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Human Evolutionary Psychology

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691096223
ISBN-10: 0691096228
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Editorial Reviews


"Written with students in mind, Human Evolutionary Psychology is a highly readable and balanced account of EP's central concepts and conflicts, from altruism and mate choice to cultural evolution and the origins of language."--New Scientist

"Creative synthesis that should play a significant role in the study of the impact of evolution on individuals and society."--Choice

From the Inside Flap

"This is more than a much-needed comprehensive introductory text to the area. It is an antidote to the erroneous view that the evolutionary approach to human psychology and action is some monolithic view focused solely upon the concept of adaptation and reproductive success. As this book shows, it is many things, including the study of the causal powers and origins of human culture. If this book has a single message, it is long live pluralism."--Henry Plotkin, University College London

"This is an impressive review of the literature on the evolution of human behavior, including human evolutionary ecology and psychology. It will be a useful teaching resource, and there is nothing quite like it currently available."--Ruth Mace, University College London

"This well-written and balanced textbook presents the complexity of the debate over evolutionary psychology. A valuable addition to the teaching resources for the growing area of evolutionary psychology, it provides the foundational information that allows students to confront the primary source material."--Steven Scher, Eastern Illinois University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (February 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691096228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691096223
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Richard W. Miller on October 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am surprised at the relatively low sales numbers and lack of reviews for this excellent text. Although David Buss's text book is by far the better seller it leaves much to be desired. It is simply too "dumbed down" for the senior and graduate level students that it was intended for. Although Dr. Buss is a strong advocate of the evolutionary approach to human psychology, his treatment of evolutionary theory is rather weak and laymen like giving away his background in psychology rather than biology.

The currrent text by Barrett et al. however gives an excellent account of evolutionary theory as a starting point for the books' coverage of human evolutionary psychology, perhaps because this book emanates from Robin Dunbar's (2nd author) lab. Dr. Dunbar is a immenent British primatologist whose background includes a thorough grounding in the biological sciences including evolutionary theory.

Also, more than any of the other texts in this field the emphasis of this one is on HUMAN evolutionary psychology. Other texts use a more comparative approach and rely too heavily on extrapolations from the general primate literature rather than on data specific to humans.

Lastly, this text has the largest and most relevant bibliography of any of the other texts. Documentation is thus extensive This alone is worth the price of the book
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Steven Peterson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 16, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very nice introduction to evolutionary psychology. Originally, as the authors note, it was designed to meet a need for a good undergraduate textbook in the field. They note that they (page xi) ". . .were frustrated by the fact that there was nothing we could use as a textbook that was sufficiently broad to cover all our interests." However, this book is not just for undergraduate students. It will also serve well the larger public with some knowledge of evolution who might be interested in the developing area of evolutionary psychology. Thus, this book could well have multiple audiences.

The purpose of this book, as the authors observe, is to (page 1) ". . .demonstrate that by adopting an evolutionary perspective on human behaviour and psychology, we can provide a coherent unified explanation on human social evolution and adaptation." Obviously, an ambitious agenda for this book.

And an agenda that they do pretty well in addressing.

The first two chapters do a nice job of laying out the basics of evolutionary theory in readily understandable terms. In these chapters, they clearly note that human behavior can be explained by evolutionary processes. The second chapter addresses the apparent paradox between evolution operating on individuals (the "selfish gene" metaphor) while we see apparent cases of altruism.

Following chapters apply evolutionary theory to a variety of human behaviors, such as: (a) cooperation among kin (relatives); (b) reciprocity and sharing; (c) mate choice; (d) human reproduction; (e) parental investment in offspring; (f) marriage and inheritance; (g) the individual's functioning within larger societies; (h) cognition; (i) social cognition; (j) language; (k) cultural evolution.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Eff on April 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book about four years ago, when it first came out. I've found it to be invaluable in leading me through the literature on evolutionary psychology and human behavioral ecology (one of the book's strengths is that it embraces both of these approaches). The book lends itself to browsing, and I've often looked up a topic in the index, read the pages listed, and then later looked up a particularly interesting article mentioned in those pages. In this way I've discovered the work of a few authors that I now consider to be quite important (Pierre van den Berghe and Austin Hughes come to mind). For me, this book has been a great investment.
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