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A leading evolutionary psychologist probes the unconscious instincts behind American consumer culture Illuminating the hidden reasons for why we buy what we do, Spent applies evolutionary psychology to the sensual wonderland of marketing and perceived status that is American consumer culture. Geoffrey Miller starts with the theory that we purchase things to advertise ourselves to others, and then examines other factors that dictate what we spend money on. With humor and insight, Miller analyzes an array of product choices and deciphers what our decisions say about ourselves, giving us access to a new way of understanding-and improving-our behaviors to become happier consumers.
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About the Author

Geoffrey Miller is an evolutionary psychologist and author of The Mating Mind. He was educated at Columbia and Stanford and is associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife, daughter and many products.

Reviews

Evolutionary psychologist Miller (The Mating Mind) digs deep into the primal past of humankind to discover the roots of.modern marketing? Actually, his focus is more on the makings of modern consumer culture-of which marketing is, he argues, a dominant force. Since evolutionary psychology seeks to examine how natural selection acts on psychological and mental traits, Miller applies this knowledge to help us understand what actually motivates us to buy. He pokes fun at popular culture and at the things we buy and flaunt to inflate our self-esteem and try to make ourselves more attractive. Personality research can inform the study of consumer behavior, and Miller shows us how having a better understanding of our own personalities will help us avoid the pitfalls of runaway consumerism. After all, millions of years of evolution have honed humans' natural abilities to win friends and mates, so why resort to expensive and ridiculous substitutes for our true identities and personalities? For both lay readers and academics, reading this book should be considered time well "spent."-Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Evolutionary psychologist Miller (The Mating Mind) examines conspicuous consumption in order to further his (not entirely complementary) goals-to rectify marketing's poor understanding of human spending behavior and critique consumerist culture. According to the author, our purchases are powerful indicators of our personality and are used to lure in suitable mates and friends. The book defends the current psychological view of personality as varying along six axes: intelligence, openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability and extroversion. While there is significant support for the author's contention that variation in these basic categories reflect genetic inheritance, preferences for each of them vary from society to society, from historical moment to moment and even within individual lives (e.g., conscientiousness tends to increase over the course of our lives as mating strategies shift from attracting short-term partners to maintaining long-term relationships). Miller is an engaging writer, even if his attempts at humor fall flat. What remains troubling is his failure to account for how a full range of traits can coexist in the same cultural environment and continue to be perpetuated across generations. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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