The Overconfidence Effect

Q: "I wanted to inquire you on something: do you think the reason Asian males are suppressed (whether in the dating world or the corporate world) is simply because our cultural values does not match those of western values?  Regardless of whether one culture is better than the other."

- J. Z.

My Answer: Cultural dissonance plays a big part in the suppression of the Asian male in the western world.  You as an Asian male may be operating and behaving one way, but it could out of sync or even completely at odds with the way western society expects you to behave as a man.  This is what Wesley Yang articulated (11 PAGES!) in his Paper Tigers article.

The other factor involved in the suppression of the Asian male is, of course, racism and the fear of a Yellow World.  Some people are fearful of Asian men and don't want us to succeed.  The third factor in the suppression of the Asian male is that a lot of Asian men buy into these limiting beliefs about themselves.  This is a form of racism that comes from within.

According to Frank Chin, racism comes in 2 forms: racist love and racist hate:

"White racism enforces white supremacy. White supremacy is a system of order and a way of perceiving reality. Its purpose is to keep whites on top and set them free. Colored minorities in white reality are stereotypes. Each racial stereotype comes in two models, the acceptable and the unacceptable.

"For Fu Manchu and the Yellow Peril, there is Charlie Chan and his Number One Son. The unacceptable model is unacceptable because he cannot be controlled by whites. The acceptable model is acceptable because he is tractable. There is racist hate and racist love.

"If the system works, the stereotypes assigned to the various races are accepted by the races themselves as reality, as fact, and racist love reigns. The minority's reaction to racist policy is acceptance and apparent satisfaction. Order is kept, the world turns without a peep from any nonwhite. One measure of the success of white racism is the silence of that race and the amount of white energy necessary to maintain or increase that silence. Likewise, the failure of white racism can be measured by the amount and kind of noise of resistance generated by the race.

"The general function of any racial stereotype is to establish and preserve order between different elements of society, maintain the continuity and growth of Western civilization, and enforce white supremacy with a minimum of effort, attention, and expense. The ideal racial stereotype is a low maintenance engine of white supremacy whose efficiency increases with age, as it became 'authenticated' and 'historically verified.'

"The stereotype operates as a model of behavior. It conditions the mass society's perceptions and expectations. Society is conditioned to accept the given minority only within the bounds of the stereotype. The subject minority is conditioned to reciprocate by becoming the stereotype, live it, talk it, embrace it, measure group and individual worth in its terms, and believe it.

"The stereotype operates most efficiently and economically when the vehicle of the stereotype, the medium of its perpetuation, and the subject race to be controlled are all one. When the operation of the stereotype has reached this point, where the subject race itself embodies and perpetuates the white supremacist vision of reality, indifference to the subject race sets in among mass society. The successful operation of the stereotype results in the neutralization of the subject race as a social, creative, and cultural force. The race poses no threat to white supremacy. It is now a guardian of white supremacy, dependent on it and grateful to it.

"For the subject to operate efficiently as an instrument of white supremacy, he is conditioned to accept and live in a state of euphemized self-contempt. This self-contempt itself is nothing more than the subject's acceptance of white standards of objectivity, beauty, behavior, and achievement as being morally absolute, and his acknowledgment of the fact that, because he is not white, he can never fully measure up to white standards."

What Frank is saying that Asian Americans have become the stereotype.  We've accepted the stereotype as true, and therefore live and behave according to the stereotype.

So you got to ask yourself: is the stereotype of Asian American men as losers in the dating and corporate world true?

I can only relate my own experience and my observations of other Asian men on this topic.  And I have to tell you that I think the stereotype of Asian men having a more difficult time dating and marrying to be complete and utter B.S.  I'll talk about the corporate world in another post.

From what I've observed with all the Asian brothers I've known and met, virtually every one of them is dating or married.  I'm in my 40's, so I've had 30 years of observation and experience.  I'm not some researcher who comes up with statistics.  I just do not see the stereotype of the neutered Asian male in real life.  Asian men date around and marry just like other guys.

But I will say this: there is a big difference in the confidence of Asian men and men of other ethnicities.  A frequent complaint that I hear from women (Asian and non-Asian) is that they never get approached by Asian men.  A big reason for this is that a lot of the good Asian men are taken.  But there is another reason.

There is a human bias called the overconfidence effect.  This is when "someone's subjective confidence in their judgments is reliably greater than their objective accuracy."  In other words, you overestimate your abilities and worth.  You think you're hot shit when you really aren't.

Men tend to exhibit the overconfidence effect more than women.  This is especially true in romance and attraction.  Men will misinterpret a lot of innocent polite gestures from attractive women and think, "Ah yeah, she wants me."

Why would men have the overconfidence bias?  What's the purpose of lying to yourself?  The overconfidence bias does 2 things: 1) it protects your ego and 2) you are more likely to approach women if you have an over inflated sense of your self-worth.

You see, it's better to try and try repeatedly then it is to not try at all.  You need to fail forward until you hit success.  If men did not have overconfidence bias, then the human race would be an endangered species and we would be the proverbial pandas in some alien zoo.

The glaring exception to the overconfidence effect are Asian men.  I think the reason is that a lot of Asian American males grew up taking a lot of emotional abuse from 1) their parents 2) Asian women 3) a white supremacist society.  So we grow up thinking that we're nothing really special.

Some Asian guys complain that their dads never taught them how to romance women.  I don't know of any guy (Asian or otherwise) who as a boy was taught by his dad on how to woo a woman.  But what dads do (or don't do) is serve as a model of masculine behavior.  So our dads may not have actively taught us how to romance a woman, but they taught by example on how to act like a man.  The masculine qualities that you model are what attract or don't attract women.

I'll relate something that recently happened to me: I was having dinner with a coworker.  My coworker and I were having dinner at this Vietnamese restaurant.  I notice this beautiful woman staring at me, sitting across from me one table over.  I'm in the middle of talking with my coworker, so I didn't really give her any response.  I didn't notice when she left, but when my coworker and I were done with dinner, she was gone.

Anyway, we head out to our cars.  I get in mine and start driving off, and I notice a business card on my windshield.  I pull over and look at the card.  It was from the girl at the restaurant.  She wrote on the back, addressing me specifically and drew a heart on it.  Long story short, she and her friend thought I was cute, and her friend pressured her to put her card on my car.

Now I tell you this not to toot my own horn, but to illustrate a point: there is no such thing as game.  Game implies that you start, actively play up your strengths, then stop.  In reality your game is 24/7.

Women are very intuitive and have a much higher emotional IQ than men.  They will recognize attractive masculine qualities in you before you even open your mouth.  I wasn't actively trying to flirt with a beautiful woman.  I happened to be doing my own thing, and she was bold enough to approach me.  I wasn't following steps A, B, C of some attraction manual.  I was just being myself and having dinner with my coworker.

So there is no game, because a man embodies attractive masculine traits.  You simply cannot turn it on or turn it off.  It is simply who you are, and women recognize this.

This is why women have a hard time finding a good Asian man, because the good ones are taken.   This is not to say that every Asian man who is taken is a good catch, but that most good Asian men are in a committed relationship (or two).

A good catch is a good catch regardless of race.  A woman may have some prejudice about Asian guys, but she will still recognize an attractive Asian man.  I've heard women utter this a few times, "I don't normally find Asian men attractive, but there was this one guy..."

Anyway that's it for now.  I'll talk about Asian guys in the work force in another post.

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