Cat-String Theory

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Cat-string theory, sometimes called deliberate withdrawal, is a set of social withdrawal tactics predicated upon cognitive biases and logical fallacies. Stated axiomatically, "We pursue that which retreats from us." More generally, cat-string theory refers to the belief that disinterest promotes attraction. Cat-string theory can be restricted to specific logical fallacies or cognitive biases, each a species of this generic axiom, implicating a variety of tactics. Each tactic is centered around building attraction through withdrawal.

[edit] Blackjack Theory

The gambler's fallacy is the belief that odds are related to previous outcomes. Having lost, a gambler believes that chances of future success have risen, so that losing does not discourage continued betting given that the odds have not actually changed. Similarly, a person wanting another's attention will not be discouraged by overt disinterest if their perceived chance of success has remained constant. This implicates a three-step course of action. First, reward desirable behavior with interest. Second, punish undesirable behavior with disinterest. Third, react to desirable behavior with disinterest. The gambler's fallacy predicts that the object of disinterest will behave more desirably in response.

[edit] Birdseed Theory

A similar logical fallacy is cum hoc ergo propter hoc, "With this, therefore because of this." In reality, correlation does not prove causation. Cum hoc ergo propter hoc should not be taken to mean that correlation cannot indicate causation, but that the causes can be subtle or non-existent. In one study, pigeons were fed at regular thirty-second intervals for a half-hour period. Afterward, they were observed performing various behaviors such as walking in constant clockwise circles, flapping one wing but not the other, intermittently hopping, and so on. These pigeons had mistakenly attributed their own random behavior as causing birdseed to appear. This implicates a simple course of actions. A positive social reward is given at timed intervals, rather than as a response to the recipient of the action, and immediately withdrawn. The recipient attributes the reward to a personal random behavior and performs that behavior with increasing frequency. In this way, the recipient predictably and continuously demonstrates an indicator of interest. This indicator of interest is then used to better effectuate blackjack theory. The reward is usually an insistent smile, timed at thirty to sixty second intervals for five to ten minutes or until the indicator of interest has been instigated.


[edit] Dog-Ball Theory or "Virtual" Cat-String

Another related fallacy is the self-serving bias. People associate themselves with positives and disassociate from negatives. This is a fundamental attribution error related to the Just World Hypothesis. In reality, a given positive event sources from multiple causes, one of which may or may not be the actions of the beneficiary. Stated plainly, good things can happen while we sleep. A person's belief that they have caused positive events can lead to frustration when attempts to verify that belief fail. Many attraction states are forms of frustration.

Dog-ball theory is a withdrawal tactic based on the self-serving bias. It is usually illustrated by the following analogy. A man is walking through a park when a dog runs up to him with a slobbery tennis ball. He doesn't want to touch it and shoos the dog away. But the dog insists, and he relents. He throws the ball, the dog joyfully returns it. The man gives in, saying to himself, I guess I'll be playing fetch for a while, since this animal wants me to so much. He throws the ball again, and again the dog returns it. The man is secretly pleased that the dog chose him to play with. So he throw the ball again, and the dog retrieves it. But then the dog runs the ball to a random stranger. This confuses his emotions, because his previous belief that he was chosen deliberately has been called into question. The dog has not changed. Its still just a dog. Nevertheless the man will feel that the dog has withdrawn from him. This is the same emotional state that results from standard cat-string tactics, although the dog did not need to deliberately withdraw.

In application, a person approached by a charismatic individual will believe or hope that they caused the approach. This belief or hope often occurs reflexively, but may be caused deliberately. That person will attempt to validate that belief. The charismatic person ignores the attempt. This refusal results in emotional confusion, a state of aroused attraction. For instance, Tyler Durden launches into strong verbal banter, similar to the dog approaching with the ball. After trying to ignore him or shoo him away, the group accepts his presence and begins to banter, as if they were consenting to the game of fetch. Attractive group members will believe that he wanted them to engage in banter with him, given his insistence. This feels special. They'll attempt to verify that belief by trying to exchange knowing glances with him, or by asking him to buy them a drink. He ignores this behavior, causing them to experience distanced. In this way, dog-ball theory is virtual cat-string. Although Tyler hasn't done anything overt, they have experienced him withdrawing. This technique is often favored because the person using it can concentrate on body language and the reaction of the group members, rather than concerning himself with timing or calibrating the withdrawal. Further, because no actual withdrawal is necessary, a greater potential for learning exists, as reactions to the withdrawal would otherwise happen absent the withdrawer.

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