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

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  341 ratings  ·  35 reviews
For anyone interested in the biological basis of human behavior or simply in what makes consumers tick—marketing professionals, advertisers, psychology mavens, and consumers themselves—this is a fascinating read.
What do all successful fast-food restaurants have in common?
Why are women more likely to become compulsive shoppers and men more likely to become addicted to porno
Hardcover, 374 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Prometheus Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  341 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Alicia Fox
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book describes common human behaviors (from why guys like driving fast cars to why women are willing to kill their feet wearing high heels) from an evolutionary perspective. Saad teaches MBAs, so it's not surprising that his analyses center on how an understanding of evolutionary psychology can help advertising campaigns on a global scale (in terms of recognizing what human likes and traits are universal rather than culturally specific).

Saad goes out of his way to confer a "don't shoot the
John Kennedy
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book has some great brief bursts of interesting and creative insights into topics such as tattoos, hospitality, pets, friendships and toys. Saad can be quite interesting in analyzing why we eat as if there's no tomorrow. But the book is uneven, and long stretches are dull. Saad is an atheist and traces everything to Darwin evolutionary causes. Comparisons between animals and humans abound. He posits that humans act devoid or morality, and some theories (e.g. men who view porn treat women be ...more
Greg Linster
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The aphorist, Aaron Haspel, once wrote: "Once you see human interaction as a contest to signal mating fitness, you never see it as anything else."  That's both interesting and true, but for the purposes of this review, I'm going to need to paint with a broader brush: once you see all aspects of human existence as a product of evolution, you never see them as anything else.  Modern-day consumerism is no exception and it's the subject of Gad Saad's fantastic book The Consuming Instinct.

Saad is a p
Joe Robles
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Overall this is a good book that examines the relationship between our evolved psychologies and how marketing and business tap into that, whether consciously or unconsciously. The two problems I had with this book are that, first, it basically pre-supposes an acceptance of Evolutionary Psychology as a guiding force in our lives. As someone who studied E.P. at U.T. Austin, and enjoyed learning from David Buss, I accept the points laid out in the text(and usually knew the studies referenced in mor ...more
May 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Basically boils down to "Men buy sports cars and are into excessive risk-taking so that they can attract a mate. Women buy shoes and makeup and diet products so that they can attract a mate. Men are attracted to youth and beauty and facial symmetry. Women are attracted to successful powerful men." I've heard it all before and it doesn't interest me. Also the writing style was too much like an academic paper and relied too heavily on listing 27 examples of everything.
May 舞
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-ficition
2.5 stars.
Bob Nichols
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book traces consumption patterns back to their evolutionary origins. In many ways, this is an update of The Naked Ape of the 1960s. Helpfully, Saad reminds us that evolutionary psychology must look at behavior from two different levels. Most of us stay at the "proximate" level that describes what we do and how we do it. The author goes deeper and looks for the "ultimate," evolutionary, explanations for what we do.

Regarding those who oppose "the explanatory power of evolutionary theory" bec
Donnie Edgemon
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
"The Consuming Instinct" is about the application of evolutionary psychology to consumer behavior. The basic idea is that natural selection and sexual selection in ancestral environments have determined the wiring of the modern human brain and vestiges of those primal influences drive human tendencies in consumption. That's right, it's an important concept for marketers and policy-makers, and it's a field that is still under development. However, this book disappointed me. It seems to me that so ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A scientific explanation for human consumerism.

This has to be one of my favorites reads of all time. It provides a profound scientific explanation for why we as a species consume the things we do. Why do we crave juicy burgers? We are 99% of all Ferrari drivers men? Why is the porn industry so successful? What is the evolutionary significance of gift giving? Every facet of human consumerism is detailed and explained through a deep understanding of evolutionary psychology.
Oct 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Mostly had a 'heard it all before' feeling reading this and author comes across as so arrogant. No respect for any religion, and frankly, whether you are a believer or not, his type of smug, superior atheism comes across as unnecessary, boring and rather ignorant. Lots of better books cover topics in this book so dont waste your time/money is my recommendation.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really eye-opening but depressing. Saad reduces humans to nothing more than their biology for the purposes of understanding how they tick, then never lifts humans back up to anything more than that. He paints people as nearly devoid of 'human' agency and suggests that only the truly careful can avoid reacting in the instinctual ways he lays out in this book. The person who thinks is the exception here, and that was an idea that really left me despairing when I read it.

I would like to read a res
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
Less interesting than I was hoping.

I loved applying evolution to marketing and business, but it felt a little bit less academic than I was expecting from a professor (i.e. using selective pop-culture references as examples).

The author's personality definitely comes through, which is a positive. There are hints of sarcasm mixed in with the information and a certain level of snarkiness that is pleasant if you agree with him and grinding if you don't.

