Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Review of "Cool" by Steven Quartz and Anette Asp - How The Brain's Hidden Quest for Cool Drives Our Economy and Shapes Our World

Earlier this summer, a young friend of mine, who was working at the Wall Street Journal, gave me a copy of "Cool."  I was intrigued by the subtitle: "How The Brian's Hidden Quest for Cool Drives Our Economy and Shapes Our World."  Authors Steven Quartz and Anette Asp draw from deep wells of research and analysis to make the case that our propensity for conspicuous consumption is not just a response to aggressive marketing and advertising, but has evolved over many centuries of human development.  The authors draws from disciplines as varied as economics, psychology, anthropology, sociology and cognitive neuroscience.

I was skeptical about the premise of the book, but the research is so thoroughly annotated and analyzed that I was compelled to think differently about the impulses that drive us to spend our money in ways that do not always make rational sense.  The implications of the findings of this book apply equally well to the realms of marketing, advertising, retailing and e-commerce.

If you would like to understand why you often find yourself compelled to purchase goods because they will make you feel and look "cool," then this book is for you.  It is chock full of examples of how we as consumers have evolved to the point where we often purchase items for reasons that go far beyond their practical utility.  This book is a welcome additional to the growing field of behavioral economics.



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