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Helen Fisher (PhD)
People often ask me why I study love. I wish I had a sexy answer. But, oddly, this interest may have arisen from my childhood as an identical twin. Long before I heard of the nature/nurture debate, I was busy examining how much of my behavior was learned and how much of it stemmed from my biology. I was (and remain) intensely interested in who we are and what we share as human beings.
So when it became time to chose a topic for my Phd dissertation, I decided to study sex, love and feelings of attachment, universal human experiences. I began with our peculiar human propensity to rear our children as a man-woman team: monogamy. Some 97% of mammals do not pair up to rear their young; humans do with remarkable regularity. This PhD dissertation led me to write my first book, on the evolution of marriage: The Sex Contract.
Then one evening while cooking dinner I struck on new questions: Why do we divorce? Why are men and women adulterous? These led me to pour over divorce data in 62 societies and the cultural and biological literature on philandering. From this came my second book: Anatomy of love.
Three more books have followed. In The First Sex, I examined gender differences in the brain and maintained that women have evolved some natural talents that make them highly valuable to our modern business community. Then came Why We Love, a book on my brain scanning studies of this powerful human passion. And most recently, stemming with my work with Match.com and Chemistry.com, I wrote Why Him? Why Her?, a book about four broad biological styles of thinking and behaving, and why we are chemically drawn to certain people instead of others.
Of these brain styles, I am largely an ³Explorer.² I just came back from Ethiopia and am heading next to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. My goal: to see every country in the world. I particularly like documentaries and off off Broadway theater, as both give me insights into other peoples and human thoughts and feelings. And what science can¹t tell me about sex and love, poetry often does. My motto: semper ad astra - always to the stars.
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