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Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships Paperback – May 1, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
As of writing, I am the only person to give this book 2 stars. I expect I will recieve a large number of "unhelpful" votes and be pilloried for not "getting it" or being an amateur. That's fine since I hope to (altruistically, pun intended) save at least a few folks money.
First, the good. The book is well-written and communicates complex ideas in an accessible, funny and warm manner. It draws interesting parallels between human and primate behavior. It provides some real-world examples of "games" or algorithms that have been modified by humans to their current social context but are fundamentally the same as those practiced by primates.
Now, the bad. For those familiar with the topic, the core ideas presented here are neither particularly novel nor terribly exciting. In the first half of the book, the author spends far too much time describing experiments and too little interpreting the results or applying results to human behavior. This is a pity, because the career strategy section is extremely interesting and accessible. In the second half, he seems to reverse course and hypothesize at length with minimal scientific grounding (beyond references to others' works).Read more ›
Though some of the writing is quite good, there were also spots I didn't care for. One reviewer really liked the chapter on Italian academics and nepotism. For me, it went on and on, rather like a shaggy dog story. I also found the next-to-last chapter on behavioral economics very boring, with a really leaden, extremely abstract style. Yes, I realize he's an academic, and not Malcolm Gladwell, but ...
Finally, the cover promises this book is an "undercover" investigation of human behavior. Except for his observations about elevator etiquette, there's really not much of that.
Hmm ... That all sounds awfully negative. It's really not that bad a book. There are some really interesting ideas (his thoughts on French kissing, for example) and it's much more readable than a textbook.
I guess I've just read a lot of these books (there are plenty out there). So, if you've never been exposed to this field before, you'll probably find this book (really, this field) fascinating. There are better books out there though.
Maestripieri obviously feels the need to prove his point: apparently some scientists argue that the very recent and dramatic development of the human brain means that 'all bets are off' - that our recently gained mental complexity means that we can ignore any possible influence of ancient behaviour patterns: human behaviour, on this analysis, will transcend, or is, at least, capable of transcending, any evolutionary influences. Maestripieri argues, at the conclusion of his book, that 'our new mental powers have not replaced the psychological and behavioural dispositions that we have inherited from our primate ancestors.'
Not being an expert in the field, I rather thought that we had crossed this bridge some time ago. Konrad Lorenz did a good job of popularising ethology, the science of animal behaviour, and I thought that Desmond Morris, in The Naked Ape, had argued compellingly for a link between primate behaviour and human behavioural traits.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must read for all of us who want to understand our true nature!Published 9 months ago by Emily Watson
The author's voice is a little to prevalent in his writing, if anyone understands that, but overall the book is very well written and provokes interesting thoughts.Published 11 months ago by AZo
Cause my bachelor was biology and i am an atheist,i agree most part of the book. After i read it,i still want to move to USA,haha.Published 23 months ago by wangqixiang
A ramble through the author's studies of primate behavior. He draws no conclusions applicable to humanity. The apes themselves are short on charm.Published 24 months ago by E. F. Isaacs
I have read several books on primates and this is certainly a winner. Although Maestripieri does not seem draw all the same conclusions as Frans De Waal, he does back up his... Read morePublished on November 10, 2012 by jcrafts
I hesitated a lot to purchase this book considering the price and some of the reviews.
While I don't care if everything is absolutely scientifically sound, or if the author... Read more
Not very well written. I was hoping for something that tried to be relevant to the casual reader, but the author took the path of least resistance with this book and just... Read morePublished on June 30, 2012 by Wyatt Twerp
Maestripieri does a great job of explaining human behavior in terms of game theory and biological markets. Read morePublished on June 6, 2012 by Adrien L. Phipps
There's a lot to like in this book, but it does jump around quite a bit. And the insights it delivers aren't novel or, in my opinion, necessarily true. Read morePublished on May 20, 2012 by Ellen Jackson