Beautiful Minds

Musings on the many paths to greatness.

Life in the Fast Lane

The complete life in the fast lane series.

"He had a nasty reputation as a cruel dude.
They said he was ruthless, they said he was crude.
Eager for action and hot for the game, the coming attraction, the drop of a name...
Life in the fast lane surely make you lose your mind.
Life in the fast lane, everything all the time."

  -The Eagles

"I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered."
   -Football legend George Best

Fast money. Fast cars. Fast sex. You know the deal. 

Many people live the fast life. From actors, athletes, and rock stars to inner city suburban youth and hunter-gatherer tribes in rural Brazil. You might be living the fast life right now. The fast life features prominently in pop culture. Music videos portray the fast life as glamorous and exciting. Movies portray characters like James Bond as living an exciting fast life full of women, adventure, and intrigue. Live fast, die young is glamorized.

Granted, not all manifestations of the fast life are glamorous or exciting. There are many people around the world living the fast life in very harsh and dangerous conditions that want out. Still, many people live the fast life, full of short-term hedonistic gains and long-term risks, and this widespread phenomenon lends itself to a deep explanation.

The fact that so many people across the world and through the ages have lived life in the fast lane suggests that there may be some evolutionary basis for that lifestyle. Was living the fast life evolutionarily adaptive for some of our distant ancestors living under certain conditions? Looking through an evolutionary lens, can we make greater sense of the evolutionary logic for why people, living in a variety of environments, make the sort of decisions they do in their lives?

Recently, psychologists are taking a deeper look at the fast life, applying evolutionarily informed principles that have traditionally been used to investigate differences among species, to look at variations within our own species.There is so much new research on this topic coming from evolutionary psychology, behavioral ecology, behavioral genetics, developmental psychology, anthropology and more that I thought an entire series devoted to living the fast life would be timely and informative. I was particularly inspired  recently when I had the pleasure of hearing about some of the latest fascinating research relating to living the fast life at the 2010 Human Behavior and Evolution Society Conference in Eugene, Oregon.

The implications run deep across various diverse disciplinary boundaries and have serious consequences for a variety of prominent social issues. Looking at the evolutionary basis for the fast life has implications for all the different gradations of how people live their lives, from fast to slow, glamorous to poverty-stricken, and for topics as diverse as the origins of human evolution, human development, childhood attachment, adult romantic attachment, nature/nurture interactions, the role of mating strategies in human mating intelligence, social deviance, intelligence, creativity, social class disparities, crime, delinquency, social policy, reducing economic, gender, and ethnic inequalities, pop culture, and modern living. I will be exploring these implications throughout this series.

Here's the complete six-part series.

 

Part I, Evolution of the Fast Life

Part II - Developing a Fast Life History Strategy

Part III, Romantic Attachment in the Fast Lane

Part IV, Rebelliousness, Risk, Social Deviance, and Educational Intervention

Part V, Social Class and Public Policy

Part VI: Consilience, Pop Culture, and Modern Living

 

© 2010 by Scott Barry Kaufman

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. is a cognitive psychologist at NYU interested in intelligence and creativity development. He is the author of forthcoming Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined.

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