The “supernormal stimulus”
In line with my recent posts, which attempt to apply some ideas from the new science of evolutionary psychology to human mating choices and behaviour, I present another concept, that of the “supernormal stimulus”. Here is a wikipedia note on this idea from animal behaviour:
Here is something I wrote recently at a blog called Whiskey’s Place, http://whiskeys-place.blogspot.com/2010/11/beta-males-and-inferior-men.html
“One of the fundamental problems is that these days women simply meet too many men, especially in big cities. Meeting a lot of men means that they inevitably meet some truly exceptionally masculine, exciting “alphas”. These become their goal. Men might meet an equal number of women, some of whom will be exceptionally beautiful, but men seem to realise that they are out of reach. Perhaps the fact that the women have managed to sleep with one of these living Gods makes them think they can one day be Mrs God. Women don’t get that a man sleeping with them once or twice means nothing about his potential long-term interest in her.”
The point I was trying to make was that men and women are subject to supernormal stimuli – abnormally attractive potential sexual partners – in modern society. It makes them unsatisfied with the real marriage partners they can actually hope to get.
There is a short story on this theme by the science fiction writer, “James Tiptree Jr” (real name, Alice B Sheldon), “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side” which explores the concept of supernormal sexual stimuli rather well.