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Given the task of picking the best and brightest bits of behavioral research, science writer Nigel Calder has come up with a gem of a book. The text, which derives from a two-hour BBC television program, is consistently interesting, often amusing, and visually handsome. Humans, Calder postulates, are neither saints nor sinners. They have evolved a cultural capacity for conspiring with one another for mutual advantage. Calder defends the term ""conspiracy"" by using game theory analogies: we all cheat or pretend at times; we are adroit at concealment and maneuvering people or events to suit us. He illuminates these complexities of human behavior by tracing development in infancy, the acquisition of language, the role of games and play, personality growth, social attitudes, and the like. Out go the grand and global theories of Freud, Marx, Watson--even Piaget and Chomsky. In is an approach illustrated by selected samples of current research: Tom Bower's studies of visual perception in infancy, Bruner's experiments in how children learn, Goffman's observation of body cues, and a variety of cross-cultural studies. These are introduced by a theoretical discussion of how human groups came to value altruism over selfishness in the course of evolution. (Out also are Lorenz, Ardrey, et al.) Drawing upon fieldwork in anthropology, upon research in linguistics, and upon human more than animal observations, the book generates more food for thought and discussion than can be found in the average introductory text in psychology. . . or sociology. . . or anthropology.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1976
Publisher: Viking