How does love help us survive?

Dr. Anna Machin

Love can make us act against logic and reason. It can make us irrational. It can make us forget about our own best interests, or even risk our own safety. Why have we developed such a strong instinct to love, when in so many ways it would be easier not to?

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In order to survive, humans have to exist within a hierarchy, compete for resources and cooperate between the sexes - the most complex cooperation of all. Ideally, we would be solitary. So what has evolution come up with to make sure we start and then invest in our survival-critical relationships? Love.

We are the most cooperative species on the planet in terms of the number of ties we have, the context of those ties and their enduring nature. We need to cooperate to subsist, to raise our children and to learn, but cooperation is costly and stressful - possibly even life-threatening - because people lie, cheat and steal.

Evolutionary anthropologist Dr. Anna Machin is fascinated by what makes humans behave the way they do, and uses a full range of disciplines and techniques – from genetic analysis to experimental psychology - to find out. Anna joins us in The Garden to explore the origins of love.

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50 minutes


Stress & the Body

About the Fellow

Dr. Anna Machin

Anna started her career as a primatologist in zoos around Europe. Today, she's an evolutionary anthropologist, and is world-renowned for her pioneering work on human love and fatherhood.

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Stress & the Body Collection

Stress. Your heart races, you feel overwhelmed, you may get dizzy or hot or sweaty. At some point in our lives we have all experienced that feeling, but what is actually happening to our bodies from a scientific perspective when our minds are under stress?

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