Social psychology as self-help, from getting along better with your colleagues and employees to saving the planet and securing peace in the Middle East.
Though this book is steeped in academic theory and practice, Gilovich (How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life, 1991, etc.) and Ross (The Person and the Situation: Perspectives of Social Psychology, 1991, etc.) explain that they have not written a textbook but one designed to provide more practical applications for lay readers. “Some people are Buddha wise, others Bubba wise, and still others (Warren) Buffett wise,” they write, making a distinction between wisdom and intelligence that attributes more awareness of others to the former while suggesting that those we often call book-smart just don’t have that “insight and effectiveness around people.” The authors rely on anecdote (much of it taken from academic study) raised to the level of parable, using examples to underscore what most readers will know intuitively: how the way we perceive things may not be the way they are, how we’re more likely to recognize rationalizations from others than we are in ourselves and more likely to believe evidence that confirms what we already believe. One interesting conclusion is more counterintuitive, as the authors offer plenty of support for how what we believe often results from our actions rather than seeing action as a result of beliefs. The wider application: that if you “act like a happy person…you will find it easier to be one.” The authors leap from personal behavior and motivation in the first half into societal, cultural, and even international change in the second, offering suggestions, if not necessarily a working blueprint, for how to achieve goals such as global environmental responsibility. None of this is riveting reading, but it rarely lapses into academic jargon.
Some common-sense advice on how to attain wisdom when dealing with people and situations.