Consuming Instinct The

Consuming Instinct The❰Read❯ ➫ Consuming Instinct The Author Gad Saad – • What do all successful fast food restaurants have in common• Why are women likely to become compulsive shoppers and men likely to become addicted to pornography• How does the fashion industry • What do all successful fast food restaurants have in common• Why are women likely to become compulsive shoppers and men likely to become addicted to pornography• How does the fashion industry play on our innate need to belong• Why do men’s testosterone levels rise when they drive a Ferrari or a PorscheThe answer to all of these intriguing uestions is “the consuming instinct” the underlying evolutionary basis for most of our consumer behavior In this highly informative and entertaining book Dr Gad Saad the founder of the vibrant new field of evolutionary consumption Consuming Instinct PDF/EPUB ² illuminates the relevance of our biological heritage to our daily lives as consumers While culture is important Dr Saad shows that innate evolutionary forces deeply influence the foods we eat the gifts we offer the cosmetics and clothing styles we choose to make ourselves attractive to potential mates and even the cultural products that stimulate our imaginations such as art music and religion The Consuming Instinct demonstrates that most acts of consumption can be mapped onto four key Darwinian drives—namely survival we prefer foods high in calories; reproduction we use products as sexual signals; kin selection we naturally exchange gifts with family members; and reciprocal altruism we enjoy offering gifts to close friends The author further highlights the analogous behaviors that exist between human consumers and a wide range of animals For anyone interested in the biological basis of human behavior or simply in what makes consumers tick—marketing professionals advertisers psychology mavens and consumers themselves—The Consuming Instinct is a fascinating readGad Saad PhD Montreal Canada a popular blogger for Psychology Today Homo Consumericus is a professor of marketing at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University He holds the Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption and is the author of The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption plus numerous scientific papers. Evolutionary psychology is psuedo science No matter how many observations and generalizations one makes if they are indeed statistically true so long as it's not verifiable it's not science I can't believe I wasted time reading this book This book describes common human behaviors from why guys like driving fast cars to why women are willing to kill their feet wearing high heels from an evolutionary perspective Saad teaches MBAs so it's not surprising that his analyses center on how an understanding of evolutionary psychology can help advertising campaigns on a global scale in terms of recognizing what human likes and traits are universal rather than culturally specificSaad goes out of his way to confer a don't shoot the messenger idea For example it's not his sexist nature that makes him say that men are naturally sexually jealous it's the fault of hundreds of thousands of years of paternity uncertainty that makes men this way And I get what he's saying Likewise I fully believe that to get real answers to life's problems we have to know the truth about what causes our behaviorHowever Saad seems at times gleeful when the scientific truths he espouses trumps the work of feminist writers and researchers like Naomi Wolf In the logic of evolutionary psychology it's inevitable that say a guy driving a Ferrari will have his aggressive sexual testosterone levels raised and that the guy will all the so want to have sex with the curvy woman he sees walking along the street in high heels signifying fertility through her figure and a sexually receptive position via her raised buttocks I understand that Saad is simply explaining the why of this situation But when he virtually laughs off the writings of a person like Wolf Saad comes across at least to me as dismissive of the very real problems that Wolf and her ilk try to address Sure the man and woman in the scenario I've described are doing only what they feel is natural but a very real problem does occur when the scenario goes too far eg the man assumes that the woman is available to him and ends up harassing her Instead of kindly offering recommendations for how the knowledge of evolutionary psychology could be used to treat the wrongs and unfairness inherently present in a bunch advanced chimps wearing clothes that is all of us Saad opts to crow rather too loudly over the fact that his academic discipline trumps another academic disciplineAs far as the book goes it's a great read The material is written in a way that pretty much anyone can understand However my concern is that people particularly MBAs and marketers will read it and use evolutionary psychology against us And in tune with what I stated above they will offer no apologies for any harmful sexism etc that is perpetuated as a result of their use of evolutionary psychology in marketing campaigns This book has some great brief bursts of interesting and creative insights into topics such as tattoos hospitality pets friendships and toys Saad can be uite interesting in analyzing why we eat as if there's no tomorrow But the book is uneven and long stretches are dull Saad is an atheist