The Science of Romance: Secrets of the Sexual Brain

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Have you ever wondered why divorce is so much more common now than a century ago? Why the sex appeal of certain body types and clothing styles changes so dramatically over time? Why so many liberated young women today prefer emotional commitment from men while their male counterparts seem always more interested in "sowing their wild oats"?
According to evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber, each of these aspects of modern life reflects two million years of hominid evolution. ...
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Overview

Have you ever wondered why divorce is so much more common now than a century ago? Why the sex appeal of certain body types and clothing styles changes so dramatically over time? Why so many liberated young women today prefer emotional commitment from men while their male counterparts seem always more interested in "sowing their wild oats"?
According to evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber, each of these aspects of modern life reflects two million years of hominid evolution. In The Science of Romance he explains that much of our present behavior can be traced back to the ancient evolved motives of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. In short, we exhibit the behaviors that have evolved over millennia to increase the reproductive success of the species. Also drawing on the mating behavior of various animals, Barber finds illuminating comparisons that help to explain human actions and reactions.
Barber delves into a host of interesting topics: dating competition and aggression; female courtship signals that subtly manipulate male behavior; how exposure to different sex hormones shapes the evolving brain in utero, which may account for the different behaviors of men and women; and much more.
This absorbing book educates and entertains, while showing that many seemingly irrational aspects of our intimate romantic behavior make sense when understood in terms of our prehistoric ancestors and evolution.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Adult/High School-An accessible scientific explanation for sexually motivated behaviors. As Barber states early in the first chapter, "Romance is biology. It serves the biology of reproduction." He then takes readers on an interesting tour of the physiological mechanisms that he suggests dictate our actions. In "Chemistry of Love," for example, he states that the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine (PEA) induces a high similar to cocaine's rush in those enjoying the early blush of romantic love, complete with euphoria, excitement, and reduced appetite, but that the high is destined to fade. However, the production of oxytocin, the so-called "cuddling hormone," in the pituitary gland helps to induce the companionable love of long-term relationships. The format, using interesting anecdotal descriptions to demonstrate the principles, assures the readability of the work. Some of the topics covered include sex signals, dating competition, aggressive behavior of male teens, and marriage. Black-and-white photos illustrate cultural manifestations of sexuality, such as dress styles of the early 20th century. This book is intended for general audiences and is certainly within the grasp of most mature teens.-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
An environmental psychologist who escaped the academy, Barber traces sexual behavior among modern industrial humans to reproductive strategies of their hominid ancestors. He discusses physical attractiveness and sex signals, dating competition and aggression, cheating hearts, why marriages fail, and other aspects. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573929707
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.23 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Nigel Barber, Ph.D. (Portland, ME), formerly an assistant professor of psychology at Birmingham-Southern College, is now a freelance writer and researcher, and the author of Why Parents Matter: Parental Investment and Child Outcomes.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 7
Introduction 9
1. The Sexual Brain 17
2. Physical Attractiveness and Sex Signals 45
3. Love's Labors: Dating Competition and Aggression 69
4. The Dance of the Sexes 89
5. The Cheating Hearts of Birds and Humans 115
6. Why Marriages Fail 143
7. Learning to Love 165
8. Sex and Work 187
9. The Marriage Market and Single Parenthood 213
10. Fashion Trends and Marriage: Anorexia, Beards, and Skirt Length 231
11. What Good Is a Science of Romance? 261
Notes 269
Index 289
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2003

    interesting, but not conclusive

    The Science of Romance is an interesting book that offers insight into the evolutionary psychology on human interactions and relationships. Written by an evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber. Detailed in its approach, the book divides itself into chapters. Beginning with science of physical attraction, to human courting through to human stability, and the problems with maintaining stability in relationships. Although I did find the writings and scientific explanations of human physical attraction, and female needs regarding mate appeal interesting. There were some chapters, and aspects of the book that I found blurred the distinction between researched theories and opinion-based arguments. There is also a chapter case about the 'boy' who killed students, at an American ¿high school¿. Who was so undermined by his position at home and school, unleashed his sexual and jealous frustration on the people who he had felt had most undermined him. Nigel Barber then explored various psychological and evolutionary psychologies to the reasons for the killings. Drawing from examples in the primate world to male posturing and confrontations with other males. Most of what seem sounded in theory, but concluded with reactionary and opinionated belief that ¿his¿ accuracy in killing and his desensitisation for killing was attributed to violent movies, and violent videos games. That created a lifelike fantasy with dealing with his foes ¿ which he then made reality, especially concentrating on the video games argument ¿ regarding male violence and desensitisation. In the sense the ¿chapter¿ ended inclusively and reactionary, looking for a blame factor that taps the violent precursor of the primitive evolutionally mind. He also draws an evolutionary distinction that the reasoning behind poor women having babies at early stages in the lives. Teens and early 20¿s, is based on the theory that there is scarcity of marriageable and economically sufficient males ¿ for economically lower women. Therefore the biological desire is to have children early. He then try¿s to explain the correlation to rising divorce rates in woman who are not poor, but are mostly childless. Apparently due to the emotional and psychological strain on relationships, occurring due to women working, and earning as much or more than men ¿ which has also inturn created a lack of desire in marrying men. Rather women like to set up and support their own economical purposes. However the contradiction uses the biological clock in females that are poorer who have children, and the women who are not poor not having children. Then why aren¿t women who do have money and the means to support oneself having children? Remember the Science of Romance, overall explains social dynamics of relationships is based on economical support by couples, rasing children. But it also the book goes it depth, explaing the ¿scarcity¿ of marriageable men. Then there should be equal birth rates among women with money and women without, since it¿s all down to scarcity of males, and biological timing. Which appears more and more at a disadvantage for woman not having children earlier, who have the means to do so ¿ as biologically its harder for women who are older to conceive a child. There are various inconsistencies that arise in The Science Of Romance. I found the need to constantly look at the Science of Romance critically, only because the book intends to answer questions, or reveal pattens in nature and extend them completely to humans. Which you can¿t entirely do. The problem with The Science of Romance is it can¿t seem to distinguish that social trends, and social traditionalism should run counter to evolutionary psychology. In the sense it shouldn¿t try and justify why the two are similar, eg `social interaction is like this, because it was like this due to evolutionary factors¿. Otherwise all sorts of justifications could take place (re distinguishing violence and violent

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