Saturday, July 03, 2021

Why would men bring fake cell phones to bars?

See Cell Phone or Pheromone? New Props for the Mating Game by Natalie Angier of The NY Times (article is from the year 2000).

But first, this post by Tyler Cowen might give some insights into why there is so much faking going on (see links to related posts below). See Bullshit Ability as an Honest Signal of Intelligence. "The ability to produce satisfying bullshit may serve to assist individuals in negotiating their social world, both as an energetically efficient strategy for impressing others and as an honest signal of intelligence."

Now excerpts from the The NY Times article:

"Observing patrons at an upscale pub frequented by lawyers, entrepeneurs and other single professionals, researchers from the University of Liverpool discovered that men had a markedly different relationship to their cell phones than did women.

Not only did significantly more men than women appear to own cell phones, but they clearly wanted everybody else to know they owned them, too. Whereas the women in the pub generally kept their phones in their purses and retrieved them only as needed, the men would take their phones out of their jacket pockets or briefcases upon sitting down and place them on the bar counter or table for all to see.

Lest they be overlooked, the men fiddled with them often, picking them up, moving them here or there, checking to be sure the battery was charged.

As the researchers see it, the men are using their mobile phones as peacocks use their immobilizing feathers and male bullfrogs use their immoderate croaks: to advertise to females their worth, status and desirability.

The study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Human Nature, shows how new technology subserves primal impulses -- specifically, the impulse to strut.

It also suggests that the breathless evolution of today's technology is driven, not merely by scientific innovations or the demand for heightened worker productivity, but by the social need of people to find novel ornaments and status symbols that distinguish them from the pack. [economists call this signalling theory-you send out information about yourself that is costly to fake, unless, of course, the phone itself is fake in which case you are trying to look like you are sending out a costly signal]

Pulling no punches, John E. Lycett and Robin I. M. Dunbar of the Center for Economic Learning and Social Evolution, entitle their report, ''Mobile Phones as Lekking Devices Among Human Males.''

In nature, a lek is a communal mating area where males gather to engage in flamboyant courtship displays, and females stroll by to judge the performers and presumably choose the fittest, most resourceful or most amusing of the lot."

"Mobile phones are a ''clever positional good,'' he said, a positional good being something that marks one's social position." [said  Dr. Geoffrey F. Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at UCLA]

"a person who pulls out a phone and starts yakking away on it looks for all the world like a smooth operator -- even when that phone is phony. Dr. Lycett said that the new study was inspired by newspaper accounts of how, when night clubs in South America began requiring patrons to check their cell phones at the door, it was discovered that a huge percentage of the phones were fake.

''At the same time, stores in the U.K. were selling fake mobile phones, and some were quite sophisticated -- they even would ring and light up,'' said Dr. Lycett, in an interview on a conventional telephone. ''We wondered, Why would anybody buy a fake phone?'' The researchers also had casually noticed that men seemed to play around with their phones more than women did, prompting them to wonder if there were sex differences in cell phone behavior.

They chose to study the behavior formally in a pub, which is the center of social life in Britain, and to focus on professionals, a socioeconomic group with the means and presumed need to own cell phones.

Attending the same pub on 23 evenings over a four-month period, the researchers, financed through a grant from the university, discreetly kept track of all patrons who sat at the pub's 13 tables. They recorded who obviously had a phone -- that is, used it or displayed it -- and how he or she handled the phone. Over their study period, 54 percent of the pub patrons were men. Of the men, 32 percent were recorded as possessing a cell phone, whereas only 13 percent of the women did.

''It's possible that more women had phones than this and we never saw them, but that goes to the heart of what we're saying: that there's a gender difference in the way they're displayed and used,'' said Dr. Lycett.

To the women, a phone was just a phone, while the men fingered theirs so often you'd have thought it was, well, a cigar.

The researchers noted also that the amount of time the men spent toying with and displaying their phones increased significantly as the number of men relative to women increased, rather as male peacocks fan open their feathers more vigorously the greater the number of competing suitors in view.

