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The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature [Anglais] [Relié]

David M. Buss , Gad Saad

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Description de l'ouvrage

21 juin 2011
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—this is a fascinating read.
What do all successful fast-food restaurants have in common?
Why are women more likely to become compulsive shoppers and men more 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 Porsche?
The answer to all of these intriguing questions is "the consuming instinct," the underlying evolutionary basis for most of our consumer behavior. In this highly informative and entertaining book, the founder of the vibrant new field of evolutionary consumption illuminates the relevance of our biological heritage to our daily lives as consumers. While culture is important, the author 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 more attractive to potential mates, and even the cultural products that stimulate our imaginations (such as art, music, and religion). This book 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.

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Revue de presse

"Saad gets behind the obvious and provides surprising Darwinian evidence for our choices."
–Psychology Today

"…will appeal to readers interested in the biological basis of human behavior, the age-old debate of nature versus nurture, and especially what makes consumers tick…. clearly essential for marketing professionals, advertisers, and psychologists…"
–Library Journal

"Covering everything from pornography to Wall Street, this thought-provoking title induces readers to take a deep look at how they live."

Biographie de l'auteur

Gad Saad, Ph.D. (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.

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18 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 why we buy what we buy 21 juin 2011
Par Douglas T. Kenrick - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat authentifié par Amazon
Dr. Saad has been a pioneer in bringing evolutionary ideas to the field of business. An overwhelming body of literature has now demonstrated that human decision-making is influenced by adaptively motivated biases we inherited from our ancestors. It follows that those motivated biases will influence how we allocate our scarce economic resources. This has profound implications for consumer behavior, as Geoffrey Miller and others (Jill Sundie at UT, Vlad Griskevicius at Minnesota, and Josh Ackerman at MIT) have been arguing. These researchers have also been providing ample empirical demonstrations of the power of that viewpoint. Gad Saad has been been advancing an evolutionary approach to business for years, sometimes encountering opposition from colleagues in his field (who labor under a set of false Blank Slate assumptions that Saad reviews in the first chapter, along with brief rebuttals).

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. Reproduction: As Saad notes, men are overwhelmingly the consumers of pornography, and this sex difference is just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, flashy overpowered sports cars are also overwhelmingly a male purchase, and, Saad argues, mainly used as a sexual signal (and indeed the media from Fox News to the Belfast Telegraph is abuzz this week with a series of studies by Jill Sundie and colleagues that demonstrates the links between Porsches and mating displays). In Saad's own research, he finds that simply driving an expensive sports car triggers a boost in men's testosterone levels.

3. Kin Selection: Saad notes that many of our purchases are made for direct kin. This month, I've shelled out money for Legos, art supplies, summer recreational programs, as well as a number of special foods aimed to please my seven-year-old son. I just got back from lunch with him, his older brother, and my two grandchildren, and to test your knowledge of marketing behavior and inclusive fitness, guess who paid?

4. Reciprocity: We not only buy gifts and lunches for our kin, we buy gifts for friends, pick up the tab at the restaurant when we're with close friends, and so on. We do so not because we're economically "irrational," but because it feels good to make our close associates feel good. Indeed, gift-giving is linked not only to friends and kin, it is used to woo mates and to maintain relationships with them (think Valentine's day and anniversary presents). I enjoy Saad's abundant use of statistics to bolster the points. He informs us that fully 10 percent of retail purchases in North America are for gifts, which boils down to $1,215 per person, which starts to add up after a while (to a whopping $253 billion per year in the economy, in fact).

One could quibble with Saad's list of motivational forces, but I will instead simply agree with something that David Buss says in the foreward to the Consuming Instinct: This is a book that should be required reading at business schools. Besides a broad-ranging overview of research on marketing, psychology, economics, anthropology, and biology, Saad peppers the book with lots of take-home messages for consumers, policy-makers, and business people (this is an appealing feature of books aimed at the business crowd -- a la Heath and Heath's Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and Goldstein, Martin, and Cialdini's Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive- practical bottom-line suggestions of how the science can be used).

If you are either a professional businessperson or simply a consumer, I would challenge you read this book and Geoffrey Miller's Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior -- and not come away thinking very differently about people's motives for buying the many, many, things they buy.

