> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 2 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446484241
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

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

We are attracted, whether we know it or not, to the hidden aspects of things and people.

Some teenagers enjoy cutting themselves with razors. Some men pay good money to be spanked by prostitutes. The average Briton spends over a day a week watching television. The thought of sex with a virgin is intensely arousing to many men. Artwork can sell for millions of pounds. Food and alcohol are so compelling that they can come to dominate one's life. People slow their cars to look at gory accidents and go to sentimental movies that make them cry.

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. Drawing on insights from child development, philosophy, neuroscience and behavioural economics, How Pleasure Works shows how certain universal habits of the human mind explain what we like and why we like it.

  • Pub date: 2 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446484241
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 304

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.

Also by Paul Bloom

See all

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

“Reading his book is like stargazing with your favorite cool professor while high”

Newsweek


Related titles