Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe

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Macmillan, Aug 5, 2014 - Psychology - 282 pages
19 Reviews

Why do some things pass under the radar of our attention, but other things capture our interest? Why do some religions catch on and others fade away? What makes a story, a movie, or a book riveting? Why do some people keep watching the news even though it makes them anxious?

The past 20 years have seen a remarkable flourishing of scientific research into exactly these kinds of questions. Professor Jim Davies' fascinating and highly accessible book, Riveted, reveals the evolutionary underpinnings of why we find things compelling, from art to religion and from sports to superstition. Compelling things fit our minds like keys in the ignition, turning us on and keeping us running, and yet we are often unaware of what makes these "keys" fit. What we like and don't like is almost always determined by subconscious forces, and when we try to consciously predict our own preferences we're often wrong. In one study of speed dating, people were asked what kinds of partners they found attractive. When the results came back, the participants' answers before the exercise had no correlation with who they actually found attractive in person! We are beginning to understand just how much the brain makes our decisions for us: we are rewarded with a rush of pleasure when we detect patterns, as the brain thinks we've discovered something significant; the mind urges us to linger on the news channel or rubberneck an accident in case it might pick up important survival information; it even pushes us to pick up People magazine in order to find out about changes in the social structure.

Drawing on work from philosophy, anthropology, religious studies, psychology, economics, computer science, and biology, Davies offers a comprehensive explanation to show that in spite of the differences between the many things that we find compelling, they have similar effects on our minds and brains.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - asbooks - LibraryThing

There is a lot of fascinating information in this book about what makes us so, well, fascinated. Davies surveys a great deal of the cognitive science literature to take a look at why the human mind ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mposey82 - LibraryThing

So unfortunately I waited too long and forgot to take good notes on this book. But I'm going to do my best. The big idea of Riveted is to ask why some things are captivating and others are not. Why ... Read full review

Contents

introduction
1
Our Psychological Biases
173
Why We Get Riveted
205
More Sources of Interestingness
241
Index
274
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About the author (2014)

Jim Davies is a professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science of Carleton University, and director of the Science of Imagination Laboratory. He has been featured in Skeptic and Nautilus magazines, and has presented at Pecha Kucha Ottawa and TEDx on his theories of imagination. He writes a Psychology Today blog called The Science of Imagination. He lives in Ottawa, Canada.

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