Jessica Biel or Megan Fox? The question of why we want the things we want elicits impassioned answers from scientists in a number of different disciplines, but some argue we’re still a long way away from understanding our desires and preferences in any meaningful way.
We may be able to predict how we will behave in particular conditions, or know that clear preferences emerge in certain situations, but we know very little about where these inclinations come from in the first place, according to one social scientist.
Simmons says that one big remaining question concerns how social context influences desire. “We are beginning to understand how word-of-mouth shapes preferences and fads, but there is still a tremendous amount to learn,” he said.
Conley, the NYU sociologist, argues that these kinds of questions beg for carefully designed experiments and a willingness for social scientists, psychologists and neuroscientists to work together to arrive at interdisciplinary answers. To do this, we need to bring these disciplines physically closer together, agreed Simmons. These scientists need to begin attending the same conferences, publishing in the same journals and speaking the same language, he said.
That is, of course, assuming that these questions can ultimately be answered, noted Conley. “It might be like quantum physics—it might be unanswerable,” Conley said.
Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7) www.beyondgenes.com