Handicap Principle

Quick Definition: A hypothesis suggesting that signals of “handicapping” oneself in the mating game actually communicates a stronger value in sexual selection. (Usually expressed through extravagant waste of valuable resources.)

Full Definition:

The handicap principle is a hypothesis proposed by biologist Amotz Zahavi to explain how sexual selection can lead to dishonest communication between the sexes (men lying about family, women lying about age). As such, reliable signals must be costly. There is a cost to honesty. Certain animals accentuate this, including the peacock with its feathers and the deer with its huge antlers. These physical traits lower survivability, and yet have been preferred by the female sex.

The idea also carries over the pop culture and “conspicuous spending,” whereby celebrities model their behavior based on extravagant waste of otherwise valuable resources because they simply can.

In the PU community, this principle has been adapted to leverage otherwise tough natural traits. For example, a missing arm or an obvious genetic defect, when embraced and presented properly, can actually add character and value to the person—in that he or she is able to sustain and achieve this level of success despite the natural handicap in place.


n/a – theory

Related Terms: PUA, aPUA, Guru, Pick Up Artist, PUA Instructor, Bootcamp, Congruence, Lifestyle, Inner Game, Grounding, Identity, Core, Peacocking, Peacock Theory

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