The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies Of Human Mating

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9780465077502: The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies Of Human Mating

How we choose—and lose—our mates has always been a source of fascination. This controversial book is the first to present a unified theory of human mating behavior. The Evolution of Desire is based on the most massive study of human mating ever undertaken, encompassing more than 10,000 peoples of all ages from thirty-seven cultures worldwide. If we all want love, why is there so much conflict in our most cherished relationships? To answer this question, we must look into our evolutionary past, according to David M. Buss. For in attracting, keeping, and even breaking up with our mates, we are closer to our ancestral forebears than many of us think.

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About the Author:

David M. Buss is Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, and the author of six books, including Personality: Domains of Knowledge about Human Nature and The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy is as Necessary as Love and Sex. He lives in Austin, Texas.

From Kirkus Reviews:

In a study involving over 10,000 people from 37 cultures, Buss (Psychology/Univ. of Michigan) uses evolutionary theory to explain the psychological mechanisms behind how and why people choose, keep, and discard their mates. Mating, according to Buss, is not a sentimental or humane activity: it is, rather, as competitive, conflictual, and manipulative on the human level as it is among the insects. To provide for themselves and their offspring, women seek providers- -men with money, power, maturity, ambition, stability, commitment, health, and cooperative natures. Men, for similar reasons, invest their time, resources, and sperm in young, beautiful, and fertile women who will give them heirs and status. At the same time they retain a primitive ability for casual sex as well--a sexual mechanism that is less selective and can be satisfied in more primitive ways such as fantasy, homosexuality, and incest. The capacity for multiple partners, casual sex, jealousy (a series of protective responses), and divorce are all adaptive mechanisms to help people--though mostly men--achieve their reproductive potential. Detailed analysis of various forms of mating rituals considered in large anthropological and biological contexts explain adaptive techniques for attracting and keeping mates and what happens when they get out of hand, ancestral instincts becoming destructive (abuse and rape). Scientifically rigorous, the study, on a human level, is abstract and statistical (75 societies reported infertility as a cause of conjugal dissolution); the detail is found on the animal level, as in a lurid scene of mating between scorpion flies. However incomplete sociobiology and evolutionary psychology may be in explaining human relationships, they clearly affirm the value of raising the instinctual to the level of consciousness and the miracle, as Buss eloquently concludes, of modern marriage as a ``crowning achievement of humankind.'' -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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