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Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength Hardcover – September 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; 1 edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594203075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203077
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The psychologist Roy F. Baumeister has shown that the force metaphor has a kernel of neurobiological reality. In Willpower, he has teamed up with the irreverent New York Times science columnist John Tierney to explain this ingenious research and show how it can enhance our lives. . . . Willpower is an immensely rewarding book, filled with ingenious research, wise advice and insightful reflections on the human condition."
(Steven Pinker, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW)

"An accessible, empirically grounded guide to willpower and how best to deploy it to overcome temptation."
(THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

"Willpower is sure to inspire further groundbreaking research into the mechanics of willpower. One implication is already apparent. Since repeated behaviors eventually turn into habits, improving willpower long term requires a unique strategy-a habit of changing habits, of continually expanding our zones of comfort. One such practice, it seems, is the 'routine' of learning. That's a habit that this brilliant book will certainly nourish."
(THE DAILY BEAST)

"Willpower affects almost every aspect of our lives. From procrastination, to saving for retirement to exercising, Tierney and Baumeister have given us a wonderful book in which they not only share fascinating research on the subject but also provide simple tricks to help us tap into this important quality."
(Dan Ariely, Duke University, author of PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL)

"Willpower is sinfully delicious - once you start reading, you won't be able to stop. A fascinating account of the exciting new science of self-control, told by the scientist who made it happen and the journalist who made it news."
(Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University, author of STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS)

"Who knew that a book about such a daunting topic could be as wonderfully entertaining as it is enlightening! Tierney and Baumeister have produced a highly intelligent work full of fascinating information (and great advice) about a core element of modern living. Bravo."
(David Allen, author of GETTING THINGS DONE and MAKING IT WORK)

"Willpower (the thing) lies at the curious intersection of science and behavior. Willpower (the book) lies at the intersection of Roy Baumeister, an extraordinarily creative scientist, and John Tierney, a phenomenally perceptive journalist. Ignore it at your peril."
(Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of FREAKONOMICS and SUPERFREAKONOMICS)

"Will, willpower, and mental energy have been shunned by modern psychology. Roy Baumeister, the most distinguished experimental social psychologist in the world, and John Tierney, a renowned journalist, have teamed up to put Will back into its rightful center stage place. This little masterpiece is a must read for all of us who want to exercise, diet, manage our time, be thrifty, and resist temptation."
(Martin Seligman, former president of American Psychological Association)

"This is a manual from heaven for anyone who has ever wanted to lose weight, stop smoking, drink less, work more efficiently and more intelligently. An astonishingly good - and accessible - inquiry into one of the more elusive areas of human psychology: why we go on thwarting ourselves when we really know better. On top of that, Willpower is a vastly entertaining book, full of fascinating stories about the complexities of our evolutionarily-wired brains. A brilliant accomplishment, at every level."
(Christopher Buckley, author of THANK YOU FOR SMOKING)

"Deep and provocative analysis of people's battle with temptation and masterful insights into understanding willpower: why we have it, why we don't, and how to build it. A terrific read."
(Ravi Dhar, Yale School of Management, Director of Center for Customer Insights)

About the Author

Roy F. Baumeister directs the social psychology program at Florida State University. He has written for more than 450 scientific publications and consistently ranks among the world's most frequently cited psychologists. This is his twenty-eighth book.
John Tierney writes the "Findings" science column for the New York Times. His writing has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Physics. This is his third book.

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Customer Reviews

This book is very informative and interesting.
Jim
By the end of the day they were too tired to go through all the effort to review the info and make a good decision so they just erred on the side of caution!
Nadaa A. Taiyab
Some of the take away's are... 1. Energy and blood sugar levels dictate your willpower 2.
Stephen Reynolds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

147 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Ivan on October 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been contemplating on the subject of willpower for a while and was very excited to get this book when it came out. While there is a good amount of interesting material here on the science of self-control, overall, I would say this title didn't quite live up to my expectations.

As one of the reviewers pointed out, there is a multitude of different pop sci books out there. Some are written by the researchers themselves and others by journalists who digest and interpret the information second-hand. In my experience, there is a clear distinction in style between someone who is a primary subject matter expert and someone who is just synthesizing secondary information. The researcher-authors tend to focus more on the actual experiments, strike a decent balance between pop and hard science, do a much better job explaining the meaning of the findings, and are usually pretty cautious about overly extrapolating the results. Journalist-authors tend to err much more on the side of watering down the science (perhaps because they have an incomplete understanding themselves) and generally strike a "let me explain this to an idiot" type of tone.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that this book is co-authored with the primary researcher, it really falls into the "journalist-author" bucket. I get a distinct impression that John Tierny was responsible for most of the writing, where Roy Baumeister is cited as an author only because the book is mostly based on his research. I think Tierny tries way too hard to oversimplify the science and calls on very extensive celebrity examples to illustrate some of the findings.
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234 of 260 people found the following review helpful By Todd B. Kashdan VINE VOICE on September 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There are few concepts in psychology with as much scientific support as the idea that willpower is a limited resource and when its drained, people (and even dogs) have less willpower for whatever task is coming next in their lives. Perhaps the most sexy finding is that if you use a great deal of self-control or willpower in doing something you end up exhausted in whatever you do next that requires self-control even if it is completed unrelated to the first activity. For instance, you try to resist the sexual temptation of looking at beautiful women at work and without even knowing it, you end up physically weaker during your gym workout. This tends to happen when the two activities are back to back. Other people will be fascinated by the unusual ways that people can build up their reservoir of willpower. I won't give away the juice here.

As a scientist, I am impressed with how the authors stay close to the science.
As a reader, I relish the smooth writing style.
As someone who wants to be entertained, I appreciate the great storytelling ability. For this reason, the ideas in this book are sticky.

Honestly, I find it difficult to imagine an audience that would not benefit from reading this book. Educators. Policy makers. Parents. Self-help book fanatics. Therapists and coaches. People interested in why human beings do the things they do (that is, fans of psychology). If you disagree, let me know. Roy Baumeister is one of the most important psychologists alive and he is not afraid of taking risks and delving into what matters- sex, death, love, happiness, suicide, and even UFO abductions. Its about time people outside of science get a taste of his excellent contributions.

I couldn't recommend this more strongly.

cheers,
Todd
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Roy Baumeister is a psychologist who has spent decades exploring how willpower works, and what exactly it is. Here, he teams up with journalist John Tierney to write a popular book surveying his and other folks' research on the subject. The result is somewhere between a work of social science and a self-help book. Not only do we get insights on how willpower works, but also get tips on how to make it work for us.

Perhaps one of the most interesting (and in the field of psychology, controversial) Baumeister and Tierney detail several studies that have subjects to some hard decision making tasks, and move on to other moderate decision making tasks. The results: those who engaged in hard decision making tasks gave up quicker on the next round of tasks (as opposed to the control group who were given easier tasks first). Another interesting finding is that glucose increases one's self-control abilities, as evidenced by studies where some groups were giving a sugary soft-drink before engaging in self-control tasks (while others weren't) and, as a consequence, were better able to exercise self-control. (The authors are quick to tell us that they aren't endorsing large sugar intakes to increase self-control, but that protein consumption can also do the trick.)

Later chapters focus on the idea that willpower works best when others are holding us accountable. There is a chapter detailing several websites that help people achieve their goals by either posting results (budgetary, weight loss, etc) on a public space, or having us assign a friend or colleague to monitor our progress (and give rewards).
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