Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior

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Penguin, May 14, 2009 - Business & Economics - 384 pages
4 Reviews
A leading evolutionary psychologist probes the hidden instincts behind our working, shopping, and spending

Evolutionary psychology-the compelling science of human nature-has clarified the prehistoric origins of human behavior and influenced many fields ranging from economics to personal relationships. In Spent Geoffrey Miller applies this revolutionary science's principles to a new domain: the sensual wonderland of marketing and status seeking that we call American consumer culture. Starting with the basic notion that the goods and services we buy unconsciously advertise our biological potential as mates and friends, Miller examines the hidden factors that dictate our choices in everything from lipstick to cars, from the magazines we read to the music we listen to. With humor and insight, Miller analyzes an array of product choices and deciphers what our decisions say about ourselves, giving us access to a new way of understanding-and improving-our behaviors. Like Freakonomics or The Tipping Point, Spent is a bold and revelatory book that illuminates the unseen logic behind the chaos of consumerism and suggests new ways we can become happier consumers and more responsible citizens.

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User Review  - Opinionated - LibraryThing

This is a book in two parts. For the first part, 250 pages are devoted to an excellent summary of some of the principles of evolutionary psychology, and particularly as it applies to consumerism ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lindap69 - LibraryThing

lacked the time and mental energy to finish this esp as it seemed to say in oh so many ways how our society has bought into the marketing of more than any of us will ever need! Read full review


The Embarrassment and Danger Costs of Openness
Openness Novelty and Fashion
HighMaintenance Products
Pets as Conscientiousness Indicators
Personal Grooming
The Unused Exercise Machine
The Credit Rating

This Book
This Author
Marketing Versus Memes
Narcissism and Consumerism
The Two Faces of Consumerist Narcissism
The Two Faces of the iPod
Showing Off
The Narcissism Premium for CostDense Products
What The Sims 2 Got Wrong About Consumer Narcissism
The Social Psychology of Consumer Narcissism
The Fetishization of Youth and Disparagement of Wisdom in Consumerist Social Judgment
The Fundamental Consumerist Delusion
Signaling Branding and Profit
Why Bother Signaling?
Signals of Body and Mind
Conspicuous Consumption as Fitness Signaling
The Relative Efficiency and Morality of Different Signaling Systems
The Rise of the Triathlon
Facial Fertility Indicators and Cosmetics
From Signals of Bodily Fitness to Signals of Mental Fitness
Looking Tough in World of Warcraft
The Body Goes Mental
How Were the Big Five Discovered?
Preferences for the Central Six
Measuring Your Big Five
The Central Six Each Form a Bell Curve
The Central Six Are Fairly Independent
Beyond the Central Six?
How Car Choices Reveal the Central Six Traits
Advertising the Central Six Through Music Preferences and Web Pages
Why Marketers Ignore the Central Six
Educational Credentialism
Other Intelligence Indicators
IntelligenceBoosting Products
Why Parasites Reduce Openness
Four Forms of Disgust
Why Dont We All Want Maximum Openness?
How Much Openness Can You Take?
Formal Education and Employment
The Agreeable Economy
Indicators of Agreeableness Versus Aggressiveness
Displaying Agreeableness Through Conformity
Ideology as an Agreeableness Indicator
The Religious and Political Service Industries as Personality Indicators
Signaling Failures in Ideology
The Renunciation Strategy
Just Dont Get It
Find the One You Already Own
Rent It
Buy It Used
Buy It in Generic Replica or TrickleDown Form
Make It Yourself
Commission It from a Local Artisan
Wait Three Years Before Buying New Technologies
Ask to Get It as a Gift
Taming the Centrifugal Soul
The Promise of Mass Customization
Asymmetric Warfare
Why Not Trait Tattoos?
Prerequisites for Buying Certain Products
A Government War on Bling?
A Little Something Called Civil Society
The Power of Informal Social Norms
What Anticonsumerist Protesters Are Doing Wrong
Multiculturalism Versus Local Social Norms
Going Virtual
The Grand Social Quasi Experiment
From Income Taxes to Consumption Taxes
Different Consumption Tax Rates for Different Products?
Drawing the True Cost Map
Promoting Product Longevity
What the Consumption Tax Might Accomplish
The Will to Change
Why the Sky Wont Fall If We Gently Shift Our Signaling Systems
SelfGilding Genes

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About the author (2009)

Geoffrey Miller is an evolutionary psychologist and author of The Mating Mind. He was educated at Columbia and Stanford and is associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife, daughter and many products.

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