What Women Want, What Men Want

What Women Want, What Men Want : Why the Sexes Still See Love and Commitment So Differently


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Following the work of E. O. Wilson, Desmond Morris, and David Buss, What Women Want-What Men Want offers compelling new evidence about the real reasons behind men's and women's differing sexual psychologies and sheds new light on what men and women look for in a mate, the predicament of marriage in the modern world, the relation between sex and emotion, and many other hotly debated questions. Drawing upon 2000 questionnaires and 200 intimate interviews that show how our sexual psychologies affect everyday decisions, John Townsend argues against the prevailing ideologically correct belief that differences in sexual behaviour are "culturally constructed." Townsend shows there are deep-seated desires inherited from our evolutionary past that guide our actions. In a fascinating series of experiments, men and women were asked to indicate preferences for potential mates based on their attractiveness and apparent economic status. Women overwhelmingly preferred expensively dressed men to more attractive but apparently less successful men, and men were clearly inclined to choose more attractive women regardless of their professional status. Townsend's studies also indicate that men are predisposed to value casual sex, whereas women cannot easily separate sexual relations from the need for emotional attachment and economic security. Indeed, wherever men possess sexual alternatives to marriage, and women possess economic alternatives, divorce rates will be high. In the concluding chapter, Townsend draws upon the advice of couples who have maintained their marriages over the years to suggest ways to survive our evolutionary predicament. Lucidly and accessibly written, What Women Want-What Men Want shows us why we are the way we are and brings new clarity to one of the most intractable debates of our time.

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  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 136.1 x 203.2 x 17mm | 226.8g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New YorkUnited States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0195131037
  • 9780195131031
  • 682,183

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Review quote

"A well-written, well-researched, and fascinating read."--Library Journal"Townsend has focused on some very interesting test cases--in particular, women medical students who anticipate having high status and high incomes, and extremely sexually active women. These seemingly exceptional cases are exceedingly interesting, because they prove (test) the rules. Townsend's basic message is that the sexes are not more similar than they appear, they're less similar; they are not becoming more similar now, and they are unlikely to become more similar any time soon."--Donald Symons, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara"John Townsend's interviews constitute a useful addition to the rapidly growing literature on the evolutionary psychology of dating and mating, laying bare just how different the goals of women and men remain."--Marin Daly, Psychology Department, McMasters University, Ontario

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About John Marshall Townsend

John Townsend is Associate Professor of Anthropology, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He is the author of Cultural Conceptions and Mental Illness and lives in Syracuse, New York, with his family.

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