Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life Book Summary - Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life Book explained in key points
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Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life summary

Douglas T. Kenrick

A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition, and Complexity Are Revolutionizing Our View of Human Nature

3.9 (86 ratings)
13 mins

Brief summary

"Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life" by Douglas T. Kenrick explores how evolutionary psychology has impacted human behavior throughout history. It provides insights into our motivations, impulses and how we make important decisions in life.

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    Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life
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    Preference for beauty and social dominance is linked to our reproductive instincts.

    Have you ever found yourself gazing at an attractive person across the bar – even though you had a partner waiting for you at home? While this kind of ogling is more or less inevitable, it still has clear consequences.

    For starters, your level of commitment to your partner is likely to drop when exposed to attractive or socially dominant people. This was demonstrated in an experiment conducted by the author and his colleagues, in which men and women were exposed to attractive members of the opposite sex. Afterwards, participants were asked to rate their level of commitment to their partners.

    The experiment revealed that men undervalued their commitment to their partner after seeing beautiful women. Women, however, tended to undervalue their commitment to their partners after being shown a series of socially dominant men.

    If you want to nurture your loving relationship, then it’s certainly not in your best interests to seek out beautiful or socially dominant people.

    Interestingly, the same wisdom applies if you are actively seeking a partner.

    To illustrate this point, the author shares an anecdote from his time at university. During his studies, he and one of his friends were at odds over the number of beautiful women on campus. The author believed that there were beautiful women everywhere; his friend disagreed since, despite being an average-looking guy, he couldn’t seem to get any dates.

    The author finally understood why they didn’t see eye-to-eye after seeing his friend’s bedroom: the walls were lined with Playboy centerfolds. Being surrounding by impossibly beautiful women made his friend unable to recognize other people’s beauty.

    So why do we show such deference to beautiful and socially dominant people? In essence, we perceive them as the best mating partners.

    Our Stone Age ancestors always sought out the most beautiful women or most dominant men when it was time to find partners with whom they could mate and reproduce. Though we’ve come a long way in our modern society, this primal drive hasn’t left us.

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    What is Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life about?

    Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life (2011) looks at the many ways in which our evolutionary survival and reproductive instincts influence our behavior in the modern world. From conspicuous consumption to cold-blooded murder, it often seems that humans will do just about anything to survive and reproduce, and these blinks takes a closer look at what drives these profound desires.

    Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life Review

    Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life explores the interconnectedness of our most basic human instincts and how they shape our behavior (2011). Here's why this book is worth diving into:

    • Full of fascinating case studies and scientific research, it offers a compelling exploration of the dark side of human nature.
    • By delving into the psychological factors behind sex, violence, and our search for meaning, it provides a deep understanding of human behavior.
    • The book challenges conventional wisdom and promotes critical thinking, offering thought-provoking insights into the complex nature of our desires and motivations.

    Who should read Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life?

    • People interested in a deeper understanding of human behavior
    • Students of social psychology
    • Men frightened by their own dark thoughts

    About the Author

    Douglas T. Kenrick is a professor of psychology at Arizona State University. His contributions to psychology and social research have been published in numerous academic journals, as well as in The New York Times and Psychology Today.

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    Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life FAQs 

    What is the main message of Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life?

    The main message of Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life is that human behavior can be explained through the lens of evolutionary psychology.

    How long does it take to read Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life?

    The reading time for Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life varies. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life is worth reading because it offers a unique perspective on human behavior and explores intriguing topics.

    Who is the author of Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life?

    The author of Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life is Douglas T. Kenrick.

    What to read after Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Evolution of Desire by David M. Buss
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    • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
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    • Factfulness by Hans Rosling
    • The Moral Animal by Robert Wright
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch
    • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl