Cover image for The dangerous passion : why jealousy is as necessary as love and sex
The dangerous passion : why jealousy is as necessary as love and sex
Buss, David M.
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Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xi, 258 pages ; 25 cm
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BF575.J4 B87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Why do men and women cheat on each other? How do men really feel when their partners have sex with other men? What worries women more -- men who turn to other women for love or men who simply want sexual variety in their lives? Can the jealousy husbands and wives experience over real or imagined infidelities be cured? Should it be? In this surprising and engaging exploration of men's and women's darker passions, David Buss, acclaimed author of "The Evolution of Desire," reveals that both men and women are actually designed for jealousy. Drawing on experiments, surveys, and interviews conducted in thirty-seven countries on six continents, as well as insights from recent discoveries in biology, anthropology, and psychology, Buss discovers that the evolutionary origins of our sexual desires still shape our passions today.

According to Buss, more men than women want to have sex with multiple partners. Furthermore, women who cheat on their husbands do so when they are most likely to conceive, but have sex with their spouses when they are least likely to conceive. These findings show that evolutionary tendencies to acquire better genes

Author Notes

David M. Buss, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, and previously taught at Harvard University and the University of Michigan.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Buss (The Evolution of Desire) painstakingly argues that, although sexual jealousy may lead to regrettable events, it is "an exquisitely tailored adaptive mechanism that served the interests of our ancestors well and likely continues to serve our interests today." Drawing on many studies, including his own research, he believes that jealousy arises from the reciprocal impact of men's and women's approaches to sex and commitment on their "co-evolutionary spiral." For instance, while "men and women from seven nations reported virtually identical levels of jealousy," men became more physiologically distressed by sexual infidelity, while women showed greater distress at emotional infidelity. The root of sexual jealousy for men, Buss asserts, is the risk of paternity uncertainty; for women, it is the threat to commitment. Among the benefits of the emotion he cites: it can be useful in testing a bond and can ignite sexual passion. As for the pathology of jealousy, studies "strongly point to sexual jealousy as a major cause, and likely the leading cause, of spousal violence." While Buss's major contentions frequently seem self-evident, a few may stretch readers' credulity--like the "innovative" study that shows that women tend to chose men with symmetrical features as affair partners, based on the finding that "women judged the T-shirts that had been worn by symmetrical men as more pleasant smelling, but only if they happened to be in the ovulation phase of their menstrual cycle." Ultimately, this portentous, workmanlike study promises more than it delivers. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Buss (psychology, Univ. of Texas; The Evolution of Desire) has written a well-researched, accessible book on jealousy targeted at the layperson. Buss sees jealousy as a human trait that has evolved in the same way that fear and anger have. He believes jealousy is a necessary emotion to help men and women remain faithful and to be aware of a partner's fidelity. Supporting his conclusions with research surveys and examples of patients in therapy, Buss covers the causes and effects of jealousy, from suspicion and spying to violence and revenge. Slightly repetitive but thought provoking and well written, this book is sure to appeal to a wide audience. Recommended for public libraries.--Elizabeth Caulfield Felt, Washington State Univ. Lib., Pullman (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Buss (Univ. of Texas, Austin) has done numerous studies on the strategies of human mating. Here he proposes that jealousy evolved as a system for detecting infidelity to protect the partner bond. Buss follows the current trend of explaining human behavior through evolved predispositions to act in certain ways. He shows how evolutionary tendencies to acquire better genes through different partners still influence modern behavior. His system helps the reader understand spousal battering, why differences exist between males and females in how they approach affairs, and how partners cope with infidelity. Clearly written, this book has 283 references from studies done in 37 countries, including research in biology, anthropology, and psychology. This is a major reframing of the understanding of the purpose of jealousy and as such is especially recommended for therapists who work with couples. The reader who wants a broader picture of how evolution has influenced the nature of sex differences will find it in Buss's The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating (CH, Oct'94) and David C. Geary's Male, Female: The Evolution of Human Sex Differences (CH, Sep'99). Academic readers at the upper-division undergraduate level and above; professionals; general readers. W. P. Anderson; University of Missouri--Columbia

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Dangerous Passionp. 1
Chapter 2 The Jealousy Paradoxp. 26
Chapter 3 Jealousy on Mars and Venusp. 49
Chapter 4 The Othello Syndromep. 73
Chapter 5 If I Can't Have Her, Nobody Canp. 101
Chapter 6 Secrets and Liesp. 131
Chapter 7 Why Women Have Affairsp. 158
Chapter 8 Coping Strategiesp. 181
Chapter 9 Emotional Wisdomp. 206
Notesp. 227
Referencesp. 239
Indexp. 251