and traces everything to Darwin evolutionary causes Comparisons between animals and humans abound He posits that humans act devoid or morality and some theories eg men who view porn treat women better than men who don't are dumb Saad ventures into areas outside his expertise particularly religion He believes teaching children about God is tantamount to child abuse He should have stuck to verifiable research The aphorist Aaron Haspel once wrote Once you see human interaction as a contest to signal mating fitness you never see it as anything else  That's both interesting and true but for the purposes of this review I'm going to need to paint with a broader brush once you see all aspects of human existence as a product of evolution you never see them as anything else  Modern day consumerism is no exception and it's the subject of Gad Saad's fantastic book The Consuming InstinctSaad is a professor of marketing at Concordia University and writes a popular blog at Psychology Today called Homo Consumericus  Using various parts of evolutionary theory Saad dissects modern day consumer behavior with applaudable gusto  Parts of his analysis are sure to be offensive to some which suggests to me that he's on to something  As a general rule of thumb if some people are strongly offended by an idea it's worth giving it special consideration  This is because many truths simply aren't all that pleasant  Many people respond to these types of books with knee jerk reactions full of personal attacks and hatred because they confuse positive statements with normative ones  I would urge these people to consider that explaining how things are says nothing about how they ought to beThe subtitle of the book is What Juicy Burgers Ferraris Pornography and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature  Not surprisingly they reveal uite a bit  These four items speak to the four Darwinian pursuits that underlie human existence survival reproduction kin selection and reciprocity  The consuming instinct then can be studied under the lens of evolutionary psychology EP which is a theoretical framework that proposes that the human mind evolved by the same Darwinian forces that shaped all animals  The human brain is simply another product of the dual evolutionary processes called natural selection and sexual selection  More people are familiar with former and not the latter which can explain things like art religion and consumer behavior It's worth noting that amongst those who believe in evolution there seems to be a small contingent of people who believe that evolution can explain the human foot but anything above the neck is off limits  In other words they are hesitant to give any credence to the field of evolutionary psychology  because they don't like some of the logical implications that follow  Like Saad I believe this is an egregious mistake  The human brain is an amazing thing but the fact that some people want to elevate it to something that was created outside the bounds of the natural world is silly  I think Malcolm de Chazal would remind us of the following “Monkeys are superior to men in this when a monkey looks into the mirror he sees a monkey” Political correctness be damned Saad takes a refreshing and no holds barred approach to debunking the myths of social constructivism particularly the myths surrounding gender differences  The Harvard evolutionist E O Wilson once said “The genes hold culture on a leash The leash is very long but inevitably values will be constrained in accordance with their effects on the human gene pool”  Anyone who understands the power of evolutionary theory will understand that marketing efforts for products that don't align with our natural instincts are doomed to fail  Excellent marketers are intuitively well aware of this reality too they understand that the way to market beer to men is different than is way to market cosmetics to womenThere is a reason why men consume pornography Ferraris and are likely to participate in extreme sports than are women  These differences are due to a deep rooted evolutionary causes and it's a sad state of affairs when one is considered a cultural deviant for suggesting that men and women thanks to the process of evolution have deep biological differences  I'll proudly wear the label of cultural deviant if that's the term used to describe people who are interested in knowing the truth than they are in hearing fictitious yet comforting storiesHere's an interesting fact from the book studies show that when men drive a Porsche they experience an increase in testosterone levels  It appears that the mere act of sexual signaling can cause an increase in testosterone in men  How many men would care about driving a Porsche if no one were around to watch though?  