The Pootie Alliance

Sociology and anthropology are interesting fields — studying and explaining human behavior individually, in groups, and culturally is a huge task with rewarding results.  However, I think these fields are lacking in certain keys ways: primarily, they give humans too much credit by viewing them as beings with agency and dignity.  I’d like to see a field of study that objectified human beings to the point of studying us as the animals we are.

Observe these sub-par specimens gather at their traditional mating grounds.  Fascinating!

Observe these sub-par specimens gather at their traditional mating grounds. Fascinating!

The number of attractive women I’ve seen on CMU campus nearly doubled tonight because I encountered a “pootie alliance.”  A bit of context first: Carnegie Mellon is a wasteland when it comes to attractiveness.  Attractive people here are few and far between, to the point that I’ve actually counted the number of women I find attractive on campus since last Fall.  I hadn’t broken double digits until tonight.

Why tonight, you ask?  Because I ran across an interesting social (and group biological) phenomenon tonight: a pootie alliance.  An entire group of good looking girls — at least five or six, complete with one homely chick to make them look better by comparison.  It’s so formulaic and predictable that it’s barely believable; I’m willing to wager the majority of you have observed a pootie alliance in the past month.


With our powers combined, we can convince men to objectify us even further

With our powers combined, we can convince men to objectify us even more

It’s amazing that fully grown human beings with (arguably) fully functional brains could be so under the sway of unseen and systematic psychological and biological influences.  It’s no coincidence at all that attractive women flock together like this — it’s a clear-cut mating strategy.  The amazing thing, however, is that they are completely unaware that they are part of a pootie alliance in the first place.  Think about how remarkable that is.  

When most people assemble into a group of allies aimed at a specific purpose, they’re aware of the arrangement in some way.  But the biological forces at sway in the group strategy of the pootie alliance is more subtle, playing themselves out in each member completely undetected.  The group behavior is so specific and finely tuned that they even include an ugly chick so that they all look better by comparison!  Two ugly chicks would be too much — they simply need a single reference point to further bolster their appeal.

I take the following to characterize the rationale:  What’s better than a hot chick?  Many hot chicks!  What makes many hot chicks look even better?  An ugly chick!

Again, I must stress:  I don’t actually believe the members of the alliance hold a congress or something like that to decide that they need an ugly chick around.  Rather, the behavior dynamic converges to these highly regularized, systematic results.

Surprisingly, the simplest of creatures can exhibit highly complex group strategies

Surprisingly, the simplest of creatures can exhibit highly sophisticated group strategies

In classifying the social characteristics of higher primates, we need to classify the social characteristics of human beings as animals.  Maybe I could write the foundational paper in this field.


3 Responses to The Pootie Alliance

  1. Ariel says:

    Sad but true.

  2. lgr says:

    Evolutionary psychology, a relatively recent sub-discipline, touches a lot on systematic predispositions in human behavior. One thing I really enjoyed about taking an ev psych class was the ease in objectifying our behaviors. The text we used, David M Buss (2008) Evolutionary Psychology, 3e, was very readable and seemed like an excellent primer.

    I’m not aware of any studies on pootie alliances, but behavioral economists (among, I’m sure, many others–but those of the dismal science often seem to have the advantage of being blunt, compared to other social scientists) have shown the effects of ugly chicks/dudes enhancing your own attractiveness in controlled experiments. (cf. Dan Ariely (2008) Predictably Irrational; discussing the decoy effect in marketing)

  3. E says:

    That’s a good analysis. I graduated in ’01 and this was true then. So sad things have not changed. You do not want to drink too heavily in a cmu crowd, you’ll probably regret it the next morning (especially with Tri-Delts in the mix). Hang out with PITT or Duquesne crowds (maybe even Carlow), much better choices than the alternative.

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