The Moral Animal

Why We Are the Way We Are:
The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

Is monogamy natural for men? For women? Where does sibling rivalry come from? Why do parents favor some children over others? What evolutionary advantages might come from having low self-esteem? What are the biological roots of self-deception? These are among the questions that have made The Moral Animal one of the most provocative science books in recent years, as well as one of the most genuinely important.

As he presents the latest findings in the emerging field of evolutionary psychology—which views human behavior in light of Darwinian theory—Robert Wright unveils the unconscious strategies that shape our romantic choices, familial feelings, friendships, and office politics. And on a deeper level, this book compels us to rethink our most basic moral assumptions, with lasting implications for our public policy as well as for our intimate daily actions.

Chosen by The New York Times
as one of the ten best books of the year


Acclaim for The Moral Animal

The Boston Globe:

A brilliant and troubling attempt to look into who we really are.… Wright’s book constantly goads the reader to introspection, to fresh perspectives about one’s choices and place in society.… A subtle and stimulating interpretation that deserves wide debate.

The Economist:

This clever and stimulating book is destined to become a classic.… Like Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene, it could well change the way people think and feel about their lives—perhaps even how they behave.… The book is packed with insight into many current dilemmas. It is, into the bargain, an intellectual entertainment argued with wit and style.

Steven Pinker, The New York Times Book Review:

Fiercely intelligent, beautifully written and engrossingly original.… A feast of great thinking and writing about the most profound issues there are, and a treat for any thinking person.… Lucidly explains our understanding of the evolution of human moral sentiments and draws out provocative implications for sexual, family, office and societal politics.… Mr. Wright writes with a consistent, irreverent wit that does not hide a heartfelt seriousness of purpose.

Publishers Weekly:

The new field of evolutionary psychology—which seeks to explain human behavior, thought and emotions in terms of Darwinian evolution—finds its most articulate exponent in Robert Wright. In attempting to unravel the evolutionary logic behind friendship, romance, xenophobia, racism, sibling rivalry, and so forth, Wright leavens his presentation with wit and humor, interlacing a biographical profile of Charles Darwin, whose marriage, sex life, personal tragedies and travels in turns are thrust in a neo-Darwinian light.… The most sophisticated in-depth exploration to date of the new Darwinian thinking.

The Wall Street Journal:

Lively, engaging, and well-informed.

Matt Ridley, The Times Literary Supplement (London):

An eye-opening, thought-provoking, spine-tingling, mind-boggling, wish-I-had-thought-of-that sort of science book.

The Guardian (London):

An engrossing guide, written with wit and an eye to inducting the ignorant into evolutionary psychology.

Los Angeles Times:

Lucid and compelling.