email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
"Are You There Alone?""Who Could That Be at This Hour?"3 Willows4th of July99 DaysA Beautiful MindA Change in AltitudeA Corner Of The UniverseA Frog ThingA Great and Terrible BeautyA People's History of ChristianityA Question of BloodA Slight Trick of the MindA Step Toward FallingA Thousand Miles from NowhereA Voyage Long and StrangeA Wedding in December Abraham LincolnAcross the River and Into the TreesAfter DarkAgainst EmpathyAgainst Medical AdviceAll the Bright PlacesAll the Way HomeAll Unquiet ThingsAlphavilleAlways Too Much And Never EnoughAmerica AmericaAmong the DepartedAn EducationAn Object of BeautyAnatomy of a MisfitAre You There, Vodka? It's Me, ChelseaBad BoyBad RatsBarbara the Slut and Other PeopleBeach RoadBeat the ReaperBeauty QueensBed of RosesBefore I DieBefore I FallBefore the FrostBig BrotherBiteBlack Elk SpeaksBlameBleed for MeBlonde FaithBlood, Salt, WaterBody SurfingBog ChildBoneMan's DaughtersBoomsdayBorder CrossingBorn Standing UpBoys Are DogsBoys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)Brava, ValentineBreak Through PainBreathingBridge of SighsBrief Interviews with Hideous MenBrutalBy BloodC StreetCalm Beneath the WavesCanadaCellCemetery DanceChange Your Brain, Change Your LifeCheeverCinnamon KissCleopatraClose Your EyesCompulsionCross CountryCyborgasmDakotaDancing at the Shame PromDarkest FearDavid Sedaris Live at Carnegie HallDead EvenDear Zoe,Death Without TenureDeceptionDefending JacobDefine NormalDeliriumDevil in the DetailsDiscovering Pig MagicDisturbing GroundDivergentDivine JusticeDivisaderoDoing ItDown the Rabbit HoleDr. Andrew Weil's Mindbody ToolkitDress Your Family in Corduroy and DenimDriftlessEven Dogs in the WildEvery Exquisite ThingEvery Little Thing in the WorldEye ContactFaith, Hope, and Ivy JuneFaking NormalFalling ManFamily FirstFans of the Impossible LifeFear of the DarkFellsideField of BloodFile Under: 13 Suspicious IncidentsFiregirlForest of the PygmiesFortunate SonFraudFreak the MightyFree RefillsFull Steam Ahead!Furiously HappyGenerosityGenomeGetting a Good Night's SleepGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGiftedGirl in TranslationGod Is DeadGod Is Not OneGods and BeastsGoing BovineGranny Torrelli Makes SoupGraysonHappy FamilyHappy Mutant Baby PillsHarmlessHe's Just Not That Into YouHealthy AgingHeartbeatHeftHigh HeatHolidays on IceHot MilkHotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetHotel WorldHotels of North AmericaHow a Gunman Says GoodbyeHow Full Is Your Bucket?How Successful People ThinkHow to Build a HouseHow to See Yourself As You Really AreHow to Set a Fire and WhyHunger Makes Me a Modern GirlHurt Go HappyHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenI Am Not Joey PigzaI Can See YouI Drink for a ReasonI Feel Bad About My NeckI'd Know You AnywhereIdiot AmericaIf a Tree Falls at Lunch PeriodIf I StayIf You StayImagine Me GoneIn ZanesvilleInfinite JestInheritanceInnocentInside the O'BriensInvincibleInvisibleIt Takes OneJennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, ElizabethJust LifeKiss of Broken GlassKissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys)Leaping BeautyLies My Girlfriend Told MeLife After LifeLife InterruptedLife of PiLife StrategiesLisey's StoryLitLittle Black LiesLittle ScarletLive For Your Listening PleasureLiving Your DreamLong Shadow of Small GhostsLooking for BobowiczLost in the ForestLove Is a Mix TapeLove Times ThreeLove, AubreyLowboyMadappleMade For YouMagical ThinkingMagnificenceMaliceMan in the WoodsMeditation in a New York MinuteMeetings with a Remarkable ManMiddlesexMind MappingMindfulness for BeginnersMirrorMaskMischlingMissing PresumedMolly Moon's Incredible Book of HypnotismMommies Who DrinkMunich AirportMy AbandonmentMy Life Among the Serial KillersMy Name Is RedMy One Hundred AdventuresMy Sister's KeeperName All the AnimalsNelson Mandela's Favorite African FolktalesNemesisNever Let Me GoNight FilmNina: AdolescenceNinety DaysNone of the AboveNurtureShockObjects of My AffectionOlive's OceanOn Chesil BeachOne Flew Over The Cuckoo's NestOutliersPaint It BlackPanicParadise LodgeParanoiaPeace Is Every BreathPeople Who Eat DarknessPharmakonPictures of Hollis WoodsPictures of YouPilgrim at Tinker CreekPlaying with FirePlease Stop Laughing at UsPositivityPresumed InnocentPretty Girl-13Prisoner of Night and FogPuddlejumpersPunkzillaRacing the DevilReady for AnythingRebuttalRequiemRescueRevolutionary RoadRoomRun for Your LifeSay You're SorryScatSchool of FearSeason to TasteSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSee How SmallSeeds of HopeSex and SpiritSide Effects May VarySilencedSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaSix Impossible ThingsSkelligSleeping BeautySnowSo Brave, Young and HandsomeSolitaireSomeday This Pain Will Be Useful to YouSourlandSquirrel Seeks ChipmunkStill MissingStory of a GirlStress ReliefSupreme CourtshipSurviving OpheliaSwimming to ElbaSworn to SilenceSymptoms of Being HumanTeaseTeaseTell the Truth, Shame the DevilTen Minutes to RelaxTestimonyThat Old Cape MagicThe Abortionist's DaughterThe AccidentalThe Accidental BillionairesThe AdultsThe Almost MoonThe Anatomy of HopeThe