We can state the root cause of the Dwight-Phyllis dynamic as follows: the depth of any transaction is limited by the depth of the shallower party.
A trivial example: if you speak English and French, and your friend only speaks English, you will be forced to converse in English. Psychological development is more complex and continuous than the acquisition of multiple discrete languages, but the same principle applies...
If the situational developmental gap between two people is sufficiently small, the more evolved person will systematically lose
[a match of wits] more often than he/she wins.
This is the curse of development
. Here's a picture: when you develop psychologically, and leave somebody behind, your odds of winning get worse before they get better...
At the level of abstraction that we are concerned with, all theories of developmental psychology- Freud's, Piaget's, Erikson's, Maslow's- say roughly the same thing about arrested development: you are born Clueless and clue in fits and starts. Bits of you get stuck and left behind at different points, and eventually you exhaust your capacity for real change and stall... That trail of developmental debris and eventual exhausted stalling is your particular pattern of arrested development...
1. Your development is arrested by your strengths, not your weaknesses.
2. Arrested-development behaviour is caused by a strength-based addiction.
3. The mediocre develop faster than either the talented or the untalented.
An alternative way of looking at these three laws is to note that defense mechanisms emerge to sustain addictions even when the developmental environment that originally nourished it vanishes....overperformance is caused by arrested development around a strength,
which has been hooked by an addictive environment of social rewards.
Mediocrity is your best defense against addiction, and guarantor of further open-ended psychological development...
We can now explain why you are likely to lose in the Curse of Development Zone...
1. The less-developed person does not know what he/she does not know and is typically attempting to operate from their regressed comfort zone of strength
, which to you represents a zone of unrewarding mediocrity that you are attempting to leave/have left behind. This lends your opponent confidence.
2. Your knowledge is fresh, unstable, and not yet ingrained as second nature. You are acutely aware of, and anxious about, your beginner status at your new level. This makes you lack
3. To win through persuasion, you must teach (a superior-inferior transaction) without first reversing the default unfavourable status relationship (you: not confident, low-status, he/she: confident, high-status).
...A rule of thumb in the teaching profession states that to be an effective teacher at a given level, you need to have studied five years beyond
that level. This has nothing to do with subject-matter expertise and everything to do with trying to exit the Curse of Development zone.
-The Gervais Principle III