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It's sex.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120202093836.htm

(Men do good deeds when women are watching)

I have long believed that most irrational human behavior exists in the social realm, and is primarily driven by women.

If the above study is accurate, it raises two questions.

1) Is a liberal sexual attitude really more conducive to rational behavior than the alternative, or does it in fact encourage non-rational motives, creating an environment driven by irrational rules?

2) Does the fact that women are more consistent in their 'altruism' than men, who apparently reserve their best deeds for proving their worth as a mate, imply that the majority of women are inherently undeserving of rational affection?

In other words, can we ever hope to live in a rational society while women retain the sexual influence they presently have over men? Is there an argument to suggest that civilization has previously been aided by robbing women of this power on both fronts of female liberality as well as overall suppression of sexual behavior?

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Problem. May this simply be a case of aiming to demonstrate moral character and the problem merely being what is commonly held to be moral character, not that women are some kind of inherent altruism encourager specifically? If we can change the prevailing attitudes about what morality is to a rational one, then the acts of these men around women would be very attentively rational as opposed to more altruistic? Do a study like this at an Ocon some time and see what the results are.

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Someone did a study and concluded that people will sometimes do things to impress others though they would not otherwise do ... whatever. And, in particular, men will sometimes do thing specifically to impress women. Is there any surprise in the finding?

Psychology is full of all sorts of studies that show scenarios where human beings act emotionally, and in ways that are against their rational interest. None of these show that human beings do not act on reason. Some people will take such findings as proof that rationality is fatally flawed, but such a conclusion is unwarranted. The fact that some faculty could be even better is hardly proof that it is not already great. The right approach is to understand such findings, and use them as cautionary tales to further improve our use of reason.

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I'm not sure about statistical relevance here, I'm not sure how "attractive" was measured here, and I don't even know what the good deeds are, so I want to avoid the study as anything except anecdotal.

Would it not make more sense to put the causality towards relationship dynamics in Western culture? Certainly, people act in second-handed ways (like acting nice BECAUSE someone is watching) all the time in many contexts, so nothing is really new here. Stakes are higher for most people when a romantic context is involved though, so it makes sense that there will more visible behaviors than otherwise.

I see no reason at all to suggest that women have any more sexual influence than men. Again, I think it goes back to Western culture mainstream relationship dynamics perpetuated by both men and women. Males are often implicitly expected to pursue the female, so doing good deeds is one way to provide direct attention and on some level, pursuit. There is nothing wrong with pursuit per se, but when the cultural *expectation* is to do so, you get all sorts of silly results with gender dichotomies. Other expectations come into play, perhaps even holding a door *because* they're female. I don't need to describe this exhaustively, so I hope you get the point. Who or what makes those expectations? A floating abstraction that is "Rules of Society" produced by both men and women. Males are no more trapped in behaving this way than females are in accepting it. Social norms are like that.

Edited by Eiuol
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2) Does the fact that women are more consistent in their 'altruism' than men, who apparently reserve their best deeds for proving their worth as a mate, imply that the majority of women are inherently undeserving of rational affection?

I think you've completely misread the situation here. They're not talking about philosophical altruism here, just doing kind things for others. Notice how they use 'selfless' as a synonym for kind; i.e. the things they're calling 'selfless' really aren't. The way I read this, the women in the study are more deserving of 'rational affection' than the men, because they're more likely to do kind things for personal reasons rather than to impress others.

Edited by Dante
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The study itself is kinda ho-hum, any male could have told them

the findings just from observation and personal experience.

ZSorenson's query (if I have it right) is very interesting, though.

Do women discourage rationality in men? Knowingly?

Are the qualities they seek, at times at odds with what the man holds dear?

To broaden this, we take as self-evident that kindness and gentleness are not

contradictory to rationality: if anything, they are more refined and evolved.

But do women not recognize this fact?

I've been trying to figure out this conundrum for a long time.

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