Art of ChoosingThe Art of Exceptional LivingThe Artist of DisappearanceThe Average American MarriageThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Beat Goes OnThe Best AwfulThe Big LoveThe Boat RockerThe Book of JoeThe Book of LiesThe Book of the DeadThe Boy Who DaredThe Boyfriend ListThe Brass VerdictThe Breakout PrincipleThe Burden of ProofThe Case for GodThe Case of the Case of Mistaken IdentityThe Cemetery BoysThe Chosen OneThe ClosersThe Consciousness PlagueThe Conspiracy ClubThe Cuckoo's CallingThe Day I Ate Whatever I WantedThe Dead Fathers ClubThe Death of Bunny MunroThe Devotion of Suspect XThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-BanksThe Diviner's TaleThe DollmakerThe Dressmaker of Khair KhanaThe Dynamite RoomThe Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round ThingsThe EndThe Erotic EdgeThe Essential KamasutraThe First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustThe Forgotten GirlsThe Geography of You and MeThe Gift of an Ordinary DayThe Gingerbread GirlThe Girl in 6EThe Girl in the GardenThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's NestThe Girl Who Played with FireThe Girl with the Dragon TattooThe Grief of OthersThe Grim GrottoThe Guise of AnotherThe Guy Not TakenThe Heart of YogaThe Hearts of MenThe Heretic's DaughterThe Ice QueenThe Ice TwinsThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe InseparablesThe InterestingsThe Keeper of Lost CausesThe Kings of LondonThe Language God TalksThe Language of SecretsThe Language Of YogaThe Last ChildThe Last MileThe Last Time We Say GoodbyeThe Male BrainThe Man from BeijingThe Man in My BasementThe Man Who Couldn't EatThe Map of True PlacesThe Marriage PlotThe Memory Book The Mermaids SingingThe Ministry of Special CasesThe MuralistThe Museum of InnocenceThe Mystery of the Third LucretiaThe Myth of LazinessThe NarrowsThe Necessary Death of Lewis WinterThe New YorkersThe NewleywedsThe NixThe NursesThe Opposite of InvisibleThe Other Side of the StoryThe Outcasts of 19 Schuyler PlaceThe Particular Sadness of Lemon CakeThe PastThe Penultimate PerilThe PostcardThe Pregnant WidowThe Promise of a LieThe PyramidThe Qi Healing KitThe ReaderThe Republican BrainThe Rule of FourThe Rules of SurvivalThe Savage CityThe ScarecrowThe Second GirlThe Secret Life of BeesThe Secret of Lost ThingsThe Secret ScriptureThe Secret SpeechThe Secret Wisdom of the EarthThe ShallowsThe Shock of the FallThe Silent BoyThe SisterThe Sound of Broken GlassThe SpindlersThe Story HourThe Story of Beautiful GirlThe Sudden Arrival of ViolenceThe Survivors ClubThe Sweet Relief of Missing ChildrenThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieThe Tail of Emily WindsnapThe Tenth JusticeThe Thing About JellyfishThe Third AngelThe TouristThe Treasure Map of BoysThe Trouble with Goats and SheepThe Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector ChopraThe Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia MossThe UnquietThe Unseen WorldThe View from SaturdayThe WaveThe Weed That Strings the Hangman's BagThe Weight of the NationThe Whole TruthThe WilloughbysThe Witch's BoyThe Wolves of AndoverThe Words We Live ByThe Wrong Side of GoodbyeThe Year of the FloodThe Year That FollowsThe Yin Yoga KitThirteen Reasons WhyThis Beautiful LifeThis Body of DeathThis Book Is Not Good For YouThis Full HouseThis Is HowThose GirlsThose Who Wish Me DeadTony & SusanToo Much HappinessTooth and NailTouchTransformation TriburbiaTrue BelieverTrue CompassTruth & BeautyTwinmakerTwistedTwo Can PlayTwo Little Girls in BlueUnaccustomed EarthUnder the HarrowUnder the InfluenceUnder WildwoodUniversal HarvesterUnlessUnthinkingUp in the AirVery ValentineVisits from The Drowned GirlVoid MoonWaiting for SunriseWalkingWarWatching the DarkWhat the Dog SawWhen We Were AnimalsWhen You Are Engulfed in FlamesWhen You Reach MeWhere She WentWherever You Go, There You AreWhite HotWild AwakeWild ChildWildwoodWill They Ever Trust Us Again?Wolf in White VanWomen's Murder Club Box SetYoga SanctuaryYou Look Different in Real LifeYou Should Have KnownYou Will Know Me
A book describing the 'triumph of assuming over thinking', this latest volume by Beckworth combines the explanations of Marshall McLuhan and the more recent Crowdsourcing by Howe (see my earlier Metapsy reviews of 2008) and written in the style of Malcolm Gladwell, to better understand how and why the average consumer makes the choices that they do, in offloading their disposable incomes. The principle findings have much of value to inform today's marketers and advertisers, Beckworth's results (the 'surprising forces' of the subtitle) taking much account of real market-place data, but also the long neglected results of 30yrs research in the field of experimental psychology. Indeed, to the academic psychologist and neurologist, some of the findings of this volume may appear rather predictable. However, the book is no less important, nor any less significant, for its timely appearance in our new 'inundation age' (see last chapter), in which advertisers and marketers are fiercely competing for each of our individual, reducing, attentions towards their efforts to have us buy their particular items, products and services.
