Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love

Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love

Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love

Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love


Psychologists often paint a picture of human mating as visceral, instinctual. But that's not the whole story. In courtship and display, sexual competition and rivalry, we are also guided by what Glenn Geher and Scott Barry Kaufman call Mating Intelligence- - a range of mental abilities that have evolved to help us find the right partner. Mating Intelligence is at work in our efforts to form, maintain, and end relationships. It guides us in flirtation, foreplay, copulation, finding and choosing a mate, and many other behaviors. In Mating Intelligence Unleashed, psychologists Geher and Kaufman take readers on a fascinating tour of the crossroads of mating and intelligence, drawing on cutting-edge research on evolutionary psychology, intelligence, creativity, personality, social psychology, neuroscience, and more. The authors show that despite what you may read in the latest issue of Maxim, Playboy, Vogue, or GQ, physical attractiveness isn't the whole story. Human mating draws on a range of mental skills and attributes - from the creative use of pick-up lines, to displays of charisma, intelligence, humor, personality, and compassion. Along the way, the authors shed new light on age-old questions, such as: What role does personality play in mating? Which traits are attractive - and which traits repulse? How do people really choose mates? How do men and women deceive each other? How important is emotional intelligence? Why do people create art - and does it have anything to do with sex? Do nice guys really finish last? Since Glenn Geher coined the term Mating Intelligence in 2006, it has drawn a great deal of media attention, ranging from a Psychology Today cover story to articles in the New Scientist, the Washington Times, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere. Now, in Mating Intelligence Unleashed, readers will have the first full account of this revolutionary new approach to dating, mating, and love.


With breakthroughs in genetics in the 1930s and 40s, Mendel’s theory of genetic inheritance and Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection became integrated. With this “modern synthesis,” as it is hailed, our intellectual forebears finally began to understand how speciation and evolution actually work. But I have come to believe we are now in the midst of a far greater synthesis of scientific ideas.

Researchers have begun to understand some of the brain pathways associated with feelings of romantic love, attachment, social conformity, and religiosity. Others have uncovered some of the neurochemistry of trust, altruism, and wanderlust. Some of the genes linked with curiosity and creativity have been established. The mental machinery that guides our mating strategies is becoming understood. And with inroads into epigenetics, scientists have begun to show how environmental forces turn genes on and off, affecting how we—and our offspring—are likely to behave. The nature/nurture argument is dead. We are witnessing the true fusion of biology and culture, of psychology and brain architecture, of personality, neurochemistry, genetics and evolution, of brain and mind.

This synthesis is not complete. Some therapists cling to the concept that we emerged from the womb as “blank slates,” that our childhood makes us who we are. Some psychologists still overlook the importance of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other forms of brain research, regarding the brain as just a standard toolbox that can tell us nothing about what makes us tick. Many neuroscientists study brain activity without considering why these activation patterns evolved. And many deride evolutionary psychology as a ream of just-so stories.

I find this narrow focus strange, for both practical and intellectual reasons. I work regularly with the press. And in my 30 years of fielding their queries, I have never once found a journalist who resisted the evolutionary, neurochemical, or genetic approaches to explaining why we do the things we do; journalists . . .

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