I usually don’t write book reviews before I’m even done reading the book, but this book is blowing my mind so much I’ll make an exception. It’s called Spent and it’s about how our evolutionary instincts to show off reproductive traits are exploited by marketers. For instance, here’s why high-end fashion ads always look so weird:
The typical luxury ad includes a highly attractive model dressed up as a high-status heiress, wearing an expression of contempt and disdain for the viewer. The ad does not say “Buy this!”; it says, “Be assured that if you buy and display this product, others are being well trained to feel ugly and inferior in your presence, just as you feel ugly and inferior compared with this goddess.”
The ads aren’t designed for trying to get the average person to buy the product. They’re designed to remind the relatively few high-class buyers that the purchase (and display) of this expensive product will signal wealth to the rest of us.
Seriously, so much more of my previously-unexplained shopping behavior makes sense now. Especially the junk I bought in college, when I was subconsciously most concerned with displaying signals of my reproductive fitness to those around me.