Reality Blind - Vol. 1

The Bottom Line: We are curious and exploratory by nature. The anticipation of reward, not the reward itself, is what motivates us.

Supernormal Stimuli

Summary: Research on baby birds shows the mother gives preferential feeding to larger and redder beaks, presumably as larger and more mature babies will have higher survival rates. If scientists put fake bird replicas (popsicle sticks with painted red beaks) in a nest alongside real baby birds, the mother bird will repeatedly offer worms and bugs to the fake bird over her own real offspring 37 . This is because the fake cues of “big” and “red” are (much) more intense than even the strongest real cues in the bird’s natural environment, something termed “supernormal stimuli.” Our ancient ancestors didn’t have things like ice cream or cheesy nachos or Fortnight video games back on the plains of Africa — in fact, sugary and salty things were very rare and those people who could find them had extra health and survival advantages. Today if you REALLY like some food or REALLY like some video game, or if you get really happy when you get 50


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