Geoffrey Miller writes,

Many products are signals first and material objects second.

I am only a little way past the introduction to Spent. Tyler has already read it. So has Robin. So far, Miller hasn’t told me anything that Robin did not already know.

One advantage that economists have over evolutionary psychologists in discussing signaling is that we know that signaling requires comparative advantage. As an employer, I want a signal that employees will be teachable. If non-teachable and teachable employees can both do well on aptitude tests, that is not a good signal. But if only teachable employees can sit through college classes and pass them, then a college degree is a good signal. The teachable employee has to have a comparative advantage in using the signal–otherwise the signal will not work. I have not read far enough to know whether Miller understands this point, or its significance.