Donald Symons (born 1942)[1] is an American anthropologist best known as one of the founders of evolutionary psychology, and for pioneering the study of human sexuality from an evolutionary perspective. He is one of the most cited researchers in contemporary sex research.[2] His work is referenced by scientists investigating an extremely diverse range of sexual phenomena.[2] Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker describes Symons' The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1979) as a "groundbreaking book"[3] and "a landmark in its synthesis of evolutionary biology, anthropology, physiology, psychology, fiction, and cultural analysis, written with a combination of rigor and wit. It was a model for all subsequent books that apply evolution to human affairs, particularly mine."[2] However, Symons and Evolution have been accused of misogyny and slut-shaming.[4]

Symons is Professor Emeritus[5] in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His most recent work, with Catherine Salmon, is Warrior Lovers, an evolutionary analysis of slash fiction.


  1. ^ Symons, Donald (1978). Play and Aggression: A Study of Rhesus Monkeys. New York: Columbia University Press. p. IV. ISBN 0-231-04334-1.
  2. ^ a b c Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam (2011). A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What The Internet Teaches Us About Sexual Relationships. London: Dutton Books. p. 20.
  3. ^ Pinker, Steven (2003). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. London: Penguin Books. p. 114. ISBN 0-140-27605-X.
  4. ^ Ruti, Mari. "The Age of Scientific Sexism". Bloomsbury Collections.
  5. ^ "People - Department of Anthropology - UC Santa Barbara".

Selected publications