302 pages, b/w photos
Most humans don't realize that when they exchange emails with someone, anyone, they are actually exhibiting certain unspoken rules about dominance and hierarchy. The same rules regulate the exchange of grooming behavior in rhesus macaques or chimpanzees. Interestingly, some of the major aspects of human nature have profound commonalities with our ape ancestors: the violence of war, the intensity of love, the need to live together.
While we often assume that our behavior in everyday situations reflects our unique personalities, the choices we freely make, or the influences of our environment, we rarely consider that others behave in these situations in almost the exact the same way as we do. In Games Primates Play, primatologist Dario Maestripieri examines the curious unspoken customs that govern our behavior. These patterns and customs appear to be motivated by free will, yet they are so similar from person to person, and across species, that they reveal much more than our selected choices.
Games Primates Play uncovers our evolutionary legacy: the subtle codes that govern our behavior are the result of millions of years of evolution, predating the emergence of modern humans. To understand the rules that govern primate games and our social interactions, Maestripieri arms readers with knowledge of the scientific principles that ethologists, psychologists, economists, and other behavioral scientists have discovered in their quest to unravel the complexities of behavior. As he realizes, everything from how we write emails to how we make love is determined by the legacy of our primate roots and the conditions that existed so long ago.
An idiosyncratic and witty approach to our deep and complex origins, Games Primates Play reveals the ways in which our primate nature drives so much of our lives.
"[E]ngaging [...]. Drawing on his own work with rhesus macaques as well as broader primate literature, Maestripieri offers solid grounding in the basics of animal behavior while discussing the evolutionary roots of complex social patterns. The behaviors he focuses on are both critical and fascinating: sexual choice; dominance relationships; the nature of altruism and selfishness; and coalition building, among others."
- Publishers Weekly
"[A] fascinating survey. Using wonderful comparative studies and conversational language, Maestripieri brings us back to our primate roots so that we can better understand why we do the things we do."
"Read this if [...]You want to understand the parallels between all primate societies. Maestripieri illustrates that the behavior of Tony Soprano's family mirrors that of macaque monkeys and explains how to figure out celebrity breakups by studying the mating practices of apes."
- Psychology Today
"The University of Chicago primatologist begins with a thorough, albeit unsettling, analysis of what we do when we encounter a stranger in an elevator, then guides us through the gamut of common social interactions, relating our behaviour to that of our primate brethren in the wild and in the lab. His observations on our common impulses are fascinating."
- Toronto Star
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Dario Maestripieri is Professor of Comparative Human Development, Evolutionary Biology, Neurobiology, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. He received the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association in 2000, and a Career Development Award from the National Institute of Mental Health in 2001. He has appeared in many national and international TV and radio shows and his research has been featured in a number of newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Pravda, LeMonde, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, New Scientist, American Scientist, Nature, and Science. He is the author of Macachiavellian Intelligence and editor of Primate Psychology. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.