Want U Back

The entertainment industry gets a lot of criticism. But art, both high art and popular art, often provide insights about the human condition and intersexual dynamics more accurate than what you’ll get from pastors or prose writers.

For example, it’s pretty clear that there is something about James Bond that embodies a sort of masculine archetype to which both women and men are drawn.

I’m going to start periodically posting examples of this from artistic works, both historic and contemporary.

I’m kicking it off today with a catchy pop tune by Cher Lloyd called “Want U Back

It’s a song about a girl who dumps her boyfriend because she thinks he’s not exciting enough or good enough for her:

Hey, boy you never had much game
So I needed to upgrade
So I went and walked away-way-way

Then she discovers that he rapidly moved on to someone new, and she thinks perhaps she made a mistake, deciding she wants him back.

Now I seen you been hanging out
With that other girl in town….

I broke it off thinking you’d be crying
Now I feel like shhhh looking at you flying
I want you back, I want you back
Want want you, want you back

This is an interesting example of what’s called social proof, one of the six major principles of persuasion. We want what we see other people wanting.

This is true in basically every domain of society. For example, when I started writing about cities, it was two years before I was quoted in the newspaper. But once one person quoted me, all of a sudden other people wanted to as well.

Social proof is a bedrock principle of persuasion and human behavior. It even applies to dating.

Basically, women (and men) want to be with people that other people want to be with.

Somewhat paradoxically, going out with a date with one woman makes other women want to go out with you. And to the extent that a woman thinks she is your only option, your attractiveness will plummet in her eyes.

As this song shows, a bit of competition can actually make a woman like you more rather than less.

Wouldn’t you get a bit jealous if a woman you broke up with immediately started dating someone else? I think you would.

The principle works the other way too. There’s a reason this video has nearly 275 million views, and it’s not just that the tune is so catchy. It’s a situation that’s psychologically relatable.

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