BECOME THE MAN WOMEN WANT
26th of September 2014

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman Interview

Introduction:

Tucker interviews Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute, and author of books such as Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love, and Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined. In this episode Tucker and Dr. Kaufman discuss, the false dichotomy between alpha and beta males, how to become more attractive, and how to develop true confidence.

Podcast:


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Key takeaways:

  • Manosphere writers have a very black-and-white and simplistic view of masculinity and what women want.
  • There’s a difference between dominance and assertiveness. You want to be assertive, and you want to have authentic pride for the work you’ve done and the skillset and the human being that you’ve grown into. You don’t want a hubris kind of pride, which is very unstable.
  • There is a false dichotomy between alpha and beta males. There are no “alpha males” any more. Maybe if you were Alexander the Great. Nobody exists outside of the system or sits on top of the system, unanswerable to anyone in anyway. Also, in primate troops, the beta male is actually super high ranking. The beta male is number two, and has almost as many opportunities as the alpha male. Also, it doesn’t code to reality at all. The idea that you’re either an awesome dude who runs everything or you’re some failure is ridiculous. The only distinction that actually matters is are you accomplishing the things in your life that matter to you? For being successful with women, that’s one of the main things that matter. If you can’t do that, beta/alpha doesn’t mean anything.
  • You want to be a “prestigious male”, or a tender defender. You want to be fueled by the rush of accomplishment, and fueled by authenticity, not by the need to outdo others. Focus on being the best person you can be rather than on being better than everyone else. Just worry about being good at what you do. Pick something you like and something you have some skills at, and get really good at it. Be passionate about something.
  • Vulnerability is very attractive to women. Open up about how you feel, open up about your personal story. Being vulnerable works really well, but it only works well if it’s paired with confidence and some sort of effectiveness or some sort of display that you’re not just going to dump your emotions on the table.
  • Don’t change yourself to be someone you’re not, just because you think that’s the type of person who attracts girls. Find and demonstrate your own good qualities.
  • If you’re in middle school or high school and have dreams of doing something or creating something, you can do that while you’re still in school. Find mentors outside of your school, do an apprenticeship, or get involved in after-school activities.
  • Something is only a failure if you view it as a failure. If you go out and talk to ten women and every single one of them rejects you, you haven’t failed. What you’ve done is you’ve got a lot of feedback about what you shouldn’t do when you go out the next night. That’s called a growth mindset, and in a growth mindset world, there’s no state you can label failure.
  • Get excited about something you’re doing, and go out with the attitude of “I want to share this with people!” Share what you’re excited about, and find out what other people are excited about. Don’t go out to get laid, go out to have fun and interact with people. It’s almost impossible to fail at this.
  • If you’re genuine and doing your best and you aren’t doing anything creepy, and someone is being mean to you, there is no need to take that personally. It has nothing to do with you.
  • If you’re terrible with women, it’s likely that there’s quite a bit that’s unattractive about you. Focus on changing two or three things and then be proud of those things, and then move on and keep improving yourself. You don’t need to change everything at once.
  • Interact with people doing things. Go to an improv class or go to dance class or do CrossFit, anything that puts you in a situation where you can interact with people in non-sexual ways.
  • Self-efficacy is more helpful than self-esteem. The difference is that self-esteem is a generalized “I’m great,”, whereas self-efficacy is based on being good at something specific and having confidence about it. Pick something you enjoy and get good at it.
  • Be brutally realistic with yourself. Do a really honest inventory. What does my body look like? What kind of clothes do I wear? How do I smell? How good is my conversation skills? Is there anything interesting going on in my life? Do I have anything to talk about? Am I funny? There’s a million things you can go through and really evaluate them. If you suck at everything, all that means is it’s going to be really easy to improve.
  • It’s not possible to be “genetically bad with women.” You have an unbroken line of male ancestors who have successfully mated with at least one woman, you can’t be that bad. Just put in effort and you will get better.
  • Focus on improving your general social skills and on becoming a better person, if you do this, women will come to you. If you’re having trouble with girls, it’s very likely that the problem isn’t your conversational skills. It’s a lot more likely that there are various areas of your life that need drastic improvement. The mating domain is not separate from the rest of humanity and the rest of what it takes to be great, they are not fundamentally different.

Links from this episode

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman’s Bio:

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman’s Major Works:

Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined

  • Argues that standard measures of intelligence – academic grades, IQ tests – don’t tell the full picture, and that we should use “a more holistic approach to achievement that takes into account each young person’s personal goals, individual psychology, and developmental trajectory”, an approach that “shifts the focus from doing everything right to a lifelong learning process where bumps and detours are par for the course. From a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.” (source)
  • Labels like “gifted” or “special ed” lead to expectations that kids will live up to as kids labelled as “special ed” lose motivation, and “gifted” kids work harder to maintain that label.
  • By the time Scott was 3, he’d had 21 ear infections and found it difficult to understand words in real time as they were being spoken. When he was 9, he took an IQ test and found it hard to hear what the instructor was saying, with the result that he bombed the test and was put in a special ed class.
  • A 9th grade teacher later asked him why he was still in the special class when he was clearly capable of more – Scott went on to get straight As in high school and eventually a PhD from Yale
  • Scott’s blog on Creativity Post (that he co-founded) covers this topic as well

Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love

  • Co-written with Glenn Geher (and with a foreword from Helen Fisher), this book examines what they call “mating intelligence” – the range of mental abilities that have evolved to help people find the right partner.
  • Topics covered include displays of charisma, humor, and intelligence, the role of personality in mating, attractive and repulsive traits, and how men and women deceive each other.
  • Designed as a follow-up to a book that Glenn Geher co-edited with Geoffrey Miller called Mating Intelligence
  • This post on Psychology Today is a good introduction to the book.
  • Scott also wrote this post on Psychology Today which covers a lot of the same themes.
  • And there’s a Mating IQ test on PT that you can take here.

Further reading on Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman:

Podcast Audio Transcription:

Tucker:
Alright, so should I call you Dr. Kaufman or Scott?

Scott:
Actually, my friends call me SBK.

Tucker:
No. I’m not calling you that.

Scott:
Okay. Okay. Scott.

Tucker:
No, no. Maybe JFK would get that from me, but SBK, you’re not getting from me.

Scott:
Okay. Does it sound too much like BK Killer or something?

Tucker:
Right. Exactly. Well, also, a nickname like that, you’ve got to have done some shit to have a three-letter nickname. That’s…

Scott:
Well, the ladies call me SBK.

Tucker:
Yeah, no. I don’t think so. I don’t believe you, dude. I don’t believe any woman calls you SBK.

Scott:
I swear! I swear!

