A lesson from monkeys and a joke….

I’ll start with what I think is the underlying principle.

Here are a couple hypothetical questions:

1. You and someone else apply for a job opening. You are told that there is one opening. What stings worse:

a. The other person gets the job and you are just told “no”.
b. The other person gets the job. Then you are told: “we are sorry..but we do have this lesser position that we’d like to offer you.”

Now I know that when money is tight and one really needs a job, one might see option “b” as preferable. But what “stings” your ego more?

2. You are single (unattached) and have a romantic interest in someone..or at least are attracted to them. There is an outing/event that you are interested in. What stings worse:

a. You ask them out and they say “no”.
b. You ask them out and they say “yes, but only as “friends””, making it clear that they have no romantic interest in you.
c. They ask YOU to the event, but only as a “safe friend” because they don’t have to worry about romantic feelings getting in the way (or for some other reason, say, their first choice turned them down).

At least for me, it is pretty clear which stings less (“a”). (Remember, I am talking as a single person; as a married person I have female friends whose company I look forward to and enjoy at things like hikes, yoga classes, runs, sporting events, etc.)

Now this is illogical, in a sense. Isn’t “we want you for this” better than “we don’t want you at all”? Isn’t companionship with someone you like better than none at all?

And, in this case of a monkey, isn’t a piece of less tasty food better than no food at all?

Evidently not, at least to this monkey.

What brought on this train of thought: the joke

From time to time, I post a photo of a handsome guy for my lady friends. And once in a while, just for fun, I’ll open myself up to be “roasted” (I call it a “goat roast”, because my online persona is a ornery, dimwitted, smelly goat).


I got a few “politically correct” “awww, I’d hug you instead of the hunk” responses, which was fine. I got one “I’d hug you because you probably smarter than that moron” type of response (from a scientist)..ok, I liked that one. I admit that I’d rather hug a plainer looking but smarter, accomplished woman over someone who merely looks “hot”. But that is me, at my current age.

And most of my women friends played along with the “sorry pal, you are out of luck; I’m hugging the hottie”, which was what the post was for. I even mocked being sad about it:

But ONE response …actually angered me even though it was intended to be part of the joke (I think): it was “oh, I’ll hug the guy on the right but I’d give the one on the left so much more..”
My immediate response wasn’t like it was with the others “sorry buddy, but he is hotter than you” responses. I’m too polite to reproduce some of the thoughts that I had…and that was over a frigging joke!

But I think that I had nightmares of the old “dating/friend zone” stuff all over again, so many years …wait, make that decades ago (early 80’s?)

Anyway, my reaction surprised me..and then I remembered the monkey inequality experiment.


February 1, 2016 - Posted by | economics, nature, relationships, science | , , ,

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