How do we create truly new experiences? Why are we so hung up on creating new things, rather than appreciating already established “good” experiences? This seems to speaks to humans’ desire to be surprised (is this biological determinism?) as we discussed in relation to horror movies’ inspiration of genuine fear responses in a viewer.A number of good overlapping questions here. Sudhu hints at a ecological basis for novelty-seeking behavior here, and for resources on that I would point to Wojciech Pisula’s Curiosity and Information Seeking in Animal and Human Behavior (Boca Raton: BrownWalker, 2009), which not only addresses (as its central topic) Sudhu’s question about novelty-seeking behavior, but also has an interesting chapter overview of debates on what it means to be genetically, biologically, and sociobiologically “determinist” in the history of the comparative psychology discipline. He refers often to E Toback’s (1978) “The methodology of sociobiology from the viewpoint of the comparative psychologist,” in A.L. Caplan (ed.) The sociobiology debate: Readings on ethical and scientific issues (New York: Harper and Row)…which (though I haven’t read it), seems to be a watershed moment, in which behavior psychologists break free from a reductive “Behavior -> Survival -> Reproduction” triangle.
What drives novelty-seeking impulses in our audiences as artists, and what is our responsibility or opportunity in those impulses… more specifically, what drives us toward what we fear (which is just one kind of novelty-seeking behavior), and what are artists ethical responsibilities around that drive? Do horror artists manipulate (or capitalize on) fear in ways that amplify it deleteriously? Great questions I don’t know the answer to.
The term ‘biological determinism’ is only meaningful in opposition to similarly reductive terms “social determinism” or “cultural determinism,” but I think as we’re finding from Haraway, the distinctions are reductive. It does make sense to delineate certain kinds of arguments, in their own contexts, as biologically deterministic: for example, Lawrence Sumner’s casual hypothesis, in remarks at a conference on diversifying the Science and Engineering workforces, that women and men perform differently in math and sciences, and that the reasons for any difference in performance are at least partially related to the biology of sex. There’s a great (and thorough) chronicle of that controversy at the Anita Borg institute, which includes a number of important analyses of biological determinism and where it gathers its social value and its ideological impact, quite apart from its presence in any rigorous inquiry about biology.
A few other links can be found at this (not thoroughly up-to-date) “Women in Math” resource site hosted by the University of Oregon.