Miguel Barbosa, Simolone Sense Reviews Geoffery Millers Spent

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Book Review of Geoffrey Miller.

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Miguel Barbosa, Simolone Sense Reviews Geoffery Millers Spent

  1. 1. Spent<br />Sex, Evolution, & Consumer Behavior<br />Written By Geoffrey Miller<br />Part 1: Book Outline<br />Book Review & Outline By Miguel A. Barbosa <br />Editor & Founder Of SimoleonSense.com<br />© 2009 Miguel Barbosa<br />
  2. 2. Understanding 21st Century Consumerism<br />Consumerism =<br /> Human instincts for trying unconsciously to display certain desirable personal traits<br />+ current social norms for displaying traits through certain kinds of credentials, jobs, goods, & services<br />+ current technological abilities & constraints<br />+ certain social institutions and ideologies<br />+ historical accident & cultural inertia<br />
  3. 3. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Recent studies confirm that men increase the conspicuousness of their consumption when they are most interested in mating. <br />Teenagers seem to have evolved similar systems to learn what culture specific fitness indicators are favored in their local eco niche, social niche, or market niche. <br />
  4. 4. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Products fall into 2 categories<br />Things that display our desirable traits and bring us status when others see that we own them<br />Things that push our pleasure buttons and bring us satisfaction even if no one else knows we have them<br />*So, For every aspect of human nature, for every dimension of variation in human personality, intelligence, virtues, and values there exists a market with product sets that we can draw from to broadcast our personal traits to others. <br />
  5. 5. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />From an evolutionary viewpoint Maslow’s Hierarchy is muddled.<br />Because<br />It mixes innate drives <br />Learned concerns<br />
  6. 6. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Marketing is central to our culture<br /> It is the attempt to fulfill human desires by producing goods and services that people will buy. <br />“The best marketing companies help us discover desires we never knew we had and ways of fulfilling them we never imagined”<br />
  7. 7. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Downsides of Marketing:<br /> Marketing is the grand illusion, the veil of maya, backed by billion dollar advertising campaigns. It perpetuates the delusion that desire leads to fulfillment*….<br />Marketing does not promote materialism. Actually it avoids materialism at all costs. If consumers comparison shopped solely on the basis of objective material features and costs, the products themselves would be reduced to commodities. Commodities cannot be sold for serious profits in a competitive market.<br />*This quote was modified via page 43 of Spent<br />
  8. 8. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The key to marketing is that the mental associations become more important that the actual physical qualities of a good or service. <br />According to Miller’s interpretation of Plato, Democracy is marketing applied to politics. (Thus it shifts power from elites to the people)<br />
  9. 9. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Power of marketing:<br />Replace the illusion of popular consent with the reality of a world shaped to fulfill ordinary (individual)desires<br />Marketing is the only revolution that has succeeded in bringing real economic power to the people. <br />Marketing has transformed the natural world into a playground for human passions. <br />
  10. 10. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Human beings consume more than half the biomass grown each year on earth. <br />In other words one lucky species sucks up half of the biospheres annual output and transforms it into work roles & leisure<br />Most of this consumption is structured by marketing. <br />So: Marketing at this moment dominates life on earth!<br />
  11. 11. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br /> Because modern science has not provided a deep understanding of marketing, most behavioral sciences have ignored marketing and thus ignored one of the mainsprings of modern culture. <br />
  12. 12. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Consumerist Mindset Is Central To Marketing<br />What mental illness if most analogous to consumerism? <br />Answer: Narcissism<br />Narcissism (Combines a need for admiration by others with a lack of empathy for others)<br />
  13. 13. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Narcissists alternate between <br />public status seeking (showing off)<br />private pleasure seeking. (self stimulating)<br />These are two key components of consumerist mindset. <br />There is a parallel between nonhuman animals displaying fitness indicators and chasing fitness cues and humans seeking status and pleasure whether as narcissists or consumers. <br />
  14. 14. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Miller calculates a cost per pound net weight index for varying products and finds the following. (recommend looking at this chart on pages 60-62)<br />The basic requirements for survival do not cost very much. <br />Basic comforts of modern life are the next cheapest goods.<br />Once cost density reaches 225 dollars per pound we reach consumer narcissism <br />Conclusion: Living doesn’t cost much. Showing Off Does. <br />
  15. 15. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Our inherited adaptations are the most precious gifts/products we could ever have. <br />“The human genome is the ancestral vault of riches”<br /> But:<br />“It is very important for consumerist capitalism to make us forget this and take for granted what we owe to life itself.”<br />
  16. 16. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />One of the potential political problems of consumerist capitalism & marketing:<br />Is that we (may) become economically<br />empowered but politically neutered. <br />
  17. 17. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Understanding The Role Of Status: <br />Status = anything that provokes social interest, attraction, or deference. <br />In primates “high status animal” is one who is looked at and groomed more often by others. <br />High status people are solicited more often as friends, allies, and mates. <br />
