197. Finding Fascination in the Mundane feat. Bruce Hood


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By Greg La Blanc. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

You may not believe it, but there is a link between our current political instability and your childhood attachment to teddy bears. There's also a reason why children in Asia are more likely to share than their western counterparts and why the poor spend more of their income on luxury goods than the rich. Or why your mother is more likely to leave her money to you than your father. What connects these things?

The answer is our need for ownership. How does our urge to acquire control our behaviour, even the way we vote? And what can we do about it?

Bruce Hood explores these questions in his latest book, “Possessed: Why We Want More Than We Need.” Bruce is currently Professor of Developmental Psychology in Society in the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, with a diverse range of research interests including the origins of supernatural beliefs, intuitive theory formation, object representation, spatial cognition, inhibitory control and general cognitive development.

He chats with Greg this episode about the concept of ownership, the psychological relationship we have with our possessions, Essentialism, and possessions vs experiences.

Episode Quotes:

The distinction between ownership and possession

07:08: So there's a distinction between possession and ownership, which it's important to draw because ownership is a social convention. And I would argue you don't see any evidence of ownership in the animal kingdom, but plenty of evidence of territorialism and possessions.

The principle of establishing ownership

17:23: So when people take a piece of writing, or they take a tune and modify it and say, oh, it's different, then they gotta argue, well, to what extent does that constitute an original piece of effort?

So it is actually quite nuanced even in the adult world, but the basic origin of it is yes. If you put effort into transforming, constructing, and creating something, that should default with you.

On defining the essence

21:27: Whenever we form an emotional attachment or have an emotional perspective on something, we imbue it with a metaphysical property of some unique feature which characterizes it. And that's called the essence.

The importance of control for humans

46:38: The perception of control is really important for humans to the extent that when they're uncertain or stressed, they'll look for patterns in the world to try regaining control. And that's where superstitions arise because we don't know what's controlling.

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265 episodes