocial dynamics.