A social psychologist explores perception strategies that successful people rely on to reach their goals.
The methods that drive individuals to prosper in their careers or to meet challenging performance goals have been the fodder of numerous motivational bestsellers. In this ambitious new book, Balcetis (Psychology/New York Univ.; co-editor: Social Psychology of Visual Perception, 2010) examines what she feels are the key elements that inform these strategies and how they specifically relate to ideas of perception. “In this book,” she writes, “I offer four strategies intended to quite literally reshape the way we see the world….Each of these strategies serves a different function. Knowing about each, we can better prepare ourselves for the multitude of difficulties that we stand to experience as we tackle life’s biggest challenges.” The strategies include narrowing your focus (concentrating your attention allows you to tune in more effectively to the immediate task at hand); widening the bracket (big-picture planning that allows for an organic change of course if needed); materializing (organized planning through checklists and progress summaries); and framing (enhancing your ability to gather objective feedback and learning how to read the emotions of others). In each chapter, Balcetis relays a series of brief profiles, ranging across multiple disciplines, that serve as examples of how these strategies can be manifested from different angles. She also shares her own goal-oriented story as she tracks her progress in mastering a drumming piece for an upcoming performance. With the exception of her somewhat indulgent drumming account, the author’s individual stories are relatable and often thought-provoking. However, in providing far too many random examples, the key arguments often lose focus; cumulatively, they distract from the flow of her narrative. There’s a sense that Balcetis felt compelled to include every element of her research.
Compelling ideas about perception and goal setting that would have benefitted from a tighter narrative.