Buss, David M. 1953–

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Buss, David M. 1953–

PERSONAL: Born April 14, 1953, in Indianapolis, IN; son of Arnold H. (a professor) and Edith H. (Nolte) Buss. Education: University of Texas at Austin, B.A., 1976; University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., 1981. Politics: "Independent." Religion: "Independent." Hobbies and other interests: Skiing, tennis, squash, disc golf, "avid movie consumer and a voracious reader."

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, Austin, TX 78712-0187. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, assistant professor of psychology, 1981–85; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, associate professor, 1985–91, professor of psychology, 1991–96; University of Texas at Austin, TX, professor of psychology, 1996–.

MEMBER: Human Behavior and Evolution Society (president, 2005–07).

AWARDS, HONORS: G. Stanley Hall Award, American Psychological Association, 1990; elected fellow, American Psychological Association, 1996; Robert W. Hamilton Book Award, 1999, for Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind; Olin Fellowship, University of Virginia Law School, 2001; APA Distinguished Scientist Lecturer, 2001; President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award, University of Texas, 2001; Distinguished Fellow, New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology, 2002–03; ISI List, Most Highly Cited Psychologists Worldwide, 2003; Herrington Award, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Baldwin Wallace College, Berea, OH, 2003.


(Editor, with Nancy Cantor) Personality Psychology: Recent Trends and Emerging Directions (papers from a conference held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, April 15-17, 1988), Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1989.

The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor, with Neil M. Malamuth) Sex, Power, Conflict: Evolutionary and Feminist Perspectives, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, Allyn and Bacon (New York, NY), 1999.

The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Love and Sex, Free Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor) The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, John Wiley and Sons (Hoboken, NJ), 2005.

The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill, Penguin Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to scientific journals, including Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Psychological Review, and American Scientist. Member of editorial board, American Psychologist, Journal of Sex and Research, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Journal of Research in Personality.

The Evolution of Desire has been translated into German, Japanese, Korean, Italian, French, and Swedish.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Research on prestige, status, reputation, sexual strategies, and evolutionary psychology.

SIDELIGHTS: Psychologist and educator David M. Buss has written several books addressing the human personality. Many of Buss's publications focus on mating and sexuality. He has discussed the idea of sexual selection as presented in Charles Darwin's human evolution theory. In his 1994 book, The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, Buss posits that modern humans are remarkably similar to their ancestors in that they employ what Washington Post Book World contributor Curt Suplee termed "a set of hard-headed strategies by both sexes designed to obtain the best breeding stock available, even if that means ruthlessly dumping a partner." In other words, men and women seek out mates who best suit their reproductive needs, with women seeking men who will commit to long-term relationships, and men seeking women who appear best able to conceive and give birth to viable offspring. Buss also describes the methods used by humans throughout time to end an unproductive relationship—in terms of procreation—with a member of the opposite sex. Suplee offered a positive assessment of the volume, calling it "highly readable" and asserting: "In an age of incessant novelty, nothing is more surprising than the news that some things obstinately refuse to change. In that respect, The Evolution of Desire—which argues that even the most exquisitely progressive modern couples are acting out exactly the same mating strategies as their hairy old hominid forebears—is a drop-dead shocker." "Buss steps back from the mechanics and emotions of the matter and," asserted Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor, "insightfully complements the multitude" of other publications related to sex.

Buss's The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Love and Sex expands on the theory of human mating he presented in The Evolution of Desire. Buss elaborates on his idea that, in a relationship with a mate, a female's priority is commitment and a male's priority is reproducing offspring. Separating emotional and physical infidelity, Buss informs that females are more anxious about their mate's emotional infidelities and males about their partner's sexual infidelities. Buss postulates that a female's jealousy stems from a perceived "threat to commitment" and a male's jealousy rises from a fears of "paternity uncertainty," recounted a Publishers Weekly critic. Buss reasons that jealousy "can be useful in testing a bond and can ignite sexual passion," informed the Publishers Weekly contributor, who further noted that the psychologist also discusses the "pathology of jealousy." However, the same critic found that The Dangerous Passion is a "portentous, workmanlike study [that] promises more than it delivers." Elizabeth Caulfield Felt more positively assessed the "slightly repetitive but thought provoking" text. Felt recommended The Dangerous Passion in the Library Journal, praising it as "well-researched, accessible … well-written … [and] appeal[ing]." For Lee Alan Dugatkin, writing in the Wilson Quarterly, the same book was "fascinating." In particular, Dugatkin noted Buss's premise that jealously "remains a positive force in the modern age." A different viewpoint was expressed by Quarterly Review of Biology critic Felicia Pratto, who felt that "in not sufficiently analyzing when jealousy is and is not adaptive, this treatise falls short of its goal." Michael C. Seto, on the other hand, concluded in the Archives of Sexual Behavior: "I believe Buss makes a good case in this book for the utility of a Darwinian approach to the study of jealousy, relationships, and relation ship violence."

