The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption

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Overview

The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption by Gad Saad applies Darwinian principles in understanding our consumption patterns and the production of popular culture that most appeal to individuals. The first and only scholarly work to do so, this is a captivating study of the adaptive reasons behind our behaviors, cognitions, emotion's, and perceptions. This lens of analysis suggests how we come to make selections such as choosing a mate, the foods we eat, the gifts that we offer, and more. It also highlights how numerous forms of dark side consumption, including pathological gambling, compulsive buying, pornographic addiction, and eating disorders possess a Darwinian etiology.

Engaging and diverse in scope, the book maps consumption phenomena onto four key Darwinian modules: survival, reproduction, kin selection, and reciprocal altruism. As an interesting proposal, the author suggests that media and advertising contents exist in their particular forms because they are a reflection of our evolved human nature-negating the standard social constructivist position. The link between evolutionary theory and consumption behaviors is detailed throughout the book via an examination of (among many others): appearance-enhancing products and services; financial and physical risk-taking; use of sexual imagery and the depiction of women in advertising; and television programs, movies, songs, music videos, literature, religion, and art.

This book will appeal to evolutionists who desire to explore new areas wherein evolutionary theory can be applied; consumer and marketing scholars who wish to learn about the ways in which biological-and evolutionary-based theorizing can be infused into the consumerbehavior/ marketing/advertising disciplines, as well as other interdisciplinary scholars interested in gaining knowledge about the power of evolutionary theory in explaining a wide range of behavioral phenomena.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

'Saad's book The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption is aimed at academic researchers studying aspects of consumer psychology, students and practitioners in advertising or marketing, or nonconsumer psychologists who enjoy interdisciplinary research. The book suggests that there is broad applicability of Darwinian principles to the study of consumer behavior... It is the first book of its kind.' - Jill M. Sundie, PsycCRITIQUES

"The key features of this book are (1) it introduces an evolutionary psychological perspective on consumerism and marketing (2) it provides an overview of some robust themes that account for systematic patterning of consumer preferences, and (3) it offers a synthetic approach to the study and understanding of consumer behavior. The book will be the first of its kind and will inspire new directions in consumer research." - Margo Wilson, Department of Psychology, McMaster University

"Gad Saad has shown me that evolutionary psychology and consumer behavior is a very interesting subject and one I think many people will find interesting-even exciting. The author has an excellent knowledge of the literature on evolutionary psychology and its interpretations. He does a fine job of applying it to the area of consumer behavior. I think it could have an important impact on the advertising industry." - Charles Crawford, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Simon Fraser University

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Product Details

Table of Contents


Series Foreword     xi
Preface     xiii
Acknowledgments     xv
Introduction     xvii
What Is Evolutionary Psychology?     1
Historical Overview Leading Up to the Founding of Evolutionary Psychology     2
What is Evolutionary Psychology?     5
Proximate Versus Ultimate Explanations     8
Domain-Specific Versus General-Purpose Modules     13
Chapter Summary     16
Consumer Research: Domain-General and Proximate-Level Theorizing     18
Proximate Models Utilizing Domain-Independent General-Purpose Mechanisms     19
Learning     20
Motivation     23
Culture     24
Standardization Versus Adaptation     28
Decision Making     31
Perception     37
Attitude Formation and Attitude Change     43
Emotions     45
Personality     49
Applications of Evolutionary Psychology in Other Disciplines     53
Chapter Summary     58
Consumption and Darwinian Modules     59
The Reproductive Module     59
Human Mating as a Consumption Choice     62
Information Search in Mate Selection     64
Gift Giving as a Courtship Ritual     67
Sex Differences in Aggregate Consumption Patterns     69
Toy Preferences     70
Appearance-Enhancing Products and Services     71
Cosmetic and Plastic Procedures     71
High Heels, Haircuts, and Provocative Attire     73
The Myth Behind the Beauty Myth     75
Risk-Related Consumption Phenomena     78
Financial Risk Taking     78
Physical Risk Taking     80
The Evolutionary Roots of Conspicuous Consumption     84
Conspicuous Consumption in Religious Settings     89
The Universality and Innateness of Conspicuous Consumption     91
Philanthropy: Costly Signaling Via Nonreciprocal Altruism     95
The Survival Module     97
The Kin Selection Module     101
Family Research in Consumer Behavior     101
Evolutionary Account of Kin Relationships     104
Darwinian Perspective on Birth Order Effects in the Consumption Setting     108
The Reciprocation Module     111
Gift Giving as a Means of Creating and/or Solidifying Bonds     112
Consumption Behaviors Meant to Signal Group Membership     113
Identifying the Nonreciprocators      117
Cross-Cultural Differences in the Definition of Friendship     119
Chapter Summary     121
Advertising Content and Media Effects: Mirrors of Human Nature     123
Masculinity and Femininity From a Social Constructivist Perspective     124
Depiction of Femininity     125
Depiction of Masculinity     128
Depiction of Masculinity and Femininity in Children's Mediums     133
Depiction of the Dynamics Between Men and Women     136
Evolutionary Account of Masculinity and Femininity     138
Depiction of Sexuality in Advertising     141
Use of Sexual Imagery and the Depiction of Women in Advertising     141
Variables That Moderate Reactions to Sex in Advertising     146
Condemnation of Advertising     147
Prescriptive Strategies to Address "Sexist" Advertising     150
Standardization Versus Adaptation of Advertising Message     152
Advertising Slogans and Darwinian Modules     155
Physical Attractiveness in Advertising: A Darwinian Perspective     157
Chapter Summary     161
The Darwinian Roots of Cultural Products     163
Evolutionary Perspective on Culture     165
Memetic Theory     166
Content Analysis of Specific Cultural Products     168
Television Themes     169
Soap Operas     174
Talk Shows     179
Movies     183
Songs     188
Music Videos     196
Literature     198
Self-Help Books     202
Religion     211
Art     214
Chapter Summary     217
The Darwinian Roots of "Dark-Side" Consumption     219
The Darwinian Etiology of the Seven Deadly Sins     220
Darwinian Medicine and the Promotion of Health     222
Public Service Announcements and Evolutionary Theory     224
Analysis of Specific Dark-Side Consumption Behaviors     227
Pornography     228
Eating Disorders     236
Social Constructivist Perspective     236
Evolutionary Perspective     243
Gambling     245
Demographic Risk Factors Associated With Pathological Gambling     247
Domain-General Perspective of Addiction     250
Proximate Theories of Gambling     252
Evolutionary Explanation of Pathological Gambling     254
Compulsive Buying     255
Women and Compulsive Buying      256
Domain-General Perspective of Compulsive Buying     257
Proximate Issues Addressed by Marketing Scholars     259
Evolutionary Explanation of Compulsive Buying     261
Chapter Summary     263
Benefits of Darwinizing Consumer Research     265
Consilience, Fuller Explanations, and Novel Hypotheses     265
Evolutionary Psychology as an Epistemological Heuristic     269
Does Evolutionary Theory Yield Inactionable and/or Impractical Information?     271
The "Darwinizing" of the Cognate Disciplines Closest to Consumer Behavior     272
Chapter Summary     275
Concluding Remarks     276
References     277
Author Index     317
Subject Index     329
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