Pop-science factoid of the day:
"""According to Duke University psychologist Mark Leary, the feeling of being disliked, ostracized or rejected was specially designed by evolution to be particularly painful; subjectively speaking, being evaluated negatively by others can feel even worse than physical trauma. The reason that others’ negative evaluations affect us so deeply, Leary believes, has to do with our primate past.
Unlike virtually every other species, the hominids could not rely on speed, flight, strength, arboreal clambering, burrowing or ferocity to evade predators. Many theorists in psychology, anthropology and biology have noted that human beings and their hominid ancestors survived and prospered as species only because they lived in cooperative groups. Given the importance of group living, natural selection favored individuals who not only sought the company of others but also behaved in ways that led others to accept, support and help them.
"""In other words, for a human being, only death itself ensures a speedier genetic demise than stigma and exclusion. To ensure that our ancestors were ever wary of their tenuous dependence on others, Leary proposes that they evolved a sort of subjective, psychological gauge that served to continually monitor their fluctuating “relational value,” an affective index of where the self stood in the eyes of other ingroup members. Generally speaking, the higher one’s relational value, the greater one’s reproductive opportunities and genetic fitness. Just as it continues to do today, this hypothetical “sociometer” generated emotional states that, collectively, were translated into what’s popularly known as our “self-esteem.” Assuming our sociometer isn’t broken or impaired, negative self-esteem is a kind of warning, then, that one is at serious risk of social (and therefore genetic) exclusion.""""
"It Takes a Village" pop-psychology, updated via some lightweight eco-anthropology. You want to be happy? Be fruitful and multiply, and be a happy, helpful contributor to the community! These pathetic insta-studies do not really merit refutation, but, one, self-esteem is not quantifiable. Choosing to be an outsider, or loner, or even a recluse does imply that one thereby feels sad, or lonely, or "suffers from low self esteem." Outsiderness may be--and often is--a conscious choice. The researchers beg the question of intentionality, anyway: given their own assumptions of genetic determinism it would seem that all human decisions--or apparent decisions-- were simply the result of bio-chemical processes anyway, beyond the individual's control.
For that matter, anthropologists have no business making assumptions about humans' evolutionary motivations, nor suggesting that some sullen outsider who chooses to "not join" suffers in some way: it's often the happy joiners--or their children----who suffer, when they succumb to peer pressure, oneupsmanship, endless competition of the mediocre suburbanite. Humans may not be Cartesian ghosts, but they aren't merely primates: they possess something like moral autonomy--the ability to choose, make decisions, envision future events. The Duke comrades in fact rely on the old social darwinist fallacy that what nature suggests as evolutionary "proper" for certain animals or primitive man must be right for contemporary humans: even Nietzsche objected to that sort of crypto-eugenics code.