Why do we get hot and heavy to acquire certain physical objects? Very Evolved has an explanation of product lust, in two parts: dopamine, and reinforcement.
Dopamine. This is the key neurotransmitter that governs your motivation for reward seeking behavior. It’s the rush you get from dopamine release that fuels drug addicts and compulsive gamblers. And to a lesser extent it’s what happens to you every time you see that beautiful piece of art or slickly designed product you want. It’s a just a teaser though, a preview of what’s pleasures are on offer. It’s your brain’s way of saying to you “see how good that felt? Well if you buy this thing imagine how much more dopamine I’ll release and how awesome you’ll feel!” At this point it’s the promise of reward that’s leading to reinforcement of your positive feelings.
Reinforcement. The next phase in reward mechanism is repetition. The more often you encounter a stimulus, and the more time you spend thinking about it, the better you remember it and the more important your brain thinks it is. It the same way you learn anything. In your brain the hippocampus works to solidify your memories and experiences. With repeated feelings of desire and lust towards your dream car or iPod etc. it’s now it’s beginning to form positive memories of your target and filing it away as something that’s worth remembering well.
neuroscientist Patrick goes on to explain how you can train yourself to get what you want. Perhaps more importantly, also how to train yourself to not want certain things as well.
How to get what you want – Understanding the biology of object lust [Very Evolved] (Photo: karo.lina)