  18. 18. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Role of Taste:<br />Taste – is a way for us to sort one another out and thus choose friends and mates. <br />Taste in general attempts to reflect intelligence, personality, and ideology. <br />2 Goals of Taste:<br />Attract Likeminded Individuals<br />Repulse Differently minded individuals. <br />
  19. 19. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />What are the most desirable traits that we display via our tastes?<br />Answer: Those related to biological fitness. These traits must be universal, stable, and heritable. <br />Physical attractiveness, <br />Physical health,<br />Mental health<br />Intelligence<br />Personality<br />Key: We can discern these traits quickly via human conversation but we work hard to display them via goods and services<br />
  20. 20. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />What is the underlying premise of consumer narcissism?<br />Answer: That people actually (1)notice and (2)care about the products we buy and display. & We often over estimate how much others actually do. <br />
  21. 21. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Ironically, <br />The traits that are the most salient and relevant to people are the traits that are hardest for purchased products to signal reliably or misrepresent credibly. <br />Very difficult to buy goods that can alter age, sex, race, disguise health/mental problems. <br />
  22. 22. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Example of Teenage Dating & Traits<br />Teenagers are overwhelmingly influenced by the traits that are easiest to asses (physical attractiveness and status among peers)<br />Parents have experience in assessing harder to discern traits (emotional stability, intelligence, etc)<br />The ability to judge character was considered a major part of wisdom and virtue before consumerism made these concepts sound unfashionable. <br />
  23. 23. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Triumphs of Consumerism/Marketing over dating.<br />Rejection of the idea that an individuals personality, intelligence, mental health, and moral virtues are useful and worth evaluating & discussing.<br />Rejection of the idea that these traits show stability within individuals and within families. <br />
  24. 24. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Consumerism depends on forgetting a truth and believing a falsehood.<br />Truths: <br /> 1. We have spent millions of years evolving awesome effective ways to display our mental and moral traits and thus our finest most impressive goods are endowed to us by our DNA.<br /> 2. We have everything we could possibly need to impress our fellow humans. <br />Falsehoods: <br />Above average products can compensate for below average traits when one is trying to build long term relationships with mates, friends, or family. <br />Products offer cooler more impressive ways to display our desirable traits than any natural behavior could provide. <br />
  25. 25. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />When buying unnecessary goods be sure to ask:<br /> how many new friendships, business partnerships, dinner party invitations, or mating opportunities will result from this purchase. <br />
  26. 26. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Modern marketing is about:<br />“allowing most important things to go unsaid but not unimagined.“<br />
  27. 27. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Understanding Fitness Indicators:<br />Fitness indicators proclaim (1) quality & (2) guarantee good genes.<br />Fitness indicators attract attention if they are:<br />Costly<br />Hard To Produce<br />Hard to Fake<br />Conversely they are ignored if they are:<br />Cheap<br />Hard to Produce<br />Hard to Fake<br />**The irony of consumerism & fitness indicator is that from a purely pragmatic value the real version of a product is a bigger rip off than the fake version. <br />
  28. 28. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Due to Fitness Indicators Advertisements have 2 Audiences:<br />Potential product buyers<br />Potential product viewers who will credit the product owners with various desirable traits (or fitness indicators)<br />
  29. 29. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Thus combining cost signaling theory and marketing we create a situation where:<br />“Half the work that is done in the world is to make things appear what they are not”<br />
  30. 30. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Here’s the kicker: <br />Reliable signaling demands some sort of “conspicuous waste” a highly visible expenditure of resources that brings no material benefit, but that simply signals the expenders ability and willingness to waste those resources<br />Think: H1 hummers & peacock tails. <br />
  31. 31. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Apart from typical indicators, many animals evolve badges of fitness or status. <br />(these don’t rely on conspicuous waste rather on conspicuous reputation)<br />Badges maybe easy to grow and maintain for those who are socially recognized as deserving them. But if individuals display them without merit they will be socially punished by others. <br />**Many human designed products rely on status badges which are called brands. Badges are ferociously protected via (trademark laws, etc) <br />Hmm, Could this impact high status items such as fancy college degrees. <br />
  32. 32. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Conspicuous waste is simply a way to display ones control over local matter and energy flows by monopolizing more resources than are necessary for short term self preservation. <br />The Payoff:<br />The long term preservation of ones genes. <br />
  33. 33. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />There is another concept called conspicuous precision which would manifest in perfect workmanship, quality, and reliability: of genes products or service<br />Conspicuous Precision was the businessman’s nightmare of the 1950’s:<br /> If consumers demanded only precision then every product would operate efficiently for decades = economic catastrophe with no one producing or purchasing anything. <br />
