Re: Coordinating Sex Roles

Robin Hanson (
Sun, 6 Apr 1997 10:27:38 -0700 (PDT)

Lee Daniel Crocker writes:
>Certainly many assumptions will be made in relationships. Any
>contract, such as marriage, rarely spells out every detail of who
>performs every action; typically each will settle into assumed roles,
>or make choices based on ability or predisposition, as you say. But
>to correct the problems that come from bad assumptons doesn't require
>changing to new--and potentially just as bad--assumptions; it
>requires learning how to communicate openly and deal fairly in light
>of /whatever/ issues come up that weren't covered in the original
>contract, and the commitment that /all/ human relationships are
>founded on mutual consent, not shared assumptions.

Real communities of people who regularly contract with each other have
lots more mechanisms for coordinating expectations regarding
unspecified contract details than just "learning to communicate openly
and deal fairly". Most such communities spend lots of effort to
socialize new people into the shared community expectations, and often
have lengthy discussions regarding proposed changes in common norms.

It might help you to think in terms of multiple equilibria in a game
in game theory. In a game it is important to coordinate each player's
expectations regarding what others will do with actual action choices.

Robin D. Hanson