Why Do We Like What We Like?

Ask someone what their favorite color is, or ask yourself.  Mine is blue, why?  I have no idea.  How can someone answer that?  Perhaps a psychologist might try to draw parallels between a color’s properties and your personality.  Blue is kind of funny in that it can be both dark and bright.  I trend darker in my preference but does that say anything about me?  I don’t think it does, but I don’t have a degree in psychology.

Some people might give a reason.  Maybe their favorite color is tied to a fond memory.  The color of the wallpaper in their first room, a favorite shirt, or something that reminds them of a departed relative.  When I look at things in my past it’s easy to find the color blue.  I am, after all, a male and blue is often the color most people associate with young boys so blue was everywhere in my childhood.  I had a quilt my aunt made me that was my favorite blanket, but was it my favorite because it was blue or for another reason?  I was a devoted fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and my favorite was Leonardo because he wore a blue bandana and wielded twin katanas (that looked nothing like actual katanas, just had to get that off my chest).  I can even remember getting my first TMNT action figures, the original Leo, Donatello, and Krang (who came with that walker and not his “body” that would show up around episode 5 or 6 of the cartoon).  When I bought them I had yet to see an episode so I knew nothing about the personalities of the characters and was going strictly based on visuals.  Why anthropomorphic turtles appealed to me and an entire generation of boys is beyond my comprehension.

Which takes me back to my initial question of why we like what we like.  When the question is asked of something more dynamic than a color we as human beings can often give a reason but how often is that opinion just revisionist history?  Sometimes things just appeal to us for no reason beyond that they just do and only when thinking about it in more detail do we find reasons to ascribe to our thoughts.  I don’t trust these reasons and consider most to be revisionist in nature.  That’s not to say our likes and dislikes are a total mystery.  A person may like a particular band because it sounds like another he or she is familiar with.  Or someone may enjoy a film because it’s from a genre, director, or actor they have enjoyed in the past.  It’s when you try to get to the root of all tastes that things become muddled.

My earlier thought that a psychologist could potentially yield some light may have come across as dismissive but in truth I do feel some of what we like is dependent upon personality.  Maybe something as simple as a color preference cannot be traced to a personality trait, but how about music?  For me personally I tend to be somewhat rebellious in thought, though not always in action.  If someone tells me I have to like something my initial reaction is to dislike or find fault with that something.  This thought process is probably why I enjoy heavy metal so much, or is at least partially responsible.  Metal is rebellious in nature so it makes sense.  Maybe my hypothesis is totally wrong but I doubt it.

All of this leads me to think that why we like what we like is mostly a pointless question.  It serves little purpose why someone likes something, as long as that something isn’t destructive who cares?  Are some people just born to prefer vanilla to chocolate and vice versa or did something in their life influence their, in this case, literal tastes?  My sister used to use the excuse as a child when she didn’t like how a particular food tasted was to say that she had different taste buds.  Perhaps that is true, after all, no one can trade tongues and see how things taste for someone else but my assumption is to think that’s a bunch of bull.  Vanilla is vanilla, chocolate is chocolate, no matter who the taster is.

A popular and seemingly endless debate in the world of politics and religion is in regards to homosexual lifestyle and marriage.  Homosexuals contend they’re born the way they are insisting their sexual preference is biological.  Lots of funding has been devoted to scientific study to try and find a biological consistency to explain this and still the question is unsettled.  The Religious sect, or those often referred to as homophobic, contend homosexuality is a behavioral choice not unlike any other choice we encounter daily.  There are even camps, usually religious in origin, devoted to “curing” homosexuals and are designed to cleanse them of their wicked ways.

My completely unscientific opinion is that homosexuality is not unlike my preference for blue over red.  It’s just something that is a part of me that I cannot explain, much like a woman’s preference for other women is a part of her.  I think if homosexuality were strictly a biological matter then those that are biologically exact copies of one another would share the same sexual preference.  I am speaking of course of identical twins and while there are cases where twins both are homosexual, there are also instances where one is and one isn’t.  For the ones that are not the same in their sexual preference one could always make the argument that the twin identifying him or herself as heterosexual is living in denial, but there is no way of proving that.

In the end, we like what we like.  I could start telling people I have a new favorite color, I could even get rid of everything blue I own, but why should I?  Just the same, why should someone who is attracted to the same sex only date people of the opposite sex?  It seems silly to me for someone in that position to do something that doesn’t appeal to them.  Now I know the conservative sect argues why stop there?  Why not love a dog if that’s your preference, or children?  My response is that we are logical, rationale beings gifted with such mental capabilities that allow us to create boundaries.  I also do not see the reason to defend homosexuality by pointing out its differences from pedophilia, they should be obvious.

In conclusion, I see no reason why there is such hostility by some people towards homosexuals.  I personally may not be able to understand why a man would prefer another man to a woman, but I also don’t know why someone would prefer yellow to blue.  I do know that I have nothing against the individual who prefers the color yellow, and that’s how it should be.

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