What is a good introduction to evolutionary psychology?
February 19, 2014 5:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a book or other resource to serve as an introduction to evolutionary psychology out of personal interest. I know that there is a lot of pseudo-science out there under this banner - so I'm only interested in resources that are well referenced. Does anyone have any suggestions?
posted by casebash to Science & Nature (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Not a book, but you might want to look into the work of David Buss. I didn't have a chance to take one of his classes when I was a grad student at UT Austin, but I had lab mates who did. They enjoyed him a lot. I did hear him speak at at least one departmental meeting and I thought he was interesting.
posted by kathrynm at 6:06 AM on February 19, 2014

Steven Pinker's work, particularly The Blank Slate and The Better Angels of Our Nature generally falls under this category. They're not necessarily introductions to the field as a whole, per se, but they are very readable books about the sort of research that falls under that category.
posted by damayanti at 8:32 AM on February 19, 2014

I love Pinker, but the best intro text, IMO, to this idea is Robert Wright's The Moral Animal.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:04 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding The Moral Animal.

For a quick read, check out this article in Time MagazineIt's where I first heard of Evolutionary Psychology.
posted by robverb at 10:05 AM on February 19, 2014

Sex, Evolution and Behavior by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2014

I've heard some negative things about Steven Pinker - some people seem to think that his writing is too pop-sciency - as in it goes further than the evidence warrants. Is that true?
posted by casebash at 1:42 PM on February 19, 2014

casebash: In my opinion, Pinker is one of the world's great thinkers. It seems to me that less-great thinkers get pissed at him because he's able to communicate his ideas to a popular audience, but that to me is a feature, not a bug. He's a great as well as a great speaker. How the Mind Works is an incredibly thought-provoking work which I strongly recommend and should have mentioned earlier.

Somewhat headier is the work of Pinker's pal Daniel Dennett, who has written extensively on evolutionary psychology.
posted by Dr. Wu at 1:50 PM on February 19, 2014

I have some quibbles with Pinker, as I think he sometimes overstates his case with broad sweeping claims, but despite this I have respect for him as a compelling thinker. I would definitely recommend his books, as he is a talented writer and his books are really interesting. But I would also recommend that you read them critically, and pause once in a while to ponder whether you fully agree with his ideas as presented.
posted by ovvl at 4:30 PM on February 19, 2014

an introduction to evolutionary psychology out of personal interest.

The Moral Animal by Robert Wright would seem to be exactly what you're looking for. There might be other ev psych books that are more rigorous and current, but The Moral Animal is a fascinating introduction to the ideas — and some of the empirical evidence supporting them (as of the book's publication, 20 years ago).
posted by John Cohen at 6:23 PM on February 19, 2014

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