Editors: Lance Workman, Will Reader, and Jerome H. Barkow
Publisher:  Cambridge University Press – 561 pages
Book Review by: Nano Khilnani

This is a wide-ranging book on the evolution of many types of human behavior, something that the evolutionist Charles Darwin predicted. The editors – Lance Workman, Will Reader, and Jerome H. Barkow – quote him as writing:

“In the distant future I see open fields for more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation.”

Eighty people, mainly in universities, from 10 countries – Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States – contributed content to this large book with 45 chapters, listed below:

  1. Part I – The Comparative Approach
  2. Human-Grey Parrot Comparisons in Cognitive Performance
  3. Cognitive Abilities in Elephants
  4. Culture and Communication Among Cetacians
  5. Part II – Sociocultural Anthropology and Evolution
  6. Eusociality in Humans
  7. The Nature of Psychological Foundation of Social Universals
  8. The Study of Culture and Evolution Across Disciplines
  9. Part III – Evolution and Neuroscience
  10. Are Evolutionary Psychology and the Neuroscience of Motivation Compatible?
  11. Are We Destined to be Happy? The Neuroscience of Making Sense of Pleasure
  12. Environmental Pressures on Trans-generational Epigenetic Inheritance: An Evolutionary Development Mechanism Influencing Atypical Neurodevelopment in Autism?
  13. Part IV – Group Living: The Evolution of Social and Moral Behavior
  14. The Problem of Altruism and Future Directions
  15. Can Evolutionary Processes Explain the Origins of Morality?
  16. The Evolution and Function of Third-Party Moral Judgment
  17. Evolution of the Human Family
  18. The Parasite-Stress Theory of Cultural values and Sociality
  19. The Evolution of Pride and Shame
  20. Thinking Outside the Head: Cognitive Ecologies and Evolutionary Psychology
  21. Part V – Evolution and Cognition
  22. Runaway Processes in Modern Human Culture: An Evolutionary Approach to Exaggerated Communication in Present Human Societies
  23. Ontogeny of Tactical Deception
  24. The Evolution of Language: A Darwinian Approach
  25. The Adaptive Problem of Exploiting Resources: Human Foraging Behavior in Patchy Environments
  26. Part VI – Evolution and Development
  27. Evolutionary Developmental Psychology: Developing Adaptations in Infancy ad Childhood
  28. The Ontogeny and Evolution of Cooperation
  29. Genomic Imprinting Is Critical for Understanding the Development and Adaptive Design of Psychological Mechanisms in Humans and Animals
  30. Evolutionary Explanations for Bullying Behavior
  31. Birth Order and Evolutionary Psychology
  32. Part VII – Sexual Selection and Human Sex Differences
  33. Survival, Selection, and Sex Differences in Fear
  34. The Enigmatic Urge: How Sexual Desire Works
  35. Are Humans Peacocks or Robins?
  36. Human Mate Selection: A Multidimensional Approach
  37. Kin Selection and the Evolution of Male Androphilia
  38. Evolutionary Psychology: Thoughts on Integrating Feminist Perspectives
  39. Part VIII – Abnormal Behavior and Evolutionary Psychopathology
  40. Psychopathology from an Evolutionary Perspective
  41. Are We on the Verge of Darwinian Psychiatry?
  42. The Evolution of Pro-social Behavior: From Caring to Compassion
  43. Disordered Social Cognition: Alexithymia and Interoception
  44. Part IX – Applying Evolutionary Principles
  45. A Bridge Too Far? Evolutionary Psychology and the Solution of Social Problems
  46. The Evolution of Personality
  47. Applying Evolutionary Principles to Criminality
  48. Substitute Parenting
  49. Historians and the Evolutionary Approach to Human Behavior
  50. The Psychology of Extraterrestrials: The Next Frontier?
  51. Part X – Evolution and the Media
  52. Daily Talk Shows as Virtual Gossip Communities
  53. Supernormal Stimuli in the Media
  54. An Evolutionary Approach to Horror Media
  55. The Internet Is for Porn: Evolutionary Perspectives on Online Pornography

In sum, this book is a sort of long and highly detailed discourse on evolutionary psychology, the study of human behaviors acquired, developed, and refined to enhance survival and propagation of the human species.

These adaptive behaviors are now part of many branches of psychology, such as cognitive, developmental, and social psychology, as well as parts of a large variety of other fields, such as for example, socio-cultural anthropology, feminist theory, media studies, psychiatry, and other disciplines as well.  .

It’s a good book that makes us think about where we came from, are in, and headed to.



Lance Workman is a visiting Professor in Psychology at the University of South Wales in the United Kingdom.

Will Reader is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Sheffield Hallam Wales in the United Kingdom.

Jerome H. Barkow is a multidisciplinary researcher. He is Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada where he has spent most of his career.