The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature

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At once a pioneering study of evolution and an accessible and lively reading experience, The Mating Mind marks the arrival of a prescient and provocative new science writer. Psychologist Geoffrey Miller offers the most convincing–and radical–explanation for how and why the human mind evolved.

Consciousness, morality, creativity, language, and art: these are the traits that make us human. Scientists have traditionally explained these qualities as merely a side effect of surplus brain size, but Miller argues that they were sexual attractors, not side effects. He bases his argument on Darwin’ s theory of sexual selection, which until now has played second fiddle to Darwin’ s theory of natural selection, and draws on ideas and research from a wide range of fields, including psychology, economics, history, and pop culture. Witty, powerfully argued, and continually thought-provoking, The Mating Mind is a landmark in our understanding of our own species.
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About the author

Geoffrey F. Miller is senior research fellow at the Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution at University College, London. Born in 1965 in Cincinnati, he studied at Columbia University and received a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Stanford University. After moving to Europe, he worked at the Universities of Sussex and Nottingham and at the Max Planck Institute of Psychological Research in Munich. He lives in Surrey with his family.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Anchor
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Published on
Dec 21, 2011
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Pages
528
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ISBN
9780307813749
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Social History
Psychology / Evolutionary Psychology
Psychology / Human Sexuality
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The present book aims to examine how sexual selection works in the human species. Almost all scholarly effort focuses on sexual selection in non-human species and extrapolates the findings to the human one. However, human mating has a unique pattern not found in any other species, namely parental influence over mate choice. Across preindustrial societies, the typical pattern of long-term mating is arranged marriage, where parents choose spouses for their children. By doing so, parents effectively become a sexual selection force. Traits that enhance an individual’s chance to be selected as a son- or a daughter-in-law confer important reproductive advantages to those who are endowed with them, increasing in frequency in the population.

The author has coined the term parental choice to describe the sexual selection force that arises from parental control over mating. He synthesizes extensive theoretical and empirical work in order to understand and model this force. The aim is to understand which factors give rise to parental choice and to combine these insights into constructing a more formal model. It also aims to further examine whether the predictions of the model fit the patterns of mating found across different types of human societies, and how the model can be used to understand the evolution of behavioral traits involved in mating.

By synthesizing the various arguments put forward and published across the literature, the book offers a comprehensive argument and overview of an aspect of sexual selection unique to our species. Furthermore, the book revises and extends previously made arguments and models, while it provides useful insights on how the proposed revision of sexual selection theory can enable us to understand a wide range of human behavioral phenomena. It should be key reading for those interested in studying sexual selection in general and in the Homo sapiens species in particular.

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