Saturday, February 2, 2013

Look! I volunteer at the homeless shelter!

Look!  I volunteer at the homeless shelter!  Now please sleep with me, ma'am.

Men behaving nicely: Public goods as peacock tails

Mark Van Vugt & Wendy Iredale
British Journal of Psychology, February 2013, Pages 3–13

Insights from sexual selection and costly signalling theory suggest that competition for females underlies men's public good contributions. We conducted two public good experiments to test this hypothesis. First, we found that men contributed more in the presence of an opposite sex audience, but there was no parallel effect for the women. In addition, men's public good contributions went up as they rated the female observer more attractive. In the second experiment, all male groups played a five round public good game and their contributions significantly increased over time with a female audience only. In this condition men also volunteered more time for various charitable causes. These findings support the idea that men compete with each other by creating public goods to impress women. Thus, a public good is the human equivalent of a peacock's tail.

So many questions....If in fact female attention is a selective incentive, then mixed-sex groups should be better able to overcome the collective problem.

On the other hand, the "contributions" are not really voluntary.  These guys making contributions are trying to hustle some action.

Still, it rings true.  PJ O'Rourke always claims that the reason he hung with the lefties in the 1960s is that is where one found all the really attractive women.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?