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This is an interesting topic, one we can all understand, how the situation we are in often will influence our behavior. I'm sure if people were to consider many of these situations upfront they would deny that they could act this way, but the data does not lie.
The chapters are: Paraphrased by me.
1. WYSIWYG: Talks about how when we see people in one situation, and assume it reflects their behavior in all situations.
2. Help Wanted: How we assume other people will address a situation observed in public, such as a call for help. Let someone else help. And more importantly, how to change this behavior.
3. Go with the Flow: The influence of crowds and authority figures on behavior.
4. You're not the person you thought you were; Everything is relative
5. Mars and Venus here on earth: Gender differences are more explained by socialization than biology.
6. Love: Who we love is more explained by geography, familiarity and state of mind than we realize.
7. Hate: Them versus Us, the bigots in us all.
Having read many a dry but interesting psychology book, this author had a way to make the subject matter come alive. I can see where this would be required reading in many a (fortunate) psychology class, however better yet, this books calls for us to be better people.
* We need to realize people are not always what they seem in one situation.Read more ›
One of the reasons social commentators leave out has to do with a strong unconscious need to protect ourselves from others' vibes, which thereby closes us down. Or, as Sommers has it, "in crowded settings we're just less tuned in to everything around us." He calls it "sensory overload." I guess the trick is to remain alert while protecting yourself against other peoples' vibes.
One part of the book teaches you how to ask for help, especially in crowds where you might not get attention: "When you need help, be direct. Target specific individuals. Paint yourself in the most empathetic light possible." Sounds a little bleak. Oh, and if you smile and you're pretty, you have the edge over the rest of us. Sorry, guys.
Sommers writes that there is no way to know what true perceptions are so "the gurus of self-help got it wrong." He seems happy about that. I think he is short- sighted. Perceptions are far more fluid than he allows and therefore self-help advice has got to be right at least some of the time. But, nicely, he also points out that authenticity isn't static. It flows over time and place and situations. You can recognize it inside yourself in any case, and others can sense it. No immutable law here, it is a creative thing that can both grow and diminish.Read more ›
By overlooking the situational context, Sommers points out that we end up with a simplified view of human behavior. Sommers calls this the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) view of life. The WYSIWYG view, according to Sommers, gives us a false confidence that we can predict the behavior of others by relying only on our internal explanations of behavior. To demonstrate the problem with WYSIWYG, Sommers explores how situations contribute to behavior by looking at confessions, crowd behavior, gender issues, love and hate.
Sommers did a great job of illuminating the role played by context in behavior through research reviews and personal stories. As I was reading the book though, I kept asking myself the question, so what? How can I use this information? While Sommers did provide a Lessons Learned at the end of each chapter, I believe the book would have been much better and of greater use to readers if the Lessons Learned material had been developed further by the author.
The book is easy to read, despite being heavy with research findings. Sommers does a masterful job of translating these research findings for the lay reader. Personally though, I could have done with less of the author's attempts at humor. I feel it detracted from the book's message.
Despite being well researched and written, this book left me flat....
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book! Give you insight about the bias we make in daily life and let us learn more about how situations would affect people's behavior. Read morePublished 3 months ago by VJ
I love this book. It was required for class but it's in lay's terms so it's easy to read and understand. Author uses many examples and has humor in the bookPublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fun and quick read. If you read much on the topic, there won't be much new here. Still, there were some insights and I enjoy the author's sense of humor.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great price! $7 for a MSRP $27 hardcover book in excellent condition.Published 14 months ago by Woofna
Sommers made this book so much fun to read and is an amazingly credible author!Published 15 months ago by Amy Jones
This book is a must read for people who are close-minded. Unfortunately, they probably don't like learning that they're wrong, sometimes. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Doug
Indeed most people underestimate the power of situations and overestimate the power of personal characteristics and intentions. Read morePublished on July 20, 2014 by drs
This is one of several recent titles that popularizes the findings from cognitive psychology experiments and points to conclusions for the way we form judgements. Read morePublished on July 3, 2014 by Glen S Drummond