Tucker:
Maybe the ones that you pay with a credit card do. That’s about it. No, I’m fucking with you. So, the only problem, honestly, I thought about this interview is we only talk about an hour or so and we could literally talk for days about this stuff. You’re definitely one of the thinkers in this field that not only knows the science and knows the research really well, but you do such a good job of explaining it to people and talking about it in ways that normal people can understand, and that’s something that Evolutionary Psychology and – really, most scientific fields have been lacking, but definitely Evolutionary Psychology and Evolutionary Biology and intelligence research. Those fields altogether have not had many voices who say things in a way that people can understand not only why they matter, but how they apply to their lives. So, I think part of the problem is going to be figuring out what we want to talk about. I actually want to talk about some things that happened super recently. So, I read your piece on the Art of Manliness about the alpha/beta male distinction and how it doesn’t line up with science at all. We’re going to link that piece on the page for this podcast so people can read it, and I would absolutely recommend our listeners read that piece. I thought it was really good. But why don’t you talk for a little bit about what your contention was in that piece and how you think the alpha/beta distinction breaks down?

Scott:
Sure. So, a lot of people in the “manosphere” have very black-and-white categories, and the way they see the difference, the way they perceive the world, is that you have this alpha that is really aggressive and dominant. For them, dominance means aggressive and it means—

Tucker:
It means physical dominance a lot of times.

Scott:
Physical derogation of rivals or just tearing down people. And the beta, or the male who they like to make fun of, is the submissive guy. They usually paint submissiveness as the guy who is nice to women, like that’s a horrible thing. If you’re nice to women, you’re never going to get laid. It’s a very black-and-white, and I argued simplistic, view of masculinity and what women really want. So, I think the way they perceive the world is not really in line with reality. I try to add a little bit more nuance, and I know you’ve written and talked about this as well, and I think you do a good job talking about this, too. There’s a difference between dominance and assertiveness. They really like assertiveness. They really like men who have this – I talk a lot about pride because it’s an evolved emotion that’s really powerful, but there’s different shades of pride. So, you can have authentic pride for the work you’ve done and the skillset and the human being that you’ve developed and cultivated and grown as an authentic human being.(listen and check this) Or, you can have a hubris kind of pride where it is very unstable. It’s associated with narcissism. It’s associated with – and maybe we can talk about it later – the dark triad, right? And all of those dark triad traits are associated with hubris, and it’s like building a foundation on a house of cards. It might get you laid a couple of times, but it really is going to fall and it’s not going to sustain anything meaningful.

Tucker:
Right, so let’s break this apart and really dissect it, because I think there’s a lot of interesting things there. First, let’s talk about alpha/beta distinction, because I’ve argued for a long time that it’s a really stupid and almost irrelevant dichotomy. First off, if you actually look at the research, if you really want to go with Greek lettering to describe social hierarchy in primate troops, the beta male is actually super high-ranking. The beta male’s number two, and that means that he has almost as many mating opportunities as the alpha-male. So, the good comparison is a baboon troop, right? The beta-male is not the alpha, but he has a ton of mating opportunities and is doing pretty well. Just from a basic scientific standpoint, it’s stupid and doesn’t make any sense. Also, it doesn’t make sense socially, ‘cause the idea that you’re either in charge and on top or not just doesn’t code to reality at all. The idea that you’re either an awesome dude who runs everything or you’re some failure is really preposterous and ridiculous. My argument, especially for manosphere writers is that I’m like, well, let’s see if you’re an alpha-male, dude. Do you write under your own name? Oh, no. You don’t. Do you make money writing or with any of these ideas? Oh, no. You don’t. What do you do? You work at a cell phone store. Okay. If you actually unpack what an alpha-male is…I remember, one of the dudes that freaked out. Obviously, I can’t remember their names because they have these goofy, made-up names like the Lord of Vagina or whatever they call themselves.

Scott:
Like Mystery?

Tucker:
Well, I almost feel bad for that dude. I’m talking more about the manosphere writers. I remember a bunch of them. I was actually emailing with Brett McKay about you and about that piece, and we were talking about how fired up all these goofballs got over it.

Scott:
Yeah. Did you read those comments?

Tucker:
Oh, dude. Some people were freaking out, freaking out!

Scott:
I threatened their sense of identity.

Tucker:
That’s exactly what’s going on, dude. That’s exactly what’s going on. I think they get so upset about this because their entire identity is predicated on dominating or mastering other people, but even the reality of their lives is fucking pathetic. These are dudes who don’t even use their own names for their writing. They’re not even able to support themselves. They may have a job, but they’re not an entrepreneur. They’ve got bosses to answer to. So, who the fuck is an alpha? If you answer to a boss, you’re not a fucking alpha-male, dude! Shut the fuck up. That’s total bullshit. It’s so ridiculous. And I’m not even trying to say who is or who isn’t an alpha. My basic point is there’s no such thing. In modern society, the idea that someone is or is not an alpha, I think, is irrelevant. I think if you were Alexander the Great, I think you can make a good argument that you’re an alpha, right? Or, if you’re Genghis Khan or whatever. That was a different time and a different world, and even if the argument could be made then, it’s an argument based, essentially, on violence. Alexander the Great was in charge because he fucking killed everyone else, right? The guys in his armies followed him – which, by the way, they ended up killing him at the end because he was such an awful person. They killed him because they couldn’t stand him, but that’s a separate discussion. I train Jiu-Jitsu and MMA. I love violence. I think it’s fantastic. Controlled martial arts are amazing. At no point in time do I think, “Well, I’m bigger and stronger than this guy, so I’m an alpha over him.” How fucking retarded. I can whip Barack Obama’s ass. That doesn’t mean shit! He’s the President. So, however I define alpha, that dude’s going to be ahead of me. But, at the end of the day, Barack Obama answers to a ton of people who pay for his campaigns, right? And then those guys who pay for his campaigns, their wives are super important or their customers at their banks. You just go around and around and around and around, looking for an alpha. If you actually look at it, no one’s really an alpha because no one really, truly exists outside of the system or sits on top of the system, unanswerable to anyone in any way.

Scott:
You’re making a lot of good points, and I would add that, really, what the distinction is, there are men who are attractive to women and then there are men who are not attractive to women. That’s what it is, right? It’s not like there’s alpha/beta. Look, you either have those traits, and then you have a lot of people I see on this manosphere whining because they’re not attractive to women. They are blaming it on women. They’re blaming it on the alpha/beta thing. They’re blaming it on everything but themselves.

Tucker:
Yeah. I think that was actually where I was going and obviously, you’re a smart dude, you got ahead of me. But you made the point. You made it probably even better than I was. The only distinction that actually matters is are you accomplishing the things in your life that matter to you? Pretty much, for almost every guy, being able to be successful with women, whether it’s short-term, long-term, any sort of relationships, that’s one of the main things that matter. If you can’t do that, alpha/beta doesn’t mean anything. It’s irrelevant. What matters is are you accomplishing what you want? Here’s the problem with alpha/beta. A lot of guys think, “Oh, I’m not an alpha so that means I suck.” Or, even if they believe in alpha/beta, they think, “I have to find a way to define myself as an alpha. I have to twist reality in such a way that I’m defined as an alpha or I suck.” It either leads to guys feeling bad about themselves ‘cause they don’t see themselves as an alpha or it leads to guys creating these weird, warped perceptions of themselves or warped realities so they can define themselves as an alpha. You know what I’m saying?

