How We Know What Isn't So

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Thomas Gilovich offers a wise and readable guide to the fallacy of the obvious in everyday life.

When can we trust what we believe—that "teams and players have winning streaks," that "flattery works," or that "the more people who agree, the more likely they are to be right"—and when are such beliefs suspect? Thomas Gilovich offers a guide to the fallacy of the obvious in everyday life. Illustrating his points with examples, and supporting them with the latest research findings, he documents the cognitive, social, and motivational processes that distort our thoughts, beliefs, judgments and decisions. In a rapidly changing world, the biases and stereotypes that help us process an overload of complex information inevitably distort what we would like to believe is reality. Awareness of our propensity to make these systematic errors, Gilovich argues, is the first step to more effective analysis and action.
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About the author

Thomas Gilovich is a professor of psychology at Cornell University and author of The Wisest One in the Room (with Lee Ross), How We Know What Isn’t So, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, and Social Psychology. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jun 30, 2008
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781439106747
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Developmental / Child
Psychology / General
Psychology / Personality
Psychology / Social Psychology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Renowned psychologists describe the five most useful insights from social psychology that will help make you “wise”: wise about why we behave the way we do, and wise about how to use that knowledge to understand others and change ourselves for the better.

When faced with a challenge, we often turn to those we trust for words of wisdom. Friends, relatives, and colleagues: someone with the best advice about how to boost sales, the most useful insights into raising children, or the sharpest take on a political issue. In The Wisest One in the Room, renowned social psychologists Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross ask: Why? What do these people know? What are the foundations of their wisdom? And, as professors and researchers who specialize in the study of human behavior, they wonder: What general principles of human psychology are they drawing on to reach these conclusions?

They find that wisdom, unlike intelligence, demands some insight into people—their hopes, fears, passions, and drives. It’s true for the executive running a Fortune 500 company, the candidate seeking public office, the artist trying to create work that will speak to the ages, or the single parent trying to get a child through the tumultuous adolescent years. To be wise, they discover, one must be psych-wise when dealing with everyday challenges.

In The Wisest One in the Room Gilovich and Ross show that to answer any kind of behavioral question, it is essential to understand the details—especially the hidden and subtle details—of the situational forces acting upon us. Understanding these forces is the key to becoming wiser in the way we understand the people and events we encounter, and wiser in the way we deal with the challenges that are sure to come our way. With the lessons gleaned here, you can learn the key to becoming “the wisest one in the room.”

How does the situation we’re in influence the way we behave and think? Professors Ross and Nisbett eloquently argue that the context we find ourselves in substantially affects our behaviour.

“The Person and the Situation explores the complex ideas about personal versus situational determinants of behavior and relates the lessons of our discipline to important political, social, and even philosophical issues. This its the type of book that we have long wished we had available to assign to the serious, critical student who asks, ‘What have we really learned from social psychology?’ “We offer this book as a kind of throwback to a golden age and as a tribute to our intellectual forebears. We offer it as a ‘stand tall and be proud’ pep talk for our colleagues in general and for our younger colleagues in particular. We offer it as an olive branch and invitation to more fruitful intellectual dialogue with our friends in personality research (and also to our friends in anthropology and sociology who cluck, with some justification, about our parochialism). We offer it as a slim guide for non-psychologists to the heart and muscle of our enterprise. And last, but not least, we offer it as an invitation to honor the great tradition of Kurt Lewin that links basic theory first to the analysis of socially significant real-world phenomena and ultimately to the task of effective social innovation.”  Lee Ross & Richard Nisbett

With a new foreword by Malcolm Gladwell, and a new afterword by the authors, this timely reissue of one of social psychology’s classic texts is essential reading for anyone with an interest in human behaviour.

 “All of my books have been, in some sense, intellectual godchildren of The Person and the Situation. This book has been a constant companion over the past 10 years.” Malcolm Gladwell, in his new foreword

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