I suspect that the answer is not many  I think this is why you see men cruising around in Porsches and Ferraris in crowded hotspots like Chicago's Viagra Triangle on a Saturday night and not in downtown Longmont Colorado  This of course prompts an interesting philosophical uestion If a sexual signal is flashed and no one is there to receive it does it really exist?Another thing that's bound to upset social constructivists is that universal metrics of beauty do exist and are not arbitrary social constructs  Studies show that a deep male voice is universally attractive which makes sense since it indicates a greater exposure to pubertal testosterone  Studies also show that women with the optimum waist to hip ratio of around 07 are preferred by men around the world  Universally for men achieving high status in the social hierarchy matters greatly if one wants to be an attractive mate while for women it's physical beauty that matters mostOne of my favorite chapters was called Marketing Hope by Selling Lies  In the chapter Saad explains that there are many unpleasant biological based realities like aging mortality sexual boredom in monogamous relationships and the fact that children are born with innate differences in abilities  Marketers and self help gurus of all varieties see this as an opportunity  After all it provides them a chance to sell hope which is often nothing but an especially insidious form of snake oilSaad sees religion as the greatest and perhaps evilest product ever devised  He writes Religion possesses uniue attributes that render it a marketer's dream product  Indeed it is  A number of televangelists get in front of audience every Sunday and tell their delusional yet optimistic followers that God has great things in store for them in the afterlife if only they give up their worldly possessions to their preacher in this life  Don't worry God wants the preacher to have your money apparently He said so  Alas these religious charlatans are smart enough to know that it helps to plant the seed of fear early if you want to swindle people out of their money later in lifeThe Argentine shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis once famously said If women didn't exist all the money in the world would have no meaning  Even if you already intuitively understand why that is so I highly recommend reading The Consuming Instinct anyway Basically boils down to Men buy sports cars and are into excessive risk taking so that they can attract a mate Women buy shoes and makeup and diet products so that they can attract a mate Men are attracted to youth and beauty and facial symmetry Women are attracted to successful powerful men I've heard it all before and it doesn't interest me Also the writing style was too much like an academic paper and relied too heavily on listing 27 examples of everything Overall this is a good book that examines the relationship between our evolved psychologies and how marketing and business tap into that whether consciously or unconsciously The two problems I had with this book are that first it basically pre supposes an acceptance of Evolutionary Psychology as a guiding force in our lives As someone who studied EP at UT Austin and enjoyed learning from David Buss I accept the points laid out in the textand usually knew the studies referenced in depth But if you're a layperson with a passing interest in why people consume porn and why people smoke cigarettes and eat fatty foods when we know it's bad for us the supporting arguments may be a little harder to swallow pardon the pun The areas where Gad Saad goes the most in depth which happens with all scientists who write are the areas where he personally conducted the studies and experiments Of course had he gone in depth on every point this would have been a much larger book To that end I feel this is a good introduction to EP as it relates to consumer behavior For on the subjects mentioned in the book I recommend the works of David Buss and Steven Pinker as well as the book A Billion Wicked Thoughts by Ogi Ogas and Sai GaddamMy second problem is that the author seems to go out of his way to pick a fight with religion and religious beliefs I just don't think that was necessary I'm an atheist myself so I agree with his positions I just feel he'll probably turn off a lot of people who might otherwise have picked up the book and enjoyed it I do think he should have examined how religions use our Evolved Psychologies to convert and keep people in particular religions I just think it could have been done in a shall we say diplomatic mannerI was reminded of a class I took at UT called Pseudoscience and the Paranormal Basically this class was a class on debunking the paranormal It was a class in the Physics department and was a great way to learn the scientific method and how it could be applied to areas outside of traditional Physics and Chemistry The class took on cults but not religion though you could apply the principles to traditional religion as well The professor never made the explicit argument that religion was a hoax the way Gad Saad did but instead left you with the tools to make that assumption yourself I believe if Gad Saad had gone this route it would have been a better book You could have still pointed out how religion uses our fear of death and need to belong to keep us in check without restating Richard Dawkins position that targeting religious messages to children is tantamount to child abuse The section on religion while pointing out how it uses evolved psychology to market itself seems needlessly antagonistic I loved the book and thought it presented some great ideas however I know I wouldn't be able to recommend this to several of my non atheist friends and family for fear of insulting themOddly enough I didn't have the same feeling when he attacked homeopathic and naturalistic medicine as I am really antagonistic towards uack medicine myself My entire family is deeply religious but they aren't uack doctors So maybe his book triggered my us versus them evolved psychologySo I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a basic