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"Self-pretending" is not as useful as we think

1 Post author: pwno 25 April 2009 11:01PM

A few weeks ago I made a draft of a post that was originally intended to be about the same issue addressed in MBlume’s post regarding beneficial false beliefs. Coincidentally, my draft included the same exact hypothetical about entering a club believing you’re the most attractive person in the room in order to increase chances of attracting women. There seems to be a general agreement with MBlume’s “it’s ok to pretend because it’s not self-deception and produces similar results” conclusion. I was surprised to see so much agreement considering that when I made my original draft I reached a completely different conclusion.

I do agree, however, that pretending may have some benefits, but those benefits are much more limited than MBlume makes them out to be. He brings up a time where pretending helped him better fit into his character in a play. Unfortunately, his anecdote is not an appropriate example of overcoming vestigial evolutionary impulses by pretending. His mind wasn’t evolutionarily programmed to “be afraid” when pretending to be someone else, it was programmed to “be afraid” when hitting on attractive women. When I am alone in my room I can act like a real alpha male all day long, but put me in front of attractive women (or people in general) and I will retreat back to my stifled self.

The only way false beliefs can overcome your obsolete evolutionary impulses is to truly believe in those false beliefs. And we all know why that would be a bad idea. Furthermore, pretending can be dangerous just like reading fiction can be dangerous. So the small benefit that pretending might give may not even be worth the cost (at times).

But there is something we can learn from these (sometimes beneficial) false beliefs.

Obviously, there is no direct casual chain that goes from self-fulfilling beliefs to real-world success. Beliefs, per se, are not the key variables in causing success; instead, these beliefs give rise to whatever the key variable is. We should figure out what are the key variables that arise and find a systematic way of getting those variables.

With the club example, we should instead figure out what behavior changes may result from believing that every girl is attracted to you. Then, figure out which of those behaviors attract women and find a way to perfect those behaviors. This is the approach the seduction community adopts for learning how to attract women—and it works.

Same goes with public speaking. If you have a fear of public speaking, you can’t expect to pretend your fear away. There are ways of reducing unnecessary emotions; the ways that work, however, don’t depend on pretending.

 

Comments (14)

Comment author: MrShaggy 25 April 2009 11:35:38PM 4 points [-]

"Then, figure out which of those behaviors attract women and find a way to perfect those behaviors."

MBlume's post already responded to this method: body language (all the different subtle aspects of it) is not consciously controllable in this way. Some aspects of it, to go with the current example of "alpha male," can be, such as not to slouch. The only way I know to get the whole package of body language is from certain emotional states that subconsciously produce them. Now there are ways to get there other than through false beliefs, but that is one way to practice them, and as my comment pointed out, while abstractly there may be dangers involved (as in reading fiction, or in acting), if there were significant dangers, one place to look would be to actors like Daniel Day-Lewis.

Also, I doubt that you can act like a real alpha male when alone in your room. I suspect you can just think you are acting like one because your not seeing the nonverbal communication from others telling you that you are not.

Comment author: pwno 25 April 2009 11:51:46PM *  0 points [-]

Also, I doubt that you can act like a real alpha male when alone in your room. I suspect you can just think you are acting like one because your not seeing the nonverbal communication from others telling you that you are not.

Change the example to public speaking. I may be able to speak fine alone in my room, but that has little to do with my ability to do in front of others.

For MBlume, learning how to do the correct body language (of that character) in front of an audience is only a little different than doing it correctly alone. Learning the right body language of an alpha male is much different when in front of attractive women than when alone.

Comment author: infotropism 26 April 2009 12:15:56AM *  2 points [-]

Self fulfilling prophecies are only epistemically wrong when you fail to act upon them. Failing, maybe out of cynicism, sophistication or simply being too clever, rationalizing them away; the result will be the same.

There's a potential barrier there. You can tunnel through it, or not. Tunneling can sound magical and counterintuitive. It's not. There are definite reasons why it can work.

Sometimes, however, you don't know those reasons, but can observe it appears to work for other people anyway. Then you may want to find a way to bootstrap the process, like self pretending. Or trying to copy someone else

I can say these words but not the rule that generates them, or the rule behind the rule; one can only hope that by using the ideas, perhaps, similar machinery might be born inside you.

