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The Bi modal Personality: A Socio-sexual model of Human Behavior
Home Social Issues Sexuality
By: Robert Depaolo Email Article
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As an interesting side note, paleoanthropologists have long wondered what motivated early man to paint in the caves at Lascaux and Altamira. Some believe the paintings were spiritual (Greene 2007). Others believe the drawings were the inevitable byproduct of a cognitive leap in brain evolution (Waldman, 2012). These theories, and others, are interesting and possibly valid. One question seldom asked is whether the ancient artists drew these pictures to among other things, obtain higher rank and sexual access.


One way to address this aspect of human endeavor is to conjure up a kind of thought experiment, whereby one group of well-trained athletes are asked to run as fast or jump as high as they can with no one watching, the second group to do so with people observing. This is not the same as asking whether some athletes perform better or worse under pressure of scrutiny - clearly that varies with the individual. Rather it is to ask whether non-social performance would differ significantly from social performance. The same question could be asked of musicians, lecturers and actors. Research on this is sparse but one suspects the presence of observers would more often than not enhance performance; for various reasons having to do with social status, heightened adrenal output and the performance enhancing reinforcement (or fear of rejection) from the crowd.


The role of socio-sexual elements in politics is obvious; not only in light of the sexual exploits of various leaders over time (and not just in the USA - which begs the question of why we are so surprised by revelations about the sex lives of powerful politicians) but also because politics is not only about policy but also about appeal, attractiveness, and abstractions such as..."connecting with the people" "being charismatic" and "having a following." Under the most horrendous circumstances we have seen this tendency utilized by figures like Caligula, Jim Jones and Charles Manson to manipulate the social and sexual/political instincts of their followers. Yet even benevolent figures have fished in those waters. Henry Kissinger's famous quote about power being an aphrodisiac comes to mind.


Humor can also be said to derive from socio-sexual roots. It is of course social, since much of it pertains to one person's observations of others; for example George Carlin's comments on the flat backsides of white folks and Richard Prior's epiphany at seeing predominantly black folks in his travels to Africa. Yet while it is social it is also, interestingly, devoted to social rank. In fact when this writer was a young man a joke-fest among peers was often called a "ranking party."

Freud maintained that inherent in humor is an aggressive or taboo component, that allows us to say or imply things that have hurtful, demeaning tones but are masked as sarcasm and irony. Hennie Youngman's "take my wife... please", Jeff Foxworthy's..."You could be a redneck" are just two of many examples of the hierarchical underpinnings of humor. Since social rank has bearing on sexual access it can be said to fit into the bimodal personality paradigm as well.

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Robert DePaolo. M.S. Clinical Psychology, retired practitioner in clinical, education and neurobehavioral fields. Author of four books and many articles on psychology, science, politics, religion and music, former professor of psychology NH University System

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