introduction into how marketing and business exploit our evolved psychologies with the caveat being that you should probably be an atheist or at the very least hardcore agnostic before reading Alternatively you could skip the chapter titled Marketing Hope by Selling Lies This book traces consumption patterns back to their evolutionary origins In many ways this is an update of The Naked Ape of the 1960s Helpfully Saad reminds us that evolutionary psychology must look at behavior from two different levels Most of us stay at the proximate level that describes what we do and how we do it The author goes deeper and looks for the ultimate evolutionary explanations for what we do Regarding those who oppose the explanatory power of evolutionary theory because of ideological dangers or biological determinism Saad in many ways shows how the advertisers see the truth about human nature better than most of us We are not about self actualization he writes We are really about food sex family status and so forth even though much of our behavior is malappropriate because multiple Darwinian instincts tug us in different directions Darwinian rationality he says trumps economic rationalitySaad references four overriding Darwinian drives survival reproduction kin selection reciprocity That selection seems arbitrary Why is kin selection and reciprocity the eual of reproduction when kin selection is at least as argued by its proponents subsidiary to reproduction Also reciprocity is one of many ways we survive and reproduce so it too is subsumed by the ultimate drives of survival and reproduction In addition what role does fear and other oriented social traits play in our lives? What role does group belongingness play? Etc These fall outside Saad's meta drive concept yet seem central to who we are In a way Saad seems to repeat what others have argued and then places the consuming instinct on all of it without much of a critical eye He stamps kin selection as true and then turns around and says that friendships are often important than family ties without accounting for the contradiction Do we really care about promoting the genes of those relatives who are not our direct offspring or do we happen to promote our kin's welfare because they are the first members of our group and we are bred to seek support from and to support our group because it is essential for our survival? Saad does come right out and refers to many instincts as drives That was refreshing Typically drives seem reserved for our animalistic hunger and sex needs with the rest of our emotions being largely reactive to environmental stimuli What Saad does is to show that we have a full suite of inner needs that push us into the world We are consumers of the world Advertisers know this and respond to these needs Advertisers can influence manipulate and deceive us because we want things from that world food sex status Behavior is not just responding Behavior is seeking and responding working together both in the service of survival and reproduction The author too enthusiastically applies the hypothesis that culture is based on behaviors evolution has taught us Saad comes across as seeming to believe that 80% of our behavior is genetically predispositioned and I think that's just too extreme a positionWith regards to the nature vs nature debate this author is strongly in former camp using it to describe all manner of consumer behaviors I don't think he's wrong in some of his statements but the certainty with which he applies the theory doesn't feel even handed or fair Ultimately reading this might have shifted my assignment of behaviors to the nature camp 5% but I didn't find it a very convincing set of arguments overall An interesting exploration of human behavior through the lens of evolutionary psychology Through vigorous research Saad offers evolutionary explanations for a wide array of human behaviors He rejects the absurd notion of human beings as tabula rasa instead delivering a theoretical framework that takes into account both genetics nature and environmental expression nurture One aspect of this book that I did not enjoy is the author's smug dismissive attitude an attitude that persists beyond his writing see his appearances on JRE and his own show Despite that drawback I can easily recommend this book I look forward to reading his latest The Parasitic Mind The Consuming Instinct is about the application of evolutionary psychology to consumer behavior The basic idea is that natural selection and sexual selection in ancestral environments have determined the wiring of the modern human brain and vestiges of those primal influences drive human tendencies in consumption That's right it's an important concept for marketers and policy makers and it's a field that is still under development However this book disappointed me It seems to me that somebody suggested to Saad that he put together a few hundred pages on this topic with some provocative examples and it would be a sure best seller because there is enough market interest Unfortunately Saad's work seems slapdash and superficial He included fewer research examples than expected in some cases failing to support his correct point much at all If I had not studied the subject some before reading the book I might have come away unconvinced of some of his assertions because of the lack of evidence he presented Despite the important topic the book just has the feel of a mailed in effort