Geoffrey Miller on Signaling, Mating, and Morality

June 11, 2020

Today it’s great to have Geoffrey Miller on the podcast. Geoffrey Miller is the author of Virtue Signaling (2019), Spent (2009), and The Mating Mind (2001), the co-author of Mate/What Women Want (2015), and the co-editor of Mating Intelligence (2007). He has a B.A. from Columbia and a Ph.D. from Stanford. He’s a tenured evolutionary psychology professor at the University of New Mexico; and has also worked at the University of Sussex, the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research, University College London, London School of Economics, U.C.L.A., and NYU Stern Business School.

He researches evolutionary psychology, sexuality, consumer behavior, behavior genetics, intelligence, personality, creativity, humor, and mental disorders. He’s has over 110 academic publications, and has given over 200 invited talks in 16 countries. His research has been featured in Nature, Science, Time, Wired, New Scientist, The Economist,The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Psychology Today, on NPR and BBC radio, and on CNN, PBS, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, National Geographic Channel, BBC, and Channel 4.

Time Stamps

[0:35] Dr. Miller’s background and his book, The Mating Mind

[2:53] Understanding Signaling Theory

[6:10] Connecting Signaling Theory to sexual selection

[10:41] Common misconceptions about Signaling Theory

[12:41] Functions and social benefits of signaling

[14:01] Creativity as signals

[15:39] Dr. Miller shares about cognitive emotions

[17:42] How social media helps intellectual curiosity

[20:34] Connection between social rewards and sexual selection

[23:06] How self-esteem tracks perception of social value

[27:56] How Machiavellianism and sociopathy create a “trap” of finding followers

[29:30] “Pick up artists” and their life hacks on courtship and dating

[33:06] Effective influencing and courtship vs. Machiavellianism

[35:18] Human beings as “ideological animals”

[39:06] How individual differences create beliefs, ideologies, and values

[43:07] Distinguishing cheap talk and virtue signaling

[47:07] Differences between empathy and effective altruism

[49:29] Cognitive biases and utilitarian thinking

[54:09] Effective altruism vs. psychopathy

[57:03] Discrimination of neurodivergent people

[1:02:45] Impact of gifted people on society moving forward

[1:04:49] Dr. Miller on teaching a course on polyamory and open sexuality

[1:07:11] Pair bonding and monogamy in human evolution

[1:11:49] How monogamous and polyamorous people can learn from each other

[1:12:43] So what is polyamory?

[1:14:30] Dr. Miller on writing a new book about ethical polyamory

[1:16:20] Existential and extraterrestrial threats from an effective altruist perspective

Call to Action

What are your thoughts on virtue signaling, polyamory, and sexual selection? What part of Dr. Miller’s experiences inspire or stand out most to you?  Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section down below and make sure to subscribe for more content!

One Response to “Geoffrey Miller on Signaling, Mating, and Morality”

  1. Shawn O'Brien says:

    Fascinating discussion, and as always, Scott asked challenging questions, such as how individual personality differences affect our evolved tendencies for virtual signaling. The insight that individuals with neurodiversity may actually be more effective at accomplishing goals based on empathy is a counter-intuitive eye-opener. Of course, people with neurodiversity are not monolithic, so I assume there are also individual differences within that group based on personality (and possibly autistic subtype). It’s interesting to learn that cult leaders, including our current Supreme Leader, actually have contempt for their adoring fans. Who would have thought?! (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

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