Summary of I'll Have What She's Having

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The title of this study of social behavior comes from the Katz Deli scene in the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally. One woman observes another appearing to have an orgasm at a nearby table and tells the waiter: “I’ll have what she’s having.” The title serves as useful shorthand for the human practices of imitation, replication and diffusion of ideas. Academics Alex Bentley and Michael J. O’Brien and consultant Mark Earls offer lucid prose and easy-to-follow examples in their fine introduction to social behavior. getAbstract recommends their insights to those interested in greater self-knowledge, social change, or marketing and innovation.

About the Authors

Alex Bentley is a professor of archeology and anthropology at the University of Bristol. Mark Earls consults on marketing and communications. Michael J. O’Brien is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri.



People Aren’t Rational

If rationality doesn’t shape human behavior, what does? Evolutionary psychology explains human behavior through long-established biological drives and patterns. It argues that human action is “all about food and sex – especially sex.” Men like to think their taste in women is highly individual, but studies show that men prefer women with proportions like those in Playboy centerfolds: a 0.7 ratio between waist and hips that signals fertility and the ability to breed. Biology isn’t the only factor shaping what people find attractive: Men from different cultures find different bodily proportions beautiful, and some men break with their cultural norms. Other social factors, like a community’s traditions about how people marry, also shape how members of that society select their mates – or even if they expect to choose their own mates.

However attractive these explanations from evolutionary psychology are, their applications are limited. Constructs based on “small kinship groups” work well for clans with a limited number of people, but not as well when applied to the current social universe. The contemporary world is more crowded and varied...

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