Doug Kenrick is author of Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition, and Complexity are Revolutionizing our View of Human Nature
15 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Uneven 9 août 2011
Par C. P. Anderson - Publié sur
This is basically a tour of the evolutionary psychology (EP) space, with a particular emphasis on consumer behavior. It's got all the standard theories and studies and authors, presented in a pretty engaging style.

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.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Read This Book If You Want Understand Consumer Behavior 21 février 2013
Par Greg Linster - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat authentifié par Amazon
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 Instinct.

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. 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 women.

There is a reason why men consume more pornography, more Ferraris, and are more 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 more interested in knowing the truth than they are in hearing fictitious, yet comforting stories.

Here’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 question: 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 0.7 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 most.

One 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 oil.

Saad sees religion as the greatest (and perhaps evilest) product ever devised. He writes: “Religion possesses unique 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 life.

The 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.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The sheer weight of the evidence will convince you of the power of evolutionary theory. Brilliant 25 décembre 2011
Par rlweaverii - Publié sur
Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

There are 293 pages of text in this book and 45 pages of excellent notes (462 total). This means that there are approximately 1.6 footnotes per page. Most of the notes, incidentally, are academic (credible, highly reliable, and easy to trace). Saad has done his homework!

In addition to the wide variety of superb sources, Gad Saad has an excellent, competent, and credible background to write such a book as this. Quoting from the inside flyleaf of the cover: "[He is] a popular blogger for Psychology Today, 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, as well as numerous scientific papers."

Saad's explanation for why he carefully chose the words in his subtitle (pages 12-13) was terrific. They relate to the four key Darwiian drives: 1) our penchant for fatty foods, 2) the sexual signals in the mating arena, 3) the evolutionary forces that shape human sexuality, and 4) gift giving--linked, says Saad, "to all four Darwinian overriding drives" (p. 13).

To give you a flavor of Saad's writing, and what's in store for readers with respect to subjects and vocabulary, note this excerpt from page 15: " . . . I provide an overview of evolutionary psychology and contrast it with the socialization perspective. I tackle some of the fallacies that persist with regard to evolutionary theory. I address the infamous nature-versus-nurture debate, as it helps in understanding which elements of consumption are learned, which are innate, and which are shaped by an inextricable melange of both forces" (p. 15).

If you are looking for a relevant learning experience, this book will serve that purpose in spades. Not only is it well-written, but the way Saad incorporates the research into his writing is exemplary. It makes for smooth reading along with the education. There is so much information in this book you cannot help but be impressed.

Saad's examination of contemporary musical song lyrics -- "some of the most powerful cultural fossils for those wishing to understand the evolution of the human mind" (p. 152) -- is truly outstanding (pp. 152-158). He looks at television storylines, movies, and literature and proves to readers he is a pop culture junkie. This is an outstanding chapter: Cahpter 6, "Cultural Products: Fossils of the Human Mind" (pp. 149-176). But, you will find that it is outstanding along with most other chapters in the book. That is, depending on your own expertise or interests, you will have no trouble finding specific material that is immediate, relevant, and fascinating.

Whether you are highly educated or lack a degree in higher education, you will come away from this book "with a deep appreciation of the power of evolutionary theory in helping [us] navigate through [our] daily lives" (p. 293). It is truly astounding how much of our consuming instinct is guided by our biological heritages, and if you did not believe it before reading this book, the sheer weight of the evidence and the incredible number of examples throughout the book will not just leave you convinced, it will leave you overwhelmed. What a terrific book! Brilliant!
2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Consume the Consuming Instinct! 24 juillet 2011
Par SurferDave - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat authentifié par Amazon
The Consuming Instinct is a solid, well-written, and well-researched book that summarizes most of the social science findings regarding evolutionary psychology as it relates to consumer buyer behavior. We would all like to behave in a certain way (e.g., eat healthier, exercise, etc.), and this book does a wonderful job of explaining why our best intentions and our actual results are quite varied. If you ever wondered why you "want" to eat a salad and go for a run, but instead end up ordering a burger while watching a movie, this book is for you. It ends the ever-changing notion of how consumers "should" behave, and offers compelling evidence for how they actually "do" behave. Further, the ideas posited in this book have held true over time; and from the wealth of evidence presented, they will likely hold true for the foreseeable future. Anyone looking for a deeper understanding of the underlying forces that drive human behavior, particularly as it relates to marketing and consumption, should consume The Consuming Instinct!
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