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June 6, 2006 2:44 PM   Subscribe

The Symmetry Thesis
posted by Tlogmer (37 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 

posted by Tlogmer at 2:45 PM on June 6, 2006


The fickleness of the women I love is matched only by the infernal constancy of the women who love me.
- George Bernard Shaw
posted by jfuller at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2006


Isn't this basically what Jesus was on about?
posted by undule at 2:59 PM on June 6, 2006


"Yes I know that most of you don't believe it, and have plenty of counterexamples to offer. But keep it in the back of your mind, and see if it proves useful over the next few years."

=

"This has no basis in reality but see if it at least works as a self-help tool in a 'power of positive thinking' kind of way."
posted by vacapinta at 3:03 PM on June 6, 2006


I don't think of it so much as a self help tool as a useful lie like "All men are created equal"
posted by I Foody at 3:06 PM on June 6, 2006


Stop teasing me.
posted by phrontist at 3:12 PM on June 6, 2006


I really like Tlogmer, because he posted such an interesting link. Does this that he likes me, now?
posted by triolus at 3:14 PM on June 6, 2006


If this concept is valid, there should be about 7 women from my office wanting to jump me as i head for the elevator.
posted by Artful Codger at 3:34 PM on June 6, 2006


What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
posted by luriete at 3:49 PM on June 6, 2006


You love as much as you give yourself license to. Courage. All that.
Hmm...
Yeah.
I utterly adore my wife. I would die for her and more, I do live for her. And I get it back. I don’t know if that’s universal, but that kind of happiness is very contagious.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:51 PM on June 6, 2006


I hate you all.
posted by plexiwatt at 4:04 PM on June 6, 2006


I had no idea Keira Knightly felt that way about me!

*swoons*
posted by brundlefly at 4:04 PM on June 6, 2006


Holy shit it works. Let me feel your anger!
posted by plexiwatt at 4:06 PM on June 6, 2006


The fickleness of the women I love is matched only by the infernal constancy of the women who love me.
- George Bernard Shaw


Thanks for that quote. I always used to say that the girls I like don't really like me and the girls I don't like really like me. Now I can quote Shaw instead and feel a bit more sophisticated.
posted by well_balanced at 4:07 PM on June 6, 2006


Tlogmer, you forgot to put the BS tag on this post.
posted by bigmusic at 4:23 PM on June 6, 2006


Of all the interesting posts and discussions at Marginal Revolution, you pick this?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:24 PM on June 6, 2006


Cheesy pop psychology/self-help theory based upon decades old actual psychology theory most learned about in psych 101, film at 11:
Reciprocal Liking - Simply put, we tend to like those better who also like us back. This may be a result of the feeling we get about ourselves knowing that we are likable. When we feel good when we are around somebody, we tend to report a higher level of attraction toward that person (Forgas, 1992; Zajonc & McIntosh, 1992)
posted by ChasFile at 4:24 PM on June 6, 2006


Interesting read.... not sure if I am buying though.
posted by BeepK at 4:26 PM on June 6, 2006


I love this post as much as it hates me.
posted by parki at 4:34 PM on June 6, 2006


It's meant a bit tongue-in-cheek.
posted by Tlogmer at 4:35 PM on June 6, 2006


People will believe anything as long as it is accompanied by a confusing graph.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:37 PM on June 6, 2006


Maybe what he meant to say is that disparities in like/love are not stable and given enough time and equal information, symmetry tends to develop. That's my interpretation, and it seems reasonable...but useless.
posted by jewzilla at 4:39 PM on June 6, 2006


I'm confused. Does this mean I love God back, as I am told he is quite relentless in that respect. Or is he more like the stalker described in the article, probably more hostile than loving?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:52 PM on June 6, 2006


OMG, love is azeotropic!
posted by oats at 5:17 PM on June 6, 2006


Maybe what he meant to say is that disparities in like/love are not stable and given enough time and equal information, symmetry tends to develop.

No, that's not what he's saying. He's saying that other people like you as much as you like them. It's an utterly ridiculous thing to say, and his silly attempts to wave away counterexamples (hey, think about it, maybe in a year or two you'll have a different opinion!) are so transparent I don't think he intends it to be taken seriously. It's just an attention-grabbing blog post. Hey, it got Tlogmer's attention, so I guess it worked.
posted by languagehat at 5:18 PM on June 6, 2006


I don't know about this, from personal experience as well as ... um.. field research, this theory fits much better in relating to people liking each other.

