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The Tell: The Little Clues That Reveal Big Truths about Who We Are
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 14, 2013
This is the kind of book that is filled with the interesting, bizarre research findings that you feel compelled to share with someone. Hertenstein even uses a literary device where at the end of each chapter, he gives you the 3 best findings to share at a party.

What behaviors help in the early detection of autism in children? and which are myths? p.19
How do unhealthy parent-relationships influences the puberty development of girls? p. 36
What does a man's face tell us about their potential to be violent? p.62
How can you get better at detecting lies? p. 118
Why can 5-year old kids predict who wins an election better than your favorite political pundit? p. 164

the list goes on in terms of simple cues that can help us predict extremely important behavior. the first few chapters were the best, as Hertenstein does a masterful job describing some of the most interesting findings about early attachment relationships.

Because the writing is smooth with ample use of headings and subheadings, I was able to polish off this entire book in a 2.5 hour flight. Its a testament to good content and excellent writing.

All this being said, let me list two minor problems I had with the book.
1. excessive apologizing and caveats about research limitations. you will find apologies littered throughout the book and in Chapter 5, when the focus is on predicting sexual orientation ("gaydar"), it becomes tedious. If it is too uncomfortable to discuss "the tells of sexual orientation", you should skip the topic.
2. several of the examples in the book will be overly familiar. For example, I was surprised to find the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate dissected. This event is a mainstay in psychology books and textbooks.

It's a good book with a killer overarching theme. From the knowledge in this book, you will be a better judge of yourself and other people.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
This book is a fantastic read, full of knowledge that is very applicable to our everyday lives. Although written by an experienced psychologist the text is written in a very user-friendly way, achieving the goal of reaching the eyes of the general public. The reader does not need any previous literary experience with the genre, as the author inclusively presents all background information making it a standalone read.

I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be interested in what this book has to offer, since it resonates with the very same rhetorical questions we ask ourselves all the time. How can you make a good first impression? How can you tip the scales in your favor in a job interview? What does our appearance say about ourselves? What verbal and nonverbal expressions really show that a person is lying? Will you have marital success and how long is your spouse likely to live? What kind of attachment style will your child have? What predicts a good teacher or CEO?

This book answers these questions and then some. The author more than amply supports his writing with findings from prominent researchers, and summarizes them in to-the-point statements that leave you with the “Wow, really?!” reaction. The findings he shares are astonishing. You will find that your predictive intuition is, in fact, much more accurate than you thought...and for statistically-supported reasons that will certainly surprise you.

This book is a quick and enjoyable read. Having finished it, I feel more confident in my predictive abilities as well as feeling privileged to now know some “secrets” of my own tells and the tells of others.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 9, 2014
On page 4 of his book, Matthew Hertenstein says that "we humans have an uncanny ability to accurately predict a variety of outcomes based on fleeting nonverbal cues." The back cover of the book outlines in more detail what those predictable things are:

----- Election results: Kids can predict the outcomes of national elections in a different country based solely on candidates' photos

----- Adult personality: With only 45 minutes of observation, one can predict whether 4-month-olds will grow up to become outgoing and bubbly or introverted and anxious

----- Corporate success: The profits of Fortune 500 companies can be predicted by nothing more than a CEO's face

----- Autism: The chances of your child developing autism can often be predicted long before he has his second birthday party

----- Divorce: Expressions in childhood and college yearbook photos foretell whether people will be married or divorced years later

Sound amazing? It did to me. Imagine if investors could learn how to determine if a company is going to be profitable by looking at the CEO's face. Before buying a company's stock, just look at CEO pictures. Then choose what stock to buy. Same with politics. If you want to know who is going to win an election, just get photos of the candidates and ask kids in another country to tell you who is going to win. Simple.

Trouble is, it's not that simple. Read the book The Tell, and you'll find no amazing secrets like those above that have been revealed by science. Instead, you'll get some personal anecdotes, some superficial studies, and some "party-worthy findings" that you can amaze people with at parties. This is not a serious book. It's more magazine or television style fluffy features that are oversold as something significant.

