How Pleasure Works

Did the title of this post intrigue you? I deiced to use it for this quick post for two reasons:

1. To share with you my take on How Pleasure Works – the new book by Paul Bloom, a psychology professor at Yale. I quite enjoyed Paul’s new book and I highly recommend it. In it, he makes some subtle and interesting observations. Here’s one about why we tend to enjoy stories:

“If your phone wakes you up and it’s wrong number and you can’t go back to sleep, that’s bad luck. If you see a gun in the morning, it won’t necessarily go off during the afternoon. But there are no accidents in stories. If you are watching a movie in which the phone wakes up a character in the middle of night, it has significance…”

2. To demonstrate the power of an attractive headline. A story that begins with an attractive headline will almost always immediately draw you in. And you are not alone. Most people feel the same. Not convinced? Check out the first sentence in Alison Motluk’s review for How Pleasure Works in the Globe and Mail: “The title of this book intrigued me.” (You can read the rest of Alison’s review right here).

Parting suggestion #1: Treat attention as a currency. What do you think: when presented with new information, do most people read it word by word? Of course not. Most people scan or skim the headlines until they find something that interests them. Just right about now your inner voice is confirming this to be true because you most likely do the same.

Parting suggestion #2: Appreciating what a reader needs to see first in order to begin following a story is perhaps the first step on a long journey to understanding how pleasure works…