Few things come more naturally to us than sex – or so it would seem. Yet to a chimpanzee, the sexual practices and customs we take for granted would appear odd indeed. He or she might wonder why we bother with inconveniences like clothes, why we prefer to make love on a bed, and why we fuss so needlessly over privacy. Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior invites us into the thought-experiment of imagining human sex from the vantage point of our primate cousins, in order to underscore the role of evolution in shaping all that happens, biologically and behaviorally, when romantic passions are aroused.
Peter Gray and Justin Garcia provide an interdisciplinary synthesis that draws on the latest discoveries in evolutionary theory, genetics, neuroscience, comparative primate research, and cross-cultural sexuality studies. They are our guides through an exploration of the patterns and variations that exist in human sexuality, in chapters covering topics ranging from the evolution of sex differences and reproductive physiology to the origins of sexual play, monogamous unions, and the facts and fictions surrounding orgasm.
Intended for generally curious readers of all stripes, this up-to-date, one-volume survey of the evolutionary science of human sexual behavior explains why sexuality has remained a core fascination of human beings throughout time and across cultures.
"A very good book [...] A strong case can be made that real sex education would go beyond Plumbing 101 and emulate this book – actually teaching about sexual behavior from an evolutionary perspective. With backgrounds in anthropology [...] the authors do an especially good job describing what William James might have called the varieties of sexual experience."
– David P. Barash, The Chronicle of Higher Education
"This work provides a fresh perspective on human sexuality and sexual behaviors, placing human animals within a larger historical context, and gives readers the opportunity to perceive human sexuality as malleable, a product of thousands of years of change [...] Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior provides an insightful review of sexual behavior and sexuality across species, across history, and across the individual lifespan with an evolutionarily informed perspective. This fascinating text put forth by Gray and Garcia is pleasurable for the layman reader interested in the evolutionary underlining of human sexuality, as well as the advanced evolutionary scholar. Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior is more than an easily digestible pop-evolutionary text; this book can be successfully applied in academic contexts, and bring a fresh perspective to evolutionary psychology and human sexuality courses."
– Lora E. Adair, Human Ethology Bulletin
"Gray and Garcia offer an updated look at the evolutionary roots of human sexual behavior and deliver an entertaining yet scientific account of how and why we humans are similar to other animals but still unique when it comes to our sex lives [...] Walking the line between reaching the general public, while providing a comprehensive enough scientific background to educate college students, is a difficult task, one that is achieved here in part by extensively reviewing recent primary literature. Even if I was kept awake by knowing how crocodile dung was used in Egypt, and by thoughts of Darwin in my bedroom, I will rely on this book both for teaching in the classroom and entertaining at cocktail parties."
– Patricia L. R. Brennan, Trends in Ecology & Evolution
"This is a well-researched, well-written, and engaging volume. Gray and Garcia navigate cross-cultural, cross-species, and diachronic data on sexuality and reproduction to illuminate human sexual behavior [...] Stimulating, useful, and well reasoned."
– David A. Puts, Quarterly Review of Biology
"It is one of the best that I have read on the subject and is a useful resource for anyone interested in the field of sexual selection and reproductive behavior in humans [...] I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in human reproduction from an evolutionary perspective. The amount of material covered is impressive and the maintenance of academic rigor while producing an interesting, readable text is to be applauded. This is a valuable read for undergraduate and graduate students who will set this book down with a greater understanding of the dynamic nature of reproductive behavior, free from normative language regarding human sexuality and essentialized sex roles found in other published materials."
– Ryan Schacht, American Journal of Human Biology
"An intriguing treatment of an intriguing subject."
– S.M. Valente, Choice
"I am convinced this book will become a classic, and I don't use this term lightly. It is a superb overview and synthesis of the literature, along with discussion of the newest data from a remarkably wide range of academic disciplines. I am impressed."
– Helen Fisher, Ph.D., Biological Anthropologist and Research Professor, Rutgers University
"In addition to excellent writing, this book is appropriately and impressively thorough – including a great amount of cutting-edge research. Further, this book is deeply integrative in its disciplinary scope. It includes research from physiologists, cross-cultural anthropologists, social psychologists, historians, and more. The scholars are masters of interdisciplinary work – and this fact emerges clearly and effectively in this book."
– Glenn Geher, Ph.D., Director of Evolutionary Studies and Professor of Psychology, SUNY New Paltz
"A great integration of animal evidence and habits from a wide variety of species, in discussions ranging from the mechanisms of romantic attraction, to comparisons between bonobo and human sexual play during development, to digit length comparisons in rats and human beings linked to hormone exposures that may in turn be linked to sexual orientation. A marvelous contribution."
– Elisabeth Lloyd, Ph.D., Arnold and Maxine Tanis Chair of History and Philosophy of Science, Indiana University
"Comprehensive and charming, Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior is bound to become a classic. A fine starting point for productive debates."
– Elaine Hatfield, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Hawai'i
1. The Evolution of Sex, Sex Differences, and Human Sexuality
2. The Garden of Variety: Cross-Cultural Variation in Human Sexuality
3. Love and Maybe Marriage: Patterns of Pair-Bonding and Romantic Love
4. Raising Human Sexuality: Processes of Sex Differentiation and Sociosexual Expression
5. Playing at Sex: Learning, Practicing, and Developing Sociosexual Behavior in Context
6. Welcome to the Party: Puberty and Adolescent Sexual Development
7. Kinsey Takes Anatomy Class: Human Reproductive Anatomy and Physiology within Evolutionary Perspective
8. Turning the Key: Human Sexual Response and Orgasm
9. The Evolution of Baby Making: Mechanisms of Fertility, Infertility, and Variation in Fertility Outcomes
10. Born to Be Less Wild: Peripartum Shifts in Human Sexuality
11. The Sands of Time: Aging and Sexuality
12. Sexual Revolutions: Contemporary Human Sexual Practices
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Peter B. Gray is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Justin R. Garcia is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and Assistant Research Scientist at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University.