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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New edition of an authoritative guide to human sexual behavior from a biopsychosocial perspective

The thoroughly revised and updated second edition of The Psychology of Human Sexuality explores the roles that biology, psychology, and the social and cultural context play in shaping human sexual behavior. The author – a noted authority on the topic and an affiliate of the acclaimed Kinsey Institute - puts the spotlight on the most recent research and theory on human sexuality, with an emphasis on psychology.

The text presents the major theoretical perspectives on human sexuality, and details the vast diversity of sexual attitudes and behaviors that exist in the modern world. The author also reviews the history of sexology and explores its unique methods and ethical considerations. Overall, this important and comprehensive text provides readers with a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the science of sex and the amazing complexity of human sexuality.

Features broad coverage of topics including anatomy, gender and sexual orientation, sexual behaviors, sexual difficulties and solutions, prostitution, and pornography Offers more in-depth treatment of relationships than comparable texts, with separate chapters dealing with attraction and relationship processes Includes cutting-edge research on the origins of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as new treatments for sexually transmitted infections and sexual dysfunctions Is written from a sex-positive perspective, with expanded coverage of cross-cultural research throughout and material that is inclusive and respectful of a diverse audience Includes numerous activities to facilitate dynamic, interactive classroom environments

Written for students of human sexuality and anyone interested in the topic, The Psychology of Human Sexuality offers a guide to the psychology of human sexual behavior that is at once inclusive, thorough, and authoritative in its approach.

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.

This root-and-branch re-evaluation of Darwin’s concept of sexual selection tackles the subject from historical, epistemological and theoretical perspectives. Contributions from a wealth of disciplines have been marshaled for this volume, with key figures in behavioural ecology, philosophy, and the history of science adding to its wide-ranging relevance. Updating the reader on the debate currently live in behavioural ecology itself on the centrality of sexual selection, and with coverage of developments in the field of animal aesthetics, the book details the current state of play, while other chapters trace the history of sexual selection from Darwin to today and inquire into the neurobiological bases for partner choices and the comparisons between the hedonic brain in human and non-human animals.

Welcome space is given to the social aspects of sexual selection, particularly where Darwin drew distinctions between eager males and coy females and rationalized this as evolutionary strategy. Also explored are the current definition of sexual selection (as opposed to natural selection) and its importance in today’s biological research, and the impending critique of the theory from the nascent field of animal aesthetics. As a comprehensive assessment of the current health, or otherwise, of Darwin’s theory, 140 years after the publication of his Descent of Man, the book offers a uniquely rounded view that asks whether ‘sexual selection’ is in itself a progressive or reactionary notion, even as it explores its theoretical relevance in the technical biological study of the twenty-first century.

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