A Sense of Ownership

When I was studying behavioral psychology there was a point when I came across this phenomenon called the Endowment Effect. A friend showed me this video recently and it reminded me of when I’d studied it.

It’s really fascinating how early our sense of ownership develops. There is a school of thought (one I happen to agree with) that this need for ownership is an innate part of out psychological firmware – it’s something we’re born with. We value things more highly once we believe we own something. It makes perfect sense that this would a selected-for part of our evolution. Individuals that possessed this Endowment Effect, theoretically, might have been more adaptable to their surroundings by having something on hand that would aid in their survival at the cost of a competitor. For early man this was likely to be physical tools, but this Endowment Effect would also extend to our progeny and long-term female partners – more on this later.

By extension, our belongings literally become a part of us. This is observable even on a neurological level. Furthermore, our belongings have an essence that becomes unique to us. In other words, we wont settle for (even exact) imitations of our stuff even when they are exact duplicates.

As you might expect from a TED video, the bias towards making this ownership dynamic one of being a bug, rather of a feature, of human development is evident. The new-agey narrative goes like this – if we’re ever to reach the utopian state of egalitarian equalism the Village would have us believe in, we need to somehow unlearn this innate Endowment Effect we evolved to hold. This anti-materialist sentiment is part of a larger socialist/collectivist message that seeks to disempower us by convincing us that this connection to our things is innately bad. Issues of socialism, communism, collectivism, capitalism, etc. are beyond the scope of this blog, but it’s important to consider the drive behind this ‘anti-materialism’ push and how it affects our sense of ownership in intersexual dynamics.

I think it’s interesting that we have a part of our psyches that evolved for ownership; a part of our nature that is decidedly unegalitarian.

If you’re ever read Dawkin’s book, The Selfish Gene, you kind of get a clearer picture of it. Selfish, self-concerned, organisms tend to survive better than overly altruistic or egalitarian ones. Now before you tell me, “On no Rollo, Bonobos are the peacenik, free loving hippy example of egalitarianism in the wild” have a read of The Naked Bonobo and you’ll understand how deliberately false that impression is. If anything Bonobos are far better examples of the more visceral side of Hypergamy in humans. Self-interest is the driver of a great many survival instincts and adaptations in all animals.

Getting back to humans here, combine that evolved, adaptive, selfishness with a hindbrain level, intrinsic sense for ownership – one in which we feel as if it has a direct connection to ourselves – and you can see what social constructivists and equalitarians are trying to undo in humans. If you watch today’s video you’ll better understand this deep connection we have with the things we, selfishly, consider our own. There is a neurological connection between our sense of self and our things.

I’ve mentioned the concept of ego-investment in our belief systems many times throughout my past essays. Briefly, ego-investment is phenomenon of being so intrinsically connected with our beliefs and ideologies that they become part of our personalities. So, to attack the belief is to, literally, attack the person. In a similar fashion the connections we apply to our things also become (to varying degrees) part of who we are. In essence we invest our egos into the things we consider ours – and the greater the effort, cost or the applied significance involved in getting those things the greater the injury is to the self when they are lost, destroyed, damaged or stolen.

In the video there is also a mention of how original items are more valued than an exact copy of those items. Again, this is part of the evolutionary side of humans investing their egos into those things. There is a limbic level need to know that these items are our things because only those things somehow contain the essence of us. Also in the video it’s postulated that the higher price of common items owned by celebrities we admire are a cost we’re willing to pay because we believe part of that celebrity’s essence is somehow contained in that item.

Why is it that we evolved to place such importance in knowing that some thing is ours, and only that thing is ours? Why do we, sometimes obsessively, need to imbue that thing with the essence of us? Why is this (apparently) part of our evolved mental firmware?

The Need to Know

I’m going to speculate here a bit. I think a strong argument can be made for men’s intrinsic need to verify his own paternity being linked to the Endowment Effect. In fact, I’d suggest that this ownership need can extend to not only a man’s children, but also to the women (even potential women) in his life. This isn’t to say women didn’t also evolve this sense – women display the Endowment Effect as much as men – but I’m going to approach this from the male side for the moment.

The video refers to this compulsive need to verify the authenticity of a thing as ‘magical thinking’, but is it really so magical? I think the writer and researcher would have us think this dynamic is silly because it’s ‘just a thing’ right? We shouldn’t place such a high degree of importance on a bicycle or an old guitar. That’s just vulgar materialism, right? Granted, some things, heirlooms maybe, can have sentimental value, but ultimately even those might well be replaceable too. It shouldn’t be so important to know something is magically your own.

Unless the thing that’s your own is your only shot at passing something of yourself into the future.

The butter knife that Elvis used to spread peanut butter on his peanut butter and banana sandwiches could be anything you can find at Walmart, but if his ‘essence‘ was in someway invested in that knife (and anyone cared to know about it) that part of Elvis might go on into perpetuity. That seems like childish magical thinking until you realize that the only part of the average person’s essence that might actually do this is their children. And until just recently, evolutionarily speaking, there wasn’t any completely dependable way to know if a man was 100% invested in his own ‘things’ – his progeny. His kids would carry on his essence, so in our evolved past it made sense to be obsessive-compulsive about the things that we’re one’s own.

As I stated, women also exhibit this effect as well, and I’d argue for much of the same reasons. Though, in none of the research related in this video was this Endowment Effect controlled for by sex – at least none that I’m aware of. Again, this is conjecture, but I would think that with the intrinsic certainty a woman has in knowing a child is her own, and the collectivist communal nature of women in hunter-gatherer society from which we developed, it might be that women place a higher ‘endowed’ value on different things than men do. I think this effect may be more pronounced in an era where women are almost unilaterally in control of Hypergamy.

