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Evolutionary Psychology

Why Are We Surprised?

Men do everything they do in order to get laid.

Tiger WoodsThe only thing that’s surprising about the current Tiger Woods saga is that it is surprising at all.

I have held off talking about the Tiger Woods fiasco, because I felt I had already said everything that is to be said about it during the last sex scandal (and the one before) to add anything new. I’d only be repeating myself. But the continued attention given to the story by the media, including Psychology Today blogs – not to mention the consternation, outrage, disappointment, and all the other emotional reactions to it – leads me to conclude that I was wrong: I have not said enough, or else I have failed to convince people. So I have decided to repeat myself.

In the very short time since I have been a “blogger” at Psychology Today, since February 2008, there have been numerous sex scandals of politicians, athletes, and other celebrities: Eliot Spitzer; Silvio Berlusconi; David Paterson; John Edwards; Mark Sanford; David Letterman, and now Tiger Woods. This is nothing new. The only puzzle is that some of them had to pay for the sex. At least, Berlusconi, the only non-American on the list above, does not have to face the “outrage” and “disappointment” of his countrymen; in Europe, for some reason, people know that this is normal for politicians and other powerful and resourceful men.

To recap everything I have said in the last two years on this blog, men do everything they do in order to get laid (Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI). This is mostly unconscious on the part of the men; they don’t necessarily know that they do everything they do in order to get laid. They consciously think that they want to attain the highest political office in the state or in the country; they want to become a successful businessman and make more money than anyone else; they want to practice and play hard so that they can become the best in their sport; they want to make America laugh so that they become the most successful entertainer. Men want to do these things because they are evolutionarily designed to compete and achieve, and, when they do, women seek them out as sexual partners.

Highly successful men have sexual affairs, not because they want to (if what men want mattered, all men would have a maximum number of affairs), but because women choose them. As I have said again, sex and mating among humans and other mammals is an entirely female choice, not a male choice; it happens whenever and with whomever women want, not whenever and with whomever men want. What men want doesn’t matter, because it’s a constant. What matters is what women want.

And Elin Nordegren and other “wronged wives” cannot really complain about their husbands’ affairs. As I explain in an earlier post, it’s not like women want their husbands to cheat on them, but then it’s not like they don’t want them to cheat on them either. They have chosen to marry the men precisely because they are the type of men who would cheat on their wives. If they were the kind of men who wouldn’t (and, more importantly, couldn’t), then they would not have been attractive enough for the wives to marry.

Bill Clinton became the President of the United States, unconsciously, indirectly, and ultimately, so that he could get laid. David Letterman became America’s favorite entertainer, unconsciously, indirectly, and ultimately, so that he could get laid. Tiger Woods became the most successful golfer in history, unconsciously, indirectly, and ultimately, so that he could get laid. It would be a tremendous evolutionary puzzle if these men, after spending their entire lives attaining the status and resources they attained, then didn’t have affairs. And their wives married them because they were the kind of men would could cheat on them.

Scientists are not in the business of making predictions for the future, at least not for the short run and not at the individual level, and, if they were, in the realm of human behavior, they would be wrong most of the time. But here’s a prediction that I can safely make for the year 2010.

During the course of the year 2010, there will be at least one sex scandal involving a notable politician, there will be at least one sex scandal involving a notable athlete, and there will be at least one sex scandal involving other celebrities. And the politicians, athletes, and celebrities involved will all be men.

Yes, this is the most banal prediction that anyone can make. (I also predict that there will be lots of snow in Buffalo, NY, this winter.) But do me a favor: If you are going to complain that my prediction is banal, which it is, then please don’t act surprised when it comes true, which it inevitably will. A statement cannot simultaneously be banal and surprising (let alone outrageous and disappointing) at the same time.

If, on the other hand, I turn out to be wrong in my prediction, I will hang up my hat as an evolutionary psychologist, and, after the last of the monkeys fly out of my ass, become a social constructionist feminist. Get back to me in January 2011.

About the Author
Satoshi Kanazawa

Satoshi Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist at LSE and the coauthor (with the late Alan S. Miller) of Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters.

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