I think the concepts are important to consider i
Andrew Tollemache
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Evo Psych vs. Blank Slaters is one of the great grudge match intellectual debates of our age and so I was squeamish about stepping into some part of it by reading this book. That said Gad Saad has written a pretty good book detailing how Darwinian type insights can be very predictive of patterns of consumer behavior. That the spending patterns of various demogrpahics and between the sexes. The book is written to inform people in marketing about how best to tailor messaging.
Sometimes evolutiona
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A lot of the stuff is obvious and a bit repetitive. I also look at a lot of ' Psychological experiments ' with scepticism in light of recent revelations about poor standards and lack of solid science. I do think evolutionary views are extremely important and of a great help but that said the hard science has to be transparent. Robert Kurzban seems eminently more trustworthy. At times Saad seemed full of himself and to be honest isn't a great communicator. Some interesting points though.
This book practically jumped off the library shelf and on top of my pile of library books. The cover is a (presumably) naked woman wearing nothing but a price tag around her neck stating that food, fast cars, porn, and giving gifts can reveal something about human nature. I'm fascinated by the human brain and by our biology, especially as it relates to or explains commonplace aspects of our lives. For example, I never thought that giving a gift to someone could be explained by something having t ...more
Joske Vermeulen
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Author was kind enough to answer a question I had
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this fascinating and I feel better armed against the tools and tricks of marketers.
Yanick Punter
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: evolution
It had some interesting information. The rest of the information I was already aware of. Was not fond of the preaching.
Martha Greenough
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
nothing you don't already know
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book. However, the title is somewhat misleading. I would say that the first half of the book mainly deals with relationships, whether they be sexual, family, or friends, and how evolutionary development has influenced and created them. The second half delves more into how Evolutionary Psychology influences the actions of consumers. According to Gad Saad, most of the criticisms of consumerism as being unnatural and foreign to humanity are entirely incorrect. Instead, t ...more
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Gad Saad explains his theories of an evolutionary basis for consumer behavior. Since the evolution of the human brain mostly took place before modern civilization, the concerns, cravings, and aspirations of our hunter-gatherer ancestors out in the Paleolithic wilderness are the same ones that drive us in the wilds of the modern malls, clubs, and churches. This is backed up with meticulous notes from Gad’s and others empirical research into evolutionary psychology, consumer ethnography, behaviora ...more
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not worth my time. I was occasionally interested but often annoyed and increasingly unwilling to consider the author a reliable expert.

There were the grammar issues: "Two key survival challenges faced by most species is ..." (p65) and "Of note, three of the mandates ... is to develop ..." (p292). Subject-verb agreement is pretty basic, especially in these instances. Get it right!

There were the vocabulary issues: "I am utterly mortified by mosquitoes" (p62) -- really? Mosquitoes are that embarras
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the classic books on evolutionary psychology. I have read several books on this subject: The Moral Animal by Robert Wright, Why Women Have Sex and The Evolution of Desire by David Buss, The Red Queen by Matt Ridley, The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller, Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan etc. but this one stands apart by the variety of topics it deals with. Most evolutionary psychology books deal mostly with the sexual selection but Gad Saad does justice to all the forces of evolution, ...more
Kevin Connery
Sep 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
If you���ve never read any other book on evolutionary psychology, or on consumer behavior, or marketing, there might be something new here, if only in the bibliography. Sadly, there���s an overwhelming amount of off-topic snarks about religion (in addition to the chapter specifically about how it���s fraudulent and ���child abuse���), politics, and such. Even worse is the large number of references to things which haven���t been supported, but which are noted as ���it���s difficult to imagine��� ...more
Fabian Il.
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read a lot of books on the topic this might be the most business focused book on evolutionary psychology. The main points the author makes can be observed everywhere in the business world. Like that we prefer high fat food, that we try to increase our mating status via consumption, that we fall for promises that are build fundamentally on evolutionary fears (mortality, looks, status, health), that survival is of the highest priority, why we collaborate etc. I like to see Evolutionary Psycholog ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This book was decently interesting. It had some of the same information as that of The Wild Life of Our Bodies, so it was interesting but a little repetitive because I had just read that book. I definitely struggled at times to get through this book, not because the information was bad, but the style of writing was a little hard to follow. I'm glad I read it, and it brings up very interesting ideas about how very biologically driven we really are even if we pretend to be "above" instincts.
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Such a potentially fascinating topic, done in by writing that killed it. Yes, a lot of the material is old news, but there was a lot of good potential here, I just found the author's repetition of the same bits of info over and over mind-numbing. (So much so that I vividly remember this 3 months after actually finishing it!)
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed it. He explains (and defends) evolutionary psychology very well and talks about many interesting applications. Makes a compelling case for the application of ev psych to consumer behavior. Definitely an eye-opener and sure to entertain.
J.J. Johnson
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfic
Meh. As sexist and condescending as it is interesting.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting. A evolutional point of view about how basic darwinian instincts model human behavior.
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