Scott:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Both of them lead to results that suck for guys. They’re not beneficial for anyone. It doesn’t make any sense, right? So, I think this segues into the next part of your piece I wanted you to talk about. What do you see as a better distinction? Attractive or not attractive is really good, but in terms of social hierarchical rank, you made a better distinction in your article that I think is one that guys should think about more. What did you say?

Scott:
I used the phrase “prestigious male,” and I’m not actually entirely satisfied with that phrase, but that’s a phrase that’s used in scientific literature, so I used it. I like the tender defender that Geoffrey uses, for instance. I think I prefer that phrase. But this – whatever it’s called, tender defender or prestigious male – what that guy is, is the guy who’s fueled by the rush of accomplishment. They’re fueled by authenticity. They’re fueled by authenticity, they’re fueled by not the need to outdo others, but someone who has value for themselves, a sense of value. There’s a key difference between having a sense of value for yourself and being comfortable in your own skin and just being present and being there and being like, “Hey, this is me and I’m awesome,” as opposed to saying, “Hey, I’m better than everyone else and I’m going to crush the competition,” and being obsessed with everyone else. I think that’s a key distinction.

Tucker:
Let’s unpack that, because I think young guys especially don’t understand this. First off, what this looks like in real life is something we tell guys all the time. If you’re not LeBron James, that’s fine. No one is except LeBron James. Don’t worry about being the best at everything. Worry about being good at what you do. Whatever it is you decide to do, pick something you like and something you have some skills at, something you enjoy working, preferably something you can get paid for. That would be nice, but it doesn’t even have to be. It can be a hobby. If you can do one or two things really, really well and almost be – to map the alpha/beta thing onto this discussion – to be an alpha in your category, whatever your category is, that’s going to help you a hundred times more than trying to create this bullshit persona that you’re some dominant man that doesn’t exist. Be good at anything, almost.

Scott:
Absolutely. I think that something that a lot of guys don’t realize is that they’re trying so hard to directly hit the target – you actually had an interview a couple years ago where you made the point about the target. You try to hit happiness, you’re going to be less likely to be happy. If you try to come up with all these things to directly…Actually, women are really attracted to you when you’re just doing your thing. That’s when they’re actually attracted to you. I don’t think a lot of guys realize that.

Tucker:
Same thing with sex. I learned that at twenty-four. I stopped going out to get laid and started going out to have fun, and then I got laid ten times more with better women because I wasn’t thinking about sex. I was thinking about something easy and rewarding that led to sex. Not sex.

Scott:
You were being interesting. Not acting interesting.

Tucker:
Exactly. I remember the interview. It was something that I’ve probably said in a bunch of interviews. It was something my editor said to me. I was talking about the best-seller list or something with one of my books and he said, “Tucker, aim for the target and you’ll hit it and get the trophy, but stare at the trophy and you’ll miss the target and get nothing.”

Scott:
Yeah. And I think that makes this distinction of being it, be it. When you go out there, be interesting and be funny, and women are going to be attracted to you being that way, but they’re not going to be as attracted to you if you’re trying to be those things or you’re just doing it in order to get sex.

Tucker:
Also, on a psychological sense, you probably know the research better than me. The more that you project something, actively project it, the more people assume that you’re compensating for a deficiency. If I came on this podcast and started talking about how big my dick was, over and over, everyone’s first thought would be, “Dude, your dick’s pretty small. Why do you keep bringing that up?” It’s the same thing with dominance or anything like that. If you keep trying to do that, the first thing everyone thinks – especially women, because women are usually much more socially intelligent than guys – is, “Why is this guy compensating so much?”

Scott:
You said the emotional aspect, and I don’t want that to go by, because I want to emphasize that women are really attracted to passion. Men who are passionate about something. So, if you’re passionate about something and you’re talking about that thing that you’re really passionate about, they’ll be innately attracted to you. You’re not doing anything other than just being yourself and being passionate about it.

Tucker:
Right. Scott, how many times have you met girls and you talk about your research and stuff like that and they were kind of, “Oh, whatever, here’s some goofy academic.” And then you start talking about shit and, “Oh, wow, that’s super interesting and he’s clearly passionate and now I’m kind of into this dude.”

Scott:
Yeah. That was like night and day for me. In my early twenties, I was trying way too hard to be this Abercrombie dude. We used to wear Abercrombie shirts in my early twenties, and I got no women at all. I wasn’t being myself at all. I would say the past five or ten years have been such a transformation where I’ve decided to actually realize who I am and what my skillset is and then just go full-force with that passion.

Tucker:
Let’s talk about you specifically, then. So, I know your career’s obviously been fantastic and doing great, but talk about with women. You just said, “I’ve gotten a lot better. I’ve had more success with relationships in the last five years.” What have you done differently?

Scott:
I give a lot of talks in education conferences, and a lot of the people I answer are educators and parents and teachers. I’m very passionate about the need to transform education. I know it’s something you care about a lot, too. The system is terrible. We’re killing creativity. We’re killing individuality. All these things. I’m very passionate about this. I am trying to make this change, and I connect with a lot of people – women – at these conferences. I’m not going to these conferences to get laid. I’m not doing this because I want to get laid. I’m doing it because I really want to see a real change in this education system, and I’m seeing that so many women are really connecting with that authentic drive that I have. It’s nice. It’s actually win/win, because that’s the kind of women I’m looking for, as well. Women who are compassionate and care about these issues, as well, so we can connect on that level. But I realized, and I came to terms with the fact that I’m not going to attract every kind of women in this world. Tell your guys to get that out of their head. That’s only going to be detrimental. If they try to be the Casanova…I’m not even convinced that exists, to be honest.

Tucker:
That’s a fantastic point. The most attractive guys on earth that I know, still there are plenty of women that don’t like them.

Scott:
Right? I can’t think of anyone where every kind of woman would say, “Oh, that’s my type.”

Tucker:
I know women who are like, “Eh, I don’t think George Clooney’s that hot. I’m not into him.” It’s like, “What are you talking about? I even think George Clooney’s hot.” And they’re like, “No. I’m just not into it.” Of course, they’re not many and they might just be being argumentative, but it doesn’t matter. There is always women who aren’t going to like what you do.

Scott:
Exactly.

Tucker:
So, obviously you didn’t just start going to conferences. That’s not the only thing that changed, because you’ve been speaking at conferences your whole life. You’ve had more success meeting and attracting quality women. Part of it is you’re more passionate, speaking in public more. What do you think has changed about you that’s made you more attractive?

