Jordan Peterson: Why Do Nice Guys Nice Finish Last?

Jordan Peterson has been recognized for his insights and messages specifically directed towards men. Throughout his work, Peterson emphasizes the importance of personal responsibility, self-improvement, and finding meaning in life. He encourages men to take ownership of their actions and choices, advocating for the development of character and the pursuit of excellence. Peterson acknowledges the unique challenges faced by men in today’s society and highlights the importance of embracing individuality while also fostering strong relationships and contributing positively to the world. By promoting the idea of facing adversity with resilience and striving for personal growth, Peterson’s message resonates with many men seeking guidance and inspiration in navigating the complexities of modern life.

Jordan Peterson: Why Do Nice Guys Nice Finish Last?

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If you ask a disagreeable person what he wants, say, or she wants, they’ll tell you right away. They know. It’s like “This is what I want and this is how I’m gonna get it.” But agreeable people, specially if they’re really agreeable, are so agreeable, that they often don’t even know what they want. Cause they’re so accustomed to living for other people, and to finding out what other people want, and to trying to make them comfortable, and so forth, that is harder for them to find a sense of their own desires as they move through life. And that’s not- Look, there’s situations where that’s advantageous, but it’s certainly not advantageous if you’re going to try to forge yourself a career. That just doesn’t work at all. And so, even though, on average men and women don’t- this- don’t- aren’t that much different in terms of their levels of agreeableness by the group, if you go out and you look at the extremes, they are very different. So all of the most agreeable people are women, and all of the most disagreeable people are men.

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And the thing is the extremes are often what matter, rather than what’s in the middle. And so one of the ways that’s reflected in society, by the way, is there’s way more men in prisson and the best personality predictor of being imprissoned is to be low in agreeableness. It makes you callous. Now you may think “Well, what’s the opposite of compassion and politeness?” And the answer to that is, I think it’s best sort of conceptualized as a- as a trading game. So let’s say that we’re going to play repeated trading games. And if you’re very agreeable, then you’re gonna bargain harder on my behalf, than you’re gonna bargain on your own behalf. Whereas if you’re disagreable, you’re gonna do the reverse. You’re gonna think “I’m in this trading game for me, and you’re gonna take care of your own interest.” Where an agreeable person is gonna say “No, no. At best, this is- At worst this has to be 50/50, but I’d like to help you every way I can.” One of the things you have to be carefull of if you’re agreeable, is not to be exploited. Because you’ll line up to be exploited.

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And I think the reason for that is because you’re wired to be exploited by infants. And so, that just doesn’t work too well in the actual world. And one of the things, one of the things that happens very often in psychotherapy you know, people come to psychotherapy for multiple reasons, but one of them is they often come because they’re too agreeable. And so what they get is so called ‘Assertiveness Training’. Although it’s not exactly assertiveness that’s being trained. What it is is the ability to learn how to negotiate on your own behalf. And one of the things I tell agreeable people, specially if they´re conscientious, is Say what you think, tell the truth about what you think. There’s gonna be things you think that you think are nasty and harsh. And they probably are nasty and harsh, but they’re also probably true. And you need to bring those up to the forefront and deliver the message. And it’s not straight-forward at all because agreeable people do not like conflict. Not at all. They smooth the water. You know when you can see, you can see why that is, in accordance with a hypothesis that I’ve been putting forward. You don’t want conflict around infants.

0:03:01 –>
It’s too damn dangerous. You don’t want fights to break out. You don’t want anything to disturb the relative peace. You know, and if you’re also more prone to being hurt, physically, and perhaps emotionally, you’re also maybe loath to engage in the kind of high intensity conflict, that would solve problems in the short term, because a lot of conflict- It takes a lot of conflict to solve problems in the short term. And, you know, if that can spirale up to where is dangerous, which it can if it gets uncontrolled, it may be safer in the short term to keep the water smooth, and to not dive into those situations where conflict emerges. The problem with that is it’s not a very good medium-to-long-term strategy, right? ‘Cause there’s a lot of times there are things you have to talk about. Because they’re not gonna go away. And the advantage to having a well-socialized disagreeable person is that they really don’t let much get in their way. So if you can get a kid who’s disagreeable socialized, that person can be quite, quite a creature, you know? Because they’re very- They’re very forward-moving in their nature and very difficult to stop.

0:04:02.4 –>
But if you don’t get them successfully domesticated, tamed, roughly speaking, by the time they’re four, their parents reject them. And that’s a big problem because your job as a parent is to make your child socially desirable by the age of four. You’ve gotta- You wanna burn that into your brain because people don’t know that. That’s your job. And here’s, here’s why, it’s easy, if you think about it carefully. So imagine you’ve got a three-year-old child so sort of half way through that initial period of socialization. And you take that child out in public. Ok, what do you want for the child? Who cares about you? What do you want for the child? You want the child to be able to interact with other children and adults, so that the children are welcoming and smile and want to play with him or her and so the adults are happy to see the child and treat him or her properly. And if your child’s a horrible little monster because you’re afraid of disciplining them,

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or you don’t know how to do that properly, then what they’re gonna do? They’re going to experience nothing but rejection from other children, and false smiles from other parents and adults. And that’s so then you’re throwing the child out into a world where every single face that they see, is either hostile or lying. And that’s not something that’s going to be particularly conducive to the mental health or the well-being of your child. If your child can learn a couple of simple rules of behavior like “Don’t interrupt adults when they’re talking too much” and “Pay attention” and “Try not to hit the other kids over the head with a truck any more than it’s absolutely necessary” then- and, you know, and “Share” and “Play properly”. Then, when they meet other kids, the kids are gonna try out a few little play routines on them and that’s gonna go well and then they’re gonna go off and socialize each other for the rest of their lives. Because that’s what happens. It’s that from four years old onwards. The primary socialization with children takes place among other children. And so if the kids don´t get in on that early, they don’t move into that developmental spiral upwards, and they’re left behind.

