How Pleasure Works and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $26.95
  • Save: $10.42 (39%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 3 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Want it Friday, April 25? Order within and choose Two-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Former library copy with standard library markings. Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed!
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like Hardcover


See all 8 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$16.53
$8.85 $2.75 $35.95

Frequently Bought Together

How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like + Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil
Price for both: $35.79

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

100 M&T
100 Mysteries & Thrillers to Read in a Lifetime
Looking for something good to read? Browse our picks for 100 Mysteries & Thrillers to Read in a Lifetime, brought to you by the Amazon Book Editors.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1ST edition (June 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393066320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393066326
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bloom (Descartes' Baby), a psychology professor at Yale, explores pleasure from evolutionary and social perspectives, distancing himself from the subject's common association with the senses. By examining studies and anecdotes of pleasure-inducing activities like eating, art, sex, and shopping, Bloom posits that pleasure takes us closer to the essence of a thing, be it animal, vegetable, or mineral. He argues that humans seem to be hard-wired to give, as well as receive, pleasure. A study using mislabeled, cheap bottles of wine, wherein "Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only twelve said this of the cheap label," demonstrates the complicated sociological components behind what we find pleasurable. Bloom even briefly examines positive reactions to very hot food and other "controlled doses of pain." And a study where rhesus monkeys chose pictures of female hindquarters and high-status monkeys over fruit juice allows the author to surmise that "Two major vices-pornography and celebrity worship-are not exclusively human."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Engaging, evocative… Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, is a supple, clear writer, and his parade of counter-intuitive claims about pleasure is beguiling.” (Michael Washburn - NPR)

“Bloom covers food, sex and art at length and touches on much more in this accessible compendium of experiments, quotes, philosophical nuggets and anecdotes. Sigmund Freud, Mr. Pleasure Principle himself, would have approved.” (Katy Steinmetz - Time)

“A gracefully written book and a lot of fun.” (Peter D. Kramer - Slate)

“Is there anyone who could resist a book about sex, food, art, and fun? Didn’t think so. This book is about all those things, but what turns it from a guilty pleasure into a guiltless one is its deep understanding of philosophy, developmental psychology, and evolutionary theory… How Pleasure Works should stoke your neurons into a frenzy and leave you wanting more.” (Mary Carmichael - Newsweek.com)

“Drawing on his own research as well as studies in neuroscience, behavioral economics, and philosophy, [Bloom] makes a powerful argument for essentialism at the crux of human pleasure.” (Maywa Montenegro - Seed Magazine)

“Scholarly yet spy…. Bloom salts the book with all manner of pungent, apposite points…. A heartening, well-developed argument.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“[A] book that is different from the slew already out there on the general subject of happiness. No advice here about how to become happier by organizing your closest; Bloom is after something deeper than the mere stuff of feeling good.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“In this eloquent and provocative book, Paul Bloom takes us inside the paradoxes of pleasure, exploring everything from cannibalism to Picasso to IKEA furniture. The quirks of delight, it turns out, are a delightful way to learn about the human mind.” (Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide)

“Paul Bloom is among the deepest thinkers and clearest writers in the science of mind today. He has a knack for coming up with genuinely new insights about mental life—ones that you haven't already read about or thought of—and making them seem second nature through vivid examples and lucid explanations.” (Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works)

“This book is not just a pleasure, but a revelation, by one of psychology’s deepest thinkers and best writers. Lucid and fascinating, you’ll want to read it slowly and savor the experience.” (Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness)

How Pleasure Works has one of the best discussions I’ve read of why art is pleasurable, why it matters to us, and why it moves us so.” (Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession)

