5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Good psychology book,
This review is from: Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing (Hardcover)
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Previously Po Bronson's books were based on interviews as well as his own life experience. This book moves more to a mainstream popular psychology book. Bronson discusses aspects of competition, using psychological research findings.
This book will be extremely valuable to a number of audiences. In particular, it is important to recognize that some people excel when faced with competition but others shrink back. I've met many people who just couldn't do well on standardized tests, such as GRE or GMAT; unable to attend top tier universities for graduate school, they still forged brilliant careers.
There are so many insights here! For example:
First, many studies compare risk taking and success in men and women. But one surprising factor is the ratio of length of ring finger to index finger. Men tend to have longer ring fingers - and so do successful women. We're hardwired from birth.
Second, positive thinking can be a pitfall. People who fantasize about their perfect job or relationship tend to end up with bad jobs and relationships, or none at all, because they get too complacent.
What's more important is to consider additive vs subtractive counterfactuals. An additive counterfactual might be, "If only I had driven to the hoop..." It's an "if only" identifying an alternative course of action. A negative counterfactual might be, "If only I hadn't turned to the left..." Negative counterfactuals discourage further action while positive coounterfactuals motivate us to think of new solutions.
Relatedly, people who anticipated negative aspects of a challenge often experienced better outcomes than those who were determinedly positive. For instance, two groups of children were learning English. One group was asked to think of all the good things that would come with learning English. Another was asked to fantasize like the first, but also to list all the obstacles they'd have to overcome on the way to English fluency. The second group made much higher grades, based on just this one exercise.
Finally, not everyone wants to be a team member or collaborator. Adding the words "good team player" or "teamwork" to a job description can turn off many creative applicant.
This book will be extremely valuable to many readers. If you're thinking of studying psychology yourself, I'd highly recommend the book for a good look at the way research is conducted today to learn about how our minds work. Psychology courses often begin by warning that many widely held truths turn out to be myths; this book offers additional evidence to support that claim.