Monday, December 28, 2009

Questions, questions.

The Christmas season has been surprisingly busy and despite my having done very little real work, find myself quite run down. The season had been a series of large noisy gatherings with very little meaningful conversation until I met a friend for dinner yesterday. We were discussing a few questions and I thought I would share these.

1. For those familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, where does sex fit in? I thought it would not be static but vary with age. My friend suggested its relative position would be in inverse proportion to the likelihood of it occurring.

2. Women and grooming. What is it that really drives a woman to look after their general appearance (dress, accessories, makeup etc). We were rather distressed by the way in which some very good looking women were ruining there appearance by overly heavy makeup.

I thought it was driven by insecurity, which would increase with age .I knew of a classic case of a really good looking woman in her mid 30's making a hideous mess of her face. My friend, on the other hand, knew someone who made the same mistake as a young university undergraduate and he put a different perspective on it.

He suggested that women groom themselves not to impress men but to impress other women. Thus it is not a case of the peacock displaying a beautiful tail to impress the opposite sex but rather a case of establishing a position within the social hierarchy of a tribe.

I do know that men who work out are always checking out the physiques of other men in a gym and there is always a subtle level of competition that goes on with the amount of weight being lifted.

3. Why is it that a few television serials tend to be evergreen, endlessly reinventing themselves while others fade out after a few programmes? The classic is Dr Who which is still seemingly evergreen after many decades and after a succession of doctors.

15 comments:

Sabby said...

Gack. Maslow's. Hated the theories, there were so many and so pointless as they used Maslow's as the base and then just added their two cents and then voila! A new theory! WE were the idiots asked to write about them 50 years later *grumble grumble*

Anyway, contrary to popular assumption, I always thought sex went with the physiological needs. I mean, shelter, food are basic sure but man- erm people- cease to function without it regardless of whether the other basics are provided.

Alright. Ceased making sense.
Nevermind.

And your friend was right about the grooming thing :)

Anonymous said...

Sex is a basic need. But yes its quite a luxury for the teens, divorcees & widowers.

Jack Point said...

Ha ha Sabby:)

I rather liked Maslow and the management theories-once I managed to summarise the whole lot so I could see links between the various theories. Before the summarising exercise it was a horrible nebulous set of ideas.

Thanks for the input on the grooming.

Anon, there was another question that I forgot to put down- what is the income elasticity of demand with respect to the services of prostitutes?

Hopeless said...

1. Maslow's provocation.....
I view Maslow's pyramid as a dynamic model that is to be applied depending on the situation i.e. culture, per capita income, civil liberty among many other. Age interestingly does not matter - According to BBC website, ND Tiwari, Governor of Andra Pradesh, has resigned today in response to allegations that he was found in bed with 3 women. For the record he is 86 years old.
The key distinction is between Need and Want. I think sex is a want not a need and does not qualify to sit within Maslow's pyramid.
But for the sake of argument one should view sex, not as a mechanical process of horizontal integration but one that involves the mind, any reader of Nabokov's Lolita can endorse this. Pure Sex is boring and mundane. In this context sex qualifies to sit right at the top of the pyramid.
Is masturbation sex? If yes, then I don’t care where sex sits within Maslow's pyramid or should I?
2. Women and grooming and economics
Why women use make up? Yours truly believe that it is do with self confidence and also to signal desirability to mate. What does make up do? – It changes the fabric of your face, why should a woman desire to change it? Because she is not happy with her face – why she is not happy, because a) she does not know she has a pretty face b) If married her man fancies a younger face c) She has deficiencies in other departments i.e. smaller frontal lobes or inverted posterior or both. The best way to solve such questions is take a deductive questioning approach.
Again yours truly find the average French woman uses less make up than say a British woman – conclusion, French woman are natural beauties with acceptable contours and more self confidence and in French culture it is acceptable to say “you are beautiful” and it is acceptable to flirt too. Very similar to Italy - also the average Italian woman too uses less make up, and is receptive for her bottom to be patted (albeit fleetingly) by strange men, in other places such behavior can bring untold suffering on the adventurous man and his kin
Therefore, information asymmetry (a woman need to be told she is beautiful – this is bloody challenging as you will have to do this when she not wearing makeup if not you invite more make up on her face next time you see her) is the key driver of make up
3. Television
I don’t comment on Television, as its useful purpose is still debated by grown up men

Jack Point said...

Thank you Hopeless for the insightful comment, although from reading it I guess you are far from hopeless!

sue said...

