Bigger Brighter Better?
Barrett defines supernormal stimuli as "imitations that appeal to primitive instincts and, oddly, exert a stronger attraction than real things." The phrase "supernormal stimuli" however, was first used by Niko Tinbergen in the 1930s, when he found that certain birds which lay small pale blue, speckled grey eggs, actually prefered to sit on fake giant, bright blue eggs, with black polka dots.Credit: Flickr electricnerve
Frenzy of Fake
He also found that mother birds preferred to feed a fake baby bird beak, which was larger and redder than their own baby chicks. Tinbergen used the word "supernormal stimuli", to describe these "imitations, which appeal to primitive instincts and, oddly, exert a stronger attraction than real things".
Animals, only experience supernormal stimuli when humans create it. We humans however, have crafted a world of supernormal stimuli around us, which has hijacked our natural drives and is luring us toward extreme and excess. Think of casinos, sex toys, porn, junk food, breast implants, video gaming, TV and films; just to name a few. Everything is larger than life and far removed from the life of the humans of the Pleistocene era, where we evolved.