“This book is a pearl, a work of great beauty and value, built up around a simple truth: that we are essentialists, tuned in to unseen order.” (Jonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Whole sections consist of speculative discussions with no evidence to back them up.
_LARS_
How Pleasure Works is a great book - it's entertaining and informative, and also surprising - as well as surprisingly funny.
Avid Reader
It's a frightful thought to pause, as he suggests, and take in just why one likes what one likes; loves what one loves.
Dan E. Nicholas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on June 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How Pleasure Works is a great book - it's entertaining and informative, and also surprising - as well as surprisingly funny. It examines different sources of pleasure - from food, to sex, to art, different forms of entertainment, and so on - and discusses recent findings in cognitive science (including a few of the author's own) that tell us about the surprisingly complex and sometimes deeply puzzling nature of human pleasure. The author argues that pleasure is not primarily a response to certain perceptual & sensory experiences, but instead has a significant cognitive component - what we think about something (whether or not we're correct) has a huge impact on how much pleasure we derive from it. The book contains many examples, which range from mildly surprising, to deeply puzzling, to just plain weird; some are very funny. The author has a fresh, engaging and easy style of writing, unlike what one finds in many science books for the lay public - this is enormously fun to read. Opening it up to any random page you'll almost certainly find yourself pulled in and getting caught up in the discussion - this book is hard to put down!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
92 of 107 people found the following review helpful By _LARS_ on August 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With "new science" in the title, I was expecting more from this book. Although a few research studies are mentioned here and there this is more of a philosophical discussion resolving around an essentialist theory of pleasure than something based on scientific research. Whole sections consist of speculative discussions with no evidence to back them up. The author frequently cites works of fiction (e.g. Shakespeare) and passages from the bible to support his arguments. He also often resorts to hearsay with statements such as "some say that..." for support. The book also contains outdated information, for example that female estrus is hidden from males to promote pair bonding, which has since been dis-proven in laboratory tests that indicate that males can detect estrus. (Generally his presentation of conventional model of human sexuality and inequality is outdated. See Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality for more updated information.) The author also has an outdated human-centric view, suggesting that only humans have meta-representation and theory of mind, despite quite a bit of recent evidence to the contrary.
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By W. J. McMahon on August 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting and well written from a philosophical point of view, but the title is very misleading. This book is more about something the author calls essentialism than pleasure. He does contend that pleasure is derived from this essentialism, but provides no scientific evidence to support that point. In fact the only science is this book amounts to a few scattered citings of psychological studies that happen buttress his philosophical arguments.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Read-Only on June 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Are you into cannibalism, incest, and wearing Hitler's sweater? If so, this book is for you! Actually, if not, then this book is even more for you. Bloom asks why it is that things have the power to please or upset us beyond their objective properties. Hitler's sweater is the same as any other sweater--it isn't evil; it never did anything wrong. So, why would it be so creepy to pull it on? Would you rather be kissed by your favorite movie star or his or her identical twin? Most people of course want the movie star... but why? Somehow, the way we think about the person and the kiss is just as important as the way the person looks and the physical act. Bloom explores such examples through domains such as sex, art, family, and food.

"How Pleasure Works" is a great read. The author skillfully draws you in to each topic with examples like Hitler's sweater and then describes relevant research that sheds light on why we like what we like. Unlike many such books, he does not get bogged down in details of experiments. Neither does the author talk down to the reader: He is congenial but not overly jokey. The pages seem to turn themselves.

At the end, the reader comes away with a greater appreciation for how complex our likes and dislikes are. However, many of the best examples (like incest and cannibalism) focus on what we DON'T like. The book's success can perhaps best be summed up by the fact that even when you are being disgusted by such examples, you still get pleasure from reading about them.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
26 of 34 people found the following review helpful By John N. Ruf on July 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'How Pleasure Works' exists somewhere between philosophy and science and doesn't do much for either. Philosophically we can learn more about 'essentialism' from Plato, and scientifically we can learn more about pleasure from many cognitive neuroscientists. I think that this kind of academic blather comes from too sequestered a life, from consorting only with other versions of oneself, from gazing too myopically at one's experimental subjects, and from publish or perish pressures. Very disappointing and a waste of time. This kind of "Oh, wow" New-Ageism is to the subject of pleasure what high fructose corn syrup is to food.

Here is a short list of words missing from the index: reinforcement, addiction, reward, dopamine, drugs.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Deb on November 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Why do we enjoy what we enjoy? Why does a bottle of Perrier seem to taste so much better than tap water, and why does that $200 bottle of wine seem to blow Two Buck Chuck out of the water? In both of these cases, the nature of the liquids inside the containers is not what makes the difference, but it is our beliefs about their invisible essences that shape our preferences and determine our enjoyment levels. In the author's own words: "What matters most is not the world as it appears to our senses. Rather, the enjoyment that we get from something derives from what we think that thing is." (p. xii)

This theory of pleasure centers upon the concept of essentialism--"the notion that things have an underlying reality or true nature that one cannot observe directly and it is this hidden nature that really matters." (p. 9) As the author explains: "Our essentialism is not just a cold-blooded way of making sense of reality; it underlies our passions, our appetites, our desires." (p. 22) The book provides a fascinating tour of how our essentialist natures explain so much about what makes us buzz in delight...or cringe in disgust. It demystifies such curious oddities as to why we prefer bottled water (which often is just tap water, btw), why our beliefs about the artist and creative process determine how much we enjoy the artwork, why we value originals exponentially more than identical duplicates (would you shell out thousands for an identical knockoff Rolex?), why someone would pay $50,000 for a tape measure used by John F. Kennedy and be repulsed even at the thought of wearing a sweater owned by Hitler, and why we become so attached to our possessions. Essentialism also underlies the pleasure we get from transcending everyday reality via imagination, religion, and scientific inquiry.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search
ARRAY(0xa30d7588)