Several of Beckworth's chapters relate examples of consumer decision-making as being based upon 'gut feelings' and brand loyalties rather than the most relevant available data with regards real personal preference for product use and experience (think the Pepsi Challenge, in which 2/3 say they prefer Pepsi, yet still buy Coke, given the choice), with the additional observation that even given the most relevant data to their own logical explanation, most consumers will instead re-assemble those facts in a way consistent with their choices. This has for long been knows in Experimental Psychology as an example of Fessinger's Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Likewise the more familiar Placebo effect (cleverly called the 'No See bo' effect here), can be seen to be in action with regards research concerned with consumers' choice of 'best' hair restorers (control group users believing they are using known Branded samples report increasing hair density/length), and tasting 'superior' food quality (high end New York restaurants satisfying their diners though using pre-prepared dishes from Pizza Hut). The same expectancy theories, long since discussed in psychology 101 textbooks, reappear here, but written for the professional marketer sound a warning: we need to "develop, nurture, and manage great expectations' (Audio track 6.8), in wooing their customers, as they so often 'buy' the idea of a product, not its real substance -- and instead, use their 'expectations' (of the product) to change the way they perceive and feel about their purchases. Consider the 'power' of the big banks, for example, it is certainly NOT the real world data that influences so many IPO and M & A handlers to work with the leading brand names in banking (the smaller fund houses perform as well, if not better, on average), but our 'expectations' that they will perform better that nudges our commitment to do such business with them. Such thinking, or rather 'unthinking', is the core of Beckworth's thesis throughout this book, and reflects the average person's lack of metrics (or at least their lack of willingness to use such) with which to compare the real options available.
Of less welcome news to many readers, will be the several examples of simple 'gut feeling' and socially-influenced 'crowdsourcing' effects upon our purchasing decisions. Not simply the 'a million customers cannot be wrong, can they ?' variety, but of the more disturbing 'I do not wish to be regarded foolish for making the wrong choice/decision' variety -- less often realized, and seldom admitted when it is ! Beckworth's examples are excellently chosen, familiar products, and popular choices -- themselves key components of the personal (and all of the average American's) preference criteria set that we each employ so often in affecting our consumer purchase decisions. Without spoiling the story for you to read for yourself, Beckworth's key findings reveal that, in making our decision to buy -- we love the familiar (if not outright popular), and playful, especially if it is also clean, simple, smooth, and symmetrical,… but also a little surprising and pleasing at the same time. Other influences, again with great examples provided throughout the text, involve the consumers' desire for good cognitive fluency (marketers' stories need to be true, or at least believable) and appeal to our perceptual adaptation times (the new becomes the old remarkably fast today), whilst also helping them to feel 'a part' of the happening consumer scene and all that 'fashion' (in all its various guises) has to offer our self-esteem (or fear of loneliness !).
So, much of experimental psychology is indeed validated in market place behaviour, but what of our new neuroscience contributions to the better understanding of our purchase preferences and decision making ? As seen in the MRI scanner, we do indeed appear to be 'unthinking', at least when taking the 'Pepsi Challenge': when we do NOT know which we are drinking, it is the ventral putamen which lights up (x 5) when tasting the Pepsi -- an area involved in reward processing; in contrast, when we KNOW what we are drinking, it is the medial PFC (executive control) area which lights up differentially, in contrast to when tasting Pepsi colaAlso available in print and ebook formats, the current reviewer enjoyed the audio presentation very much -- heard 3 times, each during two straight sessions, and athough a little reminiscent of the voice often used by George 'W' Bush on occasion (as read by L. J. Ganser), is a book that I will be recommending to anyone interested in social psychology, consumerism or marketing, but also to anyone considering to start up, plan, or reevaluate, the performance of their own business enterprise.
© 2011 Anthony R. Dickinson
Dr. Anthony R. Dickinson, Academic Research Laboratory, KB EduTech Training (USA/China).