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Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose

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Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Book News Annotation:

The eggs of the cuckoo bird are often larger and brighter then the other eggs in the nest where the mother cuckoo has parasitically laid an egg to be cared for by some other bird. Researchers have found that this causes the host mother to generally favor the cuckoo egg, as well eventually the larger cuckoo chick, over her own progeny. This is an example of a supernormal stimulus, the essence of which, Barrett (an evolutionary psychologist at Harvard Medical School's Behavioral Medicine Program) explains, "is that the exaggerated imitation can exert a stronger pull than the real thing." Noting that humans are quite adept at creating their own supernormal stimuli (as in candy that is sweeter than fruit), she applies the concept of the supernormal stimulus and related ideas from animal ethology and evolutionary psychology to explain a broad range of human behavior (mostly folly) in the realms of sex, health, international relations, and media. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

A Harvard psychologist explains how our once-helpful instincts get hijacked in our garish modern world, demonstrating how supernormal stimuli are a major cause of today's most pressing problems, including obesity and war.

Synopsis:

A Harvard psychologist explains how our once-helpful instincts get hijacked in our garish modern world.

About the Author

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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780393068481
Author:
Barrett, Deirdre
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution
Subject:
Life Sciences - Evolution - Human
Subject:
Physiological Psychology
Subject:
Psychology
Subject:
Behavior
Subject:
Evolution
Subject:
Biology-Evolution
Subject:
Psychology : General
Series Volume:
How Primal Urges Ove
Publication Date:
20100231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
55 illustrations
Pages:
216
Dimensions:
8.6 x 6 x 0.8 in 0.825 lb

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Evolution

Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose New Hardcover
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Product details 216 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393068481 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A Harvard psychologist explains how our once-helpful instincts get hijacked in our garish modern world, demonstrating how supernormal stimuli are a major cause of today's most pressing problems, including obesity and war.
"Synopsis" by , A Harvard psychologist explains how our once-helpful instincts get hijacked in our garish modern world.
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