Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

The Parasite-Stress Theory of Values and Sociality: Infectious Disease, History and Human Values Worldwide

  • Builds the revolutionary theory that human evolution is subject to parasite and disease stress that shapes human qualities as personality, political tendencies and propensity toward religiosity
  • Comprehensive coverage of the topic and its underpinnings and wide scope including value systems, mate choice, political preferences, personality, religiosity and economics
  • The summation of years of field-defining work by Thornhill and Fincher

By: Randy Thornhill(Author), Corey L Fincher(Author)

468 pages, 12 b/w illustrations, 11 tables


Hardback | Jul 2014 | #215730 | ISBN-13: 9783319080390
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £139.99 $196/€159 approx

About this book

The Parasite-Stress Theory of Values and Sociality develops and tests an ecological and evolutionary theory of the causes of human values – the core beliefs that guide people's cognition and behavior – and their variation across time and space around the world. We call this theory the parasite-stress theory of values or the parasite-stress theory of sociality. The evidence we present in our book indicates that both a wide span of human affairs and major aspects of human cultural diversity can be understood in light of variable parasite (infectious disease) stress and the range of value systems evoked by variable parasite stress. The same evidence supports the hypothesis that people have psychological adaptations that function to adopt values dependent upon local infectious-disease adversity. The authors have identified key variables, variation in infectious disease adversity and in the core values it evokes, for understanding these topics and in novel and encompassing ways. Although the human species is the focus in the book, evidence presented in The Parasite-Stress Theory of Values and Sociality shows that the parasite-stress theory of sociality informs other topics in ecology and evolutionary biology such as variable family organization and speciation processes and biological diversity in general in non-human animals.


1. Background and Overview of the Book
2. Evolutionary Aesthetics, Values and Methodology
3. The Parasite-stress Theory of Values
4. Human Values Research Prior ro the Parasite-stress Theory
5.Collectivism-Individualism, Family Ties and Philopatry
6. Mating Systems, Mate Choice, Marriage, Sexual Behavior and Inbreeding
7. Personality
8. Interpersonal Violence
9. Religiosity
10. Democracy and Other Governmental Systems
11. Economics, Values and Cognitive Ability
12. Wars, Revolutions and Coups, and the Absence of Peace across the World
13. Biodiversity and the Parasite-driven Wedge
14. Reflections, Criticisms, and Future Research

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Randy Thornhill is Distinguished Professor of Biology at The University of New Mexico. Dr. Thornhill's 150+ published papers and four books on the evolutionary and ecological aspects of sociality and behavior have been cited over 17 000 times. He served as President of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society from 2011 through 2013.

Corey L. Fincher is an Assistant Professor in the University of Warwick, U.K.'s Department of Psychology. The parasite-stress model emerged as a result of his and Thornhill's research, and the two researchers' publications since 2005 established this theory of sociality.

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