Despite the fact that, for years, there has been a move towards explaining the "Malthusian revolution" in psychological terms, little enthusiasm has been shown for exploring the psychology of traditional demographic behaviour and often there seems to have been poor comprehension of the changes in mental attitudes implicit in the shift to present-day behaviour. Why were couples formerly so prolific? Did they really wish to have families with eight, twelve or twenty children? Or did they instead resign themselves to the situation because — for technical or moral reasons — they were unable to make their conjugal relations sterile? Did they not have reasons for being Malthusians, as we do? And if so, why were they not Malthusian, or at least not to the same extent as we are?