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The Science of Sin: The Psychology of the Seven Deadlies (and Why They Are So Good For You) Paperback – February 7, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

You know what they are—lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, anger, envy, and pride, the seven deadly sins. Only, you see, they’re not as deadly as you think. In fact, they can be good for you. For example, lust—more specifically, arousal—heightens one’s sense of urgency about the present moment, not the undefined future. Also, sex in advertising really doesn’t sell; it actually lowers recall of the products being advertised. But arousal stimulates what Laham calls “prosocial,” Good Samaritan–like behavior because, when aroused, one is more apt to want to impress and appear to be an attractive person. Writing in a light, almost breezy manner, social psychologist Laham tries to stay far away from jargon and mumbo-jumbo. Consequently, his book will certainly open readers’ eyes to the unexpected and sometimes very surprising ways in which the seven “deadly” sins can actually enrich their lives and improve their minds. Lots to think about here. --David Pitt

Review

“In his engaging new book, Laham takes us on a sinfully delicious tour of human nature that reveals the bright side of our dark side.”
– Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
 
“A lighthearted foray into motivational research.”
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Original edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307719340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307719348
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Laham, PhD, is an experimental social psychologist and lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Australia, with an interest in the psychology of morality and social interaction. He received his PhD from the University of New South Wales in 2006 and has since held research posts at the universities of Oxford and Melbourne.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A. D. Thibeault on February 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
*A full executive summary of this book is available at newbooksinbrief dot com.

Lust, greed, gluttony, anger, sloth, envy and pride. The seven deadly sins are recognized as an integral part of the Christian (and especially the Catholic) belief system, but their influence in Western culture extends well beyond these realms. Indeed, even the atheistic among us are likely to regard the seven characteristics perhaps not as sins, but at the very least as vices, or character flaws.

Nevertheless, despite the near universal acknowledgement of the reproachfulness of the seven deadly sins, the psychologist Simon Laham takes a very different approach to these so-called sins in his new book "The Science of Sin: The Psychology of the Seven Deadlies (and Why They Are So Good for You)". Indeed, as the title suggests, Laham maintains that the seven deadly sins are not nearly as bad as they are cracked up to be, and in fact the author argues that much good can come of them, so long as they are approached in the right way.

Laham tackles each sin in order, awarding each a separate chapter. As a general rule, each chapter begins with an explanation of the sin as it was originally conceived, and why it was considered to be a sin (though there are chapters where the author stints in this regard, or leaves such a discussion out altogether, and in these cases it is sorely missed). Following this, we are apprised of how the characteristic, or, in some cases the emotion, that is represented by each sin is regarded by modern psychology. Included here is an account of why each characteristic is thought to have evolved in our species in the first place (though again, the author is sometimes remiss in providing such an explanation, much to the chagrin of the interested reader).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hanne Mwa on February 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
In The Science of Sin, Dr Laham argues that what are known as the seven deadly sins can in fact be good for you.

I was skeptical to the idea when I first started reading it, but Dr Laham does a great job of outlining a number of scientific studies that show how what would traditionally be referred to as a sin - be it lust, greed, envy, gluttony, anger, pride or sloth - can in fact be beneficial, both for the individual and for society. Complex concepts are clearly explained, and the book also provides a fascinating insight into how social psychologists run experiments and answer questions about human nature more generally.

My favourite chapter (though it's hard to pick just one!) was Gluttony - and now I am going to go and eat some icecream.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deb on April 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sinfully indulge in this irresistible page-turner, and you'll likely conclude that the seven deadlies aren't so sinful after all. In fact, that's the author's hope for this book:
"I want to convince you that not only are the sins complex and interesting psychological states, but that, if indulged wisely, they are largely functional and adaptive." (p. 12)

Accomplishing his mission (with impressive writing, wit, wisdom, and a weaving together of the findings from gluttonous servings of deliciously fascinating social science experiments), the author shows how we can use the sins to our advantage. Lust can promote benevolence and creativity and even higher test scores. Gluttony can help us value experience (vs. consequence), sociality (vs. isolation), and variety (vs. monotony). Greed can make us happier, more motivated, self-sufficient, and fair. Sloth can help us be more attentive, open-minded, creative, smarter, and virtuous. Anger promotes persistence, performance, optimism, control, and justice. Envy increases hope, creates a positive self-image, and motivates us to get what we long for. Pride allows us to work hard and achieve, take the lead, and be liked by others.

The author clarifies that this book is not "a manifesto for 'all sin, all the time,' but a reminder that far from leading us down the fiery path to hell, or even being generally dysfunctional, the seven deadly sins actually serve us quite well." (p. 12)

So, (appropriate) sinning is actually good for us. Perhaps the seven deadly sins should be relabeled as the seven lively wins...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By manhattanreader on February 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of books in this genre and I got this book the other day and got through it very quickly. Laham's knowledge of the subject in conjunction with his vast awareness of related psychological studies is quite remarkable. He traces through the sins and enlightens the reader to both the reasons why the sins can be so beneficial as well as doing a great job discussing and explaining certain methods used by researchers in studies today

I definitely recommend this book to anyone considering it, an entertaining read, Laham certainly has written a witty page turning look into the age old condemned seven "deadly" sins.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I really found this book fun and entertaining as well as educational. The book goes over the seven deadly sins (wrath, avarice, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony) and shows the positive sides to them.

According to the book, the seven deadly sins were originally created to keep monks living in monasteries in line. But, in modern life there are very positive effects of each of the sins.

Anger (wrath), for instance, can help change bad aspects of society.

If no one ever got angry about anything, people would never rally for changes in society. Without anger at the mistreatment of children, there would have been no minor labor laws that prevented children from working in factories and being maimed and killed.

Anger , and the physical signs and expressions of anger also encourage people to compromise with us. If my boyfriend wants to play a video game instead of taking out the trash, my angry expression and shouting is much more likely to get him off his butt than a string of polite pleases.

Pride is a positive emotion when we feel good about the things we have done and feel a sense of accomplishment. It encourages people to work hard to succeed. As a writer, I take a lot of pride in my work and I feel an amazing sense of pride when I hold a new paperback in my hands. That feeling helps motivate me to start the next book.

Those examples are just a few of the ways that “Sin” is good for you. This was a really fun read and I recommend it to anyone interested in psychology and religion.
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