Although Tribe is mostly written about war veterans and the process of coming home from war, it holds some profound lessons for all of us and how we cope with the modern world. The central argument is that recovery is strongly associated with a feeling of belonging to a group, something that war gives soldiers and then takes away from many of them when they return. Read more »
Archive for the 'book review' Category
There are now many books about the application of behavioural science to branding and marketing (including Brand esSense). The Business Of Choice by Matthew Willcox is a recent edition is one of the more readable ones, summarising many of the core ideas of behavioural economics in a very business-focused and reader-friendly way. Uniquely, the coverage extends to thinking about the role of human nature and culture in shaping consumers’ decision-making.
There has never been a better time to improve our understanding of Islamic traditions and Muslim values. Ignoring the current political climate in the US and elsewhere, the more important and long-term trend to know is the projection by PewResearchCenter that the number of Muslims in the world will increase from 1.6 billion in 2010 to an estimated 2.76 billion in 2050. The book Generation M could not be more timely. Read more »
“When I was a little girl no one ever told me I was pretty. All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they are not.”
“Natural beauty takes at least two hours in front of a mirror.”
Asked why people desire physical beauty, Aristotle said, “No one that is not blind could ask that question”. Is there more to what we find beautiful than just our individual preferences and prejudices? In Survival of the Prettiest, Nancy Etcoff reviews the evidence that beauty is more science than art. In particular, she discusses the role of evolution and natural selection versus culture in shaping what makes someone beautiful.
Over the new year I read the perfect book for the start of the new year. In Superforecasting, Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner provide a roadmap for becoming a better forecaster, with small and progressive steps to improving any prediction you make on almost any topic. This is not just book for political pundits and economists, but is recommended to anyone in marketing sciences, including researchers, who make a living from interpreting and synthesising information to make inferences about business decision-making.
In Sleights of Mind, the authors cannily explain some of the latest science of the brain though examples of magic tricks, illusions and mind games that demonstrate the fallibilities of the human mind and the way in which magicians often have greater insight into the innermost workings of our brain than most neuroscientists.
In This is Your Brain on Music, Daniel Levitin explored the psychology of music, and in The World in Six Songs he turns to music, culture and human nature. He discusses six different ways in which music and song communicate emotions and ideas, covering friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge and love, arguing that these songs are the building blocks of human nature. This is a great read on the role of music in all societies and how it has shaped and reflects human culture. I couldn’t help but notice that the six songs Levitiin discusses cover the range of human motivations and emotional goals. Read more »
In The Martian, the stranded astronaut Mark Watney has to use his wits and scientific knowledge to overcome hostile landscapes and environment, tragic accidents and the loneliness of being the only man left on Mars. The story focuses on his ingenuity in solving all the problems that he comes up against. And why is Mark Watney so good at solving all the problems that confront him? He is also very good at asking the right questions. Read more »
In The Anatomy of HumbugT, Paul Feldwick provides a clear and interesting overview of the history of advertising and the different theories of how and why advertising works (and doesn’t), from the “Salesmanship” theory of advertising of the early years of the industry (mostly associated with more rational models of decision making) to the “Seduction” theory of the early motivational researchers and more lately of neuromarketing, which inform the central discussion of this fascinating book.
The Age of Context promised to be a revelatory book on the future of market research, but I have to admit to be being ultimately disappointed. The authors are evangelists for new technology, but their evangelism often feels like an informercial for the companies that they mention, and their over-enthusiasm for many ideas is irritating rather than inspiring (especially that for Google Glass). However, my biggest concern with this book is that ultimately it reads as wishful fantasy rather than future reality, as the authors enthuse for what may be possible without failing to address many big issues with the trends that they discuss.