David Buss | The Evolution of Desire (Episode 627)

David Buss | The Evolution of Desire (Episode 627)

David Buss | The Evolution of Desire (Episode 627)

David Buss (@ProfDavidBuss) is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is considered the world’s leading scientific expert on strategies of human mating, and his most recent book is — appropriately enough — The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating.

“I talk to people about mating all the time and I learn something practically every day!” -David Buss

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Why does mating matter?
  • The mating crisis among educated women.
  • How to select a good long-term mate.
  • What leads to mating disasters.
  • What we can do to become better long-term mates.
  • And so much more…


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(Download Transcript Here)

Nearly everyone alive has faced problems of mate selection, mate attraction, mate retention, and conflict between the sexes. Good mating decisions create life’s most glorious highs; bad ones sink us into the depths of despair. Everyone should know what modern science tells us about human mating and what we can do to understand how it affects our every move — so the choices we make are conscious and not simply enslaved to the fickle whims of biology.

Our guest today is David Buss, who has been cited as one of the thirty most influential living psychologists in the world. The new edition of his book, The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, provides the most up-to-date scientific information that can be used to understand other members of our species — and ourselves — from an evolutionary and biological standpoint. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

More About This Show

It’s no secret that a biological imperative plays part in the decisions — big and small — we make every day. After all, if perpetuating the species weren’t part of our default programming, humans would have died out long ago. But this simple fact isn’t without complexities that go far beyond a conscious desire to produce offspring. The drive to mate influences the status and esteem in which we are held, the level of fitness we strive to achieve, why we find certain people attractive over others (and why this can vary even over a relatively short period of time), how long we live, and the quality of life we enjoy (or don’t) from day to day.

In The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, psychologist David Buss examines the science behind what’s been described as a “unified theory of human mating behavior” — one that transcends culture and politics to get to the core of how this behavior has evolved and what it means to modern humans.

The Mating Crisis Among Educated Women

David explains that there’s currently a sex ratio imbalance in colleges throughout the United States and Western Europe because more women than men are seeking higher education — in some schools the ratio is sixty percent women to forty percent men.

“The reason this creates a crisis is because women have very strong mate preferences such that they don’t want to mate with guys who are less intelligent, less educated, and less professionally successful than they are,” says David. “Women have stronger mate preferences on those variables. So what that means is that there aren’t enough highly educated, intelligent, successful men in these settings that women would like.”

In such a situation, the rarer sex — in this case, males — has the advantage when it comes to selection. “A guy who’s normally a five in any other context could be an eight at Texas Christian University…when you add that into the mix, what happens is that males have greater desire for sexual variety — that’s part of our evolved sexual psychology — and when men are in that position, they can tip the balance in their favor,” says David. “So you get more hooking up, less stable relationships, more dissatisfaction.”

In such an environment, women and men tend to give very different answers when asked what they hope for as an ideal outcome to a casual hookup. Women more often than not hope it will lead to a relationship. Men are more likely to say they hope a hookup will lead to more hookups — either with the initial partner or by way of introduction to her friends.

David explains: “These conflicts come up in part because men and women have overlapping mating psychologies, but in some domains, dramatically different mating psychologies. It’s become fashionable to try to argue that men and women are really identical in their mating psychologies and their sexual psychologies, but they’re not. I think it’s one of these ideologically driven agendas and we know scientifically the areas in which they differ.”

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm to learn more about what people want in a mate; successful tactics of mate attraction; causes of conflict between the sexes; motivations for cheating or infidelity; why mating seems so difficult in the modern world of Internet dating, pornography, and the mating crisis among educated women; the problems of mate value discrepancy and how both low self-esteem and narcissism skew expectations; how we can find our appropriate mating market; how to pinpoint the important qualities we really desire in a long-term mate (as opposed to what we think we desire); how to become long-term potential mate material; hallmarks of narcissism and emotional instability; the dark triad, and lots more.


If you enjoyed this session with David Buss, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank David Buss at Twitter!

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