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A new study shows that people will rationalize their shitty situations if they think that they’re stuck with them. (See also: sour grapes.)

People who feel like they’re stuck with a rule or restriction are more likely to be content with it than people who think that the rule isn’t definite. The authors of a new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, say this conclusion may help explain everything from unrequited love to the uprisings of the Arab Spring.

Psychological studies have found two contradictory results about how people respond to rules. Some research has found that, when there are new restrictions, you rationalize them; your brain comes up with a way to believe the restriction is a good idea. But other research has found that people react negatively against new restrictions, wanting the restricted thing more than ever.

Kristin Laurin of the University of Waterloo thought the difference might be absoluteness — how much the restriction is set in stone. “If it’s a restriction that I can’t really do anything about, then there’s really no point in hitting my head against the wall and trying to fight against it,” she says. “I’m better off if I just give up. But if there’s a chance I can beat it, then it makes sense for my brain to make me want the restricted thing even more, to motivate me to fight” Laurin wrote the new paper with Aaron Kay and Gavan Fitzsimons of Duke University.

So does this prove the existence of the infamous female rationalization hamster? Well, almost. The study was gender-inspecific, so what it tells us is that people in general will rationalize their powerlessness so as to assuage their tender egos in the face of unchangeable circumstances. We will have to continue to rely on experimental reports from the field and incisive observations into the womanly condition from Chateau proprietors for evidence of a particularly mighty breed of female-specific hamster. There is strong anecdotal data that such a female-particular breed exists; it is now up to scientists with the balls to snicker at feminist shrieking to bravely test the hypothesis.

When a rule, a restriction, or a circumstance is fixed and inalterable, our tendency is to act like we are perfectly OK with our lack of choice or station in life. In contrast, when we feel like we have a real shot to change our circumstances, we are less likely to resign ourselves to fate, and less likely to pretend as if we wanted our crappy lot in life all along. So if you want to see the hamster spin wildly, make sure the little bugger has no hope of escape from his wheeled hellmatrix. He’ll spin, spin until he loses all touch with reality.

I think we’ve seen plenty of examples of self-gratifying spinning in the comments on this blog, not to mention just about anywhere in the informational universe where feminists congregate to kvetch. And the spinning is not just limited to feminists. Most losers in the mating game have experienced the crush of 5 Gs in their hamster wheels. I find these kinds of people fall into two camps: the pity whores (woe is me, i’m a loser, there’s nothing i can do about it, so stop trying to help people like me, you’re only leading us astray with your advice), and the delusion zombies (i’m not a loser, i have everything i need in life, single cougarhood, five cats and a niceguy beta orbiter are exactly what i’ve always wanted).

To bring this study closer to the mission statement of this blog, what does it imply about love?

And how does this relate to unrequited love? It confirms people’s intuitive sense that leading someone can just make them fall for you more deeply, Laurin says. “If this person is telling me no, but I perceive that as not totally absolute, if I still think I have a shot, that’s just going to strengthen my desire and my feeling, that’s going to make me think I need to fight to win the person over,” she says. “If instead I believe no, I definitely don’t have a shot with this person, then I might rationalize it and decide that I don’t like them that much anyway.”

Bulls-eye. An elegant confirmation of push-pull game theory. Drawing a woman in, then pushing her away by, for example, disqualifying yourself or her, will switch the courtship dynamic around so that she is in the role of the chaser, instead of the typical female role of the chased. A woman who isn’t sure you really like her because your actions are calculated to deliver an ambiguous message, is more likely to press the seduction forward than she would with either a fulsomely unambiguous man or a completely uninterested man.

If you flirt with a woman, raise her buying temperature, but then show no interest at all in her for the remainder of the night, she will rationalize her rejection by telling herself she never really wanted you.

There are many real-world examples of women rationalizing their rejection or low sexual market value. Below, I list some of the more common ones.

“I’m not interested in guys who like anorexic women.” 
“Men my age won’t date me? I prefer younger men anyway.” 
“Men are intimidated by my intelligence/career/education.” 
“Men don’t like opinionated women.” 
“Women reach their sexual peak at 35!” 
“I get all the love I need from my child.” 
“I was looking for a one night stand, too.” 
“No man is good enough for me and my child.” 
“Men are afraid of commitment.” 
“Now that I’m older I choose my men more carefully.” 
“Men refuse to grow up and settle down.” 
“Men who date younger girls can’t handle women their age.” 
“I’ve grown into my beauty.” 
“Real men appreciate my curves.” 
“A confident man loves a woman with experience.” 
“I’m not dating because I need me-time.” 
“He stopped calling because he got scared.” 

And, of course, the all-time favorite rationalization of the castaway driftwood of womankind:

“There are no good men left.” 

Some may ask why I so confidently assert that the female rationalization hamster is stronger and speedier than the male rationalization hamster. The answer is simple. Since women are the more biologically valuable sex, they have a lot more ego to lose — and hence to spin into hamsterrific delusion — by being rejected or downgraded to the invisible fringes of the mating market.


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