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Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life by Douglas T. Kenrick

Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life by Douglas T. Kenrick (unabridged audiobook read by Fred Stella; 7.5 hours on 6 CDs): I suspect most people’s objections to psychological research that demonstrates a trend toward our more base instincts (e.g., it’s all about mating!) is rooted in a basic misunderstanding of how said research is conducted. It’s a series of surveys and other tests administered to a semi-random group of volunteers. The findings imply general tendencies – none of which are all that surprising, by the way – but that does not mean we are mindless automatons at the mercies of our impulses. Obviously. For example, women tend to notice and remember powerful men regardless of looks while men are more drawn toward beautiful women regardless of status. Does this mean I judge every male I come across by his earning potential? Of course not. But it’s not a shocking notion that we may subconsciously be more aware of those more ideally suited to pass along our genes. And that’s most of what this book is about: our view of the world through the eyes of our evolutionary makeup, most of which has to do with creating viable offspring. I do wish homosexuality had been mentioned earlier and delved into more deeply, but if you’re only curious in heterosexual reactions, this could be quite interesting. Alas, there was very little I hadn’t heard before, and nothing I could not have suspected on my own, but this might serve as an interesting book to one new to the field of evolutionary psychology.

A note on the audio: Kenrick mentions early on that he has a New York accent, so Stella is a good choice. As an added bonus, his friendly, conversational tone makes what could in less competent hands (throats?) be somewhat dry material fun, quirky, and personal.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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