Hmmm that grooming thing...I personally want to look good for me because it makes ME feel good. If the opposite sex finds me attractive then, it's an added bonus :P

santhoshi said...

Recently I started doing the makeup thing for myself. Before i think i was doing it cause everyone else was.

Tvs being evergreen is cause all the aachis and aunties still watch it faithfully. Thats why tv serials get away with it.

Insane mind said...

Maslow's theory is obsolete given today's digital world where everyone can make it big in life if they were a little too smarter than the average lot. Today we talk about a flat world, a level playing field for everyone. Internet has made it even more accessible.

Maslow's belonged to the stone age when the social strata belonged. Today its out dated. Besides Maslow's is based on the social divide based on socialism and capitalism. It basically advocates some would be poor while others would be richer. It need not be so. I don't believe in socialism or capitalism. I only believe in the flat world theory of friedman. So maslow's irrelevant.

In Srilanka every parent wants their kid educated at Royal or S.Thomas. Its the dream of every parent be they belong to colombo seven or wanathamulla. Where is the disparity here?

Aspirations are the same for everyone, as such maslow's no longer holds true.

pp said...

dunno about maslow's theory, but women and make up could be (and probably is) because of social conditioning no?

since we're kids we're told in so many ways pretty women wear make up. when we're old enough, we also start using it (though i've noticed that "old enough" keeps getting younger and younger). the cycle goes on.

i can't be bothered using make up everyday, but use bits of it every now and then. but if you ask me if i wear it because of insecurities, to find a mate or to impress other women, the answer is that i have no clue :) at the risk of sounding presumptuous, don't think most women do either.

i'll tell you what though, if you can start a successful cosmetics company, that's big bucks there :)

Jack Point said...

Thanks for the input PP.

Lots of cosmetics get sold, but what is really driving the usage is the question.

Anonymous said...

The comeback of hopeless.....

Cleopatra's eye make-up 'had health benefits'

Cleopatra, as famously portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor
The heavy eye make-up favoured by ancient Egyptians such as Cleopatra may have had medical as well as aesthetic benefits, French research suggests.

The study, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, suggests it helped to protect against eye disease.

The key appears to be lead salts contained in the make-up.

At very low levels, salts produce nitric oxide, which boosts the immune system to fight off bacteria which can cause eye infection.

The make-up used by the ancient Egyptians to darken and enhance the eyes sometimes took up to a month to concoct.

In theory, because it contained lead it might actually have posed a risk to health.

But an analysis by scientists from the Louvre Museum and the CNRS research institute found that in very low doses lead could actually have a positive effect.

Lead researcher Philippe Walter said: "We knew ancients Greeks and Romans too had noted the make-up had medicinal properties, but wanted to determine exactly how."

The researchers used a tiny electrode, 1/10th the thickness of a human hair, to look at the effect of lead chloride salt synthesised by the Egyptians - laurionite - on a single cell.

Writing in the journal, they said: "In stimulating nonspecific immunological defences, one may argue that these lead compounds were deliberately manufactured and used in ancient Egyptian formulations to prevent and treat eye illnesses by promoting the action of immune cells."

Anonymous said...

I use makeup and I do it for myself. Have you noticed men look OK when they grow older but women are wrecks?

Jack Point said...

Thanks anon's for those comments.

Insane Mind- I was not all that impressed with Friedman but I only skimmed the book.

Maslow's pyramid is probably not a rigid, hierarchy as originally envisaged but I do think if taken in a more fluid sense it may be useful for analysis.

Anon2 -I've noticed the aging of women is directly proportional to the level of partying that they do. Heavy drinking, smoking and frequent late nights take a terrible toll on the skin.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous women largely look like wrecks as they get older partly the damaging effects of heavy make up use - women who do not use much make up tend to keep their looks better.

Going back to the post I agree with my husbandÅ› suggestions that women dress up to impress other women- that is why women discuss other women appearance so much!

Graeme said...

Maslow did consider sex a physiological need. However try:

1) Doing without sex for a week (or a month, or a year).
2) Doing without food for a week.
3) Doing without shelter for a week.

Then tell me that they are all equally hard to do without.

@JP the only studies I have come across on the income elasticity of prostitution were carried out in developed countries where you can assume that the bottom layers of the pyramid are supplied.

I do not believe women saying that they dress up and wear make-up for themselves. You do not do it when you are alone at home, do you? Its to do with insecurities and status.