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SWIPE

THE SCIENCE BEHIND WHY WE DON’T FINISH WHAT WE START

An engrossing, perceptive, and insightful study.

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Organizational psychologist Maylett and journalist Vandehey offer an examination of modern-day disengagement.

Touch screens on smartphones and tablets encourage people to “Swipe,” which the authors define more broadly as following “our natural impulse to progress to the next thing, and then the next, and the next.” As the team points out, Swiping behavior extends far beyond technological gadgets to virtually every area of human life. The authors have studied employee engagement for 20 years—researching, interviewing, surveying, and analyzing data—to produce a work that explores the psychology of disengaging. The goal of their research is to help readers finish what they start. The authors acknowledge that Swiping is akin to procrastinating, but it’s more about abruptly quitting a task rather than delaying it: “You almost certainly have your own list of unfinished frustrations….We know we’re capable of more, but we just can’t get there.” The book begins with an overview of the negatives associated with Swiping; the authors even identify eight types of Swipes, including “The Greener Grass Swipe,” a common characteristic of job-hoppers, and “The Impostor Syndrome Swipe,” in which someone who feels like a fraud bolts from an uncomfortable situation. A chapter on disengagement in the workplace is particularly edifying; it offers guidance for both managers and employees on how Swiping can “sabotage” the success of an organization or an individual. The use of an image of a “hamster wheel” in a subsequent chapter is an obvious but still effective way to depict the Swipe cycle; later, the authors provide a smart six-step process for exiting from said wheel.

Many of the authors’ astute observations over the course of this book will resonate with readers, and their assessment of technology is an especially compelling one. They write, for example, that “technology has created an unconscious expectation in a substantial fraction of the population that life is reality optional.…It’s the impulse that leads us to quit before we finish what we’ve begun.” Even more sobering is their view of today’s powerful apps: “We are developing an unconscious sense that we are entitled to have things work out, to have even the most fraught crisis resolve with the tap of an app.” Many examples the authors cite are taken from the business world and are directed toward managers or employees. However, Maylett and Vandehey do a fine job of relating the Swipe to many other aspects of daily life, and as a result, their work is likely to be relevant to a wide audience. Frequent sidebars inserted throughout expand on topics in useful ways; for example, “How Not To Swipe” segments offer helpful suggestions for avoiding the act of Swiping, while “Nerd Alert!” entries take a deeper dive into related scientific experiments and theories. At the close of the book, they aptly ponder what a Swipe-free world might be like: “Imagine the epic flood of potential that would be unleashed if just a fraction of us stopped Swiping and finished what we started.”

An engrossing, perceptive, and insightful study.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9781645435532

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Amplify Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2023

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THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

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

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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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GREENLIGHTS

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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