Change is hard. Or is it? A keen observer of the human condition explains how tweaking our personal narratives can have a huge effect on our lives.
"I'm such an idiot!" Who hasn't admonished themselves in similar fashion at some point in their lives? The problem, according to Wilson (Social Psychology, 2009, etc.), is that such seemingly innocuous interior narratives can have a profound effect on the way we view ourselves in society. Like the college freshman who muffs her first math test and immediately concludes she’s just not cut out for higher education; the little leaguer who strikes out his first time at bat and thereafter confines himself to the dugout. The way we internalize our experiences matters. The good news, writes the author, is that the same toxic narratives that produce drop-outs and bench warmers can just as easily be replaced with positive narratives that promote valedictorians and all-stars. Individually, that means happier, more fulfilling lives. Nationally, it could mean reduced crime, fewer unwanted pregnancies and the end of racism. Wilson looks at how well-meaning people have tried to combat societal ills in the past and concludes that they have been ineffective because they have failed to recognize the importance of core narratives. The same goes for a host of other sociological interventions that on the surface appear sound, but ultimately fail to stand up to scientific scrutiny. That’s the second part of Wilson's premise. He's keenly interested in understanding why a certain approach succeeds of feels, and the result is an important examination of the ways we try to ameliorate societal ills.
Rendered in bite-sized portions with ample servings of statistics and case studies, readers should have no trouble digesting any of it—no matter how faulty their own personal narrative about "science books" may be.