  34. 34. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />So politicians, businesses, investors, and marketers in the 1950’s – 1960’s developed. <br /> Obsolescence<br /> & Technological Pseudo Progress<br />Read The following books for more on this topic:<br />The hidden persuaders<br />The status seekers<br />The waste makers<br />
  35. 35. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Conspicuous reputation: acknowledges the core function of consumerist capitalism- the invidious display of one personal qualities to observers and so allows marketers and consumers to fulfill that function<br />
  36. 36. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Miller uses the Central 6 Dimensions Of Human behavior ….makes the case that we evolved these traits because they are genetically heritable and stable across lifespan and because we can infer much about character, capabilities, virtues, and vices if we know these traits. <br />6 traits are (we are general either high or low in each trait):<br /> 1. General Intelligence<br /> 2. Openness<br /> 3. Conscientiousness<br /> 4. Agreeableness<br /> 5. Stability<br /> 6. Extraversion<br />
  37. 37. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />According to miller the key is:<br />*Humans have the incentive to present our central traits in adaptively biased ways. <br />The skill required to do this is called: Impression Managment<br />
  38. 38. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />Here is a Breakdown of the (High to Low) continuum for each trait.<br /> 1. General Intelligence (High IQ –Low IQ)<br /> 2. Openness (Liberalism/Eccentricity – traditionalism/conservatism)<br /> 3. Conscientiousness (responsibility/caution – impulsiveness/recklessness)<br /> 4. Agreeableness (kindness/gentleness/altruism – high aggressiveness, dominance)<br /> 5. Stability (high happiness/self esteem – high anxiety/worries/neuroticism)<br /> 6. Extraversion (high extraversion – low extraversion)<br />
  39. 39. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The General Intelligence (Trait)<br />“Ironically educated elites remain implacably opposed to the very concept of general intelligence and deny its variance, generality, and importance.”<br />General intelligence correlates positively with: mental health, physical health, longevity, romantic attractiveness. <br />Universities offer a costly, slow, unreliable intelligence indicating product that competes directly with cheap, fast, more reliable iq tests. <br />
  40. 40. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The General Intelligence (Trait)<br />Contemporary higher education is ….an absurdly expensive, time consuming way to guarantee intellectual capital and personality traits that could be measured far more cheaply ,easily, and reliable by other means. <br />
  41. 41. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Openness (Trait)<br />“Research shows that the risk of parasitic infection predicts lower openness, lower extraversion, lower individualism, and lower liberalism across individuals and societies” <br />
  42. 42. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Openness Trait<br />“ Openness is crucial to consumerism because it drives novelty seeking, fads, and fashions” <br />This is the key to planned obsolescence <br />
  43. 43. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Conscientiousness Trait<br />Most of adulthood people strive to present a public façade of high conscientiousness—because it is mostly favored by educators, employers, co-workers, doctors, tax collectors, loan sharks, spouses, etc.<br />The market provides goods and services that can function as a conscientiousness indicator. <br />
  44. 44. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Conscientiousness Trait<br />Example: <br />What fitness machine sales people are really selling is<br /> The delusion that the sunk costs of buying the machines will force them to exercise conscientiously. <br />
  45. 45. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Conscientiousness Trait<br />School, Work, Credit – three pillars of consumer capitalism <br />Is it a coincidence that they are the most reliable indicators of conscientiousness (traits)<br />
  46. 46. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Agreeableness Trait<br />“Males display low agreeableness in trying to court and impress a female…once the relationship is established males are then agreeable for long term success. <br />*assertiveness and independence via anti conformity are useful for impressing a woman as long as it doesn’t make them look more negative than rivals (or embarrasses them)<br />
  47. 47. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Agreeableness Trait<br />***Understanding Politics****<br />“Most people in modern societies have little political power, yet they do have strong political convictions that they broadcast insistently, frequently, and loudly.” <br />So are we interested in politics?<br />Men use political conservatism to (unconsciously) advertise their likely social and economic dominance<br />Women use political liberalism to advertise their nurturing abilities<br />*Liberalism and Conservatism here do not allude to political inclinations but rather levels of agreeableness. <br />
  48. 48. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Agreeableness Trait<br />*****Understanding Politics****<br />The shift from liberal youth to conservative middle age reflects a mating relevant increase in social dominance and earning power not just a rational shift in one’s self interest. <br />
  49. 49. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />The Agreeableness Trait:<br /> Understanding Religion<br />Religions used to be a set of local monopolies segregated by ethnicity, culture, and language, but over time rituals, laws and taboos became more elaborate as runaways indicators of high conscientiousness and low openness. <br />New sects began to break off when young worshippers wanted to show off different personality traits such as openness, extraversion, and agreeableness. <br />This reflects a gradual market segmentation in which religious services industry replaced the regional monopolies with a proliferation of startup religions. <br />*Now a days consumers pick religions less by family tradition and more by individual selection of personality display strategy. <br />
  50. 50. Collection of Quotes & Snippets From The Book<br />

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