How Many Friends Does One Person Need?: Dunbar's Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks

How Many Friends Does One Person Need?: Dunbar's Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks

by Robin Dunbar

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Why do men talk and women gossip, and which is better for you? Why is monogamy a drain on the brain? And why should you be suspicious of someone who has more than 150 friends on Facebook? We are the product of our evolutionary history, and this history colors our everyday lives—from why we joke to the depth of our religious beliefs. In How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Robin Dunbar uses groundbreaking experiments that have forever changed the way evolutionary biologists explain how the distant past underpins our current ­behavior. We know so much more now than Darwin ever did, but the core of modern evolutionary theory lies firmly in Darwin’s elegantly simple idea: organisms behave in ways that enhance the frequency with which genes are passed on to future generations. This idea is at the heart of Dunbar’s book, which seeks to explain why humans behave as they do. Stimulating, provocative, and immensely enjoyable, his book invites you to explore the number of friends you have, whether you have your father’s brain or your mother’s, whether morning sickness might actually be good for you, why Barack Obama’s 2008 victory was a foregone conclusion, what Gaelic has to do with frankincense, and why we laugh. In the process, Dunbar examines the role of religion in human evolution, the fact that most of us have unexpectedly famous ancestors, and why men and women never seem able to see eye to eye on color.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674059320
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 03/15/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 312
File size: 318 KB

About the Author

Robin Dunbar is Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Director of the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgements Chapter 1: In the Beginning Chapter 2: The Monogamous Brain Chapter 3: Dunbar’s Number Chapter 4: Kith and Kin Chapter 5: The Ancestors that Still Haunt Us Chapter 6: Bonds that Bind Chapter 7: Why Gossip is Good for You Chapter 8: Scars of Evolution Chapter 9: Who’d Mess with Evolution? Chapter 10: The Darwin Wars Chapter 11: So Near, and Yet So Far Chapter 12: Farewell, Cousins Chapter 13: Stone Age Psychology Chapter 14: Natural Minds Chapter 15: How to Join the Culture Club Chapter 16: Be Smart . . . Live Longer Chapter 17: Beautiful Science Chapter 18: Are You Lonesome Tonight? Chapter 19: Eskimos Rub Noses Chapter 20: Your Cheating Heart Chapter 21: Morality on the Brain Chapter 22: How Evolution Found God Index

What People are Saying About This

Kate Douglas

An eclectic collection of essays on humanity and evolution with something for everyone. Dunbar explains, among other things, why monogamists need big brains, why it is worth buying a new suit for an interview, how to interpret an advert in a lonely hearts column, the perils of messing with evolution and, of course, how many friends one person needs (150 as it happens, aka "Dunbar's number"). He speaks with authority and seduces us as only a master storyteller can.
Kate Douglas, New Scientist

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