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

Gad Saad. Prometheus, $25 (340p) ISBN 978-1-61614-429-6
Saad (The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption) argues that consumer preferences aren't only dictated by culture and socialization but also by our biological heritage. We have a "consuming instinct," often motivated by one of the "key Darwinian meta-drives: survival, mating, kin or reciprocity." For example, McDonald's popularity can be understood as an innate preference for fatty, salty, high-caloric food, an adaptation designed to help the species subsist during times of food scarcity. Saad believes that manufacturers can better cater to consumer demands if they design products in line with our biological instincts and, as an example, advocates for a shift toward green architecture and interior design because they appeal to our "innate biophilic needs." The claim that differences between male and female consumer patterns represent innate differences between the sexes might seem like unnecessary theorizing to some readers, and Saad acknowledges these concerns, but believes that recognizing "our shared biological heritage" isn't divisive, and in fact might "unite us within the proverbial global consumer village." Saad's personal approach keeps the book accessible; he uses humor and anecdotes from his own life to reinforce his theory about the biological impulses behind the hundreds of consumer choices we make each day. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
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