Kadir Demir Demir itibaren Seedorf, 21368 Boitze, Almanya
This is a book about our genes and how they drive our behavior. Published in 2000, it seems to be one of the more widely cited books in the field of evolutionary psychology, though it is not a work of original research. However, it does summarize of mountain of that research, and very entertainingly too. If you want a good intro, this book or another very similar one called "Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters" are both great choices. Mean Genes starts with this premise: Our genes spent most of their time evolving on the African savannah, and were highly adaptive for that environment – but whether the behaviors our genes now influence still make sense or not is hit-and-miss. For example, our present-day eating behavior is pretty dysfunctional, though it once gave our ancestors a critical survival advantage. Since food didn’t keep for very long in a tropical climate, it made sense to gorge whenever we had lots of it, and to use any excess food to also feed our blood relatives plus any non-relatives who might one day be able to reciprocate. This behavior was the next best thing to putting that extra antelope or hippo or elephant meat in the freezer. Today, that same behavior just makes us fat. We are of course descended from many generations of such fatties. The better they were at storing fat, the greater their likelihood of surviving and of leaving lots of descendants. This same behavior is what makes it so difficult for us to save money. There is no 401K gene. There is no natural impulse to save, let alone save something intangible like money. Our natural tendency is to spend every penny we’ve got, and then some. We’re also chronic optimists. Why is optimism is encoded in the genes? You’d think the opposite would be more likely, since it would encourage caution and hence longevity. The answer turns on the male’s behavior: the optimist was more likely to take risks, more likely to seek out multiple females, more likely to breed. As the authors put it: “While many of the risk-takers died, those who gambled and won populated the entire globe”. That same optimism is what leads us to sign up for credit cards with low introductory rates that readjust after 6 months. We’re confident that we’ll pay it off before then, but we don’t. The same is true of all those homeowners sinking under the weight of sub-prime mortgages. They counted on rising house prices and on being able to earn and save at rates far higher than they actually could. For the same reason, people who buy lottery tickets where they pick their own numbers are far more confident of their chances of winning than those who are randomly assigned tickets. In a study, researchers offered to buy the lottery tickets just before the drawing. Those who had been randomly assigned numbers were willing to sell their tickets for $2, but those incurable optimists who had picked their own numbers wouldn’t part with their ticket for less than $8! The chances of winning were, of course, exactly the same. Why do we find it so hard to exercise? The evolutionary psychology explanation is simple: because those who survived were those who didn’t expend any more energy than was necessary for survival and breeding. Staying alive provided plenty of exercise; any effort beyond that was likely to decrease chances of surviving hard times. I think you get the idea: the book is a catalog of human behaviors and how they arose from our evolution. It's a very interesting way of looking at human behavior -- especially your own.