Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Compensatory Hypothesis

This is a popular notion that some people lazily adopt without much reflection, namely that people with greater amounts of some ability or some trait must compensate for possessing it by also having a corresponding deficiency on another: "Beautiful but dumb," "Genius is next to insanity," "Great athlete but dumb as a rock," "Unattractive but with a nice personality."  I can go on and on.  In fact, many traits of these types are independent, and the possession of one in no way influences the presence of another.

This is a good thing when it comes to mate selection.  Here's why.

What would a woman want in a husband? Well, we can list a few things: kindness or sweetness, physical attractiveness, works hard, is faithful, loves children and dogs or cats, intelligent, can really satisfy you sexually, has a sense of humor, is patient, and so forth.  (Consider these traits as listed in a random order.)

And, guys, you can come up with a similar wish list.  Somehow big boobs probably makes many lists.

Let's raise a hypothetical case.  Let's stipulate "faithfulness," since you cannot quantify it: a guy is either faithful or he isn't.  No 65% faithful, unlike us reckoning ourselves as 80% pure if he can't get past second base.  And let's say that you want four things in a guy:

1.  He's attractive -- no make that he's knee-quaking handsome  
2.  He's intelligent
3.  He's kind and considerate, and puts up with your moods
4.  He's a tiger in bed and gives you - oh so wow - orgasms
5.  He has a sense of humor

And you have 100 points, and you get to design your own guy by specifying how much of those 100 points you assign to each, maximum of 30 points in each category.    Let's say you value attractiveness very high, and assign 27 for that category.  That means that the remaining 73 points are distributed in the other four categories.  Would you skimp on kindness, intelligence, humor, or what?   If the compensatory hypothesis had a basis in reality, we would have to select on the basis of one trait; and accept the limitations on the other.  Yes, you would be stuck with a beautiful but dumb guy.

Of course, the same could be self-applied.  Oh dear, should I be smart but less attractive?  That is a dilemma.

So why does the compensatory hypothesis persist?  Because some people have a view of some cosmic justice, rather than the roll of the dice.  In a way, God does play dice with the universe, and we can come up with snake eyes sometimes.  But we can also roll a winner!


Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

This makes a good case for comparison shopping for a mate, lover, or whatever. What role does age play in this process, and prudishness? Definitely a smart person shouldn't waste his or her time on some people.

Mike said...

I just look for people that are normal. MY version of normal.

Anonymous said...

So you can manage to get a smart girl with big hooters? Cool.

Big Sky Heidi said...

I never heard it referred to as the Compensatory Hypothesis.

Duckbutt said...

An interesting takeoff on an idea that seems widely believed, but with little or no support for it.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Elvis - my guess is that people tend to be more selective as they grow older, even though the available pool is smaller.

Anon - It depends on what you have to offer.

Bilbo said...

This is similar to the rule of thumb we use in government work: there are three essential criteria - fast, cheap, and good. You can have two out of three on any project. And you may wish to be careful when looking too carefully into Mike's definition of normal, which is no doubt shockingly similar to my own.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Mike and Bilbo, I'm very relaxed with my definition of normal. Fast, cheap, and good? Can you really get two of them? Maybe not from big box stores.

The Bastard King of England said...

Can you get smart, beautiful, and large boobs together?

Full Cup Balcony said...

King, guys especially like large tits.