Intuition and Congruence – Two Powerful Gifts From Evolution

I was reading this really interesting book the other day, The Red Queen, by Matt Ridley. A fascinating study of human sexuality through the lens of evolution. One of the various topics was the reasons behind the growth of the human brain. When compared to all other mammals, humans have the largest brain. The question is why? What was the driving force behind the massive growth of the human thinking machine?

Many arguments that are usually given can also be used for other primates, and their brains are nowhere near the size of ours. Most scientists believe it is a combination of many factors to say the least. One of the most prominent is sexual selection within a species.

Imagine a group of cave people, fifty girls, and fifty guys. For the guys, they want to have sex with as many girls as possible. (Obviously). For the girls, they need to be extremely selective with who they choose to have sex with, because the consequences could be disastrous if they choose the wrong guy. Their offspring will not only carry his DNA, but his cooperation will have a direct impact on that offspring to survive.

So how do they manage this? The men try their hardest to convince the women that they are upstanding men capable of providing for the family. One way to do this is to simply pretend to be. They only need to pretend long enough and good enough to get into her cave-panties for the couple minutes it will take to get his cave-men rocks off. Then off to the next cave girl.

So an arm’s race of sorts developed over time. In men, the ability to deceive. In women, the ability to detect deception. Of course, men would pass on their skills of deception to their offspring, be they girls or boys. And women would also pass on their skills of deception detection onto their offspring, be they boys or girls.

So as man evolved, there was a contest, in both men and women, between skills of deception, and skills to detect deception. As mankind grew, this required a bigger and bigger brain.

The reason for this is congruity. In order to detect deception, you must be able to detect incongruity. This requires massive attention to subtle clues of body language, facial expression, and voice tone. Too much for the conscious mind to handle. Many believe the unconscious mind was developed to detect deception without having to spend too much conscious bandwidth, so to speak.

So we developed an “intuition” to tell when somebody is lying or not. Our subconscious minds developed the ability to quickly scan somebody’s body language, facial expressions, and voice tone, and then deliver a gut reaction, or a “feeling” to our conscious minds. And those that have learned to pay attention to this “feeling” or “gut reaction” can spot a liar a mile away.

Conversely, those that can present a very congruent image can be some of the best salespeople and manipulators around. Of course, the best way to be a great salesperson is to really believe in what you are selling. There’s a reason that many companies require their salespeople to actually own and use the product they are selling.

Of course, when you are presenting yourself, either to a potential lover or to a potential boss, it is essential that you believe in yourself. If you have any self-doubts, you will be dead before you even open your mouth.

The moral of this essay is twofold. One, take some time to get in tune with your intuition. It can serve you well against making bad decisions. It is the product of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, and is there for a reason. Use it, respect it, and listen to it.

Secondly, in order to present a believable image to the world, you must believe in yourself. Self-confidence and self-esteem stem from a belief that you are a good and worthy person with something of real value to offer the world. Don’t sell yourself short.

Believe in yourself, and trust your intuition, and you will go a long way.