Sexual behavior, romance, and partnerships are among the strongest human social drives. In this session we delve into the biology of sexual behavior and such topics as love addictions, serial monogamy, clandestine adultery, hookup culture, and how human partnering psychology is reflected in our animal cousins.
Session led by: Helen Fisher, Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University
Justin Garcia, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Gender Studies, The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University
Laurie Santos, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory, Yale University
Break: 3:15 - 3:45 pm PDT
Helen Fisher, PhD, is a Biological Anthropologist at Rutgers University and Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University. She studies the evolution, brain systems (fMRI) and biological patterns of romantic love, mate choice, marriage, adultery and divorce, gender differences in the brain, the biology of personality, and the neuroscience of leadership and business styles. She has written five internationally best selling books, including Why Him? Why Her? Why We Love and Anatomy of Love, and publishes widely in academic journals. She is currently Chief Scientific Advisor to the Internet dating site Match.com and it’s subsidiary, Chemistry.com, where she designed the Chemistry.com questionnaire now taken by 13 million people in 40 countries. She lectures worldwide; including lectures at TED, The World Economic Forum (Davos), 2012 international meeting of the G-20, National Academy of Sciences, The Economist, United Nations, Smithsonian Institution, and the Salk Institute, and she appears regularly on TV, radio and print media.
Justin Garcia is an evolutionary biologist, specializing in the study of how human evolution has shaped our sexual and romantic behavior. His research focuses on the evolutionary and biocultural foundations of human behavior, particularly romantic love, intimacy, and sexuality. He is especially interested in notions of commitment and attachment in romantic and sexual relationships. Garcia has said that "the most consistent feature of human sexuality is the remarkable diversity which exists among individuals and cultures." He notes that environmental and cultural forces contextualize and shape our sexuality in unique ways; for example, his research explores the development of a new Western "hook-up culture" that is accepting of casual sex. Garcia is also a scientific advisor at the dating site Match.com.
Laurie Santos researches the evolutionary background of the human brain by studying non-human primates in her Comparative Cognition Lab at Yale. In a series of fascinating experiments, Santos’ team has investigated economic decision making in capuchin monkeys. Researchers created a form of money: tokens that the monkeys could trade for food. They found that the monkeys made consistently irrational decisions, mirroring the same bad financial choices that people make. For example, the monkeys demonstrate the same loss-aversion behavior—treating losses as more important than gains— as human beings. This suggests that some of the core biases of the brain that shape human behavior were also present in our remote pre-human ancestors, and have been maintained through evolution. Santos believes that understanding the built-in biases of the human brain is crucial to encouraging rational behavior. As she puts it, “...the irony is that it might only be in recognizing our limitations that we can really actually overcome them.” She is currently researching whether primates have a precursor to theory of mind, the ability to imagine the thoughts and feelings of others. In 2012, she spoke at the Being Human conference in San Francisco.