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Why Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human Behavior

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Why Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human Behavior Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Why are men, like other primate males, usually the aggressors and risk takers? Why do women typically have fewer sexual partners? Why is killing infants routine in some cultures, but forbidden in others? Why is incest everywhere taboo? Bobbi Low ranges from ancient Rome to modern America, from the Amazon to the Arctic, and from single-celled organisms to international politics to show that these and many other questions about human behavior largely come down to evolution and sex. More precisely, as she shows in this uniquely comprehensive and accessible survey of behavioral and evolutionary ecology, they come down to the basic principle that all organisms evolved to maximize their reproductive success and seek resources to do so.

Low begins by reviewing the fundamental arguments and assumptions of behavioral ecology: selfish genes, conflicts of interest, and the tendency for sexes to reproduce through different behaviors. She explains why in primate species--from chimpanzees and apes to humans--males seek to spread their genes by devoting extraordinary efforts to finding mates, while females find it profitable to expend more effort on parenting. Low illustrates these sexual differences among humans by showing that in places as diverse as the parishes of nineteenth-century Sweden, the villages of seventeenth-century China, and the forests of twentieth-century Brazil, men have tended to seek power and resources, from cattle to money, to attract mates, while women have sought a secure environment for raising children. She makes it clear, however, they have not done so simply through individual efforts or in a vacuum, but that men and women act in complex ways that involve cooperation and coalition building and that are shaped by culture, technology, tradition, and the availability of resources. Low also considers how the evolutionary drive to acquire resources leads to environmental degradation and warfare and asks whether our behavior could be channeled in more constructive ways.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

1. INTRODUCTION 3

Vampire Stories and Beyond 4

Explaining Behavior without Folklore 6

Kinds of "Why" Questions 9

Simple Rules, Complex Outcomes 11

Humans as Critters 12

2. RACING THE RED QUEEN: SELFISH GENES AND THEIR STRATEGIES 19

Whose Genes Count, and Why? Kin Selection 23

Summing Up the Basics: Assumptions and Objections 27

Novel Evolutionary Environments: Can the Principles Still Hold? 31

More than Ants or Peacocks: Lifetimes, Culture, Ecology and Variation 33

3. THE ECOLOGY OF SEX DIFFERENCES 35

Sex and Strategies 37

The Ecology of Being Male and Female 44

Mating Effort 47

Parental Effort 52

Variance in Reproductive Success: Mating versus Parental Strategists 53

4. SEX, STATUS, AND REPRODUCTION AMONG THE APES 57

The Ecology of Dominance and RS in Primates 58

Ecological Aspects of Mating Systems 60

Sex, Resources, and the Ecology of Human Reproduction 62

The Ecology of Human Mating Systems 66

The Ecology of Monogamy and Polyandry 74

5. SEX, RESOURCES, APPEARANCE, AND MATE CHOICE 77

What Men and Women Want 78

Beauty, Resources, and Mate Choice 83

Signals of Desirability and Their Manipulation 84

Who Can Choose? 88

6. SEX, RESOURCES, AND HUMAN LIFETIMES 92

Starting Out: Resource Striving in the Womb 95

What's a Mother to Do? Optimizing Maternal Effort among Offspring 96

Conflicts of Interest: Abortion, Infanticide, Abandonment Neglect 98

Sex Differences in Reproductive Lifetimes 102

Sex Differences in Senescence 110

7. SEX AND RESOURCE ECOLOGY IN TRADITIONAL AND HISTORICAL CULTURES 113

Sexual Divisions of Labor 113

Sex and Control of Resources 115

Men, Women, and Resources in Traditional and Historical Cultures 116

8. SEX, RESOURCES, AND FERTILITY IN TRANSITION 127

Nineteenth-Century Sweden 130

Sex, Resources, and Life Histories 135

Female Life Paths 139

Male Life Paths 140

Sex, Resources, and Fertility 142

Fertility Transitions: What, If Anything, Do They Mean? 144

9. NICE Guys CAN WIN -IN SOCIAL SPECIES, ANYWAY 146

Are We Lemmings? A Cautionary Tale 147

When and Why Do We Cooperate? 147

Simple Strategies in Winning Games 150

From Family to Dyads to Groups to Cultures 154

The Group Selection Muddle 155

Altruists or Good Neighbors? 160

Cooperation and Free-Riders 161

10. CONFLICTS, CULTURE, AND NATURAL SELECTION 163

Cooperation, Competition, and Groups 164

Working Out Our Conflicts: Moral Systems and Group Life 165

Intertwining Cultural and Natural Selection 168

Logically Inept, Socially Adept: The Social Contexts of Intelligence 176

11. SEX AND COMPLEX COALITIONS 181

Coalitions, Resources, and Reproduction 183

Sex and Human Coalitions 193

12. POLITICS AND REPRODUCTIVE COMPETITION 198

Men, Women, and Politics Cross-Culturally 200

Women in Politics: When Did It Pay? 209

13. SEX, RESOURCES, AND EARLY WARFARE 213

Resources and Conflict 214

Why Women Warriors Are Rare 216

War: Runaway Sexual Selection? 217

Other Biological Approaches to Understanding War 218

Intergroup Conflict in Other Species 221

Conflict in Preindustrial Societies 223

14. SOCIETAL COMPLEXITY AND THE ECOLOGY OF WAR 230

Greek Hoplites: Early "Western" Warriors? 233

The Ecology of Renaissance War 234

The Behavioral Ecology of Modern War 236

Disadvantaged Men in War 240

War and Reproductive Success Today 241

Proximate and Ultimate Causes of War: Evolutionary Novelty 241

15. WEALTH, FERTILITY, AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN FUTURE TENSE 245

Fertility, Consumption, and Sustainability: Weaving the Strands 247

Wealth, Fertility, and Consumption Today: Empirical Data 248

Wealth, Women's Age-Specific Fertility, and Women's Life Paths Today 250

An Evolutionary Perspective: Reducing Both Fertility and Consumption Is Novel 252

What's Missing in Current Strategies 253

Can New Strategies and Tactics Help 257

An Evolutionary Bottom Line 258

Notes 259

Glossary 323

References 333

Author Index 391

Subject Index 401

Taxonomic Index 409

Society/Social Group Index 411

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400823109
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Subject:
Anthropology
Author:
Bobbi S. Low
Author:
Low, Bobbi S.
Subject:
Social Science : Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Social Science : Gender Studies
Subject:
Anthropology - Physical
Subject:
Evolution - Human
Subject:
Human Sexuality
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution - Human
Subject:
Evolution
Subject:
Biological Sciences.
Subject:
Gender Studies
Subject:
Psychology
Subject:
anthropology;cultural anthropology
Subject:
Biology-Sociobiology
Subject:
Sexuality-General
Subject:
Science : Life Sciences - Evolution
Subject:
main_subject
Subject:
all_subjects
Publication Date:
October 2001
Binding:
eBooks
Language:
English
Pages:
432

Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Anthropology » General
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Physical
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Genetics

Why Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human Behavior
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Product details 432 pages Princeton University Press - English 9781400823109 Reviews:
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