The Myth of Monogamy

The Myth of Monogamy

Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People

Book - 2001
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McMillan Palgrave
Monogamy may be the rule, but it's not the practice - not even for animals.

Using the same DNA fingerprinting technology used in the courtroom, biologists have now been able to trace parenthood in animals for the first time with certainty. The results have been astonishing: Even among those species previously thought to be monogamous, cheating on your mate is common--for both sexes.

In The Myth of Monogamy, David Barash and Judith Eve Lipton describe how this new research shows that there is simply no question whether sexual desire for multiple partners is "natural." It is. Similarly, there is no question of monogamy being "natural." It isn’t.

Armed with this evidence, scientists have also been able to explain such important questions as why animals (including humans) cheat; why the myth of monogamy was created in the first place; how men and women were sucked into the monogamy hoax; who stands to gain the most by perpetuating the myth of monogamy; and how big of a role procreation plays in the desire to have several sex partners. Finally, The Myth of Monogamy explores the implications of these dramatic new findings for humans, in terms of relationships, parenting, aggression, and more.

A provocative new study of an emotionally charged issue, The Myth of Monogamy illuminates a part of our natural make-up that is as fascinating as it is frustrating.

Book News
Husband and wife for nearly 25 years, Barash (zoology; psychology, U of Washington) and Lipton (psychiatry) take a biological look at what is generally a moral issue. They present information from the biological community to investigate whether or not monogamy is a natural form of relationship among a variety of non-human species, including invertebrates, insects, bird and mammals. They discuss the forms that monogamy and infidelity take among non-human species, and possible biological reasons for, and advantages of, various relationship behaviors. They conclude that, while monogamy may be natural to some species, for the majority it is not; and they find that infidelity is initiated by males and females alike. These findings are used to posit a biological explanation for monogamy and infidelity in humans. The book is written in an accessible, sometimes humorous style, while striving to offer a serious, scientifically- based explanation for what is generally an emotional and controversial subject in many cultures. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : W.H. Freeman, 2001
ISBN: 9780716740049
Characteristics: ix, 227 p. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Lipton, Judith Eve


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