For instance, the party example. This might not apply to everyone but, I think the issue starts with even trying to find that optimal way to attract a partner. Do you expect to find a way to be attractive enough to score on your first try ? Perhaps, to really minimize the risk of being rejected ?

Different people have different tastes, and even a single person may react differently to the same stimulus, depending on the conditions in which they find themselves.

Some people don't have an issue with that. They are ready to try as many times and different people as it takes to find one receptive, moving on as soon as it appears as though it won't work with this person in particular.

Not only will they eventually find someone - and some will indeed have to search for longer - but will also act with more confidence, knowing they will succeed at some point.

I know that's how it works for me anyway. I can't take failure, nor rejection. So I try my very best to avoid it, and this involves trying to push the efforts I invest in a single encounter, to their limits, which isn't as efficient as trying as many different persons as is needed to succeed.

Comment author: pjeby 26 April 2009 12:49:03AM 1 point [-]

Do you expect to find a way to be attractive enough to score on your first try ? Perhaps, to really minimize the risk of being rejected ?

This is a big insight among some of the "natural" PUA schools: that seeking tricks can in itself be evidence of a deeper lack of confidence... one that higher-quality women will pick up on.

Or, to put it another way, you can't trick your way to sleeping with a woman who really has higher self-esteem than you. I don't know if that's a true statement, it's more of a pseudo-aphorism to illustrate something that is true: namely, that PUAs who use tricks and lies get women who don't believe they deserve anything better than tricks and lies.

Comment author: pwno 17 May 2009 07:44:00PM 2 points [-]

that PUAs who use tricks and lies get women who don't believe they deserve anything better than tricks and lies.

I don't think this is true.

I think your line of thinking is like this: if girls can figure out when guys are pulling tricks, than those who actually respond to the tricks are knowingly responding to tricks. Therefore, they will pursue guys that they know are doing tricks because they feel that's what they deserve.

The flawed assumption is that ANY girl can pick up incongruity (false body language). Thing is, the more attractive the girl is, the more "tests" (commonly called "shit tests") she puts the guys that approach her through. They test to see whether that man is really an alpha male.

A less attractive girl, who rarely gets approached, wouldn't bother putting the guy through a shit test and would prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. Or, they just don't look for any faults in the guy. Because he is the only guy that approached them, they may have a momentary halo effect with him and completely disregard any incongruity.

So I wouldn't say they knowingly choose guys who are pulling tricks on them.

Comment author: pjeby 17 May 2009 11:41:26PM 1 point [-]

So I wouldn't say they knowingly choose guys who are pulling tricks on them.

That's not what I said. I said:

You can't trick your way to sleeping with a woman who really has higher self-esteem than you

A significant number of PUA manipulation tricks rely on hooking a woman's need for self-esteem validation. Those tricks won't work on someone who doesn't need the validation, whether they notice the trick as a trick or not... they may simply not take the bait.

By analogy, in Star Wars Episode I, Watto doesn't notice at first that Qi Gonn is trying a mind trick on him... he just disagrees with the statement, treating it as if it were part of the conversation, i.e., "No, I won't."

A person with sufficient self-esteem will respond in the same way to many types of manipulative gambits -- not seeing it as a trick, but also not responding to it. For example, see Neil Strauss' stories in The Game about his girlfriend Lisa -- the few manipulation tricks he tried on her just fell flat, because she didn't need any validation from him.

As the Jedi say, "it's easy to fool the weak-minded". But that doesn't mean you want to date them, if you have any self-esteem of your own. So people tend to end up in relationships with people at compatible levels of self-esteem, regardless of whether one of the people is a PUA .

Comment author: pwno 17 May 2009 11:56:54PM *  0 points [-]

A significant number of PUA manipulation tricks rely on hooking a woman's need for self-esteem validation.

Much less than you think; the "neg" is only a small and unnecessary part of structured game.

I am actually in the process of becoming an instructor for natural game. I don't even condone "negging" and actually recommend against it (I can tell you why if you want).

Comment author: pjeby 18 May 2009 02:50:54AM 0 points [-]

Much less than you think; the "neg" is only a small and unnecessary part of structured game.

