How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like

How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like

by Paul Bloom
Pub. Date:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.


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How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like

Yale psychologist Paul Bloom presents a striking and thought-provoking new understanding of pleasure, desire, and value.

The thought of sex with a virgin is intensely arousing for many men. The average American spends more than four hours a day watching television. Abstract art can sell for millions of dollars. People slow their cars to look at gory accidents, and go to movies that make them cry.

Pleasure is anything but straightforward. Our desires, attractions, and tastes take us beyond the symmetry of a beautiful face, the sugar and fat in food, or the prettiness of a painting. In How Pleasure Works, Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom draws on groundbreaking research to unveil the deeper workings of why we desire what we desire. Refuting the longstanding explanation of pleasure as a simple sensory response, Bloom shows us that pleasure is grounded in our beliefs about the deeper nature or essence of a given thing. This is why we want the real Rolex and not the knockoff, the real Picasso and not the fake, the twin we have fallen in love with and not her identical sister.

In this fascinating and witty account, Bloom draws on child development, philosophy, neuroscience, and behavioral economics in order to address pleasures noble and seamy, highbrow and lowbrow. Along the way, he gives us unprecedented insights into a realm of human psychology that until now has only been partially understood.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393066326
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/14/2010
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Paul Bloom is a professor of psychology at Yale University. He is the author of Descartes’ Baby and How Pleasure Works. He has contributed to The Atlantic, the New York Times, Science, and Nature. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How Pleasure Works is a great book - it's entertaining and informative, and also surprising - as well as surprisingly funny. It examines different sources of pleasure - from food, to sex, to art, different forms of entertainment, and so on - and discusses recent findings in cognitive science (including a few of the author's own) that tell us about the surprisingly complex and sometimes deeply puzzling nature of human pleasure. The author argues that pleasure is not primarily a response to certain perceptual & sensory experiences, but instead has a significant cognitive component - what we think about something (whether or not we're correct) has a huge impact on how much pleasure we derive from it. The book contains many examples, which range from mildly surprising, to deeply puzzling, to just plain weird; some are very funny. The author has a fresh, engaging and easy style of writing, unlike what one finds in many science books for the lay public - this is enormously fun to read. Opening it up to any random page you'll almost certainly find yourself pulled in and getting caught up in the discussion - this book is hard to put down!
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