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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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“A lighthearted foray into motivational research.”
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- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0307719340
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307719348
- Product Dimensions : 5.23 x 0.46 x 7.99 inches
- Publisher : Harmony; Original Edition (February 7, 2012)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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he offers a combination of newer psychological studies pitted against traditional religion with often differing outcomes.
for example, there is malicious and good envy. good envy or upward envy allowed me to emulate smart students in undergrad school helping me gain entrance into medical school where it helped me survive. Scores on tests were posted for all to see. I hope it was to encourage all to upward envy or try harder as it did for me. However, others could have adopted malicious envy leading to resentment, schadenfreude (if the top person had a bad score) or even the The Tall Poppy Syndrome if the tall should fall into the mean. (Most medical schools now have pass or fail).
other sins were equally illuminating.
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).
From here, Laham takes the reader through numerous lab and field experiments to demonstrate that the characteristic or emotion in question can indeed lead to positive consequences. For instance, lust can trigger us to be more helpful and brave; gluttony can help us focus on the aesthetic experience of eating (which can lead to an enhancement of the culinary experience itself); greed can make us more persistent and self-sufficient; anger can motivate us to overcome the obstacles that we face, and also prompt us to confront moral transgressors (to the betterment of society); envy can motivate us to better ourselves; sloth can allow us think more efficiently and also prompt us to be more helpful towards others; pride can make us more competent and work harder, and also give us more self-esteem.
Though the author's main point is to outline the positive aspects of the seven deadly sins, he does acknowledge that, when approached in the wrong kind of way, they can indeed backfire on us (though again, the author could afford to go into much more detail here than he does on many occasions).
Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, there is much of interest to be learned here, and the book is well worth the read. A full executive summary of the book is available at newbooksinbrief dot com.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
5/5. I would heartily recommend this to anyone.
Explains everything in a way so that one who has never studied psychology would understand, but is such a different take on ideas that all psychologists should read this too.
Like the Alain de Botton for psych.
Like many social psychologists, its as if the only people he's ever met came out of the papers of past social studies, at times almost painfully out of touch with reality. He often confuses correlation with causality, but unbelievably tends to invert the roles even when common sense might provide some insight. Unbelievably he seems entirely out of touch with social realities such as stereotyping, and blatently engages in it himself! And in all this, there's even the painful restatement of the obvious, which admittedly is common (and necessary) in psychology, but here it's unbarable. He cites a lot of articles but takes them all with viritually no critical attitude. This all results in painfully obvious false statements that could have easily been avoided if the author had stopped to THINK a little more before spewing out a book