I wasn't thinking only of negs, but also of freeze-outs, compliance frames (e.g. "introduce your friends, it's the polite thing to do"), qualification hoops ("so what makes you so special?"), etc. Even the use of lock-in props can be tied to self-esteem ("you're not a thief, right?").

This is what I'm referring to, in that women with higher self-esteem have a lower tolerance for these things, when used by someone who lacks an adequate sense of humor or self-esteem of their own. Whereas women with lower self-esteem will feel more compelled to respond and jump through the hoops, not because of the guy, but because her own emotions give her no other choice -- even if she then hates herself afterward for her actions.

Self-esteem of course is just a convenient buzzword; it may not precisely refer to the personality variable I'm describing. One author calls it "differentiation" - the ability to separate one's self from the opinion of others, and notes that relationships between people with two widely-separated levels of differentiation won't last long. I've experienced it myself, both from the high- and low-differentiation positions.

It's technically possible to have low self-esteem in some ways, and yet still have high differentiation, so self-esteem is probably the wrong word to use. I just didn't want, early in the discussion, to have to spell out the definition of another word when self-esteem was reasonably close.

Anyway, this is what I was trying to say: a low-differentiation PUA will get low-differentiation partners, because those are the only ones they'll be able to hook and keep. And the field of game training has moved increasingly towards teaching things that increase differentiation: i.e., non-reactivity, lack of outcome dependence, strong personal frames, etc.

Comment author: pwno 18 May 2009 03:15:02AM *  0 points [-]

I agree with you.

Another personality variable that might come into play is a person's self-monitoring behavior.

And the field of game training has moved increasingly towards teaching things that increase differentiation: i.e., non-reactivity, lack of outcome dependence, strong personal frames, etc.

This is exactly what I am planning on teaching. I believe that structured game is mostly for people who already have these things, but are at a loss when it comes to what they need to do once in front of a woman. But the majority of people who need help lack skill in both areas.

Comment author: pjeby 18 May 2009 03:45:09AM 0 points [-]

Another personality variable that might come into play is a person's self-monitoring behavior.

Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Looks like a useful site, too.

I believe that structured game is mostly for people who already have these things, but are at a loss when it comes to what they need to do once in front of a woman.

Perhaps, but from a marketing perspective, even the guys who don't have those things look for "magic pickup lines" first before considering improving themselves.

But this is wandering way off topic now, especially since we now basically agree. ;-)

Comment author: Annoyance 25 April 2009 11:33:44PM 2 points [-]

There are ways of reducing unnecessary emotions; the ways that work, however, don’t depend on pretending.

Not the way you meant, certainly, but pretending is still useful in other ways. A lot of desensitization techniques involve imagining the stressful situation. And some mental techniques which are supposedly helpful involve visualizing the actions that are going to be taken; this seems to be used in the context of athletic performance.

I've found that if I imagine doing something too clearly, my emotions react as though I've done it already. If it's virtuous-but-unpleasant, I usually end up not doing it for that reason.

Comment author: Yvain 26 April 2009 01:06:38AM *  1 point [-]

Maybe you know of the "sincere smile" and the "insincere smile". The sincere smile uses a different set of muscles, most famously the orbicularis oculi, which is somewhere between very hard and impossible to contract voluntarily. As far as I know, the only way to get a genuine smile using that muscle is to either be happy, or pretend to be happy so successfully that you become happy.

When you say that instead of pretending to be dominant you should replicate the behaviors of a dominant person, well, that makes sense, but I think you'd need to prove beforehand that these can be voluntarily replicated in a believable way, and that it wouldn't take more effort and self-control than it's worth.

People are pretty good at picking up microexpressions and other things on an unconscious level; a lot of people can tell the difference between a sincere and insincere smile without being able to verbalize what they're looking for. I wouldn't be surprised if women could tell the difference between someone who's confident and someone who's faking confidence.

Comment author: pwno 26 April 2009 03:54:07AM 0 points [-]

I think you'd need to prove beforehand that these can be voluntarily replicated

Well if you figure out that you need to have genuine smiles, it doesn't mean you have to figure out how to do them voluntarily. There are other ways to have a genuine smile without pretending or having false beliefs. One strategy is to, say, start conversational threads that you find entertaining and your smiles will be genuine.

Comment author: billswift 26 April 2009 12:47:10AM 0 points [-]