As I've recently been understanding signalling/status behaviors common among humans and how they can cloud reality, I've had a tendency to automatically think of these behaviors as necessarily bad. But it seems to me that signalling behaviors are pretty much a lot of what we do during our waking life. If you or I have abstract goals: become better at physics, learn to play the guitar, become fit and so forth, these goals may fundamentally be derived from evolutionary drives and therefore their implementation in real life would probably make heavy use of signalling/status urges as primary motivators. But that does not necessarily reduce the usefulness of these behaviors in achieving these abstract goals1,2.
I suppose what we need to be cautious about are inefficiencies. Signalling/status behaviors may not be the optimal way to achieve these goals. We would have to weigh the costs of actively ignoring your previous motivators and cultivating new motivators against the benefit we would gain by having motivations more aligned to our abstract goals.
Any common examples of behaviors that assist and/or thwart goal-achievement? I've got one: health. Abstract goal: We want to be healthy and fit. Status/Signalling urge: desire to look good. The urge sometimes assists, as people try to exercise to look good, which makes you healthier. Sometimes it thwarts, like in the extreme example of anorexia. Has anybody made personal trade-offs?
1) I realize that this theme is underlying in many LW posts.
2) I'm not trying to talk about whether abstract goals are more important than signalling/status goals.