I found this article from smartplanet.com -- The Science of Food Porn -- to be a fascinating read. The article mentions a Harvard psychologist, Deirdre Barrett, and her book Supernormal stimuli: how primal urges overran their evolutionary purpose:
Pioneered in field studies by the ethologists Tinbergen and Lorenz, supernormal stimuli is any phenomenon in which the features of an object ??? be it a parent, mate, or food ??? are exaggerated to make an animal respond more strongly to them. In her 2010 book Supernormal stimuli: how primal urges overran their evolutionary purpose, Deirdre Barrett explored the ways in which movie makers, advertisers and fast food companies exaggerate the parts of things we already like in order to hijack our emotions and cravings.
Baby chicks presented with parents with exaggerated versions of the features they???re homing in on ??? the color of a parent???s beak, say ??? will respond more strongly to an exaggerated, but artificial, version of their parent than to the real thing. In the same way, humans home in on versions of reality in which the most enticing features are enhanced. In food, that???s texture, color, and anything else we associate with nutrient density, mouth feel and general deliciousness.
The result, contends Barrett, is that despite the fact that fast food is universally acknowledged to be unhealthy, it remains a booming business, precisely because of the way it manipulates, in ads and in person, our desire for the nutrients we need to live.
Barrett is also the author of Waistland: The Revolutionary Science Behind Our Weight and Fitness Crisis. Given my interest in obesity, I've picked up this book, but am likely to also pick up the former.
I'm curious if any PHers are familiar with her work and if so, what are your thoughts? She calls herself an evolutionary psychologist. Is there a reason (aside from the fact she doesn't blog/tweet) that she's not more widely known in the paleosphere?
asked byBeth_WeightMaven (15013)
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on November 26, 2011
at 11:52 PM
I knew about this, but the reminder was very welcome. Even though I now avoid junk food because I developed aversion after months of healthy ancestral eating, I'll admit that some billboards and commercials still kindle the old impulse to eat junk. Fortunately, it's a split-second thing and then the new "No" kicks in.
on November 26, 2011
at 10:14 PM
Very intersting. This serves to reinforce my belief that the fast food industry and the majority of food producers in this society are more concerned with profit than health. It reminds me of all the "super cool/hot" people in all the alcohol commercials only to be reminded to drink responsibly.