"Mismatch" theory suggests that our cultural environment no longer is consistent with our psychological adaptations and that the incongruence is a source of misery for many of us. However, it is also an opportunity.
Evolutionary Psych offers tremendous opportunities because of the varied types of research information that is not dependent on college sophomores as exemplars of our species. (1) For example, there have been several content analyses of the dating ads in newspapers and magazines. For example, men are more likely to advertise wealth and to seek a younger partner; women are more likely to advertise relative youth, physical attractiveness and to demand economic resources. No great surprises and kind of fun! (The data also supply a platform for singleton's advisers. There are hints on fly-tying before casting yourself, anchored with legal monofilament, like a lure into the social pond. Of course, once you've drawn a strike, you have to figure out whom is hooking whom, and who will take responsibility for reeling you both in to the shore.)
However, there are other data sources to be explored and of greater potential impact on our knowledge and perhaps our finances, than the partner want ads. Corporate organisms have studied us thoroughly and with little EP guidance. Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi (once the manufacturer of Zeros) planted observers with volunteer/paid families 20 years ago. Traditional marketing, the dedicated pursuit of getting people to buy what you made, was reversed and redefined as studying people in order to learn what they might buy if you made it.
I suspect, but cannot prove, that large files exist about our individual preferences. I would look for them in the automakers, large manufacturers of home products, and in health care. Enterprising scholars may find Nissan or Panasonic files to be more revealing than the Human Relations files at Harvard. Corporate data banks should be King Solomon's Mines for students of human behavior.
However, there is a second benefit from such information, one apart from scholarship, generating theses, and reorganizing our theories about us. The more significant gain is that of self-correction for the corporate organism. Again, effective marketing over the longer term is about discovering the customer need and adjusting products to meet those needs.
If corporate organisms survive by selling product or services, then matching those things to our needs should be a major survival strategy. (2) Marketing, thus, becomes a catalytic agent for reducing the disparity between our psychological adaptations and our cultural resources. "Mismatch" should erode. And, our mutating tool, the computer, makes it ever simpler to recall not only the customer's name but also those of his children and his 3 former wives. Bank branches should become smaller. Schools and physicians' offices should do likewise.
The Adapted Corporation becomes similar to a neuron. A remote central body with many distant, terminal boutons, exchanging ideas and materials with boutons from other cells in a highly personal manner, far from the cell body. The physician, bank, and grocer would be maintained by electronic exchanges their respective superorganisms but networked with each other, at a face-to-face level in a small community.
1) Simpson & Kendrick (Evolutionary Social Psychology, Erlbaum, 1997) remark on the decades of research involving unrelated college students while ignoring the social psychology within families.
2) I suspect many are already catching on. The electric company is lately boasting how long it has "been there" for me (pushing the notion of an alliance between them and just me, no one else). A local bank advertises that its staff will remember my name. Goodness, waitresses -- also one of the oldest professions -- have used that trick for millennia. Our shamans probably knew our names from birth and likely were present themselves (at birth if not conception!). Will the HMO outlets catch on?