The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature (2000)

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"At once a pioneering study of evolution and an accessible and lively read, The Mating Mind offers the most convincing -- and radical -- explanation to date for how and why the human mind evolved. Traditionally, evolutionary theory has explained intelligence as merely a by-product of surplus brain size. But psychologist Geoffrey Miller argues that it actively evolved, like the peacock's tail, for courtship and mating, and thereby shaped human nature.

Certain traits are attractive because they indicate the overall fitness of a potential mate. Miller maintains that both human sexes have evolved many significant ways of displaying fitness via expressions of creative intelligence such as storytelling, poetry, art, music, sports, dance, humor, kindness, and leadership. In support of this provocative thesis, he has gathered evidence from psychology, economics, history, pop culture, and Darwin's theory of sexual selection to present an utterly original synthesis of research."

An academic precis of the whole book's argument is  here 

A free sample chapter (Chapter 1: Central Park) in doc form is  here

A free bonus chapter on consciousness (The Cognitive Climax) is  here  


  • “Sexual selection, Darwin’s ‘other’ theory, has finally come in from the cold…. A thoughtful, witty, and vividly written book.” – Richard Dawkins, Oxford University

  • “Miller is an extremely talented writer, and he has produced a beautifully written book that is a genuine pleasure to read. The strength of this work, however, goes well beyond style. Miller has ambitiously described a scenario that provides insight into a number of puzzles about the human mind” – Science

  • “Written with grace and wit while conveying a new and world-changing scientific theory … Miller’s prose is as fluent, clever, and epigrammatic as a good novelist’s…. what he has done is to find a place for beauty, waste, and extravagance in science” – Matt Ridley, The Sunday Telegraph (London)

  • “The discussion of the mind as a mechanism for attracting mates is fascinating” – Washington Post Book World

  • “Miller is the real thing, and his wonderfully readable book should be read by everyone with a taste for serious ideas” – The Independent (London)

  • “Witty, well-argued…. Ultimately, Miller is arguing for a commonsense view of the evolution of human nature” – The Times (London)

  • “Consistently penetrating and ingenious… mixing outstanding sober exposition of the mechanisms of sexual selection with speculations about its role in our capacities for morality, language, and creativity that range from deep to wild” – Financial Times

  • “A brilliant and seductive book. It will sweep you off your feet. And, when you come to earth again you’ll find yourself seeing the human mind and its most prized creations with new eyes.” – Nicholas Humphrey, New School for Social Research

  • “This elegant, original, and lucid book is a beguiling testimony to its own thesis: a fitting new feather in our cultural cap.” – Helena Cronin, London School of Economics

  • “A refined, an intellectually rigorous, and a very civilized discussion of the possible importance of sexual selection for mental evolution” – John Constable, Cambridge University

  • "Picturing "the human brain as an entertainment system that evolved to stimulate other brains," Miller provides an articulate and memorable case for the role of sexual selection in determining human behaviors" -- Publishers Weekly

  • "The series of scenarios he presents on how sexual selection proclivities may have favored the expressive and self-revealing aptitudes of the human mind prove most thought provoking. If Miller is right, courtship will never be the same." -- Booklist


Editions (including translations)

  • U.S./Canada hardback: Doubleday (New York) (2000)

  • U.K./Commonwealth hardback: Heinemann (London) (2000)

  • U.S./Canada paperback: Anchor (New York) (2001)

  • U.K./Commonwealth paperback: Vintage (London) (2001)

  • U.K. ebook: Random House UK (London) (2013

  • Chinese: CITIC Publishing (Beijing) (2010)

  • Croatian (Razum i razmnožavanje: Kako je izbor seksualnih partnera obligovao ljudsku narav): Algoritam Publishing (Zagreb) (2006)

  • Dutch (De parende geest. Seksuele selectie en de evolutie van het bewustzijn): Uitgeverij/Contact (Amsterdam) (2001)

  • German (Die sexuelle Evolution: Partnerwahl und die Entstehung des Geistes): Spektrum Verlag (Berlin) (2001)

  • Hungarian (A párválasztó agy: A párválasztás szerepe az emberi agy evolúciójában): Typotex Publishing (Budapest) (2006)

  • Italian (Uomini, donne e code di pavone): Einaudi (Rome) (2002)

  • Japanese: Iwanami Shoten (Tokyo) (2002)

  • Korean: Sosoh Publishing (Seoul) (2006)

  • Polish (Umysł w Zalotach: Jak wybory seksualne kształtowałty naturę człowieka): REBIS Publishing (Warsaw) (2005)

  • Portugese (A Mente Seletiva: Como a escolha sexual influenciou a evolução da natureza humana): Campus (Rio de Janeiro) (2000)

  • Turkish (Sevişen beyin: Eş bulma süreci ìnsan doğasini nasil belirledi?): NTV Yayinlari (Istanbul) (2010)

  • Vietnamese: Lac Hong Book Co. Ltd. (Ho Chi Minh City) (in press).

References and Suggested Readings: The complete list for the book is  here