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The Evolution of Behavior

Edmond Odescalchi

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : name

Published : 2002

Copyright : Edmond Odescalchi 2002

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7414-1151-2
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-7414-1151-8

Publisher's Write-Up

There is considerable evidence that the way we think and the manner we behave are programmed into our species.

Many patterns of behaviour in relation to aggression, sex, dominance, etc., can be traced from our animal ancestors to practically all human societies. These behaviour patterns are undoubtedly products of natural selection, and expose many of our cultural endeavours as fundamental aspects of animal behaviour.

If you want to know why we place knick-knacks in our offices, why we kneel when we pray, why women use lipstick, or why cultured individuals sometimes commit atrocities, this book will give you the answers.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul Lappen (260204) Rating (9/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
The author asserts that many parts of human behaviour are not just aspects of human, or even Western, culture, but are programmed into our species.

Behaviours like sexuality, aggression and dominance can be found in our animal ancestors and all over human society. Such things are therefore more part of evolution than of culture. It all starts with the chimpanzee, with whom humans share over 98 percent of the same DNA.

Humans and chimps have many behavioural similarities, among them, organization by group, territorial defence, xenophobia toward strangers and the ability to experience pain and fear. Human behaviour reflects general primate behaviour, which goes along with general evolutionary theory.

If every case of aggression between two individuals, of any species, led to the death of one of the aggressors, that species would quickly disappear. Many species have found less dangerous ways to show aggression, like ritualised fighting, threat behaviour and re motivating displays. The human equivalent is things like a show of military strength and Us vs. Them (anyone not part of the "group" is an outsider, and therefore subhuman). Under the stresses of war, the veneer of civilization leaves our consciences, so even the most cultured individuals are capable of committing atrocities.

It could be thought that concepts like a pecking order in society, or dominance and submission are products of our modern world, especially the 1980s yuppie days.

All over the animal kingdom, there are examples of a dominant individual heading a group. Did you know that human forms of greeting and the offering of food and drinks to guests are acts of appeasement to inhibit aggression?

Why do women wear lipstick, and why is it red (not blue or orange)? The reader can find out the answer for themselves, but it has to do with the rear end of a female chimp.

This book is surprisingly good. It's short, and it presents science and human behaviour in very easy to understand terms. It's even recommended for those who think that they hate science. This is well worth reading.
Paul Lappen (26th February 2004)

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