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The Science of Love and Betrayal Paperback – 7 Feb 2013

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Frequently Bought Together

The Science of Love and Betrayal + How Many Friends Does One Person Need?: Dunbar's Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks + Human Evolution: A Pelican Introduction
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571253458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571253456
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Brilliantly stimulating.' --Sunday Times

'A stimulating and brilliantly provocative look at the reasons why we fall for each other.' --Sunday Times Summer Reads

Book Description

The Science of Love and Betrayal by Robin Dunbar is a brilliant and sparkling exploration of relationships, romance and the extraordinary nature of falling in love - from the frontline of cutting-edge scientific research.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Acorn on 9 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Robin Dunbar is Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Oxford and in this clearly written and entertaining book he looks, from a biological perspective, at why we fall in and out of love and how an intimate relationship looks and feels to those involved. Along the way he explores some academic controversies about the purpose and origins of pair bonding but these are never so intrusive as to overwhelm the story. While there are some descriptions of brain function and the roles of various chemicals, the narrative is lucid and tailored to the general reader.

Dunbar explores love as it is expressed between couples, mother and child, friends and relatives. Each of these kinds of love is somewhat different (and triggers different areas of our brains) but they share many of the same psychological and physical benefits. We are happier and healthier when we love someone.

Human brains are complex and despite decades of research we still know very little about how they work. The role of some key proteins and hormones is clearly important, but exactly why these are triggered and how the brain processes them remains a mystery. We are highly sensitive to physical contact with others and to visual cues from other people, the latter skill taking decades to fully develop. While other mammals fare better than us at using smell and taste to process information, we still retain a capacity to assess other people using these senses. Deep kissing is not just about checking whether those teeth are false.

The evolutionary link between brain size, language, social group size and pair bonding is complex and an area where there are competing theories. Dunbar has a preferred position but it does not stop him from presenting the other options and the thinking behind them.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jon A. Crowcroft on 31 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a lovely book - Its a bit grander in scope than the other work by Professor Dunbar that I have read and liked (on Gossip, Grooming and the Evolution of Language). This is about "affairs of the heart". Far from being a mere neuroscience view of the processes behind falling in and out of love, it is a tour through many facets of this most complex and confusing aspect of human life. From ontogeny -- human's are late developers, completing their growth outside the womb as highly dependent beings for far longer than even our closest evolutionary cousins, which creates roots for relationships that influence our later behaviours, but also allows us to have bigger brains for our body size, which adds to the richness of our relationships and the complexity of societies that can be sustained when compared to other monkeys); on to aforesaid neurochemistry and the role (or otherwise) of various hormones in influencing the formation of close relationships (falling in love) -- on to the ways we decide to partner, both why we are largely monogamous rather than polygamous - through evolutionary arguments -- then on to how we may make very cold blooded decisions (famously Darwin himself wrote down a list of pros and cons for whether he should marry his preferred partner)..then how we perceive differently, the appearance of our potential partners, and on to how we arrange marriage celebrations as part of the social scene; and how we deal with rejection, cheating, in the real world, but also in the newer online social networked world; finally discussing the possible evolutionary stages through which we may have arrived at our current state in terms of all these different factors that cause and constrain our physiology, psychology and behaviour.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I always enjoy reading Robin Dunbars books. And this book is no exception.
It is always very interesting to learn more about evolutionary psychology.
Put in love and betrayal and it becomes a real page turner...

Dunbar has a true gift for making (biological) observations, that are obvious, but at the same time very thought provoking.
Surely, evolution is sometimes a strange designer.
And, perhaps, by now we shouldn't be surprised by strange bodily functions or weird evolutionary psychology.
- But certainly, it is still interesting to hear about:

This book takes us through many of the most complex and confusing aspect of human life.
Love and betrayal is afterall what most human drama is all about.
Using evolutionary arguments Dunbar helps us understand what might really be going on:
In pairbonding, when humans kiss, when irrational thinking
about partners might really be the most rational thing to do, when the
brain calculates how much pain we should feel after a social rejection,
and when someone touches us.

All in all, it is all very entertaining and very thoughtprovoking.

-Simon
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. B. MCINNIS on 5 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not a flimsy work. Quite serious in fact. Wish I'd read this 50 years ago. Gives great insight into working of male/female minds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bstuckey on 6 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i thoroughly enjoyed this book. it is clearly written by an evolutionary psychologist so there are lots of pieces of evidence quoted and this might not interest all, but it made me want to read more from this author.
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