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The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature Hardcover – June 21, 2011
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Getting Down to Business & Investing
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"I urge you to consume The Consuming Instinct! Using cogent examples from popular culture deftly mixed with an expert's grasp of modern evolutionary biology, Dr. Saad shows how our biology underlies our consumer choices. Like nothing else on the market today, it will help you understand why we purchase and pay attention as we do. Indeed, never has science for the lay-person been presented more cogently or accessibly when it comes to our daily economic activities." --David P. Barash, professor of psychology, University of Washington and co-author of Payback: Why We Retaliate, Redirect Aggression and Take Revenge
"Juicy burgers, Ferraris, pornography, and gift giving are the stuff of human nature. Evolutionary psychologist Gad Saad tells us just how and why, and much more, in The Consuming Instinct. With wit, charm, and crystal clarity, Saad lays bare the evolutionary underpinnings of consumerism." --Todd K. Shackelford, Ph.D., professor and Chair of Psychology, Oakland University, editor, Evolutionary Psychology (epjournal.net)
"What the jacket does not say is just how entertaining, enlightening and informative this book is as Saad reveals the reasons behind consumers' preferences for fat burgers, fancy cars and the trendiest fashionsâ€¦By putting forward the idea of evolutionary economics, Saad opens up new concepts in marketing as well as a much clearer understanding of why we respond to certain products the way we doâ€¦For those curious about the reasons people spend their hard-earned money on the things they do, presented in an understandable format then look no further." --Monsters and Critics
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Top Customer Reviews
The consumer goods in Saad's clever title are not chosen randomly, but are matched to what he views as four overriding Darwinian pursuits:
1. Survival: We are here because our ancestors were inclined to eat fatty cooked meats and other calorie-dense foods scorned by all California vegans today. Transported into the present, our ancestors would have lined up at McDonald's for those juicy burgers in his title. In the modern world, Saad notes that the top ten restaurants are McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Starbuck's, Subway, Pizza Hut, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Domino's Pizza, and Dunkin' Donuts. That diet does not help us live to 90, but the inclinations that drive those choices probably helped our ancestors survive until reproductive age.
2.Read more ›
There were two sections that were a little different and that I particularly liked. In one, at the beginning, the author takes on several arguments that are typically made against EP. Valuable stuff. In the other, at the end of the book, Saad argues for EP as a basis for all social science research. It's a bit of a stretch, but a very interesting idea.
So, why only 3 stars? There are a number of reasons:
- There's not a lot that's new here. If you read Geoffrey Miller's Spent, you probably don't need to read this one.
- The author forgets to tie in consumer behavior at points, focusing more on straight EP. The things he has to say are invariably very interesting, but he really can leave the reader hanging.
- The author jumps around quite a bit. He does typically end one section with a transition to the next, but some of these are very jarring and artificial.
- Saad likes to engage the reader by sharing some personal stories. Some of these are great. Some, though, are shaggy dog stories.
- His treatment of religion is quite negative ("Bronze Age superstitions that are antithetical to every rational tenet"). I don't really mind that much personally, but I just kept wondering why that tone was necessary. That's especially the case when you consider that there is some EP thought out there that basically says we evolved to believe.
Saad 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 be.
The subtitle of the book is What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature. Not surprisingly, they reveal quite a bit. These four items speak to the four Darwinian pursuits that underlie human existence: survival, reproduction, kin selection, and reciprocity.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As one with varied interests, including biology, psychology, criminology, and political science, I found this book an excellent introduction to Dr. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Christopher Ford
I heard Gad Saad on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast a while back and wanted to check out his book. I found it quite engaging, although some of the ideas were familiar to me... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jared M.
My job has me reading lots of books on consumer behavior, and many recent ones cover the same faddish approaches, using the same anecdotes and citing the same studies. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ilya Vedrashko
A survey or two of our university and college professors have recently shown that -- dare I say? -- an anti-science bias against the revelations of evolutionary psychology (EP)... Read morePublished 5 months ago by rhatican
Gad Saad explains his theories of an evolutionary basis for consumer behavior. Since the evolution of the human brain mostly took place before modern civilization, the concerns,... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Grurray
Coming up with effective products and services is always hard and has largely been relegated to a lot of guesswork. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kristopher Casto
Infinitely entertaining, funny, and informative. You'll be smiling as you read each chapter, recognizing the habits and pitfalls pertaining to our insatiable consumption. Read morePublished 15 months ago by John J. Arch