ISBN: 9780262325387 | 344 pp. | September 2014

The Interdisciplinary Science of Consumption


Our drive to consume—our desire for food, clothing, smart phones, and megahomes—evolved from our ancestors’ drive to survive. But the psychological and neural processes that originally evolved to guide mammals toward resources that are necessary but scarce may mislead us in modern conditions of material abundance. Such phenomena as obesity, financial bubbles, hoarding, and shopping sprees suggest a mismatch between our instinct to consume and our current environment. This volume brings together research from psychology, neuroscience, economics, marketing, animal behavior, and evolution to explore the causes and consequences of consumption.

Contributors consider such topics as how animal food-storing informs human consumption; the downside of evolved “fast and frugal” rules for eating; how future discounting and the draw toward immediate rewards influence food consumption, addiction, and our ability to save; overconsumption as social display; and the policy implications of consumption science.

Taken together, the chapters make the case for an emerging interdisciplinary science of consumption that reflects commonalities across species, domains, and fields of inquiry. By carefully comparing mechanisms that underlie seemingly disparate outcomes, we can achieve a unified understanding of consumption that could benefit both science and society.

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword

    Peter C. Whybrow

  2. Introduction: Toward an Interdisciplinary Science of Consumption

    Stephanie D. Preston, Morten L. Kringelbach, and Brian Knutson

  3. I. Evolutionary Perspectives
  4. 1. Reciprocity in Primates

    Sarah F. Brosnan, Frans B. M. de Waal, and Darby Proctor

  5. 2. The Fundamental Motives for Why We Buy

    Vladas Griskevicius, Joseph P. Redden, and Joshua M. Ackerman

  6. 3. The Evolutionary Instincts of Homo consumericus

    Gad Saad

  7. 4. Myopia, Hyperbolic Discounting, and Mental Time Travel: Evolutionary Accounts of Lifetime Decisions

    Stephen E. G. Lea

  8. II. Food, Foraging, and Saving
  9. 5. Simple Heuristics for Deciding What to Eat

    Peter M. Todd and Sara L. Minard

  10. 6. Decisions, Memory, and the Neuroecology of Food-Storing Birds

    David F. Sherry

  11. 7. The Psychology of Acquisitiveness

    Stephanie D. Preston and Brian D. Vickers

  12. 8. Tightwads, Spendthrifts, and the Pain of Paying: New Insights and Open Questions

    Scott I. Rick

  13. III. Neurobiological Perspectives
  14. 9. Appetite, Consumption, and Choice in the Human Brain

    Brian Knutson and Uma Karmarkar

  15. 10. Incentive Salience in Addiction and Over-Consumption

    Michael J. F. Robinson, Terry E. Robinson, and Kent C. Berridge

  16. 11. Balancing Consumption: Brain Insights from Pleasure Cycles

    Morten L. Kringelbach

  17. 12. How Expectancies Shape Consumption Experiences

    Hilke Plassmann and Tor D. Wager

  18. IV. Consumption Across the Life Span
  19. 13. The Development of Saving

    Paul Webley

  20. 14. Consumer Behavior Across the Life Span: A Life History Theory Perspective

    Chiraag Mittal, Vladas Griskevicius, and Bruce J. Ellis

  21. 15. Older Adults as Consumers: An Examination of Differences by Birth Cohort

    Noah J. Webster, Toni C. Antonucci, Carolyn Yoon, Wayne R. McCullough, Debra N. Fin, and Debra L. Hartsell

  22. 16. Consumption as Pollution: Why Other People's Spending Matters

    Robert H. Frank

  23. Contributors
  24. Index