The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to tell the difference between involvement and commitment. Think of ham and eggs. The chicken is involved. The pig is committed.


Bennett said...

Though... wouldn't that mean that being involved is more advantageous? I never liked that analogy, at least not as a way of encouraging commitment.

Frank said...

I just have to share this with you:

Being Bad at Relationships Is Good for Survival

Feeling happy and secure in our relationships is a goal many people strive for, but in times of need the emotionally insecure partners may be doing us a favor by being more alert to possible danger.

Evolution may have shaped us to consist of groups of emotionally secure and insecure individuals, researchers write in the March issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

When faced with threats to close personal relationships, people react in different ways according to their sense of whether the world is a secure place. The same reaction styles also cause people to be more or less attuned to dangers of all kinds....

To test their idea that mixed groups would benefit survival, Ein-Dor and his colleagues put students in groups of threes alone in a room with a concealed smoke machine, which was switched on to simulate a fire. Groups were quicker to notice the smoke and to react to it if they contained individuals who scored high for insecure attachment.

Groups that had a member who rated high for the anxious attachment style tended to notice the smoke faster than other groups, and those that had a member rating high on attachment avoidance tended to react first, such as by leaving the room.

"This is the first [paper] I've read that has started to sway me toward the idea that insecure attachment styles are adaptations," said Paul Eastwick, a psychologist at Texas A&M University, who was not involved in the current study. "I have always favored more of a 'side effect' explanation."

Steven Barnes said...

I like that. Clearly, insecurity has a survival value. Better would be a secure person who also has his/her antinnae up, but in a world with real risks, it makes sense to be a little over-cautious at times.
It is advantageous to be a chicken unless you're a rooster, of course. But the "commitment" of pigs forces them to look beyond the apparent solicitude of Farmer Brown.

Frank said...


Clearly, insecurity has a survival value. Better would be a secure person who also has his/her antinnae up

Be careful here because you have to remember the media is quite good at getting science wrong.

So while the article does focus on " insecure attachment" the scientists who studied this clearly had a much broader view.

Notice the words used in the second experiment:

rating high on attachment avoidance

Attchment avoidance. Not insecure. Now I have a bit of experience with people who are attachment averse, cause I'm one of them. And I'm an definitly a person who while not paranoid, I always have my radar up.

I have been married for 35 years this year and have never cheated on my wife. And the reason is precisely because I am attachment averse. While some women other than my wife may look appealing (of course), I quickly call to mind the entanglement that would come with initiating or becoming involved with another person.

And when I think about all of the things related to becoming a part of someone else's life, the heat quickly fades. I just don't have time for it and I don't want to do all the extra work involved with having to cover my tracks.

This leads to an interesting speculation regarding whether or not someone who is faithful can really credit to themselves some measure of virtue. In my case, it's just how I'm built. Can I really say that people built differently are less "virtuous"? I certainly can't.

So it's not just insecure people who are always on their guard. Insecurity does make perfect sense. Such people are always looking for betrayal.

I on the other hand am quite secure, and don't have any early childhood abondonment issues yet I am relationship averse and always on my guard.

So it seems to me that as opposed to insecure relationship types, it's not so explainable why the people who score high in "Attchment avoidance" would also be highly correlated to survival behaviors.

Bennett said...

Hmmm, food for thought.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

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