If you like that kind of thing, great. If you like something that is more substance than fluff, take a look at Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want. That book too delves into the subject of what we can tell from other people, but comes to a different conclusion. In Mindwise, the author thinks that it's very hard to tell what people are thinking from visible clues. In fact, he feels that the best, and really the only reliable way to know what someone is thinking is this: you ask.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2013
This was a highly informative book written by a social psychologist who clears knows what he is talking about. Appropriate for people from any walks of life, Hertenstein uses his psychological background to help us better understand the world around us. The section on dating is especially helpful by giving single people a better chance at making a great first impression. These principles can be applied to many of life's tricky situations by providing us with the advantage of being better able to recognize and interpret context clues. Highly recommended!!!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
The Tell: The Little Clues that Reveal Big Truths About Who We Are, by Matthew Hertenstein, is an intriguing foray into subtle communication and prediction. The author ascertains that we subconsciously see slight variations of behavior, or “tells” in others, which prompt our decisions and actions. The book is very readable and understandable. Hertenstein provides several specific examples of how this form of subtle communication is relevant today, such as, which salespeople may be the most helpful or the most successful. As a sales manager, I found this very relevant and his information prompted some good conversations on the topic of “tells” and sales.The book does not go into great depth on the various topics, but it does provide enough information to understand the gist of the subject and prompt further thought and conversation. For those who would like to research the subject more, Hertenstein provides an excellent reference section and detailed chapter notes. The book is enjoyable and well worth reading.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2014
Review of the book The Tell By Jill Ranzy, MA, MISA I, 16 February, 2014.
Ranzy, J. (2014, February 16). Do others give clues about their behavior? [Review of the book The Tell, by M. Hertenstein, 2013]. The Tell: The little clues that reveal big truths about who we are.
The book The Tell, by Matthew Hertenstein (2013), encourages readers to use their powers of observation to discern clues about other people’s behaviors. Hertenstein uses personal experiences and studies by other scientists to assist the reader with understanding the clues or “tells” that people exhibit through facial expression, body language, and speech that provide insights that enable us to make predictions about other behaviors and the meanings behind the behaviors. Hertenstein provides his readers with glimpses into his personal life (i.e., the use of his insight into the possible fact that his son might have been exhibiting the early stages of autism) and how “tells” he was able to detect assisted him in making profound, life-changing decisions for his son (by getting the autism diagnosed early and effectively preventing its onset).
Hertenstein provides the reader with clinical documentation by other clinicians (Frank and Ekman (2004), Frank, Menasco, and O’Sullivan (2010), Haselton and Funder (2006), Kagan (2010), Kagan, Snidman, Arcus, and Reznick (1994) to name a few) to illustrate how genes, culture, and luck make each of us who we are. He provides charts and examples (some clinical, some personal) that are easy for any reader to understand and follow as he makes the point that observation of others facial and behavioral clues assists us with understanding who they are.
Hertenstein argues that “tells” can provide everything from predictions of intelligence to linkages of the severity of prison sentences based on stereotypical facial features to sexual orientation. He even uses his own face to demonstrate the differences in asymmetrical and symmetrical features, and how we look at symmetrical features as an indication of good health and good genes. According to Hertenstein our facial display, our eyes, and our voices provide “tells” that help others predict how we will respond to different situations.
Hertenstein suggests at the beginning of the book that by the time the reader is finished with the book their powers of observation and ability to interpret those observations should be increased. His arguments (both personal and professional) are persuasive and do provide the readers with basic tools to increase their powers of observation; however, at times he made it appear so easy to look at peoples “tells” and predict their behaviors that it’s possible many readers will get a false sense of expertise in reading other peoples expressions, body language, and voices.
One thing become apparent in The Tell, the author believes in the principle of being able to read “tells” provided by others as a means of predicting future behaviors, and the possible prevention of future or harmful behaviors and patterns. The only problem I had with the book was the fact that he did not provide data on the other factors used to predict human development and behaviors, or consider or refute opposing viewpoints.
Overall, I found The Tell easy to read, informative, and full of examples from everyday life that support the theory that clues or “tells” can be used to predict behavior in others. I became aware of how to more fully use my powers of observation and use the things I observe in others to better understand them and my reactions to them. I found the book to be well-thought out, concise, and able to communicate the author’s intentions and point of view clearly.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2013
This is a very engaging, insightful, and articulate book concerning personal perceptions or "tells". The subject matter is pertinent to persons of academia as well as everyday people. As an example, scholars can use the information contained in this book to further their personal research efforts, as well as assisting in "tells" of professionals and students alike. Individuals can apply the information in many areas of everyday life. This can include honing perceptions and "tells" of spouses, coworkers, children and other such as politicians and sales people, as mentioned in Hertenstein's book. Other topics of interest include dating, deception, and simply being mindful of persons in everyday encounters.

