Supernormal Stimuli How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose

ISBN-10: 039306848X

ISBN-13: 9780393068481

Edition: 2010

Authors: Deirdre Barrett
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Description: Our instincts—for food, sex, or territorial protection— evolved for life on the savannahs 10,000 years ago, not in today’s world of densely populated cities, technological innovations, and pollution. We now have access to a glut of larger-than-life objects, from candy to pornography to atomic weapons—that gratify these gut instincts with often-dangerous results. Animal biologists coined the term “supernormal stimuli” to describe imitations that appeal to primitive instincts and exert a stronger pull than real things, such as soccer balls that geese prefer over eggs. Evolutionary psychologist Deirdre Barrett applies this concept to the alarming disconnect between human instinct and our created environment, demonstrating how supernormal stimuli are a major cause of today’s most pressing problems, including obesity and war. However, Barrett does more than show how unfettered instincts fuel dangerous excesses. She also reminds us that by exercising self-control we can rein them in, potentially saving ourselves and civilization.

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Book details

List price: $24.95
Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 2/22/2010
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 224
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.792
Language: English

Deirdre Barrett is an evolutionary psychologist at Harvard Medical School's Behavioral Medicine Program. She is the author of several books, including Waistland, Trauma and Dream, and Supernormal Stimuli. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What Are Supernormal Stimuli?
Making the Ordinary Seem Strange
Sex for Dummies
Too Cute
Foraging in Food Courts
Defending Home, Hearth, and Hedge Fund
Vicarious Social Settings from Shakespeare to Survivor
Intellectual Pursuits as Supernormal Stimuli
Conclusion: Get Off the Plaster Egg
Acknowledgments
Notes
Illustration Credits
Index
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