Ladder Theory
posted by countzen at 5:56 PM on June 6, 2006


Definitely true actually.
posted by RufusW at 6:20 PM on June 6, 2006


Ah yes, the old "this holds for all cases except those for which it does not" argument.
posted by yoink at 7:03 PM on June 6, 2006


.
posted by sluglicker at 7:16 PM on June 6, 2006


Symmetry is an overrated virtue.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:22 PM on June 6, 2006


What is the motivation of someone who trumpets around Symmetry theory?
posted by philosophistry at 7:38 PM on June 6, 2006


"I think the theorem is most useful in the 'long run' of relationships, that an equilibrium is reached where both parties feel similarly affection for each other."

So, wait—people who stay in relationships together tend to like each other? And here I thought it was the other way around!
posted by Eideteker at 10:56 PM on June 6, 2006


Likewise, the angle of the dangle is, in fact, proportional to the heat of the meat. Please view this graph. . . in my pants.
posted by dgaicun at 11:50 PM on June 6, 2006


And in the end,
the love you take
is equal to the love you make
-- Lennon, J. & McCartney, P. (1969). The End. Abbey Road, 16. 6-9. London.

He's saying that other people like you as much as you like them.

I think it's more, how shall we say, economic than that. Some of the commenters use words like "value", and I think there's some truth to that. If you think about the mundane, animalistic ways we tend to actually get to know and like people, including subtle things like unconsciously mimicking each others' gestures and speech patterns, I think if you apply that to a slightly more sophisticated continuum of encounters there's an interesting point to be made. Conversely, relationships that drift toward divorce tend to have a lot of little not-liking-each-other moves built into the denouement, such as spending less time doing things together.

Probably Gottman would have an interesting rebuttal -- for instance, couples who have this sort of equilibrium are probably in his "more likely to stay together" basket.
posted by dhartung at 12:43 AM on June 7, 2006


I just posted this on the guys; blog, but I'll post it here for maximum exposure of my wisdom:

I think this is a very interesting thread on an issue that I've been researching in my philosophy phd. It's certainly not just something to dismiss as obviously wrong, especially the weaker thesis (tendency towards symmetry).

If we consider love to be an emotion essentially characterised by attachment, then the tendency towards mutual sensitivity seems plausible. After all, love or liking are not pure sensation emotions but more like long-term dispositions towards certain feelings (i.e. pleasure in others company etc...). Moreover, a case could be made for saying that love, or at least one variant of it (long term love) is a 'meta-emotion' where the essential content is simply 'have an emotion as close as possible to the other's emotion at all times'. This would make it a distinctly social emotion that literally cannot be possessed by individuals but only by groups, i.e. irreducibly collective. The mere existence of a genuinely emergent state like this is profoundly interesting, whether or not there are other kinds of love.

The antithesis, as mentioned earlier is the Proustian theory that you just bounce your own feeling off another person (combined with a theory that you are only ever acquianted with an idea of other people, rather than the person themselves). Yet even Proust's extremely solipsistic idea of love could reveal a deeper admission of symmetry. Obviously people are not literally mirrors, so how exactly do you reflect a feeling off them? By seeing how they react to your displays of emotion, i.e. their empathic reactions. When a person empathises with another, they are subpersonally aroused by that emotion (I can quote sources on this is anyone is interested) which they can then either supress or allow. If a person allows themselves to express the emotion they perceive, then that is a good indicators that they actually feel a comparable emotion.

But of course, people smile at each all the time, and not always sincerely, though there should be a mild increase of happiness even for the insincere (expression leads to feeling). Yet given time, (and hey, at least they are spending time with you!) we can expect genuinely reciprocal feeling.

So in summary: fuck the cynics
posted by leibniz at 2:38 AM on June 7, 2006


My experience doesn't conform to the Symmetry Thesis. Like countzen, the Ladder Theory fits my experience much better.
posted by effwerd at 9:43 AM on June 7, 2006


you can't chop down a symmetry
posted by obloquy at 3:31 AM on June 8, 2006


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