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CronoDAS comments on Experiential Pica - Less Wrong

81 Post author: Alicorn 16 August 2009 09:23PM

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Comment author: CronoDAS 17 August 2009 07:28:25AM *  3 points [-]

Oh, yes. This describes me as well. One thing I get out of games is a feeling of achievement. When I'm upset, I can often cheer myself up by playing a certain difficult video game that I've thoroughly mastered to the point where it feels easy. After having played a session of Space Megaforce, I feel much less like a useless and incompetent person. (Space Megaforce is also pretty good at getting me into the "flow" state - it's hard to dwell on my miseries while I'm busy putting my whole attention into the game performance.)

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 17 August 2009 03:14:31PM *  7 points [-]

One thing I get out of games is a feeling of achievement.

Try working on Project Euler problems instead. Should satisfy your need for immediate achievement gratification.

Comment author: HughRistik 18 August 2009 06:40:57PM 6 points [-]

Here's another videogame substitute that gives feelings of accomplishment and reinforcement:


For me, this is a good substitute because when I play computer games, I get attracted to the technical aspects of the game and its mechanics anyway (e.g. "Theorycraft"). What I realized is that I have a need to always be systemizing something, which was a big source of computer games playing. With programming, I can systemize something that actually makes me money.

Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 18 August 2009 07:58:21PM *  0 points [-]

Hugh Ristik links to a Wikipedia article on the constellation of skills called systematizing. The article definitely implies that individuals better than average at systematizing are worse than average at empathizing. Does anyone have any theories on why being skilled in one decreases the probability of being skilled in the other?

The only theory I can think of that seems to fit the facts is that the child's natural human desire to learn the empathizing skills is stronger than the desire to learn systematizing skills, but since learning the empathizing skills tends to depend on many neurological and cognitive developmental events going right, some children stop being able to continue to learn empathizing, so they turn to systematizing because learning something is better than learning nothing.

(This theory does not mean that it is certain or even very likely that adults strong in empathizing are more useful to modern society than adults strong in systematizing, but it does mean that it is very likely that adults strong in empathizing enjoyed higher reproductive fitness in the EEA.)

Comment author: HughRistik 18 August 2009 08:14:02PM 0 points [-]

I recommend reading up on Simon Baron-Cohen's work. His theory is that systemizing is related to cognitive masculinization, e.g. through prenatal testosterone and other biological developmental factors (leading him to suggest that people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome exhibit an "extreme male brain").

Richard Lippa has also found that an important dimension of personality is orientation towards things (which corresponds to systemizing) or orientation towards people (which corresponds to empathizing). His research claims that the people-things dimension of interests is correlated with gender (males being more thing-oriented and females being more people-oriented on average), and independent of the Big Five personality traits.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 19 August 2009 12:03:05AM 0 points [-]

In a paper linked off of wikipedia SBC says When you plot these, five different “brain types” are seen but at the end says It may be that there is a degree of trade-off between E and S, such that the better one is at one, the worse one is at the other.

The last sentence doesn't leave me with a lot of confidence that he actually has plotted them. A first bit of evidence for that claim would that he published such a plot. or at least a correlation coefficient. Has he actually done so?

Comment author: Alicorn 17 August 2009 04:53:59PM 6 points [-]

For immediate "I have done a cool, hard thing easily!" gratification, it's probably very hard to switch gears - he's good at video games, has lots of practice, and can really do the hard ones easily. But there are lots of other areas with limitless, or almost limitless, potential for improvement, which is the same thing only better, and given the state of some of the activities in question in common practice, it doesn't take too long to get to a point where you can impress people. Making a cake from scratch is more than (my guess) 80% of the population ever does, now that mixes are so common (and now that making one from a mix is significantly more impressive than buying one from the grocery store). Cooking (mine of choice, so much space to play in!) or handicrafts (all kinds of variety, and so very convenient to be able to hold up an actual object and say "I totally made this" and distribute these objects at Christmas) or drawing (also one of mine, also lots of space to play and always the possibility of getting better) are all sources of "now I have accomplished something" feelings.

Comment author: Zvi 17 August 2009 10:59:29PM 5 points [-]

I wholeheartedly endorse this project; I got a very impressive return on investment, in terms of feelings of achievement, impressing others and of course delicious cake for a very small time investment. The only downside was that continuing to create them reliably leads me to consume large quantities of delicious cake.

Comment author: Alicorn 17 August 2009 11:01:15PM 4 points [-]

You can use cooking skills to create delicious dishes of quinoa and kale, too, if you are so inclined. It doesn't all have to be cake.

Comment author: CronoDAS 17 August 2009 09:50:37PM 3 points [-]

That... looks like fun, actually.