The pleasure is all mine

Monitor on Psychology has a brief but interesting interview with psychologist Paul Bloom who has just written a book on the counter-intuitive psychology of pleasure.

Pleasure, it would seem, is a byproduct of essentialism, Bloom says. The value we assign consumer products is largely based on something deeper than just the way they look or fit or feel. We consider their potentials as status symbols, their individual histories, how much we assume other people think they are worth and so on — and from these hidden properties, we derive pleasure…

What’s surprised you the most about your studies of pleasure?

My research started off looking at artwork and the case of everyday celebrity objects. I argued that your beliefs about how something came into being and who it was in contact with affects your experience of it. At some level, it’s not so surprising. If you ask people, “What would you rather have, a Chagall or a copy of a Chagall?” people say the original. But working out the details of why this is struck me as really interesting. What really surprised me was that even for pleasures that seem incredibly simple and primitive — like the taste of meat or sexual arousal — that these are also affected by essentialist beliefs.


Link to interview with Paul Bloom on pleasure.

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