Scott:
I know exactly what it is, and this might be a bit counter-intuitive. In this whole beta distinction thing, they use the phrase “submissive” a lot. They make fun of guys who do nice things for women. I don’t think I’m submissive. I like to think I’m assertive, but what I am is vulnerable. I think what really changed for me in a lot of ways was that I became vulnerable and opened up how I feel, how my personal story – ‘cause I had a really shitty early life experience in education, so I tell a lot of women that I meet about my story and they really connect with it. They’re not turned off. They’re not like, “Oh, that’s a beta because he’s being vulnerable.” No, and I think that’s something that a lot of these people who throw this beta submissive crap around don’t really realize, is that women find vulnerability very, very sexy. That’s different from submissiveness.

Tucker:
Right. Let’s actually talk about this, because this is super important, what you just said. It’s funny, when you think of the bravest people you know, those are people who get up and say things that other people are thinking but won’t say. They’re people who have courage, who are afraid of something and say it anyway or do it anyway. There’s tons of guys who think, “I’m super courageous because I wrote about this stuff that no one else is writing.” I wouldn’t call myself courageous, but the point’s the same. You never hear someone get up and be vulnerable and expose a fear and someone laughs at them. They always say, “You’re so courageous. That’s so cool.” But before you do it, you always think, “Everyone’s going to laugh at me. I’m a total pussy. I’m not going to say this. I’m too afraid.” But then you do it and it works. So, what’s the difference between vulnerability and submissiveness? How do you define those?

Scott:
Part of it is, women really respect it when you want something and you go after it. But at the same time, you can still be vulnerable. I’ve noticed that if I see a girl and I’m just like, “That girl is so beautiful,” I still will go for it and be bold, but I may even admit that I’m nervous in some sense. I won’t say I’m nervous, but there’ll be something and it’ll be obvious. Some of them find that cute. They find it cute that you’re a little nervous, but you’re bold at the same time. You can still be bold.

Tucker:
Right. You have an emotion. You recognize it. You acknowledge it, but you don’t let it control you, right?

Scott:
That’s right. Taking action is really sexy, and vulnerability is sexy. They’re not mutually exclusive, is the point I wanted to make.

Tucker:
Where does vulnerability slide into submissiveness? Why do you think so many guys make that distinction? Let me tell you what I think, and then tell me what you think.

Scott:
Yeah. Let me hear you.

Tucker:
To me, submissiveness is putting your interests aside and only focusing on other people’s interests. I don’t mean in a helpful way. I mean whatever it is you want, you just set it aside and you are only thinking about the other person as if you don’t have a self and their self is the only thing that matters. Something like that is submissive, whereas vulnerable is having the courage to acknowledge things that are very difficult, but still going forward with action anyway. You know what I’m saying?

Scott:
Yeah. Assertiveness is the opposite of submissiveness. I think we can say that, right? I think you’re absolutely right on that. I think assertiveness is recognizing that you value your own needs. You demonstrate that you value that by directly requesting those needs, making sure that those needs are being met. It doesn’t mean you don’t take into account the other person’s needs at all. That’s called compassion, right? You’re allowed to have compassion and also assertiveness. There’s an interesting angle with submissiveness. I think about this stuff obsessively, so it’s cool that we’re chatting about this. I think a lot of these guys have real, psychological issues that maybe counseling, like psychoanalytic or cognitive behavioral therapy could help them with. They have real, deep-seated issues with a parental figure who bossed them around when they were younger or something. They’re over-compensating. They have hair triggers for giving anything of themselves to another person. That leads to extreme narcissism. It’s not attractive to women. It’s not attractive to anyone, really. I don’t think they really see where that’s coming from within themselves, and they’re blaming it on women. Do you know what I mean?

Tucker:
Are you kidding? I absolutely, unequivocally agree with you. Without getting too much into – it’s not just manosphere writers, but the people who focus on this alpha/beta dominance thing.

Scott:
They’re obsessed with this.

Tucker:
Right, exactly. The first question you have to ask is why are you so obsessed with that? I’ll tell you, the answer? I know a ton of those dudes. Not the manosphere clowns, but people like that in real life. The answer for every single one of them, without exception, is there is a series of formative traumatic events at some point in their life – it didn’t necessarily happen when they were young with their parents. It can happen in high school. There’s any number of times and places it can happen. They felt so utterly powerless and so utterly vulnerable and exposed – vulnerable the way a dog is if a bigger dog is attacking it. Not emotionally vulnerable, in a good way, but they felt that utter, traumatic terror that comes from being powerless and a lack of control. Their reaction against it is to create this image in their mind of how powerful they are and to lash out at everything that gets close to them. It’s just a deep-seated psychological defense against a replay of that trauma. That’s really all that is. It’s emotional PTSD, in a way. The takeaway for a young guy on this is that being vulnerable works really well, but it only works well if it’s paired with confidence and some sort of effectiveness or some sort of display that you’re not just going to dump your emotions on the table. If you’re a guy who’s vulnerable, that’s cool. But if you’re crying every five minutes over a Tampax commercial. That’s not vulnerable. That’s emotionally unstable.

Scott:
We could simplify this, actually. We can just say be human. Show that you’re human.

Tucker:
Here’s the problem, Scott. You teach undergrads, right? So I’m sure you know how retarded young guys are.

Scott:
I hate the word retarded, but yeah.

Tucker:
Okay. But isn’t it true, though? I know I was almost a beast. I was less of a human than I was an animal at eighteen or nineteen.

Scott:
I don’t go out to clubs with my male students, but I imagine you’re right.

Tucker:
Yeah. So, one of the things that we’ve found with Mating Grounds is we have to take advice that you or I or a 28-year-old adult would get, you have to make really granular and really specific for eighteen-year-olds. Not all of them. There’s plenty of 18-year-old guys who totally get this, but the ones that we’re talking to, they don’t understand what vulnerable means. “What do you mean? I can’t wear a bulletproof vest in Call of Duty?” I’m like, no dude. That is not what we mean. We mean emotionally vulnerable.

Scott:
You think about this, too, right? You think about what would you tell your 21-year-old self? That’s the way that I approach that question, is I made so many mistakes. I was trying so hard to be someone else. I had this friend named Brad who got so many women. He looked like Stiffler from the movie American Pie, and he wore Abercrombie. He had that whole persona and he got all these women, and I tried to copy him! It backfired. Women were horrified. They were like, “Why are you doing that whole persona?” I would definitely tell my 21-year-old self that there’s a lot of good qualities that I had as a 21- or 22-year old that were different from his qualities. I had my own good qualities, and I never played them up at all. I thought the only way to get sex and have love and attract women was to be that persona. I think, unfortunately, in college campuses, that persona with the fraternity culture and everything like that, guys think that is the persona that they need to don.

