David M. Buss
Prof. David M. Buss
Professor of Psychology, University of Texas-Austin


The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind is Designed to Kill
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
8:00PM in Ingle Auditorium (Student Alumni Union)

Homicide adaptation theory offers a radical new explanation of why people kill. Murder has been a remarkably beneficial strategy that evolved to solve an astonishing array of adaptive problems. These include eliminating poor fitness vehicles, ascending status hierarchies, protecting social reputation, removing cost-inflicting competitors, destroying a rival's reproductive resources, and freeing up resources for future reproduction. Being killed, however, is extremely costly for victims. As soon as murder evolved as a strategy, selection immediately favored anti-homicide defenses, in turn favoring refined homicidal strategies to evade victim's defenses. A perpetual co-evolutionary arms race ensued. A study of 375 murderers and victims provides empirical support for facets of the theory, explaining many otherwise inexplicable design features of murder. The theory also parsimoniously accounts for several paradoxical phenomena, such as why women falsely believe that rapists will murder them despite the low conditional probability of rape-murder, and why people display an inordinate fear getting killed by strangers more than by familiar others, despite the fact that most murderers know their victims, often intimately.

David Buss is Professor of Psychology at University of Texas-Austin where he teaches courses in evolutionary psychology and the psychology of human mating. He is an award-winning lecturer who has also taught at Harvard and University of Michigan . His books include The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating (2003); Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of Mind (1999) which won th e Robert W. Hamilton Book Award in 2000; and The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy is as Necessary as Love and Sex (2000). He served as editor for The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (2005). His talk draws from his newest book, The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind is Designed to Kill (2005), which focuses on mating and murder. Buss's primary research interests include human sexuality, mating strategies, conflict between the sexes, the psychology of status and reputation, homicide, stalking and sexual victimization.

Please see the suggested reading list
and other speakers:
Eugenie Scott Randolph Nesse Martin Daly  Margo Wilson
Eugenie Scott Randolph Nesse Martin Daly
Margo Wilson

Rudy Rucker D. S. Wilson David M. Buss
Rudy Rucker D. S. Wilson David M. Buss

Daniel C. Dennett  Capstone Speaker
Daniel C. Dennett
Capstone Speaker
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