Date: Wednesday September 19, 16:00-17:00, room MF-D565
Speaker: Diana Fleischman University of Portsmouth.
Title: How to train your boyfriend: Integrating evolutionary psychology and behaviorist learning theory
Before behaviorism had even been named, evolution endowed us with the ability to shape the behavior of others to facilitate enacting our adaptive strategies and preventing interference; I call this the “evolved trainer”. Women have been strongly selected to train others for a variety of reasons including shaping preverbal offspring and the inability to often use force, or the threat of force, to gain compliance. Women’s social sensitivity, facial expressiveness and memory for social and personal details facilitates creating punishing and reinforcing contexts specific to individuals. The ability to shift emotions quickly from moment to moment, called emotional lability, is a feature and not a bug when you consider that reward and punishment must be administered almost immediately to be most effective. Borderline personality disorder, much more common in women, is exemplified by sensitivity to cues of intimacy and abandonment as well as lability of affect. BPD represents an amplification of the evolved trainer, especially towards romantic partners. Training is not simply inflicted on others, evolved countermeasures including sensitivity to manipulation, defiance and desensitization. This arms race, in addition to how quickly consequences must be administered to change behavior, means the evolved trainer operates mostly unconsciously, encapsulated away from modules that communicate about motivation to others.