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Not by Chance Alone: My Life as a Social Psychologist Hardcover – August 24, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“[Aronson’s] descriptions of experimental design and theory are thorough yet accessible to the average reader, but it is his profound insights, observations and compassion that make this a fascinating read…An illuminating account of how a great thinker with insatiable curiosity overcame a difficult childhood through his love of social science.”
Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of Stumbling on Happiness
“An engaging and beautifully written account by one of the great social psychologists of our time. From the rags his father sold to the intellectual riches he would someday discover, Aronson’s story is a quintessentially American inspiration.”
Phoebe C. Ellsworth, Frank Murphy Distinguished University Professor of Law and Psychology, University of Michigan
“Elliot Aronson is a great social psychologist and a great man. In the beginning his life was poor and cramped, and this book is the story of how he used every new experience to make it richer and more fulfilling. We see his mind ever expanding to embrace the joy and responsibility of love, scientific rigor, the brilliant synthesis of precision and imagination in his psychological experiments, the application of psychology to pressing social problems, and finally, the loss of his eyesight – but never of his vision. And, as always, he writes beautifully, with honesty, humor, and insight.”
Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works
“This is an autobiography with a difference. Not only is it a warm and graceful memoir of a gifted man who helped to shape the science of social life, but it is informed by insights from that very field. Elliot Aronson, more than any living person, knows that the stories we tell about ourselves are apt to be dubious and self-serving, and so his reflections on his own life are layered with reflections on how we reflect on our lives. The result is an immensely enjoyable and informative memoir.”
Phil Zimbardo, Ph.D., author of The Lucifer Effect
“Elliot Aronson is our modern day Horatio Alger as revealed in this charmingly inviting memoir of a childhood in rags to intellectual riches as one of psychology’s premier contributors. This master storyteller weaves his personal narrative in and around the events and people that marked his life path that was destined for greatness, without help from the vicissitudes of chance.”
Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr., Ph.D., Presidential Professor of Teaching Excellence, Professor of Psychology, Texas A&M University
“Arguably Elliot Aronson is first and foremost a very gifted teacher. The clarity he brings to that enterprise is evident in his success as a distinguished researcher and as a writer (witness the enormous popularity of his engaging treatise on social psychology, The Social Animal). And it is well manifested in this fascinating life story of a professor's quest to improve the human condition by understanding the social forces that so powerfully influence our lives. For those interested in an inside look at the joys and frustrations of an intellectual life, this book is a wonderful read.”
Gordon H. Bower, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Stanford University
“Not by Chance Alone describes the inspiring odyssey of one of the most eminent social psychologists of our times. Readers will admire the honest, witty, wise, and beautiful memoir of Aronson’s rich life that is filled with brilliant scientific insights, powerful teaching, and humane compassion.”
Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor, University of California-Irvine, Past President of the Association for Psychological Science
“Absolutely wonderful. Elliot Aronson has long shown that he can write engagingly for a wide audience, and in Not by Chance Alone he has outdone himself. Not only was I captivated by Aronson’s truly inspirational life story, but I also learned so much about the people, theories, and experiments that helped define the field of social psychology.”
Gardner Lindzey, Editor of The Handbook of Social Psychology from 1954-2010
“If they ever get around to awarding a Nobel Prize in social psychology, I believe Elliot Aronson will be its first recipient. His ideas are creative, his experiments are elegant and his findings are of great importance.”
Thomas F. Pettigrew, Research Professor of Social Psychology, University of California-Santa Cruz
“Aronson’s candid autobiography is an instructive and enjoyable read. In addition, the volume offers an informed perspective on the sweeping development of social psychology as a discipline over the past six decades.”
Robert B. Cialdini, Author of Influence: Science and Practice
“Elliot Aronson’s done it again—revealed deep human insights from a deeply human story.”
“The intricacies of the human psyche—and one man’s inquisitive mind—are illuminated in this shrewd, warm-hearted memoir”
“Aronson’s message—‘People who do crazy things are not necessarily crazy’—comes through with both analytic clarity and emotional resonance.”
“A courageous effort to answer some of the most fundamental questions of human destiny.”
“Aronson offers a revealing portrait both of himself and of social psychology in the past half-century.”
“Aronson’s autobiography documents his life and era in an inspirational, moving account recommended for general to college-level libraries.”
“What makes Not by Chance Alone unique is Aronson’s talent as a storyteller…He crafts dozens of stories that are as rich in imagery as they are in substance.”
Top Customer Reviews
I just finished reading your autobiography this weekend. In all honesty, when I
signed up for your and Carol's workshop at Esalen, I had no idea who you were.
I knew nothing about the things that you had done professionally in your life,
or how you have influenced society. Even when I got your email invite to
Capitola, I still didn't know who you were, other than this man who taught a
workshop at Esalen. At that workshop, it was the first time I ever heard of
someone named Maslow and about the "pyramid" he developed. My education level
is a high school diploma achieved by attending night school, so I never was
exposed to higher education to gain that kind of knowledge. I've spent most of
my life busy working hard to pull myself up by my boot straps in order to
provide a head start for my children to gain a college education. I am proud to
say that my daughter is the first in my family to attend college.
After reading your autobiography, I feel very privileged to have met you and
have had the opportunity to learn from you. My reasoning is not because you are
a recognized famous person of achievement in your profession. It is because even
though you and I have walked different paths in life, we have had very similar
experiences as people, which I can relate to...I also remember my family's
dinner table at times becoming a battle ground. I've had my share of sleeping
on couches, in cars and campgrounds to survive. I've had my own versions of
people like Jason, Maslow and Festinger in my life too. Even though I am
younger than you, I came of age during the time you describe when you had your
experiences in life.Read more ›
If you are a scientist or aspiring scientist, this is a treatise on someone who can describe their passion for teaching and research like no other.
If you are looking for inspiration, this is a story of how poverty, shyness, and family difficulties are not manifest destiny. There is plenty of psychological space to shape our personality and our environment.
I was pleasantly surprised at the emotional poignancy of this book and refused to go to sleep until finishing it the day it arrived. My admiration for Aronson has only intensified and I suspect nearly every reader will feel the same.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Elliot Aronson’s story is compelling - from his humble beginnings in Revere, Massachusetts, where he grew up, as he described himself, painfully shy to his college days at Brandeis... Read morePublished 16 months ago by mbear64
Chance is often a matter of interpretation. Elliot Aronson emphasizes the power of action which chance can have when not preceived as simply a thing which happens TO one. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Lyn
I deem it as one of the wonders in my life to pick up this book accidentally in a book store.Published 17 months ago by Gary Wong
A must for any psychologist and interesting for anyone pursuing an academic career in any field.
Someone who worked with people as Maslow or Festinger, able to speak... Read more
Dr. Eliot Aronson is not only a brilliant social psychologist but also a wonderful writer. All his texts are a joy to read. Read morePublished on April 17, 2013 by Dr. Signe A. Dayhoff
This book was a follow-on to a David Viscott book. David's book peaked my interest in the Mental Health professions and this one was for further inquiry into Psychology versus... Read morePublished on March 7, 2013 by Kent R. Dills
Elliot Aronson has influenced thousands of students through his lectures and advise, thousands of scholars and practitioners through his research, and his family members through... Read morePublished on December 21, 2012 by Matteo Luzzeri
It took me a while to find the brilliant nature of clowns at the beginning of the book because I spent a few weeks looking for some complexity that could relate to the books I have... Read morePublished on October 11, 2012 by no chit
Excellent book, as a psychologist I enjoyed reading about all the greats that influenced psychological theory. Read morePublished on April 28, 2012 by Jo-anne Baker