Whether the exhibiting of a cell phone ever worked as a male courtship display -- that is, whether it attracted any women -- the researchers could not determine. Dr. Miller pointed out that, as status symbols go, cell phones were not mere indicators of one's bank account, as a Rolex watch or a Jaguar roadster might be. ''What's being displayed here is not so much wealth as social importance, and the fact that you're plugged into social network and are important enough to be able to be reachable all the time,'' he said.

That association, said Dr. Miller, could explain why cell phones are status symbols not merely for young male barristers in Liverpool, but also for, say, female adolescents in Southern California. ''Teenage girls have a high variation in the size of their social networks, which they love to advertise, particularly to other girls,'' he said. ''It's a form of female-female competition.''"

Related posts:

Photos show China's most surreal tourist spot— a fake Instagram-worthy town full of pretend farmers and phony fishermen

Fake Reviews and Inflated Ratings Are Still a Problem for Amazon

The Myth of Authenticity Or The Story Behind Products 

Fake Authenticity

Students: Make a mistake on purpose, its good for you!

A fake job reference can be just a few clicks away.

Fake Economist Fools Portugal.

Slave Redemption in Sudan. (Fake slaves are sold to those who buy slaves and then give them their freedom)

Can A Product Work Just Because It's Expensive?. (fake medicine)

If It Pays To Have Friends, Can You Pay To Have Friends?. (you can hire fake boyfriends)

Study: Half of American Doctors Give Patients Placebos Without Telling Them.

Saudis grapple with fake street sweepers .

Rent a White Guy: Confessions of a fake businessman from Beijing (by Mitch Moxley in The Atlantic Monthly, excerpts below)

Can adding a phantom third story to their homes help families find a wife for their son?

Why do employers pay extra money to people who study a bunch of subjects in college that they don’t actually need you to know? Signaling

Mexicans buy fake cellphones to hand over in muggings
Conspicuous Consumption, Conspicuous Virtue, Thorstein Veblen (and Adam Smith, too!)

How does a company selling used luxury goods spot fakes? (signalling and conspicuous consumption).

Why do stores sometimes pay people to be fake shoppers? 

What if companies can't afford real models for their ads? Use AI generated fake pictures 

Excerpts from "Rent a White Guy"

"Not long ago I was offered work as a quality-control expert with an American company in China I’d never heard of. No experience necessary—which was good, because I had none. I’d be paid $1,000 for a week, put up in a fancy hotel, and wined and dined in Dongying, an industrial city in Shandong province I’d also never heard of. The only requirements were a fair complexion and a suit.

“I call these things ‘White Guy in a Tie’ events,” a Canadian friend of a friend named Jake told me during the recruitment pitch he gave me in Beijing, where I live. “Basically, you put on a suit, shake some hands, and make some money. We’ll be in ‘quality control,’ but nobody’s gonna be doing any quality control. You in?”

I was.

And so I became a fake businessman in China, an often lucrative gig for underworked expatriates here. One friend, an American who works in film, was paid to represent a Canadian company and give a speech espousing a low-carbon future. Another was flown to Shanghai to act as a seasonal-gifts buyer. Recruiting fake businessmen is one way to create the image—particularly, the image of connection—that Chinese companies crave. My Chinese-language tutor, at first aghast about how much we were getting paid, put it this way: “Having foreigners in nice suits gives the company face.”

Six of us met at the Beijing airport, where Jake briefed us on the details. We were supposedly representing a California-based company that was building a facility in Dongying. Our responsibilities would include making daily trips to the construction site, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and hobnobbing. During the ceremony, one of us would have to give a speech as the company’s director. That duty fell to my friend Ernie, who, in his late 30s, was the oldest of our group. His business cards had already been made."

"For the next few days, we sat in the office swatting flies and reading magazines, purportedly high-level employees of a U.S. company that, I later discovered, didn’t really exist."






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