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And you can imagine how terrible that is, because a four-year-old would not play with another four-year-old who’s two. But a five-year-old certainly will not play with a five-year-old who’s two, right? ‘Cause the gap is just starting to get unbelievably large. And so the kids start out behind and then the peers leave them behind, and then those kids are alienated and outside the peer group for the rest of their life. Those are the ones that grow up to be long-term anti-social, right. They’re already aggressive. It doesn’t deep down. Now, what happens to normal boys, roughly speaking? Imagine that aggressive two-year-old types get socialized, so their level of aggression goes down. And then they hit puberty and testosterone kicks in and bang! Levels of aggression go back up. And so that’s why males are criminals between the ages, roughly, of 16 and about 25. So, when it matches the creativity curve, by the way, it’s so cool. If you look at the spike of creativity among men 16 to 25, and it starts to go down. Criminality matches that absolutely perfectly.

0:07:01.6 –>
That’s quite cool. So and part of- So, the testosterone levels raise the average level of aggression among men. It’s more dominance than aggression, actually and testosterone is, by no means, all bad. And then starts to decrease about age 25 or 26, which is usually when men stop staying up late at night, stop drinking as much, develop a full-time career, and take on burdens and responsibilities and opportunities that are associated with a long-term partner and family. And so- Well, so that’s the development of what I would call predatory aggression. Because I also think that the agreeableness distribution is probably something like predatory aggression versus maternal sympathy. It’s something like that. So, if you look at other mammals, that are predators, ’cause we’re predators, as well as prey animals. If you look at other animals like bears, the male bear has absolutely nothing to do with the raising of the infants. In fact, the female bears would keep the male the hell away

0:08:02.4 –>
because he’s likely to kill the infants and maybe even to eat them. So there’s no maternality at all in solitary male mammalian predators. It’s really useful to investigate the viewpoints of people who have opposing views to yours. Because they’ll tell you things- Not only will they tell you things you don’t know, they’ll also tell you how to see the world in ways that you don’t see it. And they’ll also have skills that you don’t have, that you could develop. So, for example, if you’re an introverted person, it’s very useful to watch an extroverted person, because the extroverted person has ways of being in the social world that aren’t natural to you, that you can use as- to improve your tool kit. And if you’re disagreeable, one of the best things to do with disagreeable people, specially if that’s alienating them from other people, for example, because it can, you know? People treat you like you’re a selfish, arrogant, son of a- maybe that’s because you are. It’s like- Ok, so what do you do about that? One of the most promising

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treatments -let’s say for that-, is get the person to do something for someone else once a day, just as a practice, and learn how to do it. Maybe you can wake the circuit up, you know? If you think that it’s lying dormant in you, which is probably right. You know, I think we have a very wide range of propensities within us. Some are switched on: genetic propensities. Some are switched on. But I think that if you put yourself in the right situation or walk yourself through the right exercises, you can switch some of these other things on as well. But it takes work, and dedication and discipline, too. I would say generally speaking, if you want to adapt yourself properly to life, you should find a niche in the environment that corresponds with your temperament, right. You shouldn’t work at cross-purposes to your temperament, because it’s just too damn difficult. But having done that, then you should work on developing the skills and viewpoints that exist in the space opposite to your personality. Because that’s where you’re fundamentally underdeveloped. Now, well, I think you can extend out your temperamental capability across a wider range. And to me that’s roughly equivalent as bringing a richer tool kit to each situation.

0:10:04.7 –>
You know, so if you’re hyper-extroverted, you should probably learn to shut up in parties now and then and listen just to see what’s going on, to see if you can manage it, you know? And if you’re introverted, well, then you should learn how to speak in public, and to learn how to go to parties without hiding in the corner and saying nothing to anyone, you know? And if you’re agreeable, then you need to learn how to be disagreeable, so people can’t push you around. And if you’re disagreeable, you need to learn how to be agreeable, so you’re not an evil son of a b- So, and the same thing applies even in the conscientious domain It’s like if you’re too conscientious you need to learn to relax and let go a little bit. And if you’re unconscientious it’s time like get out the Google Calendar, man, and start scheduling your day, right? And beat yourself on the back of the head with a stick until you’re disciplined enough so that you can actually stick to something for some length of time. And not living in absolute squalor, which is something that would characterize someone who’s very disorderly, for example, ’cause they just, they don’t notice.

0:11:01. –>
It doesn’t bother them, disorder. It’s like- Maybe they can see it, but it doesn’t have any emotional valance. so it doesn’t have any motivational significance. Now, so, the other thing you might wanna think about too if you’re choosing a partner is try not to choose someone who’s too distant from you on the temperamental variables. Because you’re gonna have a hard time bridging the gap, you know? It’s hard for an introverted person and an extroverted person to coexist. And it’s really hard for an orderly person and a disorderly person to coexist ’cause they will drive each other nuts. “Why don’t you pick up?” “Why are you so obsessed by it?” That’s the basic argument, you know? So, it’s useful to know about your temperament so that you can negotiate a space with your partner, and the other way as well. And I don’t think you should try to find someone who’s exactly the same as you. Because then you don’t have the benefits of the alternative viewpoint. But you gotta watch it, because you may hit irreconcilable differences of various sorts. And I’ve seen that most particularly among couples who are high and low in openness, that’s a rough one.

0:12:02.8 –>
And also high and low in conscientiousness, that’s another rough one. ‘Cause they just cannot see how the other person sees the world at all.

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