Social Dynamics

by curi3 min read10th Aug 20203 comments

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Social & Cultural DynamicsSocial StatusWorld ModelingPractical
Personal Blog

These are some summary notes on social dynamics.

  • conformity
    • try to fit in
    • pandering
    • pleasing people
    • avoiding conflict
    • do whatever the group thinks is high status
      • follow trends
    • you need to already have friends. people are impressed by people who other people already like (pre-selection).
    • have standard interests like the right TV shows, music, movies and sports. talk about those. don’t say weird stuff.
      • you’re allowed to have interests people think they should have. lots of people think they should be more into art galleries and operas. you can talk about that stuff to people who don’t actually like it but pretend they want to. they’ll be impressed you actually do that stuff which seems a bit inaccessible but valuable to them.
  • law of least effort
    • being chased, not chasing
    • people come to you
    • opposite of tryhard
    • less reactive
      • don’t get defensive or threatened (important for confidence too)
      • hold frame without showing visible effort
      • but also don’t let people get away with attacking you
    • when you attack people, it should seem like the conflict isn’t your fault, was just a minor aside, no big deal to you, preferably you weren’t even trying to attack them
    • people do what you say
    • you don’t have to do what other people say
    • you generally aren’t supposed to care that much about stuff. instead, be kinda chill about life
      • if you get ahead while appearing this way, it looks like success comes naturally to you. that impresses people. (it should not look like you got lucky)
  • confidence
    • hide weakness
    • pretend to be strong
    • know what you’re doing, having a strong frame, have goals
    • be able to lead
    • best to already be leader of your social group, or at least high up like second in command
  • value
    • DHVs (demonstrations of higher value, e.g. mentioning high value things in passing while telling a story)
    • money, popularity, fame, social media followers, loyal friends, skills, knowledge, SMV (sexual market value, e.g. looks)
    • abundance mentality
    • well spoken, know other languages, can play an instrument or sing, cultured, can cook, etc.
    • virtues like being moral and enlightened are important. these are group specific. some groups value environmentalism, being woke, anti-racist signaling, inclusive attitudes towards various out groups and low status people (poor people, immigrants, disabled, homeless, drug addicts), etc. other groups value e.g. patriotism, toughness, guns, Christianity and limited promiscuity.
  • trend setting
    • this is hard and uncommon but possible somehow
    • mostly only available for very high status people (~top status in a small group can work; it doesn’t have to be overall societal status)
  • non-verbal communications
    • clothes send social signals
    • voice tones
    • eye contact
    • body language
    • posture
    • leaning in or having people lean to you
  • congruence
    • do not ever get caught faking social stuff; that looks really bad
  • compliance
    • getting compliance from other people, while expending low effort to get it, it socially great.
      • it can especially impress the person you get compliance from, even more than the audience
  • plausible deniability
    • there are often things (communications, actions) that a group understands but won’t admit that they understand the meaning of
    • there are ways to insult someone but, if called on it, deny you were attacking them, and most people will accept your denial
    • there are subtle, tricky rules about what is considered a covert attack that you’re allowed to deny (or e.g. a covert way to ask someone on a date, which you’re allowed to deny was actually asking them out if they say no) and what is an overt attack so denials would just make you look ridiculous.
    • social combat heavily uses deniable attacks. deniability is also great for risky requests
    • you’re broadly allowed to lie, even if most people know you’re lying, as long as it isn’t too obvious or blatant, so it’s considered deniable
    • basically social dynamics have their own rules of evidence about what is publicly, socially known or established. and these rules do not match logic or common analytical skill. so what people know and what is socially proven are different. sometimes it goes the other way too (something is considered socially proven even though people don’t know whether or not it’s true).
      • many social climbing techniques use the mismatch between what is socially known to the group and what is actually known to individuals. it lets you communicate stuff so that people understand you but, as far as the social group is concerned, you never said it.

Overall, high status comes from appearing to fit in effortlessly, while wanting to not being pushed into it, and not having social problems, weaknesses or conflicts. You can also gain status from having something valuable, e.g. money, looks, fame, followers or access to someone famous. Besides extreme cases, you still need to do pretty well at social skill even when you have value. Value is an advantage but if you act low status that can matter more than the value. If you have a billion dollars or you’re a movie star, you can get away with a ton and people will still chase you, but if you just have a million dollars or you’re really hot, then you can’t get away with so much.

Desired attitude: You have your own life going on, which you’re happy with. You’re doing your thing. Other people can join you, or not. It isn’t that big a deal for you either way. You don’t need them. You have value to offer, not to suck up to them, but because your life has abundance and has room for more people. You already have some people and aren’t a loaner. You only would consider doing stuff with this new person because they showed value X – you are picky but saw something good about them, but you wouldn’t be interested in just anyone. (Elicit some value from people and mention it so it seems like you’re looking for people with value to offer. You can do this for show, or you can do it for real if you have abundance. Lots of high status stuff is acting like what people think a person with a great life would do, whether you have that or not. Fake it until you make it!)

People socially attack each other. In this sparring, people gain and lose social status. Insults and direct attacks are less common because they’re too tryhard/reactive/chasing. It’s better to barely notice people you don’t like, be a bit dismissive and condescending (without being rude until after they’re overtly rude first, and even then if you can handle it politely while making them look bad that’s often better).

If you sit by a wall and lean back, you look more locked in and stable, so it appears that people are coming to you. Then you speak just slightly too softly to get people to lean in to hear you better, and now it looks like they care what you say and they’re chasing you.


These notes are incomplete. The responses I’d most value are some brainstorming about other social dynamics or pointing out data points (observed social behaviors) which aren’t explained by the above. Alternatively if anyone knows of a better starting point which already covers most of the above, please share it.

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3 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 9:47 AM
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Where's the level-1 connection / compatibility?

  • Actual shared interests.
  • Compatible worldview and values.
  • Joint projects or genuinely enjoyable activities.
  • Compatible knowledge and curiosity (ability to teach and learn with individuals in the target group).

Those things were covered both under conformity (e.g. sharing interests with a group, fitting in) and value (which lists knowledge, skills, etc.)

Ah, I see. The bullet-point format made it seem like you were focused on "appear to " and "signal that ", rather than underlying truth of connections with individuals.

I see an important distinction between "try to fit in" and "do actually fit in".