About the Author
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At Tufts Sommers is known for his engaging lecture style and has won multiple teaching awards, including being selected by the Student Senate as the Professor of the Year in 2009. (His wife would insist on mentioning that he was also voted by the student newspaper the "hottest" male professor on campus; however, being well-versed in the power of situations, he'd note that the honor had less to do with him than with the anything-but-fierce state of the competition.)
Sommers has given talks at dozens of colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, M.I.T., Dartmouth, Cornell, Emory, UMass, and Rutgers. His research has been featured by a wide range of media outlets, and he has testified as an expert witness in criminal trials in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Oregon.
In his free time, Sommers enjoys hanging out with his wife and two daughters, blogging on the Psychology Today website, batting lead-off for the vaunted Tufts Psychology summer softball team, and exerting more effort than he probably should editing Seinfeld and Daily Show clips for use in the classroom.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an interesting topic, one we can all understand, how the situation we are in often will influence our behavior. I'm sure if people were to consider many of these situations upfront they would deny that they could act this way, but the data does not lie.
The chapters are: Paraphrased by me.
1. WYSIWYG: Talks about how when we see people in one situation, and assume it reflects their behavior in all situations.
2. Help Wanted: How we assume other people will address a situation observed in public, such as a call for help. Let someone else help. And more importantly, how to change this behavior.
3. Go with the Flow: The influence of crowds and authority figures on behavior.
4. You're not the person you thought you were; Everything is relative
5. Mars and Venus here on earth: Gender differences are more explained by socialization than biology.
6. Love: Who we love is more explained by geography, familiarity and state of mind than we realize.
7. Hate: Them versus Us, the bigots in us all.
Having read many a dry but interesting psychology book, this author had a way to make the subject matter come alive. I can see where this would be required reading in many a (fortunate) psychology class, however better yet, this books calls for us to be better people.
* We need to realize people are not always what they seem in one situation.Read more ›
One of the reasons social commentators leave out has to do with a strong unconscious need to protect ourselves from others' vibes, which thereby closes us down. Or, as Sommers has it, "in crowded settings we're just less tuned in to everything around us." He calls it "sensory overload." I guess the trick is to remain alert while protecting yourself against other peoples' vibes.
One part of the book teaches you how to ask for help, especially in crowds where you might not get attention: "When you need help, be direct. Target specific individuals. Paint yourself in the most empathetic light possible." Sounds a little bleak. Oh, and if you smile and you're pretty, you have the edge over the rest of us. Sorry, guys.
Sommers writes that there is no way to know what true perceptions are so "the gurus of self-help got it wrong." He seems happy about that. I think he is short- sighted. Perceptions are far more fluid than he allows and therefore self-help advice has got to be right at least some of the time. But, nicely, he also points out that authenticity isn't static. It flows over time and place and situations. You can recognize it inside yourself in any case, and others can sense it. No immutable law here, it is a creative thing that can both grow and diminish.Read more ›
By overlooking the situational context, Sommers points out that we end up with a simplified view of human behavior. Sommers calls this the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) view of life. The WYSIWYG view, according to Sommers, gives us a false confidence that we can predict the behavior of others by relying only on our internal explanations of behavior. To demonstrate the problem with WYSIWYG, Sommers explores how situations contribute to behavior by looking at confessions, crowd behavior, gender issues, love and hate.
Sommers did a great job of illuminating the role played by context in behavior through research reviews and personal stories. As I was reading the book though, I kept asking myself the question, so what? How can I use this information? While Sommers did provide a Lessons Learned at the end of each chapter, I believe the book would have been much better and of greater use to readers if the Lessons Learned material had been developed further by the author.
The book is easy to read, despite being heavy with research findings. Sommers does a masterful job of translating these research findings for the lay reader. Personally though, I could have done with less of the author's attempts at humor. I feel it detracted from the book's message.
Despite being well researched and written, this book left me flat....
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a must read for people who are close-minded. Unfortunately, they probably don't like learning that they're wrong, sometimes. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Doug H.
Indeed most people underestimate the power of situations and overestimate the power of personal characteristics and intentions. Read morePublished 3 months ago by drs
This is one of several recent titles that popularizes the findings from cognitive psychology experiments and points to conclusions for the way we form judgements. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Glen S Drummond
Situations Matter, a bold title that aptly describes the message of this book. While reading it I kept thinking that it was funny that a book had to be written to portray this... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jane Valetchikov
The value of this book is the realization of reality in an insightful twist. After reading this book I started seeing myself and others in a whole new light. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ronald Viola
it's well written and quite persuasive book, however there is not to much of new stuff, if someone is interested a little bit about a social psychology, it will not suprise youPublished 7 months ago by cekin
Context is everything. In his eye-opening book, Situations Matter, Sam Sommers explains that the situations we find ourselves in have a far larger impact on our lives that we’d... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Nick Fulchino
Way to technical and wordy for my choice of a book to read. Couldn't finish it. Do not recommend it.Published 10 months ago by the gardener
Not only interesting but implementable. Well researched. Well written. Well thought. Well lived. This book endeavors to make the world a better place in its writing and succeeds.Published 13 months ago by Eliza
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