Tucker:
Right. We actually just finished a podcast about this, about different life stages in mating. What’s it like for guys in high school vs. college vs. young professional? Because it’s very different for the three. One of the things we talked about – tell me what you think about this. The main point that we made is that understand, in high school, it’s very difficult for guys because girls mature much faster and an eighteen-year-old girl could legitimately date a guy up to early- to mid-twenties. A 26-year-old guy with an 18-year-old girl? Sometimes it makes sense, whereas an 18-year-old guy might not be mature enough, even, for a 16-year-old girl. You know? You’re paired up, chronologically, with women who are dating up because they want something that, as a 17-, 16-, 18-year-old guy, you don’t have. You have to understand that you’re kind of behind that way. Also, the big thing that we focused on with guys was understanding that most of what you have to offer the world, you can’t really even show in high school. It’s very hard to show in high school and college, because the way the educational system works is that, unless you are really, basically, have a high social status in your school, all the other things that can be attractive to women, like accomplishments and empathy and intelligence and leading groups and all these sorts of things, are very difficult to show in school environments. You can’t really start to show them until you leave school. Maybe college. It’s just very hard for young guys. I think that’s a function of the educational system, which brings us back to something you said earlier. You think the educational system is broken, right?

Scott:
Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Tucker:
Here’s what I think, and tell me if you agree. The educational system is broken in a way which really hurts guys more than girls.

Scott:
That’s interesting. It doesn’t let them realize the full complexity of what they’re capable of becoming?

Tucker:
There’s that and let’s look at basic things. You tell a 14-year-old kid who’s nothing but piss and vinegar and energy to sit down and be quiet and only read. What if the kid’s dyslexic? Male dyslexia is far higher than female dyslexia. Go down the list. So many guys, the skills they want to develop tend to be tactile, spatial. They’re not verbal reasoning skills, which are highlighted well in school. I did well in school because I’m very verbal. Not a lot of guys are. Women tend to excel in those areas. A lot of the way that school is structured, going to tech or vocational school is seen as low-status, so guys don’t want to do it. Why don’t you talk about your shitty experience in education? How it impacted you as a guy, because I think a lot of guys would take a lot from that and map onto that.

Scott:
Sure. I’d be happy to. I had an auditory processing disorder when I was really young, and they put me in special education.

Tucker:
You’re serious? You were in special ed? You’re a fucking genius professor and you were in special ed?

Scott:
I fought it. I had to fight the system. They kept me in until the ninth grade, and then there was this teacher who actually looked at me for the first time and saw that I was frustrated out of my mind. She took me aside and she said, “Why are you here?” No one’s ever asked me that question before, so it didn’t even dawn on me to ask myself that question. But that’s all it took. I questioned my place in the hierarchy, and I fought. I said I’m not reporting back to special ed, and they set up this big school-wide meeting because no one’s ever tried to break out of special ed before. That was the first time anyone had tried to do this, so they didn’t know what to do. They let me out on a trial basis because they wanted to cover their ass, right? If I failed, they could be like, “See? We told you. You’re learning disabled.” So, I fought myself out of this, but I was really inspired to prove them wrong. Another topic that I study is greatness. What I find over and over again in those who reach the highest levels is that they’re driven by discontent with the reality of the world and a lot of them are trying to prove people wrong. I hope to gosh I don’t still spend my life trying to prove people wrong, but for a large part of my life, I would say it really was driven and that is what drove me to overcome lots of these obstacles.

Tucker:
How do you think the education system can be improved, then? Just basically, what would you say?

Scott:
For one, you raised a really good point about the kind of kids. ADHD is way over-diagnosed, but it turns out that those characteristics are the characteristics of creative people. Let’s just do away with the labels for a second. Let’s talk about those people. There are a lot of kids who would rather be active, they would rather create the story of their life as opposed to being passive participants in the classroom. The kids that are falling between the cracks are the kids that don’t want to be passive students in that classroom. We reward the good learners. We reward the passive, those who do all the right steps.

Tucker:
The sheep.

Scott:
That’s right. You used the phrase “sheep” a lot in our interview a couple years ago. That’s exactly what it is. What I’m fighting for in a large part are an appreciation of individual differences. I say individual differences really matter and really allowing people to show their brilliance or show their learning of material in different ways, so I’m a big advocate for project-based learning, for instance.

Tucker:
So, let’s say I’m a 16-year-old guy, or a 15-year-old guy, 13, 14-year-old guy – which we have a lot of listeners and readers who are that age – and I’m listening to this and I’m like, “Okay. I’m trying to learn about women, but I suck at school and hate it, but I’m not an idiot and I don’t know what to do. I’m fifteen. My parents say I need to sit there and be quiet but I don’t want to do that? What do I do?” What do you tell that kid to do? Other than “It gets better,” what can he do in the short-term?

Scott:
There’s not really a politically correct way of what I’m going to say. In that period of your life, a lot of young women find rebelliousness really sexy. When I say this, I’m not saying kids drop out of school. I don’t want to be on the record for saying that. But I think we can be nuanced here. A lot of guys, a lot of these kids that have these dreams of creating something, of doing, imagining something, I would actually recommend to them you can still do that in middle school, high school. You can still get involved. Find mentors outside of your school. Do an apprenticeship. If you get recognized, you can still win the poetry award. You can still win the chess club. Get involved in after-school activities. Most people that get laid are actually the ones that succeed in after-school activities, like theatre.

Tucker:
That’s exactly what we said in the podcast. I can’t remember how many girls I slept with in high school, but I think almost all of them, they weren’t girls I went to high school with. They were girls I met doing other things. That kind of rolls into another subject that I think you’re kind of an expert at. I think a lot of guys can take a lot from you about this. We have a lot of guys who come to us and they say, “Okay. I want to get better with women, with all the things that go into attraction. I want to be healthier, work out, I want to learn more. I want to be better with skills.” All that stuff. But then they’re like, “I don’t know what to do.” Or we tell them what to do and they’re like, “Well, how do I change my life to do that?” People like you and Carol Dweck have done a lot of research about how to develop good habits and how to change your mindset so you can not only develop good habits, but you can institute them and follow through and see real change. How should guys think about this if they want to change but they’re having problems?

Scott:
I’m really glad you brought that up. There’s something that’s used in the sports world called mental toughness. I want to make clear that when I study the determinants of greatness, I don’t see the mating domain is any difference than the scientific domain or the music domain or the arts domain. It’s just another domain of greatness, of a skillset. Every field has its own skillset. You can think of mating as a field. Why not? So that’s just how I think about it. I don’t see this division where the mating world’s over here and then you have all of these other domains of greatness all the way over here. Viewed in that way, you can see lots of characteristics cut across all these fields. They’re going to be important, no matter what you’re trying to succeed in. I see a bunch of these mental toughness characteristics as extremely important, if you want to do well in the mating domain. Those are things like having this unshakeable belief in who you are. It’s not overconfidence. It’s real confidence. Having this ability to bounce back if you have failures. Well, what is failure in the mating domain? I think Ryan Holiday just wrote a book about this.

Tucker:
Yeah. “The Obstacle Is The Way.”

Scott:
Yeah. If you think about this stuff, it’s only failure if you view it as failure. You go out there and you talk to ten women and every single one of them rejects you tonight. You go home. You’re like, “I’ve failed.” No. What you’ve done is you’ve got a lot of feedback about what you really shouldn’t do when you go out the next night, right? So, that’s another one. That’s called a growth mindset. In a growth mindset world, there’s no state you can label failure. It’s all a developmental pathway that never ends.

