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David Buss

David Buss (born April 14, 1953) is a professor of psychology at University of Texas, Austin, known for his evolutionary psychology research on human sex differences in mate selection. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology at University of California, Berkeley, in 1981. Before becoming a professor at University of Texas, he was assistant professor at Harvard University, and he was a professor at the University of Michigan.

The primary topics of his research include: mating strategies, conflict between the sexes, status, social reputation, and prestige, the emotion of jealousy, homicide, anti-homicide defenses, and most recently stalking. All of these are approached from an evolutionary perspective.

Buss is the author of a number of publications and books, including The Evolution of Desire, The Dangerous Passion, and most recently, The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology and The Murderer Next Door, which introduces a new theory of homicide from an evolutionary perspective. He is also the author of Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, the first widely-used textbook for the subject.


David Buss's methodology has been criticized by philosopher of science David J. Buller. Buss used the practices of the Turkmen of Persia to bolster his argument that high status men are more desirable to women: a well-documented study, the anthropologist William Irons found that, among the Turkmen of Persia, males in the wealthier half of the population left 75 percent more offspring than males in the poorer half of the population. Buss cites several studies like this as indicating that "high status in men leads directly to increased sexual access to a larger number of women," and he implies that this is due to the greater desirability of high-status men (David Buss 1999 "Evolutionary Psychology the New Science of the Mind").

To which Buller notes:

But, among the Turkmen, women were sold by their families into marriage. The reason that higher-status males enjoyed greater reproductive success among the Turkmen is that they were able to buy wives earlier and more often than lower-status males. Other studies that clearly demonstrate a reproductive advantage for high-status males are also studies of societies or circumstances in which males "traded" in women. This isn't evidence that high-status males enjoy greater reproductive success because women find them more desirable. Indeed, it isn't evidence of female preference at all, just as the fact that many harem-holding despots produced remarkable numbers of offspring is no evidence of their desirability to women. It is only evidence that when men have power they will use it to promote their reproductive success, among other things (and that women, under such circumstances, will prefer entering a harem to suffering the dire consequences of refusal).

Buss and Martie Haselton respond to Buller's criticisms here.

Many critics of evolutionary psychology, like Buller, contend that evolutionary psychologists reflexively attribute all human behaviors to biological tropisms, regardless of cultural context.

See also



  • Buss D.M. (2005) (ed.), Evolutionary Psychology Handbook (New York: Wiley)
  • Buss D.M. (2004) Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind, 2nd edition. Allyn & Bacon, Boston. ISBN 1428800409
  • Buss D M. (2003) The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, Revised Edition. Basic Books, New York. ISBN 046500802X
  • Larsen, R J, & Buss, D. M. (2004). Personality: Domains of knowledge about human nature. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0071111492
  • Buss, D. M. (2000). The dangerous passion: Why jealousy is as necessary as love and sex. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 075676548X
  • Buss, D. M., & Malamuth, N. (Eds.)(1996). Sex, power. conflict: Evolutionary and feminist perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195103572

Book Chapters

  • Buss, D. M. (2003). How we fall in and out of love. In H. Swain (Ed.), The Big Questions in Science. Vintage. ISBN 009942892X
  • Buss, D. M., & Duntley, J. D. (2003). Homicide: An evolutionary psychological perspective and implications for public policy. In N. Dess (Ed.), Evolutionary psychology and violence: A primer for policymakers and public policy advocates. Praeger Publishers. ISBN: 0275974677
  • Shackelford, V. A., Shackelford, T. K., & Buss D. M. (2002).Murder in a lover's triangle. In M. D. Smith (Ed.), New directions in homicide research. Washington, D.C.: Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • Shackelford, T. K., Buss, D. M., & Peters, J. (2000). Reproductive age women are over-represented among victims of wife-killing. In Blackman, P. H., Leggett, V. L., Olson, B. L., Jarvis, J. P. (Eds.), The varieties of homicide and its research (pp. 73-84). Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • Buss, D. M. (2000). Natural selection. In A. H. Forman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Psychology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
  • Buss, D. M. (2000). Evolutionary psychology. In A. H. Forman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Psychology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
  • Buss, D. M. (1999). Human nature and individual differences: The evolution of human personality. In L. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of Personality, 2/e. New York: Guilford.
  • Buss, D. M. (1999). Evolutionary psychology: A new paradigm for psychological science. In D. H. Rosen & M. C. Luebbert (Eds.), Evolution of the psyche (pp. 1-33). Westport, CT: Praeger.
  • Buss, D. M. (1997). Just another brick in the wall: Building the foundation of evolutionary psychology. In L. Betzig (Ed.),Human Nature: A critical reader (pp. 191 - 193). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Shackelford, T. K., & Buss, D. M. (1997). Marital satisfaction in evolutionary psychological perspective. In R. J. Sternberg & M. Jojjat (Eds.),Satisfaction in close relationships (pp. 7-25). New York: Guilford.
  • Buss, D. M. (1997). Evolutionary foundations of personality. In R. Hogan, J. A. Johnson, & S. R. Briggs (Eds.), Handbook of Personality Psychology (pp. 317-344). New York: Academic Press.
  • Buss, D. M. (1994). Personality evoked: The evolutionary psychology of stability and change. In T. Heatherton & J. Weinberger (Eds.), Can Personality Change? (pp. 41-58). American Psychological Association Press. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 1151-1164.
  • Buss, D. M. (1994). Strategic individual differences: The evolutionary psychology of selection, evocation, and manipulation. In T. Bouchard & P. Proping (Eds.), Twins as a Tool of Behavioral Genetics (pp. 121-138). New York: Wiley.
  • Buss, D. M. (1992). Preference mechanisms in human mating: Implications for mate choice and intrasexual competition. In J. Barkow, K. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), [The Adapted Mind]]. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Buss, D. M. (1996). Sexual conflict: Can evolutionary and feminist perspectives converge? In D. M. Buss & N. Malamuth (Eds.),Sex, power. conflict: Evolutionary and feminist perspectives (pp. 296-318). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Buss, D. M. (1996). Social adaptation and five major factors of personality. In J. S. Wiggins (Ed.), The Five-factor Model of Personality: Theoretical Perspectives (pp. 180-207). New York: Guilford.
  • Buss, D. M. (1996). The evolution of human social strategies. In E. T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social Psychology: Handbook of Basic Principles. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Ozer, D., & Buss, D. M. (1991). Two views of behavior: Agreement and disagreement in married couples. In A. Stewart, J. Healy, & D. Ozer (Eds.), Perspectives in Personality Psychology (pp. 93-108).


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