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The Science of Sin: The Psychology of the Seven Deadlies (and Why They Are So Good For You) Original Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0307719348
ISBN-10: 0307719340
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

You know what they are—lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, anger, envy, and pride, the seven deadly sins. Only, you see, they’re not as deadly as you think. In fact, they can be good for you. For example, lust—more specifically, arousal—heightens one’s sense of urgency about the present moment, not the undefined future. Also, sex in advertising really doesn’t sell; it actually lowers recall of the products being advertised. But arousal stimulates what Laham calls “prosocial,” Good Samaritan–like behavior because, when aroused, one is more apt to want to impress and appear to be an attractive person. Writing in a light, almost breezy manner, social psychologist Laham tries to stay far away from jargon and mumbo-jumbo. Consequently, his book will certainly open readers’ eyes to the unexpected and sometimes very surprising ways in which the seven “deadly” sins can actually enrich their lives and improve their minds. Lots to think about here. --David Pitt

Review

“In his engaging new book, Laham takes us on a sinfully delicious tour of human nature that reveals the bright side of our dark side.”
– Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
 
“A lighthearted foray into motivational research.”
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Original edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307719340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307719348
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,110,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
*A full executive summary of this book is available at newbooksinbrief dot com.

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).
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Format: Paperback
Sinfully indulge in this irresistible page-turner, and you'll likely conclude that the seven deadlies aren't so sinful after all. In fact, that's the author's hope for this book:
"I want to convince you that not only are the sins complex and interesting psychological states, but that, if indulged wisely, they are largely functional and adaptive." (p. 12)

Accomplishing his mission (with impressive writing, wit, wisdom, and a weaving together of the findings from gluttonous servings of deliciously fascinating social science experiments), the author shows how we can use the sins to our advantage. Lust can promote benevolence and creativity and even higher test scores. Gluttony can help us value experience (vs. consequence), sociality (vs. isolation), and variety (vs. monotony). Greed can make us happier, more motivated, self-sufficient, and fair. Sloth can help us be more attentive, open-minded, creative, smarter, and virtuous. Anger promotes persistence, performance, optimism, control, and justice. Envy increases hope, creates a positive self-image, and motivates us to get what we long for. Pride allows us to work hard and achieve, take the lead, and be liked by others.

The author clarifies that this book is not "a manifesto for 'all sin, all the time,' but a reminder that far from leading us down the fiery path to hell, or even being generally dysfunctional, the seven deadly sins actually serve us quite well." (p. 12)

So, (appropriate) sinning is actually good for us. Perhaps the seven deadly sins should be relabeled as the seven lively wins...
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By Phil Simon on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed The Science of Sin but can't help but think that it would have been better as either an article or a longer book. Because of the book's relatively short length and tendency to introduce studies and then quickly move away from them, I felt as if another 50 pages would have added considerable depth. Laham's writing style is very personable, funny, and jargon-free. I just wanted more of it. It's a good book, to be sure, and I would have felt differently about it if it didn't gloss over the subjects so quickly.
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Format: Paperback
In The Science of Sin, Dr Laham argues that what are known as the seven deadly sins can in fact be good for you.

I was skeptical to the idea when I first started reading it, but Dr Laham does a great job of outlining a number of scientific studies that show how what would traditionally be referred to as a sin - be it lust, greed, envy, gluttony, anger, pride or sloth - can in fact be beneficial, both for the individual and for society. Complex concepts are clearly explained, and the book also provides a fascinating insight into how social psychologists run experiments and answer questions about human nature more generally.

My favourite chapter (though it's hard to pick just one!) was Gluttony - and now I am going to go and eat some icecream.
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After a lifetime of more than 85 years, I finally found someone who viewed sin as the pleasure it has the potential to provide. Each of the seven sins was dissected in a way that a good within the sin became evident. It was logical, yet it probably offended a great many who think sin is evil. Perhaps too much of anything can be evil, but it does give the reader a chance to think beyond the conventional and find the fun in doing what some people view as wrong. The reader has an opportunity to sit down for a few hours of relaxation while reading the book, go out and sin, and still go to bed with a smile on his/her face.
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