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John Marshall Townsend

John Marshall Townsend

Contact Information:


525 Eggers Hall

John Marshall Townsend

Professor, Anthropology Department


  • 2024 Spring
    • ANT 467/667 Culture and Mental Disorders
    • ANT 373 Magic and Religion
  • 2023 Fall
    • ANT 325 Anthropology of American Life in Film
    • ANT 373 Magic and Religion
  • 2023 Spring
    • ANT 467/667 Culture and Mental Disorders
    • ANT 373 Magic and Religion
  • 2022 Fall
    • ANT 325 Anthropology of American Life in Film
    • ANT 373 Magic and Religion
  • 2022 Spring
    • ANT 496 Distinction in Anthropology
    • ANT 469/669 Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspective

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of California


John Marshall Townsend is professor of anthropology, Syracuse University. His research interests include human sexuality, sexual attraction, dating and courtship, marriage and divorce, culture and mental illness, and evolutionary psychology.

He has published numerous articles and books, including "What Women Want-What Men Want" (Oxford University Press). His current research focuses on casual sexual encounters. Townsend has appeared on national television and numerous radio talk shows and his work has been profiled in magazines and newspapers.

He has received grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Newhouse Center for the Study of Popular Television, and the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program. He sits on the editorial board of Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Townsend received a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Areas of Expertise

Psychological and medical anthropology, human sexuality, cross-cultural mental health, ethnic relations, symbolic interaction, United States, Germany

Selected Publications

  • Books
    • Townsend, J. M., Cultural Conceptions and Mental Illness: A Comparison of Germany and America. University of Chicago Press.
    • Townsend, J. M., What Women Want--What Men Want: Why the Sexes Still See Love and Commitment So Differently. Oxford University Press.
  • Journal Articles
    • Townsend, J. M., Jonason, P. K. and Wasserman, T. H., "Associations between motives for casual sex, depression, self-esteem, and sexual victimization." Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2019.
    • Salmon, C., Townsend, J. M. and Hehman, J., "Casual Sex and College Students: The Impact of Father Absence." Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2016.
    • Townsend, J. M., Wasserman, T. and Rosenthal, A., "Gender difference in emotional reactions and sexual coercion in casual sexual relations: An evolutionary perspective." Personality and Individual Differences, 2015.
    • Townsend, J. M., "Attractiveness: Perception and Behavior." CQ: the CAPA Quarterly--Journal of the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association of NSW, 2012.
    • Townsend, J. M., Wasserman, T., "Sexual Hookups Among College Students: Sex Differences in Emotional Reactions." Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2011.
    • Townsend, J. M., "Pain or Sex: Choosing the Best Option." Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2005.
    • Townsend, J. M., "Sex, Sex Differences, and the New Polygyny." Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2005.
  • Book Chapters
    • Townsend, J. M., "Racial, Ethnic, and Mental Illness Stereotypes: Cognitive Process and Behavioral Effects." In Mental Health, Racism, and Sexism. Willie, C. W. (ed.) University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995.
    • Townsend, J. M., "Stereotypes of Mental Illness: A Comparison with Ethnic Stereotypes." In Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. Nagler, M. (ed.) Health Markets Research, 1991.
  • Book Review
    • Townsend, J. M., "Archives of Sexual Behavior." In Douglas Jones Physical Attractiveness and Selection Theory. University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Presentations and Events

University of Binghamton [SUNY], "Hookups: the Exceptions Prove the Rule" (April 26, 2010)

Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, "Hookups & sex differences in mate preferences" (March 12, 2010)

International anthropological Congress of Ales Hrdlicka, "Hookups and Sex Differences in Mate Preferences" (September, 2009)

International Anthropological Congress of Ales Hrdlicka, "Measuring the Magnitude of Sex Differences" (September, 2009)

Charles University, "Hookups--the Exceptions Prove the Rules" (June, 2007)