Cover image for The evolution of desire : strategies of human mating
The evolution of desire : strategies of human mating
Buss, David M.
Personal Author:
Revised edition.
Publication Information:
New York : BasicBooks ; Oxford : Oxford Publicity Partnership, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 354 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ21 .B95 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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With two new chapters by the author.If we all want love, why is there so much conflict in our most cherished relationships? To answer this question, says noted psychologist David Buss, we must look into our evolutionary past. Based on the most massive study of human mating ever undertaken, encompassing more than ten thousand people of all ages from thirty-seven cultures worldwide, The Evolution of Desire is the first book to present a unified theory of human mating behavior. Now in a revised and updated edition, Buss's classic presents the latest research in the field, including startling new discoveries about the evolutionary advantages of infidelity, orgasm, and physical attractiveness.

Author Notes

David M. Buss is Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, and the author of six books, including Personality: Domains of Knowledge about Human Nature and The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy is as Necessary as Love and Sex. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Evolutionary psychology--or, in the vernacular, "instinct"--rules the dating and mating game, and this scientist's discoveries are bound to clash with theories of patriarchy that purport to account for male dominance of wealth. Buss' synthesis of many studies conforms with popular wisdom: Women want an older man with actual or potential means; men want an attractive, younger woman; and men have a much greater proclivity for promiscuity than do women. Why? The reasons reside in vestigial "cues" that favored reproduction in the pre-agricultural epoch of human development. Then, when a poor decision in mate selection imposed devastating material costs on the female, a dialectic of attraction strategies developed so that a desirable mate could be gained, held, and defended against interlopers. The ancestral origin, Buss explains, is apparent in courting techniques (such as his researchers recorded in singles bars) or in the emotion of jealousy, the actuator in alerting and defeating rivals. Libraries may be overrun by anecdotal accounts of sex, even the good ones like Sex: An Oral History by Harry Maurer [BKL N 1 93]. But Buss steps back from the mechanics and emotions of the matter and insightfully complements the multitude. ~--Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the pursuit of a mate, women prefer men who possess money, resources, power and high social status, while men tend to seek attractive, youthful women who will remain sexually faithful. This finding emerged from a global survey by Buss and colleagues of 10,047 persons in 37 cultures, from Australia to Zambia. Women and men are often at cross-purposes in mate selection, sexual relations and affairs. In a provocative study, Buss, a University of Michigan psychology professor, attributes these differences to ingrained psychological mechanisms which he argues are universal across cultures and rooted in each gender's adaptive responses over millennia of human evolution. One area, however, where Buss finds common ground between men and women is in their ruthless use of deception, sexual display and denigration of rivals in the pursuit of a partner. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

What draws particular mates to each other? Are the answers the same for men as for women? How did our mating strategies evolve? Buss, a psychologist draws on studies of the mating habits of approximately 10,000 people in 37 countries to support his answers to such questions. Citing studies done every decade for the past 60 years and controlling for factors such as location, habitat, marriage rules, and residence rules, Buss writes, "men in all 37 cultures value physical appearance in choosing a mate more than women." Buss also discusses "trophy wives," noting that although men achieve social status by having attractive mates, cross-cultural data suggest that a woman does not benefit to the same degree from having a handsome spouse. Although it is less important to them, women also consider physical appearance, particularly signs of strength, in mate selection. A man should be able to defend against aggressors and avoid injury that would impair his reproductive capacity. This clear and easy-to-read work is a useful complement to anthropologist Helen Fisher's Anatomy of Love (CH, Jun'93) because Buss approaches similar questions from the perspective of sexual psychology. General readers; undergraduates; graduate students. T. A. Foor; University of Montana