Poor Use of Behavioral Analysis

A young money manager (of his family’s money) recently had a first date with a woman he decided he liked a lot.  She didn’t return the favor.  When she didn’t respond to his repeated calls and texts, he looked for and found her e-mail address (“creepy stalker” comes immediately to mind) both to complain and to seek for another chance.  This “philosopher/writer” (not that there’s any evidence for his claim) didn’t take his rejection very well and wrote a long and rambling e-mail pleading  for a second date.  Read it all and thank me later.

Shockingly, it didn’t work.

Apparently, based upon misguided behavioral analysis, our philosopher/writer got his signals crossed:

“You played with your hair a lot. A woman playing with her hair is a common sign of flirtation.”

Of course, he research skills are limited (“You can even do a google search on it”), so his analysis might be lacking here.  Then again: 

“We had lots of eye contact during our date. On a per-minute basis, I’ve never had as much eye contact during a date as I did with you.”

The idea that he get actual data (“per minute basis”) rather than rely upon his impressions is a good one.  However, unless he filmed her surreptitiously (not altogether unlikely given the evidence of the e-mail) or has an uncanny ability to undertake such calculations over dinner, all he did was try to make “You blinked a lot” sound more scientific. 

“We had a nice conversation over dinner. I don’t think I’m being delusional in saying this statement.”

Is it just me, or is this sentence, in the context of the whole e-mail, pretty good evidence of delusion?

The rest on the very long e-mail goes on similarly.  Based upon that evidence, our philosopher/writer concluded that he had been led on and wants another date.

Why am I writing you? Well, hopefully, we will go out again. Even if we don’t, I gain utility from expressing my thoughts to you. In addition, even if you don’t want to go out again, I would like to get feedback as to why you wouldn’t want to go again. Normally, I wouldn’t ask a woman for this type of feedback after a first date, but this is an exception given I think we have a lot of potential.

If you don’t want to go again, then apparently you didn’t think our first date was good enough to lead to a second date. Dating or a relationship is not a Hollywood movie. It’s good to keep that in mind. In general, I thought the date went well and was expecting that we would go out on a second date.

If you’re not interested in going out again, then I would have preferred if you hadn’t given those mixed signals. I feel led on. We have a number of things in common. I’ll name a few things….

But he’s careful to remind her that he won’t be such a sap next time:

“Needless to say, I find you less appealing now (given that you haven’t returned my messages) than I did at our first date. However, I would be willing to go out with you again. I’m open minded and flexible and am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

Still, he’s pretty sweet in the way he lobbies for her affections:

“If you don’t want to go out again, in my opinion, you would be making a big mistake, perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in your life. If you don’t want to go out again, then you should have called to tell me so. Even sending a text message would have been better than nothing. In my opinion, not responding to my messages is impolite, immature, passive aggressive, and cowardly.”

But he didn’t get an appropriate return on his investment:

“I spent time, effort, and money meeting you for dinner. Getting back to me in response to my messages would have been a reasonable thing for you to do.”

If he fails to get another date, our philosopher/writer at least wants an apology — and not just a ho-hum apology:

“If you don’t want to go out again, that I request that you call me and make a sincere apology for leading me on (i.e., giving me mixed signals). In my opinion, you shouldn’t act that way toward a man and then not go out with him again. It’s bad to play with your hair so much and make so much eye contact if you’re not interested in going out with me again.”

Good luck with that.  Were I the object of his affections, I’d consider moving, changing my e-mail address and getting a new cell phone number.

Our philosopher/writer thought he was using behavioral analysis in what actually was delusional analysis.  And even his misunderstanding can be readily explained behaviorally.  Like all of us, our philosopher/writer suffers from confirmation bias — he saw what he wanted to see.  He also has optimism bias in spades — he is wildly overconfident about his own desirability.  W-I-L-D-L-Y.

Even our attempts at using behavioral analysis to construe events is subject to the very same cognitive biases that are a part of all good behavioral analysis.


9 thoughts on “Poor Use of Behavioral Analysis

  1. Pingback: Investors’ 10 Most Common Behavioral Biases | Above the Market

  2. I think you just became one of my favorite bloggers. But I’m sure that’s one of my biases… a bias which I am unable to analyze myself right now. But for the moment, I love what you write. 🙂

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  4. Pingback: Investors’ 10 Most Common Behavioral Biases « Portfolio Investing Blog: Portfolioist

  5. Pingback: Investors’ 10 Most Common Behavioral Biases | Above the Market

  6. Pingback: Which of These 10 Behavioral Biases Adversely Affect How You Invest? | Munknee.comMunknee.com

  7. I’m a guy and this gives me the creeps. Can you imagine if you were a female getting this communication would scare the shiete out of you!

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