The Cambridge Book Club discusses Duels and Duets


Why do men and women talk so differently? Though this maddening question has persisted throughout the ages, we haven’t given up trying to find an answer—as evident in countless studies, surveys, books, movies, and other popular sources. While bestsellers like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus popularized the notion that men and women are socialized to behave and speak in dissimilar ways, Cambridge author John L. Locke goes beyond examining merely culture: he locates the source of speech differences in evolution itself.

This month, the Cambridge Book Club discusses Duels and Duets by John L. Locke (on sale October 18th), which contends that biological differences lie at the root of communication differences between men and women. Due to unique evolutionary pressures, men and women developed particular ways of speaking in order to achieve their respective goals: for men, protecting social status and securing mates; for women, preserving a sense of family and community. And to do so, Locke asserts, men duel—i.e., clash in their conversations in order to establish social hierarchy; while women duet—i.e., exchange intimate human material (mainly thoughts and feelings) in a context of closeness and trust.

Delve deeper into Duels and Duets through our reading group guide, video interview with John Locke (forthcoming), slideshow, and recommended reading guide; join the conversation on on Facebook, or chime in on Twitter using the hashtag #cambridgeideas.

To kick off the discussion, what do you think of Locke’s theory? Are men naturally inclined to duel, while women prefer to duet? Post your response below and you’ll be eligible to win an advance copy of Duels and Duets!

The Cambridge Book Club discusses Duels and Duets

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