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Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationshipsby Dario Maestripieri
Synopses & Reviews
Most humans don't realize that when they exchange emails with someone, anyone, they are actually exhibiting certain unspoken rules about dominance and hierarchy. The same rules regulate the exchange of grooming behavior in rhesus macaques or chimpanzees. Interestingly, some of the major aspects of human nature have profound commonalities with our ape ancestors: the violence of war, the intensity of love, the need to live together.
While we often assume that our behavior in everyday situations reflects our unique personalities, the choices we freely make, or the influences of our environment, we rarely consider that others behave in these situations in almost the exact the same way as we do. In Games Primates Play, primatologist Dario Maestripieri examines the curious unspoken customs that govern our behavior. These patterns and customs appear to be motivated by free will, yet they are so similar from person to person, and across species, that they reveal much more than our selected choices.
Games Primates Play uncovers our evolutionary legacy: the subtle codes that govern our behavior are the result of millions of years of evolution, predating the emergence of modern humans. To understand the rules that govern primate games and our social interactions, Maestripieri arms readers with knowledge of the scientific principles that ethologists, psychologists, economists, and other behavioral scientists have discovered in their quest to unravel the complexities of behavior. As he realizes, everything from how we write emails to how we make love is determined by the legacy of our primate roots and the conditions that existed so long ago.
An idiosyncratic and witty approach to our deep and complex origins, Games Primates Play reveals the ways in which our primate nature drives so much of our lives.
"Maestripieri (Macachiavellian Intelligence), professor of evolutionary biology and related sciences at the University of Chicago, explores behavioral similarities between humans and other primates in his engaging but flawed book. Such an analysis is important, he writes, because 'human nature is a particular, specialized version of a more general primate nature.' Drawing on his own work with rhesus macaques as well as broader primate literature, Maestripieri offers solid grounding in the basics of animal behavior while discussing the evolutionary roots of complex social patterns. The behaviors he focuses on are both critical and fascinating: sexual choice; dominance relationships; the nature of altruism and selfishness; and coalition building, among others. But when it comes to humans, Maestripieri presents less data and more anecdotes, so his arguments about homologous human-primate behavior are not fully compelling. Furthermore, he can simply ignore issues that contradict his theories. For example, in discussing charitable contribution as status-building activity through the public recognition given to donors, he overlooks contributors who truly wish to remain anonymous. Still, the author brings readers closer to his goal of integrating economic models with evolutionary theory to create 'more predictive models of human decision-making'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"[E]ngaging... Drawing on his own work with rhesus macaques as well as broader primate literature, Maestripieri offers solid grounding in the basics of animal behavior while discussing the evolutionary roots of complex social patterns. The behaviors he focuses on are both critical and fascinating: sexual choice; dominance relationships; the nature of altruism and selfishness; and coalition building, among others." Publishers Weekly
"[A] fascinating survey. Using wonderful comparative studies and conversational language, Maestripieri brings us back to our primate roots so that we can better understand why we do the things we do." Booklist
Tracking us in elevators and on emails, at home and at work, a leading primatologist uncovers the rules that govern the social life of the human animal.
About the Author
Dario Maestripieri is Professor of Comparative Human Development, Evolutionary Biology, Neurobiology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. He received the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association in 2000, and a Career Development Award from the National Institute of Mental Health in 2001. He has appeared in many national and international TV and radio shows and his research has been featured in a number of newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Pravda, LeMonde, Der Spiegel, the Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The New Scientist, American Scientist, Nature, and Science. He is the author of Macachiavellian Intelligence and editor of Primate Psychology. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
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