Skip to main content
Harvard University Press - home
Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior

Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior

Peter B. Gray, Justin R. Garcia

ISBN 9780674660007

Publication date: 03/14/2016

Request exam copy

Few things come more naturally to us than sex—or so it would seem. Yet to a chimpanzee, the sexual practices and customs we take for granted would appear odd indeed. He or she might wonder why we bother with inconveniences like clothes, why we prefer to make love on a bed, and why we fuss so needlessly over privacy. Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior invites us into the thought-experiment of imagining human sex from the vantage point of our primate cousins, in order to underscore the role of evolution in shaping all that happens, biologically and behaviorally, when romantic passions are aroused.

Peter Gray and Justin Garcia provide an interdisciplinary synthesis that draws on the latest discoveries in evolutionary theory, genetics, neuroscience, comparative primate research, and cross-cultural sexuality studies. They are our guides through an exploration of the patterns and variations that exist in human sexuality, in chapters covering topics ranging from the evolution of sex differences and reproductive physiology to the origins of sexual play, monogamous unions, and the facts and fictions surrounding orgasm.

Intended for generally curious readers of all stripes, this up-to-date, one-volume survey of the evolutionary science of human sexual behavior explains why sexuality has remained a core fascination of human beings throughout time and across cultures.


  • A very good book… A strong case can be made that real sex education would go beyond Plumbing 101 and emulate this book—actually teaching about sexual behavior from an evolutionary perspective. With backgrounds in anthropology…the authors do an especially good job describing what William James might have called the varieties of sexual experience.

    —David P. Barash, Chronicle of Higher Education


  • Peter B. Gray is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
  • Justin R. Garcia is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and Assistant Research Scientist at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University.

Book Details

  • 376 pages
  • 5-7/8 x 9 inches
  • Harvard University Press

From this author