Tucker:
You know Waitzkin, right?

Scott:
Yeah. Josh. Yeah.

Tucker:
So, I do Jiu Jitsu, too. He’s really good at Jiu Jitsu. There’s a really good saying in Jiu Jitsu. “In training, there is no winning or losing. There is only winning and learning.”

Scott:
Yeah. That’s exactly right. He trained me once, and I was, like, dead.

Tucker:
It’s intense, man, but it’s awesome. There’s not much better you can do with a guy than MMA or Jiu Jitsu. So, if I’m a 16-year-old guy, break that down a little more for me. I get it, Dr. Kaufman. I want to learn this stuff. I want to have a growth mindset. What does that mean? What do I say to myself? What’s my internal monologue? What are the scripts?

Scott:
A lot of it is really that mindset of what you’re doing when you’re going out, when you’re hanging out with women, when you’re going to be in an environment – I hate that phrase “target rich environment” that a lot of people use. I hate that. You’re just going out to talk to humans who happen to be females. So, let’s say you’re doing that. You’re a young kid. I would actually recommend that you get excited about something that you’ve done or something you’re doing. Go out there with the attitude or the spirit of, “I want to share this with people!” I want to share it with girls. I want to share what I’m excited about with girls. I want to hear what they’re excited about. So much of it is the attitude and mindset of what you’re doing when you’re going out there, so I would run that script over – not the script being, “Oh, I’m going out to get laid,” but, “I’m going out to share something I’m excited about,” or, “I’m going out there to just meet women.” It’s actually okay to be excited to meet women. Women actually respond if you look like you’re excited to talk to them. That’s something I’ve noticed personally, and this is something else I’ve noticed, you go out and I can’t remember the last time I was rejected. What I mean by rejected is I can’t remember the last time that I talked to a woman and I felt like I left with them being like, “Ew!”

Tucker:
“Don’t talk to me, creeper.” Right.

Scott:
No. I actually can’t remember that. If you have the right mindset, you actually never experience that. If you do, then the woman’s an asshole. If you’re a nice guy and you’re making a genuine effort and you’re talking to them and you’re like, “What are you interested in?” or “Oh, let me tell you what happened to me last week or let me tell you a little bit about what I’m excited about,” and they act that way, then that’s just an asshole. Women are allowed to be. There are asshole women. There are asshole men. There are all kinds of women out there. But I would really focus on this script of nothing is really failure out there.

Tucker:
Right. So, I totally agree. I could not agree more, actually. We tell guys, if your goal is to meet people and talk to people and engage them, then it’s really easy to not fail. It’s almost impossible to fail at that, and the only times that you fail are with people you don’t want to talk to anyway. Exactly what you said. If somebody just doesn’t want to talk to you, it’s no problem. Just don’t talk to them.

Scott:
Can I tell you something that changed my life? I used to just smile at strangers, women on the street, and I enjoyed doing this. It was actually a good exercise for me. Most would respond very well, actually. If you don’t have a creepy smile—

Tucker:
Right. If you’re not leering at them…

Scott:
If you have a genuine smile, most women will respond. I kept noticing a couple women were not. They looked annoyed or angry and that upset me, and I talked to my friend. He said, “You know what? If you’re giving a genuine smile and it’s coming from a good place and a woman is treating you mean, she’s a bitch!” That’s her problem. And that actually completely changed my life when I started thinking of it that way. I was like, “You know what? You’re right. If you’re doing your best and you’re putting your best effort and you’re being genuine and you’re not doing anything creepy – you’re just being a normal human being – and someone is being mean to you, there’s no need to take that personally at all.” I guess that’s the point I’m trying to say. There’s no need to take that personally. You’re allowed to recognize that person has their issues and I’m just going to find someone who resonates with this.

Tucker:
Their anger has nothing to do with you, so there’s no reason for you to take it personally. You can just be like, “Oh, I guess they’re in a bad mood,” and that’s it. It doesn’t mean anything about you.

Scott:
And people are allowed to be in a bad mood, too. That isn’t a reflection of you. They don’t even know you. They see one second of you, you know?

Tucker:
Staying in this line of conversation, what happens for those guys who are like, “That’s all well and good if I’m starting from scratch, but I’ve been rejected so much and so many women have told me I’m pathetic that I already feel like total shit?” If you have that mindset as a guy, what would you tell that guy? We get a lot of guys talking about that.

Scott:
It’s a really bad place to be in. You made me think of the taxi drive I had this morning on the way to work. This taxi driver was complaining about everything. It was almost comical. He was like, “Oh, my god, I’ve been mugged ten times in this taxi. Women are terrible. This city sucks.” And he’s going on for fifteen minutes about how shitty he is and his life is. And I said, “Hey, I have a question. Tell me one thing that’s going good in your life right now.” He was like, “…Um…You know, I actually have a girlfriend.” I was like, “Exactly! Have you ever thought that you could focus on that? Have you ever thought you’re allowed to recognize that there is something good in your life?” I use this example because you learn a lot about some cognitive behavioral therapy. You go down a rabbit hole of “I’m shit,” “I’m all these things,” and all those things in the semantic network get activated around it. You can shift your spotlight around the semantic network, and what you realize is that when you shift that spotlight, other nodes become active. That’s called controlled attention. That’s the beautiful thing of consciousness. You can choose where to direct that spotlight of attention. You can even go down that rabbit hole, but that’s going to be really unhelpful and it’s going to be a cycle. Women are going to respond to that. You’re going to respond to the women. Women are going to respond even more, and it keeps getting worse and worse. But shift that. Start by thinking to yourself – very simple advice – start by thinking one thing. Just one thing. Start small as can be, one thing I like about myself. You start shifting that spotlight of attention and you find all these other things start to become active.

Tucker:
You’re exactly right. Tell me what you think of this advice. It’s right in line with what you’re doing except it’s a little bit more actionable. I’ll tell guys if you’re terrible with women, then understand that – usually, there’s quite a bit that’s unattractive about them, that they don’t even think, “Oh, I’m totally out of shape and there’s nothing interesting about my life. There’s twenty things I could change.” So, I’m like, I want you to focus on changing two or three things and then be proud of those things and then move on and move on and move on and keep changing until you get at least halfway through the list. Then, start going out and interacting with people with these new, attractive things. Or, at least, things about you that were unattractive are gone or you’ve developed attractive traits. Also, I want you to interact with people doing things. Not going to bars. Go to improv class or go to dance class or do Cross Fit or anything that puts you in a situation where you can interact with people in non-sexual ways and see how different your interactions are and see how much better you feel and more confident you are. Usually, with a lot of guys, that works, because you just scientifically described what happens. They start focusing on the positive things about them and they project that out and they’re interacting with other people who are seeing this positive confidence and they react to that positive confidence and they come back in two weeks, like, “Oh, my god. I feel amazing. My whole life has changed,” and I’m like, “Yeah, dude. It wasn’t that hard. You could’ve done this the whole time.”

