Books  Ecological & Biological Sciences  Animal & General Biology  Animals: Behaviour 

Sociobiology: The New Synthesis

By: Edward O Wilson

696 pages, 31 b/w illus, 209 figs, 43 tabs

Harvard University Press

Paperback | Mar 2000 | #105780 | ISBN: 0674002350
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £45.95 $61/€51 approx
Hardback | Dec 2000 | #105779 | ISBN: 0674000897
Out of Print Details

About this book

First published in 1975, this 25th anniversary edition, featuring a new introduction by the author, shows how research in human genetics and neuroscience has strengthened the case for a biological understanding of human nature. When it was first published, it created a new discipline and started a tumultuous round in the age-old nature versus nurture debate. Although voted by officers and fellows of the international Animal Behaviour Society the most important book on animal behaviour of all time, Sociobiology is probably more widely known as the object of bitter attacks by social scientists and other scholars who opposed its claim that human social behaviour has a biological foundation. The controversy surrounding the publication of the book reverberates to the present day.
`This book enthralls and enchants...If you have this can begin getting your mind ready for the illuminations about human society.' Lewis Thomas, Harper's

It's been 25 years since E. O. Wilson wrote Sociobiology, naming a new science and starting it off with a bang--and a firestorm of protest. "Nurture!" and "Nature!" came the cries from every corner of the academic world, as the book became a causus belli for sociologists, feminists, human geneticists, and psychologists. -- Mary Ellen Curtin This book enthralls and enchants...If you have this can begin getting your mind ready for the illuminations about human society. -- Lewis Thomas Harper's Rarely has the world been provided with such a splendid stepping stone for an exciting future of a new science. -- John Tyler Bonner Scientific American Its contents do indeed provide a new synthesis, of wide perspective and great authority...Wilson's plain uncluttered prose is a treat to read, his logic is rigorous, his arguments are lucid. -- V. C. Wymne-Edwards Nature This book will stand as a landmark in the comparative study of social behavior. Quarterly Review of Biology Sociobiology is an excellent book, full of extraordinary insights, and replete with the beauty and poetry of the animal kingdom. Times Literary Supplement It is impossible to leave Wilson's book without having one's sense of life permanently and dramatically widened. -- Fred Hapgood The Atlantic Sociobiology explores the possibility that animal social behaviour--group living, kinship, attraction and mating, reciprocity and sharing, cooperation, conflict, and cheating, to name just the most familiar--has a genetic basis and can be shaped by natural selection: genes can be shaped by natural selection: genes can code for social behaviours in the same way that they code for body parts such as hands, hooves, eyes, antlers and ears. But, in an audacious final chapter, Wilson extended the analysis to humans: biology had grabbed our kinship, cooperation, mate preferences and the rest. Some branded Wilson and his ideas fascist, others as racist or guilty of genetic determinism. They are none of these things and, two Pulitzer Prizes later, Wilson has been vindicated...Wilson's Sociobiology laid the foundations for a lifetime of meditations. -- Mark Pagel Times Higher Education Supplement Sociobiology, a new concept, is one with extraordinary potential value for understanding and explaining human behavior. Practical Psychology A towering theoretical achievement of exceptional elegance...Like most great books, Sociobiology is unpedantic, lucid, and eminently accessible. -- Pierre L. van den Berghe Contemporary Sociology


Part I. Social Evolution 1. The Morality of the Gene 2. Elementary Concepts of Sociobiology 3. The Prime Movers of Social Evolution 4. The Relevant Principles of Population Biology 5. Group Selection and Altruism 6. Group Size, Reproduction, and Time-Energy Budgets Part II. Social Mechanisms 7. The Development and Modification of Social Behavior 8. Communication: Basic Principles 9. Communication: Functions and Complex Systems 10. Communication: Origins and Evolution 11. Aggression 12. Social Spacing, Including Territory 13. Dominance Systems 14. Roles and Castes 15. Sex and Society 16. Paternal Care 17. Social Symbioses Part III. The Social Species 18. The Four Pinnacles of Social Evolution 19. The Colonial Microorganisms and Invertebrates 20. The Social Insects 21. The Cold-Blooded Vertebrates 22. The Birds 23. Evolutionary Trends within the Mammals 24. The Ungulates and Elephants 25. The Carnivores 26. The Nonhuman Primates 27. Man: From Sociobiology to Sociology Glossary Bibliography Index

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this book. Be the first to review this book!


Edward O. Wilson is Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University. In addition to two Pulitzer Prizes (one of which he shares with Bert Holldobler), Wilson has won many scientific awards, including the National Medal of Science and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Bestsellers in this subject

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Clearance price: £9.74 £14.99 (Save £5.25) $13/€11 approx

Animal Personalities

NHBS Price: £38.99 $51/€44 approx

Social Behaviour

NHBS Price: £28.99 $38/€32 approx

The Runaway Species

NHBS Price: £14.99 $20/€17 approx

Sensory Ecology, Behaviour, and Evolution

NHBS Price: £39.99 $53/€45 approx

VAT: GB 407 4846 44
NHBS Ltd is registered in England and Wales: 1875194