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Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies adaptation and its relation to how we learn to interpret signals, as well as how these interpretations can change and how we adapt to them. In particular, Dan Ariely discusses how the adaptation to pain can reflect the tendency of social adaptions. Ariely first talks about his research on pain tolerance after severe injuries as it compares to the pain tolerance of those with no prior previous injuries. The results showed that those who incur severe injuries have a higher pain threshold afterwards.
Discussing his experience of a severe body burn, Dan Ariely then explores social adaption and how the social hierarchy of attractiveness is affected after an injury that affects one physically. Speaking on the basis that we are drawn to partners with a similar level of attractiveness, Ariely discusses the intriguing romantic implications of similar injuries and comes up with three possible theories of social adaptation: don’t adapt, alter perceptions of aesthetics or reorder the importance of attributes.