Scott:
I completely agree. You talked about the club scene. When you’re a young kid, a lot of kids go out clubbing. But something you have to recognize about the club scene, the ones that do well in that environment are the ones that have very positive physical aspects. It’s very easy if that’s not your wheelhouse, physical strength and physical appearance. It’s very easy to feel like a loser or a failure in that environment. I think that really speaks to the need to expand your range of environments to ones where you could highlight other aspects of yourself. By the way, this is crazy. My co-author, Glenn Geher, of the mating intelligence book? He just called me. He hasn’t called me in ages. He just called me. Crazy timing. I’ll have to tell him I was talking to you.

Tucker:
Be careful. You’re going to have to start believing in shit like The Secret or something.

Scott:
Oh, no. I’m not.

Tucker:
So, you brought up overconfidence vs. confidence. I want to talk about that a little bit. You’ve done some work on that and we talked about that earlier. I think it’s a really important issue. There are a lot of guys who have a lot of problems with confidence. They feel very unconfident and they’ll ask me, “How do I feel more confident?” What does the research say and what have you found in that field? What would you tell guys?

Scott:
I don’t know if you know about this, but self-esteem has been debunked in the past ten years and is seen in psychology literature as a good thing.

Tucker:
What do you mean?

Scott:
There was this whole movement in the seventies. Stand in the mirror and say—

Tucker:
Yeah. Nathaniel Branden and all that. Yeah. The positive self-esteem movement. Yeah.

Scott:
Roy Baumeister’s shown that that is not really the best way forward necessarily. Self-efficacy is. I can make it much simpler because I was vague. If you view self-esteem as a generalized, “I’m great,” or “I’m an awesome person.” That’s actually not incredibly helpful in many domains as we think it is. But having self-efficacy for specific things which is earned self-confidence, so practicing with a particular aspect of the mating domain and becoming confident in the sense that you have self-efficacy, that you’re effective at that thing. That is much more useful than having this generalized self-esteem.

Tucker:
The actionable piece of that advice is have demonstrative performance. Do something and be good at it and then you will have confidence about it. Right?

Scott:
Absolutely. It’s self-assurance more than self-confidence.

Tucker:
And you can be assured of shit because you’ve done it, right?

Scott:
That’s what it is. That’s where it is.

Tucker:
Right. Exactly. So, start really small. Whatever the fuck it is, start small. Work at it. If you make a mistake, no problem. Try again. Keep trying, Keep trying. You get better, better, better. All of a sudden, it’s like, “Oh, I’m pretty confident at this because I’ve done it over and over.” That’s what you’re saying is far more important than affirmative self-esteem, where you tell yourself, “I’m pretty. I’m tall. I’m smart. I’m handsome.” That shit.

Scott:
Absolutely. I would suggest for guys to first work on their social skills with humans, with both men and women. Work on their social skills first. Don’t work on their mating skills, necessarily. I would say start working on your social skills. Don’t worry about game. Don’t worry about gaming people. Gaming people is not the way forward in life, in my opinion. Work on social skills and being authentic. You’ll find that you’re naturally attracting more women.

Tucker:
We said all the time, if you can talk to a person, you can talk to a woman. But if you only practice talking to women, it’s not really going to work well because you don’t know how to actually interact with them. It’s totally correct. Where does overconfidence come from? Is that the inverse of that? Telling yourself or selling yourself a bunch of bullshit and you think, “Oh, yeah, I’m great at this,” and it’s not actually demonstrated performance?

Scott:
Yes. You’re lying to yourself. That’s what it is. That’s a great way to put it. You can feel overconfidence, right? You know the guys who puff themselves up when they’re about to talk to women? That’s immediately fake. That’s immediately not authentic. You’re trying to lie to yourself that you are bigger than you really are. That’s just one example, but it happens in a myriad of other ways. You can puff up lots of things, like, “Oh, I’m going to talk to her. I’m going to puff up my machoism.” Is machoism a word? Macho persona. That’s exactly what it is. You’re lying to yourself, so don’t lie to yourself. I’m a big fan of Robert Greene, and I think you had him on your podcast. He’s always talking about the importance of being realistic about who you are. Starting from a place of being brutally realistic with yourself is a really good place to start. Realizing what you need to work on.

Tucker:
Right. So, doing a really honest inventory. What does my body look like? What kind of clothes do I wear? How do I smell? How good is my conversation skills? Is there anything interesting going on in my life? Do I have anything to talk about? Am I funny? There’s a million things you go through and really evaluate them. Guess what? If you suck at everything, all that means is it’s going to be really easy to improve. It’s not the end of the world. It just means you have nowhere to go but up.

Scott:
The point here is don’t puff. You said something to me in our interview a couple of years ago – I never forgot it and I wanted to bring this up. I was asking you, “What should I wear? Should I wear my suit?” You said, “Fucking wear what makes you feel comfortable.” That actually really stuck with me, man. I really appreciated you saying that. Ever since that moment, in my life, when I do things, I wear whatever I feel comfortable with. I think there’s a good point there to what we’re talking about. Say and do what makes you feel comfortable with yourself. That’s what’s most attractive to women.

Tucker:
I could not agree more. Let’s talk a little bit about positive psychology because obviously, you’re now heading up the Institute or something? Imagination Institute?

Scott:
Yeah. It’s crazy. With Martin Seligman.

Tucker:
Right. He’s as big of a deal as it gets in academia. For those out there who don’t know academia, Martin Seligman is about as big as it gets.

Scott:
Arguably the most famous psychologist of our generation.

Tucker:
Yeah. Definitely. Instead of going deep into that, because I would love to talk to you about that but we’ll do that off the podcast because no one else gives a shit.

Scott:
By the way, off the podcast, you might be interested in positive psychology.

Tucker:
Oh, no. I know Seligman’s work very well. We talk about a lot of his stuff. What are some things that you’re studying or you’re looking at or you guys are doing research on that younger guys, maybe sixteen to twenty-six, would get some really cool lessons where it’s like, “Wow. That’s something I didn’t know that I can really use to improve my life, and it’ll also make me better with women.”

Scott:
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about is what does potential mean. What does the word potential mean? There’s genetic potential, of course, and you can’t deny that, but then there’s realized potential. What I’m realizing in all this research in positive psychology and developmental psychology, is that your potential for something – your realized potential for it grows. Potential grows, and it grows based on your engagement in the thing, your constant engagement with it and the hard work you put into it and the effort that you make. My advice from a positive psychology perspective for guys who just want to get better is to shift from that fixed mindset of, “I don’t have the potential to be good with women. I was born a loser.” That’s empirically not true. That’s scientifically not the case. I like to say potential is a moving target.

Tucker:
It’s funny that you brought up, “I’m genetically bad with women.” I always point that out. I’m like, listen, do you realize you have an unbroken line of male ancestors who have successfully mated with at least one woman? You can’t be that bad. None of them understand that and I try to explain. Genetically speaking, it looks like 40% of the men that have ever lived have passed their genes on to today. So, that means you’re in the top 40%! You should be able to do it if you put any fucking effort in. I know guys who don’t have arms and legs who have girlfriends! Kyle Maynard! Guys like that. I’m like if they can do it, then you fucking A can get a girl.