"The Tell" is an astute survey of common factors that are encountered daily but are commonly overlooked. Mindfulness of personal perceptions, or "tells", can guide us to safe choices in mates and friends, inspire informed political choices, and arouse helpful insight into the lives of our children and family members. These understated behaviors can provide valuable insight into the lives of those around us. As a health psychologist, I can utilize this information when assessing patients and family members through care of chronic or terminal illnesses and disease. By paying attention to subtle "tells" the psychological needs of patients can be more clearly identified and appropriate care provided.

Hertenstein provided a comprehensive survey of resources and references that provide additional validity to his research. The book is a well-written and engaging read. Furthermore, it is with pleasure that I recommend "The Tell" to readers of all lifestyles and provide assurance that information contained within this book will be of value to every reader.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2014
Cognitive psychologists have always been interested in the manner that individuals process information quickly, which not only benefits a person, but also is energy saving, because the brain can use 25% of the body’s energy during processing. As you read The Tell, you realize that there is much more here than a book on heuristics and energy saving processing. Reading this book, it becomes apparent that Hertenstein has provided information on different levels: a) the book reveals cognitive shortcuts used in our daily lives, b) it displays how psychological research gives insights into our behavior, and c) while The Tell provides the above psychological insights, the book does so in an interesting way, besides the book is just fun to read, because of the authors personable style.

As an example of how the information in The Tell can be relevant to the reader in explaining our behavior and related cognitions, over the past months, I have been talking to a friend who is a professor at a large university. We have been talking about student evaluations. In particular, how these affect courses, a professor’s chances at tenure, and most importantly a professor’s standing at a university. Our early conversations covered such subjects as how does a professor create courses that hold the students interests, convey the subject matter of the class, and last but not least how will this translate into excellent student evaluations. I was excited, when I read Chapter Eight on the Power of Enthusiasm, and how students make professor evaluations very quickly in the first class, which I passed on to an incredulous friend. I told him about the experiences of Stephen Cici, and the differences in student evaluations from one semester to the next with only simple changes in his presentation style that showed greater enthusiasm for the course. I told my friend that his enthusiasm translated into not only better evaluations, but also into student perception of learning more in the class.

Finally, I believe this book provides a great boon to psychology, because it presents behavioral and cognitive information on the tells that we see and use on a daily basis, providing us with information on how we can use these tells to recognize traits in others, and the manner these tells can affect us behaviorally.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2013
Hertenstein has written an accessible and lively book on thin slicing -- the ability to extrapolate from small representative samples. You might at first think that it's going to cover the same territory as "Blink" (by Malcolm Gladwell),but Hertenstein has in his favor a deeper understanding of the research. He is a psychologist who has made some pretty interesting discoveries; for example, that photographs of smiling in youth can be predictive of marital success. This gives him a bit of an edge when dealing realistically with the implications of this kind of research.

There is some great storytelling here. From predictors of CEO success to finding a compatible mate, the research has a number of real-life implications. It's the kind of research that seems so unintuitive at first, but eventually persuades you with the data. Take the message to heart, and you may gain a better appreciation of your own intuition and what underlies it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2013
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but I certainly wasn't disappointed to have read it.It seemed extremely well researched and was written in an easy ,no fuss manner.I think I will be ready if the category ever comes up on Jeopardy, and i will be able to dazzle at any party. In fact the close of every chapter includes 3 stellar party conversation starters/facts.
I found it to be a quick and interesting read,not too heavy, but still informative.
*I received my copy from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
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