While the eye-catching title may suggest a hot new shade of lipstick, the contents are solid, down-to-earth insights into...

READ REVIEW

DRUNK TANK PINK

AND OTHER UNEXPECTED FORCES THAT SHAPE HOW WE THINK, FEEL, AND BEHAVE

A brisk survey of how human emotions, thoughts and behaviors are shaped by such seemingly small factors as colors as well as such major ones as culture and weather.

Alter (Marketing/New York Univ. Stern School of Business) divides the factors into three categories: those that arise from within us; those that emerge from our connections with our social world; and those from the environment—the world around us. After launching with the now decades-old discovery that the color pink can reduce aggression and anxiety, the author looks at these three categories, starting with the effects that names, labels and symbols have on our perception of people, companies and organizations. Alter’s findings are intriguing: Children randomly labeled as “academic bloomers” did indeed bloom as teachers’ expectations of them changed. During one day of trading, the stocks of companies with easy-to-pronounce ticker names did better than those with unpronounceable names. In the second part, the author considers factors in the social world, describing experiments that reveal differences in behavior when someone is alone or in the presence of other people, finding a basis for racism in a deeply ingrained human fear of difference and looking at cultural differences in the understanding of concepts such as individualism. The third part includes surprising data on the effects of colors, artificial lighting, sunlight, outdoor settings, noise and weather conditions. Alter peppers his text with illustrative anecdotes, incidents, studies and characters, making the book highly readable and informative. The author occasionally challenges folk wisdom—contrary to the popular notion that in spring, a young man’s fancy turns to love, Alter cites research showing that testosterone levels rise in the cold winter months—and he elucidates the reasons behind other taken-for-granted beliefs.

While the eye-catching title may suggest a hot new shade of lipstick, the contents are solid, down-to-earth insights into why we think, feel and act the way we do.

Pub Date: March 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1594204548

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

more