Scott:
I would say put in the effort to be good with people before you really focus on trying to be good with women.

Tucker:
That’s sort of the secret to what we’re doing. We tell guys this is about how to get better with women and it is, but what we’re actually doing is teaching guys how to be better humans and being better at all things they need to be in their life. It turns out that most of that is applicable to mating and they get to be way better in their relationships with women. If we called this the full-body self-improvement course, guys will be like, “Oh, I don’t give a shit. Tell me how to get laid. That’s all I care about.” So, we called it Mating Grounds and it’s about sex and dating advice. And it is. It absolutely, 100% is sex and dating advice, but 80% of it applies to your whole life. Not just sex and dating.

Scott:
Also, there’s a good point there. There’s a nuanced point there, which is there’s not complete overlap. If you’re just good with people, you’re going to be sexually attractive to women. This is where, I think, you add additional value. I want to make that clear. There are a lot of people who are real nice guys and they’re really good with people, but they’re not sexually attractive to women. So, it’s not an overlapping set. That’s what it is. Maybe 50% of it is overlapping, but there’s this other stuff that it’s really important you guys are going above and beyond. You’re saying it’s not just social skills, but there’s all these other things that actually make you sexually attractive.

Tucker:
Exactly. And I’ll tell you, man. I’ll plug your book a little bit. We talked about your book before podcast stuff. It’s really hard, in a lot of ways, to teach this stuff to guys because so many guys are like, “Look, I just want to know about girls,” and it’s like, “Listen. I’ll tell you about girls.” It’s so funny. So many guys will come to us and they’ll be like, “Alright. I need to know how to talk to girls. That’s my problem,” and I’m like, “Alright, hold on.” And I’ll ask them six questions and I’m like, “No, dude. Your life is totally fucked up. You’re not getting girls because you can’t talk to them. You’re not getting girls because you’re out of shape, you don’t have a job, you’re totally boring, you have nothing to say to them, you don’t bathe properly. You have a ton of problems! You’re way fucked up.” I can teach you to be the world’s best conversationalist and you still wouldn’t be very good with women because you’re going to be repulsive in five other ways.

Scott:
Just being nice is not enough. Something I like to say a lot is work on being engaging. That’s actually a really important thing. We didn’t get into this much, but in the Mating Intelligence book I talked about the importance of humor, the importance of wit. But not like canned humor, but contextually appropriate wit and humor is really important. Just be engaging. Engagement is a really important aspect.

Tucker:
We have a couple of comedians coming on who are going to talk about humor, how to be funny. Because in almost every culture, that’s one of the top three things women are into. Intelligence, money/power/status, and humor is one of the top three in almost every culture, almost every woman. So, we’re going to explain that to guys. A lot of guys think either I’m funny or I’m not funny, but you can learn humor. Do you know of any good research or any good tricks for guys to learn how to be funny?

Scott:
This is going to sound really obvious, but take an improv class. I did Upright Citizens’ Brigade in New York, and I would then go out into the real world and immediately, automatically, I would say…What you learn in improv is to be in the moment. That’s the point here. That’s what’s sexy to women and that’s what real humor is. Not the kind of humor that women roll their eyes at, but the kind of humor where they respond sexually to you is the kind that’s contextually appropriate based on what they said. You’re indicating so many things. You’re indicating you’re listening to them. You’re indicating that you’re smart, that you’re able to socially diffuse a tense situation. That you’re playful. Geoffrey talks a lot about this, as well.

Tucker:
In the Signals podcast, we talked a lot about humor and how it’s evolved as a signal of mating intelligence. It’s so funny you say that, dude, because that’s literally one of the main things we tell guys to do, is take an improv class. Not only because you’ll learns so much, but also, it’s, like, 60% women.

Scott:
Yeah. I sucked at it, but I learned so much. I’m not going to be the next Saturday Night Live skit, but you learn so much. It’s fun. Another thing with improv is you can really suck and it’s hilarious.

Tucker:
There is no failing at improv. You just keep going.

Scott:
But what if you moved into the real world with that same attitude when you approached women? Of, “We’re just being playful here and I’m not failing if I’m saying something stupid or whatever.” It’s the same attitude you should cultivate in the real world.

Tucker:
It’s so funny. You’re saying all the stuff we say exactly.

Scott:
I think I’m going to like your book.

Tucker:
I know. If Geoff gets hit by a car, you’re going to have to come on and replace him, dude. You already are totally in line with us. I guess the lesson here is, if you actually study this stuff and you actually read literature and you actually look at applied science and research, you will all come to the same conclusions. That’s kind of why Geoff and I did this. We kind of saw the same things that you see independently, and no one’s really teaching the real answers that are actually effective and that are actually rewarding for both men and women. No one’s really teaching that. That’s sort of why we did this.

Scott:
That’s great. In all the stuff you talked about, I hope you made clear, again, this mating domain is not completely encapsulated from the rest of humanity and the rest of what it takes to be great, what it takes to be attractive. Not just sexually attractive, but to be an attractive human being. These are not fundamentally different. A lot of these guys flip a switch when they’re about to talk to a girl. They flip to and I’m now something…it’s a completely different world. It’s a portal. I’m entering this dimension that’s like a new world. Make it clear to these guys. You’ll be better off if you just continue walking in the same dimension.

Tucker:
Yes. There is not a sex predator mode that you should go into.

Scott:
Exactly. That’s why I hate this target language. That’s actually language of sexual predators.

Tucker:
It is. We actually talked a lot about this with guys, about how a lot of what’s taught in pickup actually codes as a predator. The way you look at a woman, if you’re looking at her body and not her face or if you look at her and then look away when she looks at you, that codes, in the deep mammalian brain, it codes as predatory behavior. It makes her feel uncomfortable because it is quite literally predatory behavior.

Scott:
Oh, we didn’t talk about the dark triad at all.

Tucker:
I’ll tell you what. Come back on in a few months. We’ll do dark triad. Because you’re kind of an expert on that, too. We’ll do a whole dark triad podcast, ‘cause that’s a whole separate thing.

Scott:
I was going to say. That’s a whole can of…

Tucker:
Yeah. Listen, this has been fantastic, Scott. Thank you very much. Maybe in a month or two if you want, if you have time, we’ll come on and do dark triad. That’s it’s own subject that I think a lot of guys need to hear about. Most guys aren’t dark triad, but they learn these things and they’ll code some of those behaviors and they’ll be like, “I don’t understand why women don’t like me.” It’s because you look like a fucking psychopath, dude!

Scott:
You’re funny. Yeah. They’re wannabe dark triads.

Tucker:
Right. Exactly. Even though that’s not who they are.

Scott:
That’s hilarious. Yeah. You’re absolutely right. That sounds good, man.

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