∞ Bling: why humans like shiny things.

Not only humans like shiny things, but some animals take a liking to hyper-reflective objects too, which is why my mother used to compare me to a magpie. As a child, I collected the transparent and metallic wrappers of chocolates and other sweets. I flattened them carefully, and kept them in a shoe box.

Fellow artist Nadia Naveau once told me she did exactly the same thing.


Image via YouTube.


Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, or so the song goes, but glitter and bling is not only attractive to women, nor confined to jewelry. Cars can have the same mesmerizing effect. It’s all about reflectiveness. The more reflections on a surface, the more we – as humans – are hypnotized by the object the surface belongs to.



Here’s a fairly straightforward explanation. Let’s go back a couple of million years.

Imagine you and your kin wandering around the endless savannas of central Africa in the dry season. You’d be pretty excited if you could finally make out the glistening of fresh water on the horizon.


Photo by by Dana Moos, via Flickr.


I would even go so far that our collective awe for fireworks might have to do something with our fondness for glitter, although the mysterious sparks rising up to heaven from our ancestor’s campfires might have played a more important part.


Image via Wikipedia.



I think I expressed this thought years ago to evolutionary biologist Jan Verpooten. Apparently I was on to something. Read more:

Taking a shine to it: How the preference for glossy stems from an innate need for water, ScienceDirect, 2014

All That Glistens: II. The Effects of Reflective Surface Finishes on the Mouthing Activity of Infants and Toddlers. Richard G. Coss, Saralyn Ruff & Tara Simms, 2010