Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scheherazade Effect

Language Evolution Theory

Part of the theory that language evovled for essentially social purposes is its possible role in pair-bonding through the Scheherazade Effect involving linguistic skills being used as a cue of mate quality and mates using language to keep each other entertained and ensure their continued commitment to the relationship.

Respecting others' mates or even keeping mates entertained is something that many other species of mammals and birds manage to do without the benefit of language. However, once large social groups are in place, the large number of ever-present rivals greatly raises the stakes and social contracts and Scheherazade mechanisms may suddenly come into their own.

(contrast this with the gossip hypothesis which argues that language was a prerequisite for evolving large groups because of its role as a mechanism needed to weld these large groups into coherent, stable communities of individuals)

Scheherazade & 1001 Nights

You are probably familiar with some of the best-known stories of The Arabian Nights, particularly “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.” Have you ever heard the tale of Scheherazade and her 1,001 nights? If you want to become desirable, you must do more than work on tightening your glutes and upgrading your cup size, you must take a lesson from Scheherazade.

There once was a king that upon discovering his wife’s infidelity, has her executed and declares all women to be unfaithful. He then decides that he will marry a new virgin every day. As soon as he got bored, he would have her beheaded and marry a new virgin. Eventually the country runs out of virgins except for the executor’s daughter Scheherazade.

Against her father’s protestations, Scheherazade volunteered to spend one night with the King. Once in the King’s chambers, Scheherazade does something very different from the last 3,000 virgins, she begins to share her passion for poetry, philosophy, sciences and arts. She kept the king on the edge of his bed—not with mere alluring sexual positions—but with alluring stories to be told, each more exciting than the next.

The King lay awake and listened with awe as Scheherazade told her first story. The night whiled away, and stopped in the middle of the story. The King asked her to finish, but Scheherazade said there was not time, as dawn was breaking. So, the King spared her life for one day to finish the story the next night. So the next night, Scheherazade finished the story, and then began a second, even more exciting tale which she again stopped halfway through, at dawn. So the King again spared her life for one day to finish the second story.

And so the King kept Scheherazade alive day by day, as he eagerly anticipated the finishing of last night’s story. At the end of one thousand and one nights, and one thousand stories, Scheherazade told the King that she had no more tales to tell him. During these one thousand and one nights, the King had fallen in love with Scheherazade, and had had three sons with her. So, having been made a wiser and kinder man by Scheherazade and her tales, he spared her life, and made her his Queen.

The lesson learned? It’s very seductive to a man when you have passions in your life you can share to keep him inspired, titillated, and coming back for more!

Why should such an intangible quality like social skills score highly with heterosexual women? This has been attributed to the Scheherazade effect, a phrase coined by cognitive psychologist Geoffrey Miller.

The Scheherazade effect refers to the possible tactics used by ancestral women to appeal to a man's conversational skills in order to keep them around.

Research conducted by Professor Doug Kenrick at the University of Arizona seems to support this sexual dynamic. Kenrick has found that both sexes regard social skills as important, particularly a sense of humour. But that a good sense of humour has a different meaning for women than it does for men.

"When women look for a sense of humour in a man, they're saying: 'show me what you've got'. But when a man looks for a sense of humour in a woman, they're saying 'she laughs at my jokes, she must think I'm a great guy'."

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