Buss furthers the discussion of the impact of the mating instinct on human psychology in his 2005 title, The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill, a work that "challenges the way the public … view the act of murder and those who most often commit it," according to a Kirkus Reviews critic. Buss contends that the drive to mate and the fact of the survival of the fittest has hardwired the mind of humans to be potential killers. Buss gathers a large array of evidence—from interviews with ordinary people who have had murder fantasies to studies of killers both modern and historical—to prove his thesis that the typical killer is not the high-profile serial murderer. Instead, Buss contends, the average killer has been and will be a male in his sexual prime, and his victim will either be a male competitor or a female who he feels has betrayed him in some manner. The Kirkus Reviews critic found Buss's study "provocative … [and] diligently wrought." Similar praise came from Lynne F. Maxwell, who called the book a "persuasive explanation for murder" in a Library Journal review. Likewise, a Science News reviewer found The Murderer Next Door both "startling" and "intriguing."

Buss once commented in CA: "I began my book writing career to synthesize in one place a grand theory of human mating strategies. It took me four and a half years to complete my first sole-authored book, The Evolution of Desire.

"Through my books, I hope to reach a much wider audience than I reach through my articles, which are published in scientific journals read mainly by a small group of scientists. My work on human mating, though, has consequences for nearly everyone, and so I want to reach a larger audience. I try to do most of my writing in the morning, when my mind is sharpest. My brain tends to fuzz out in the late afternoon, and so I can't do much prime intellectual work then. Writers who have influenced me include Don Symons, Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Martin Daly, and Margo Wilson. My advice to aspiring writers is to 'just do it.'

"Although my work is highly respected by the scientific community, it is controversial and goes against the grain of the dominant dogma in the social sciences. I have received hostile reactions from some people who would like to see me and my work shut down and suppressed. More than once, I have been told that I should suppress my scientific findings about human mating because they would cause people distress. But a scientist cannot be cowed by the dominant dogma in the field, nor by attempts at suppression. Copernicus, Darwin, and other scientists throughout the ages have incurred social wrath for their revolutionary ideas. Revolutionary ideas will always meet a hostile reception, especially those that impact on human affairs. True scientists must brave these hostile forces and have the sternness of character to remain on a true course. I feel enormously privileged to play a key role in founding evolutionary psychology, which will revolutionize the field of psychology eventually. The only issue is how many years or decades it will take."



Archives of Sexual Behavior, February, 2003, Michael C. Seto, review of The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Love and Sex, p. 79.

Booklist, January 1, 1994, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, p. 79.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill, p. 326.

Library Journal, January, 2000, Elizabeth Caulfield Felt, review of The Dangerous Passion, p. 136; April 1, 2005, Lynne F. Maxwell, review of The Murderer Next Door, p. 114.

Publishers Weekly, January 10, 2000, review of The Dangerous Passion, p. 57.

Quarterly Review of Biology, September, 2001, Felicia Pratto, review of The Dangerous Passion, p. 392.

Science News, June 11, 2005, review of The Murderer Next Door, p. 383.

Washington Post Book World, March 27, 1994, Curt Suplee, review of The Evolution of Desire, p. 7.

Wilson Quarterly, spring, 2000, Lee Alan Dugatkin, "Jealousy's Purpose," p. 129.


University of Texas at Austin, Department of Psychology Web site, http://www.homepage.psy.utexas.edu/ (January 20, 2006), David M. Buss faculty page.