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  • Published: 1 August 2011
  • ISBN: 9780099548768
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $19.99

How Pleasure Works

Why we like what we like




The internationally acclaimed psychologist Paul Bloom explores one of the most fascinating and fundamental engines of human behaviour - the new science of why we like what we like.


Pleasure is one of the most fascinating aspects of being human. But what is it?

Exploring child development, philosophy, neuroscience and behavioural economics, Paul Bloom uncovers how universal habits explain what we like and why we like it.


The average Briton spends over a day a week watching television. People slow their cars to look at gory accidents and go to sentimental movies that make them cry. Some men pay good money to be spanked by prostitutes.

In this revealing and witty account, Paul Bloom examines the science behind these curious desires, attractions and tastes, exploring one of the most fascinating and fundamental engines of human behaviour.


'How Pleasure Works has one of the best discussions I've read of why art is pleasurable, why it matters to us, and why it moves us so' Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music

  • Published: 1 August 2011
  • ISBN: 9780099548768
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Paul Bloom

Paul Bloom is Professor of Psychology at Yale University. He is an internationally recognised expert on the psychology of language, social reasoning, morality and art. His previous books include Just Babies and How Pleasure Works, and he has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, New Yorker and the Guardian. Bloom has won several awards for his research, articles and teaching, and his ‘Introduction to Psychology’ class was one of seven selected by Yale to be made available worldwide. His TED talks have been viewed 2.8 million times.

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Praise for How Pleasure Works

The book inside is an even better book than the one the title promises... Bloom is a superb writer. His gift is in writing beautifully but plainly, and anticipating everything a reader will need to know in order to appreciate the point he will ultimately make...it was a great pleasure to read

Globe and Mail (Canada)

Paul Bloom is among the deepest thinkers and clearest writers in the science of mind today. He has a knack for coming up with genuinely new insights about mental life - ones that you haven't already read about or thought of - and making them seem second nature through vivid examples and lucid explanations

Steven Pinker

How Pleasure Works has one of the best discussions I've read of why art is pleasurable, why it matters to us, and why it moves us so

Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music

This book is not just a pleasure, but a revelation, by one of psychology's deepest thinkers and best writers. Lucid and fascinating, you'll want to read it slowly and savor the experience.

Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

Bloom is a serious professional who knows his stuff

Michael Bywater, Literary Review

In this eloquent and provocative book, Paul Bloom takes us inside the paradoxes of pleasure, exploring everything from cannibalism to Picasso to IKEA furniture. The quirks of delight, it turns out, are a delightful way to learn about the human mind

Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide

Following the path of pleasure, Bloom leads us through a menagerie of human strangeness. By the end of the trip, the 'magic inside us' begins to make sense. This book is a pearl, a work of great beauty and value, built up around a simple truth: that we are essentialists, tuned in to unseen order

Jonathan Haidt, author of The Happiness Hypothesis

Bloom's book is different from the slew already out there about happiness. No advice here about how to become happier by organising your closets; Bloom is after something deeper than the mere stuff of feeling good.

Robin Heniq, The Scotsman

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