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Evolutionary Psychology: A Critical Introduction 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0745622064
ISBN-10: 0745622062
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Paperback, October 19, 2000
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Editorial Reviews


'Christopher Badcock has produced the most thorough integration of modern genetics and human behaviour to appear. This stimulating book will be valued by those who want an up to date treatment of modern genetics and human behaviour and who value a bit of controversy and a touch of speculation in their reading.' Charles Crawford, Simon Fraser University

'Once again Christopher Badcock has written a compulsively readable book on an important topic. The application of Darwinian evolutionary biology to our understanding of the human mind and our social behaviour is producing cutting-edge science, and Badcock explains the advances made and the problems remaining with skill and insight. Knowledgeable both about the social sciences and the discoveries of modern biology, this book offers a penetrating analysis of the interacions between the branches of science. Written in a clear and understandable style, Evolutionary Psychology will surely be a standard work on the subject for years to come.' Michael Ruse, University of Guelph

'Christopher Badcock's Evolutionary Psychology: A Critical Introduction has got to be one of the better introductory texts out there. It is a way into what can often be perceived as an intimidating and overly science-based endeavour. It fact it is extremely informed from within the natural sciences, but it is also intensely fascinating ... Christopher Badcock has done an excellent job introducing the public to a field that is often mired in high academia and scientific obfuscation.' Self & Society

'it contains excitement and vision that, when tempered by a mature critic such as a teacher or tutor, make this book stand out as one from which I should love to teach' Paul Harvey, Head of Zoology, University of Oxford, The Times Higher Education Supplement

From the Back Cover

According to evolutionary biologists, we are the minders of our genes. But, as Christopher Badcock points out in this book, it is only recently that evolutionists have realized that minders need minds, and that evolution needs psychology to fill the yawning gap between genes and behaviour.

Evolutionary Psychology assumes no prior knowledge of the subject, and concentrates on the fundamental issues raised by the application of modern Darwinism to psychology. Basic concepts of evolution are explained carefully, so that the reader has a sound grasp of them before their often controversial application to psychology is discussed. The approach is a critical one, and the author does not hide the many difficulties that evolutionary psychology raises. Examples include the strange neglect of Darwin's own writings on psychology, and the fact that no existing theory has succeeded in explaining why the human brain evolved in the first place.

The book is the first to give a non-technical account of remarkable new findings about the roles that conflicting genes play in building different parts of the brain. It is also the first to consider the consequences of this for controversies like those over nature/nurture, IQ, brain lateralization and consciousness.

Evolutionary Psychology is based on many years experience of teaching evolution and psychology to social science students, and is intended for all who wish to get to grips with the basic issues of one of the most exciting and rapidly growing areas of modern science.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (October 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745622062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745622064
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,225,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Susan Hardy on January 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
This was the first book on evolutionary psychology I read, and it was an easy-to-understand and engaging introduction that gave me the background I needed to tackle more difficult works such as _The Adapted Mind_. Badcock explains the history of the movement well, treats most issues with healthy skepticism, and explains natural selection in such a way that most readers, even those without preexisting knowledge of evolution, should find quite easy to understand.
That being said, I had a couple of problems towards the end of the book, Badcock's strange fascination with Freud being first among them. He takes some very interesting data on unconscious processing and treats it as evidence that Freud was right on about all the defense mechanisms and so forth. He also seemed too set on the goal of reframing the mother/fetus relationship as an "arms race", although this is a more minor criticism. If it weren't for the Freud apologetics, I'd give this book 5 stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
Christopher Badcock is Reader in Sociology at the London School of Economics. He wrote in the Preface to this 2000 book, "I must emphasize that this book is not intended to be a general critique of evolution or psychology... where a fundamental issue of evolutionary interpretation does have pertinence to evolutionary psychology, I have discussed the difficulties that are relevant to it... Similar remarks apply to psychology... This book is described as a critical introduction not because it is critical of the fundamental claim that human psychology has evolved... but because much criticism is warranted by the application of that belief to particular aspects of psychology by evolutionary psychologists." (Pg. xi-xii)

He suggests, "just because something has evolved doesn't necessarily mean that it is 'particularly well designed' for performing its function. On the contrary... many important adaptations in the human body are not particularly well designed for their adaptive purpose and are certainly far from optimal in the way they work." (Pg. 21) He later points out, "Behaviourism... showed that even laboratory animals cannot be regarded as blank slates, conditionable at the whim of the behaviourist. On the contrary, behaviourism's failures suggest that if there are strict limits to the conditioning of animals, they are likely to be even stricter ones where human beings are concerned." (Pg. 243)

He argues, "Indeed, it is genetically true that genes need not---and indeed cannot---contain all the information that would be necessary if they really were completely detailed blueprints for organisms. The human genome could not possibly store enough data to detail every connection between brain cells, for example, simply because there are so many billions of them...
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Evolutionary Psychology: A Critical Introduction
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