Tag Archives: Essentialism

Essentialism

I’ve had a hectic few months of late and have really neglected to look at Ted for a while. This has in the past been a popular lunchtime destination for me – sandwich in hand, earphones in & an interesting and provocative talk to view in a bite-sized format. Ted is great.

Anyway, I managed to have a lunch break today and watched a thoroughly entertaining and informative talk from Paul Bloom; entitled “The Origins of Pleasure”. A well put together presentation of history, sociology, physiology and psychology in how humans derive pleasure. A key point of discussion was why do we (humans) find greater pleasure from a real painting than from a fake, or why we deem more pleasure from knowing a performance is from someone famous/recognized than someone that isn’t but playing to the same standard etc. In essence the what is it about our psyche that puts so much of  an importance on origin/authenticity/celebrity/effort behind the product/item/person etc.

Yes, a degree of status or snobbery comes into play, but Paul argues that actually all Humans are natural born essentialists. Meaning that our feelings of pleasure go beyond how we feel, see or hear something but rather our responses our conditioned on our belief of what it really is, where it came from, how it got there, what it’s made up etc. This, he argues, governs not just how we think about things but also how we react to them. Or as he states – Pleasure is Deep (that beliefs play a huge part in all forms of pleasure).

Food for thought, I feel, when thinking about the creative process. Brand as we all know, plays an important part – indeed within the context of this discussion it is a key part of the essentialism behind a product. It’s the added/hidden value that our minds put into play. A Gucci handbag might look identical to one from H&M; have the same function; a similar quality of materials – but the value of the brand is paramount and something a consumer would happily pay significantly more for. To the point in Paul’s talk “how do you get kids to like/enjoy carrots & Milk”? The answer – well you tell them it comes from McDonalds – as children perceive McDonalds as creating tasty food.

However, we don’t all get to work for products/services/events associated with strong brands or indeed when you’re launching a new brand you don’t have the luxury of this perceived essentialism value to it. Yet the learning’s from this philosophy should be applied; and this goes to the heart of what we do – creating the story behind the product; a good story should create this sense of essentialism/value to the consumer. As Paul Bloom outlines in his talk; back-story; origin, details of the creative process, illustrating the effort, putting a human face and showing a real person, highlighting a uniqueness are all areas/items that the human mind is predisposed to attach value to and therefore should be thought through in creating the story.

Interesting I thought – worth the 16mins to view.

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