I recently saw a video of a fertility doctor who had either used his own sperm to fertilize women’s eggs, or completely random samples to father about 40 children. The women, the children (mostly female) were absolutely aghast that he was their father or some donor who they would never know had contributed to half their DNA. The idea that the selection and control of Hypergamy was taken from them was worthy of the death penalty. Yet this is exactly the control we expect men to relinquish in this age. We will pat men on the back for abandoning their evolved instinct to ascertain paternity. We’ll tell a man he’s a hero for wifing up a single mother and “stepping up to be a father” to a child he didn’t sire and at the same time pretend that father’s are superfluous. We’ll change ‘Father’s Day’ to ‘Special Person’s Day’ and tell men they’re insecure in their masculinity for preferring a son or daughter of his own – but try to remove that control from a woman, try to tell her that Hypergamous choice wasn’t hers to make and it’s tantamount to rape.

“She was never yours, it was just your turn.”

I think it was my fellow Red Man Group friend Donovan Sharpe who coined this phrase. I might be wrong. I’ve read this around the usual Red Pill Reddit subs and other manosphere forums, but it wasn’t until last month (July) when I read yet one more story about a husband whose wife was leaving him and was in the process of Zeroing him out when he decided to kill her, their three kids and then himself. You can read the Twitter reaction to this here:

Naturally women were appalled at the deaths of the wife and kids, as they should be. Pre-divorce women will prep months in advance for their new singleness. Often they’ll check out of the marriage and live without any real connection to their, usually Beta, Blue Pill conditioned, husband who languishes in this Blue Pill hell for the duration it takes his wife to establish a new mental persona and finds a way to exit the marriage. She’s already gone from the marriage, but the typical Blue Pill husband believes that he is the source of her discontent and resorts to anything he can to ‘keep things fresh’ or ‘rekindle the old flame’ that a feminine-primary popular culture tells him should be his responsibility. Unfortunately, this guy’s situation is typical of middle aged men today, and I honestly believe is the source that drives suicides and murder-suicides in this demographic. This man was going to be Zeroed Out and he knew it was coming.

That’s when I thought, ‘Was this guy’s turn with her just over?’ Was it as simple as that? If you read this couple’s story there wasn’t a history of him losing his mind. If anything Matthew Edwards was a pretty dedicated and invested father. No history of depression, suicidal tendencies or abuse; just another average frustrated chump who built a life for himself likely based on his Blue Pill conditioning.

But his turn was over and he likely believed the soul-mate myth. How was he supposed to live with out her?

The fem-stream media offers up their standard pablum – “Misogynistic society teaches men that they’re entitled to women’s bodies. Men need to be taught that they don’t own women.” or something similar that goes entirely against a man’s evolved Endowment Effect. What exactly does a man get to think is his own if not his family? When a woman finds out that her Hypergamous choice was made for her by a fertility clinic doctor rather than herself they’re out for blood – again, rightfully so. Then why are we surprised that men, particularly men in Matthew Edwards demographic, resort to murder and suicide when faced with losing everything they’ve invested themselves in.

Now this week we see another, almost identical, tragedy in Colorado this week.

And once again we have what looks like another guy being Zeroed out and another quadruple homicide. How man more of these murder-suicides (or just murders in this case) is it going to take before we collectively see the commonalities in all of them?

I had a conversation with several women in the wake of this latest tragedy and every one of them couldn’t wrap their head around why the guy would kill his kids? They could understand why he might kill his wife – the assumption being her unborn child was sired by guy who wasn’t him – but not his kids. I think this is interesting in the light of how men and women approach paternity/maternity and the Endowment Effect. The best answer I could come up with is that a man doesn’t want that part of him to go on into the future without him. The idea that his kids bear some of his essence and he would rather erase that essence entirely than live or kill himself with the knowledge that his children wouldn’t have him in their lives. Killing a wife might be the result of an uncontrolled rage, but killing your kids takes premeditation – there has to be some point to the act, some reasoning (corrupted as it may be) that made sense to him.

The Strategic Pluralism Theory is from a research study by Dr. Martie Haselton:

According to strategic pluralism theory (Gangestad & Simpson, 2000), men have evolved to pursue reproductive strategies that are contingent on their value on the mating market. More attractive men accrue reproductive benefits from spending more time seeking multiple mating partners and relatively less time investing in offspring. In contrast, the reproductive effort of less attractive men, who do not have the same mating opportunities, is better allocated to investing heavily in their mates and offspring and spending relatively less time seeking additional mates.

From a woman’s perspective, the ideal is to attract a partner who confers both long-term investment benefits and genetic benefits. Not all women, however, will be able to attract long-term investing mates who also display heritable fitness cues. Consequently, women face trade-offs in choosing mates because they may be forced to choose between males displaying fitness indicators or those who will assist in offspring care and be good long-term mates (Gangestad & Simpson, 2000).

The commonalities in every one of these murder-suicides is a Blue Pill conditioned, Beta husband who by all indications was playing by the First Set of Books. By all indications these men would fit into the second type of man mention in Strategic Pluralism Theory – they did everything right, they played by the rules, they did their best to invest themselves in their mates and offspring and likely believed they’d earned some Relational Equity from it. But then, their turn was over with their wives. For whatever reason they were faced with a complete loss, a Zeroing Out, of everything they believed they owned. The things they invested so much of their lives in, the things they worked so hard for, the things that retained his ‘essence’, the things they invested their egos in were all being taken away from them. When faced with such a reality men tend to look at only two options; remake and rebuild what they had in the knowledge that this too might be taken from them, or they can simply erase all themselves and all the ‘things’ they were attached too.

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