How Pleasure Works: Why We Like What We Like

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Random House, Jun 1, 2011 - Pleasure - 280 pages
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In How Pleasure Works, the internationally acclaimed psychologist Paul Bloom explores one of the most fascinating and fundamental engines of human behaviour. We are natural-born essentialists when it comes to pleasure, nothing is ever merely skin-deep. We are attracted, whether we know it or not, to the hidden aspects of things and people. Some teenagers enjoy cutting themselves with razors; some men pay good money to be spanked by prostitutes. The average Briton spends over a day a week watching television. The thought of sex with a virgin is intensely arousing to many men. Artwork can sell for millions of pounds. Food and alcohol are so compelling that they can come to dominate one's life. Young children enjoy playing with imaginary friends and can be comforted by security blankets. People slow their cars to look at gory accidents and go to sentimental movies that make them cry. In this revealing and witty account, Paul Bloom examines the science behind these curious desires, attractions and tastes, covering everything from the animal instincts of sex and food to the uniquely human taste for art, music and stories. Drawing on insights from child development, philosophy, neuroscience and behavioural economics, How Pleasure Works shows how certain universal habits of the human mind explain what we like and why we like it.

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About the author (2011)

Paul Bloom is a Professor of Psychology at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching. He is past-president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and co-editor of Behavioural and Brain. Bloom has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and for popular outlets such as The New York Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic. He is the author or editor of four books, including How Children Learn the Meanings of Words, and, most recently, Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human.

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