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Are you experiencing mismatch in your life?

04 December 2018 16:37

The authors of Mismatch, Ronald Giphart and Mark van Vugt, look at how our Stone Age brain deceives us every day, and how we can test the level of conflict between our primitive brain and our modern environment.

Our brain and body are perfectly adapted to the environment of prehistory, the period between two and a half million to ten thousand years ago, when humans roamed the Savannah in small hunter-gatherer groups. All kinds of traces from this time are still evident in our body and behaviour.

‘Mismatch’ occurs when our brain and body have not adapted well to our modern environment. This has consequences for our behaviour and for the choices we make in our life with re­gard to nutrition, education, sexual behaviour, politics and work. And this in turn can affect our chances of survival, prosperity and successful procreation. Mismatch can have adverse consequences for our well-being and physical and mental state.

We can safely assume that not every person is affected by mismatch to the same degree. This can be related to where on the planet you live or as a result of the choices you make. But the better someone’s life is matched, the greater the chance they will be happy and healthy. Conversely, the more severely someone’s life is mismatched, the greater the risks for health and well-being.

The following test allows you to see how well your lifestyle and habits match the life to which your body and brain have been optimally adapted. We have come up with some questions, each with two reply options. The left options indicate a match, the right mismatch. So, the more items you tick in the right-hand column, the greater the mismatch. Please note that this is tongue-in-cheek and not a science-based test.

Yet it may be interesting to see to what extent mismatch may affect your life. We differentiate various areas of mismatch, including youth, nutrition, housing, relationships, work, politics, religion and nature. Add up all the items you have ticked in the right-hand column. A high score in any one particular area does not mean you need to leg it to the doctor, psychologist or dietician. See it as a cue, or food for thought.


Were you born in hospital? No Yes
Were you breastfed? Yes No
Did you live in a city or in the country as a youngster? Country City
Are your parents divorced? No Yes
Do you have two or more elder brothers and/or sisters? No Yes
Did you play outside a lot as a child? Yes No
Did you regularly go camping with your parents? Yes No


Do you live near a green area (park, forest)? Yes No
Do you live in a flat? No Yes
Do you have many plants at home? Yes No
Do you buy mainly fresh products? Yes No
Do you have a fireplace at home? Yes No
Does being in one place for any length of time make you feel restless? Yes No



Are you in an exclusive relationship? Yes No
Did you (or your partner) take the pill when you met? No Yes
Do you have children? Yes No
Do you have more than two children? No Yes
Do you watch pornography? No Yes
Is your partner older than you?    
– For men No Yes
– For women Yes No



Do you like barbecues? Yes No
Have you ever hunted? Yes No
Have you ever fished? Yes No
Do you eat meat with every meal? No Yes
Do you eat a lot fruits and nuts? Yes No
Are you able to resist a bag of crisps easily? Yes No
If you have to choose between beer and wine, what do you choose? Wine Beer



Do you take a lot of exercise? Yes No
Do you drink a lot of alcohol? No Yes
Do you smoke? No Yes
Do you consider yourself overweight? No Yes
Do you use a sunbed? No Yes



Do you travel to work by car? No Yes
Is your work stressful? No Yes
Are you self-employed? Yes No
Do you gossip much at work? Yes No
Are you sensitive to authority? No Yes
Do you enjoy meetings? No Yes
Does money make you happy? No Yes


Politics and Religion 

Are you superstitious? Yes No
Do you (in the main) vote left or right? Left Right
Does politics need a strong leader? Yes No
Are you a monarchist? No Yes
Do you belong to a church? No Yes


The Environment 

Do you enjoy watching nature documentaries? Yes No
Are you a member of an environmental organisation? Yes No
Do you recycle at home? Yes No
Do you drive an electric car? Yes No



Are there days you do not use social media? Yes No
Do you have friends you only know through Facebook or Twitter? No Yes
Did you meet your partner online? No Yes
Do you often take selfies? No Yes
Does the news keep you awake at night? No Yes



First and foremost and for the sake of completeness: this test has not been scientifically validated and is purely meant for light-hearted insight. Tick your answers, and add up 0 points for each answer in the left-hand column and 1 point for each answer in the right-hand column. Work out your total score.


0–10 points

You have little mismatch in your life. Going back to ancestral times would be no problem for you. But watch out that you do not miss out on too many technical and social trends.


11–20 points

You are reasonably stable. Modern time presents few problems for you, but nor are you entirely impervious to mismatch.



Things are going moderately well. You adapt to the demands of modern time, but this carries a great risk. Mismatch is lying in wait.



You are clearly in the danger zone and have an increased risk of mismatch. Be careful that because of all the technological and cultural developments, you do not lose your way.


More than 41

Mismatch has you in its clutches and the modern era is clearly taking you for a ride. Take care that you do not jeopardise your happiness and well-being.