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I was angry and cowed, so I just move my box closer to me.
He took three more by the time my row was called to board. I grabbed the box, got up quickly, as did he, and gave him a thin-lipped smile that he returned with vague warmth. As soon as the safety belt light went off I managed to find him and apologize, arousing several disgusted expressions from nearby passengers. Now go enjoy your chocolates and your book. When driving we are irritated at pedestrians who dawdle in the crosswalk or walk against the light, yet our righteous feelings reverse when we are pedestrians.
Put plainly, context deeply influences our perceptions and actions.
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He may have been just another street performer panhandling for spare change. Situational blindness can be self-sabotaging. It can sour relationships. It may turn everyday encounters into bruised transactions rather than opportunities to enjoy a moment that might blossom into other possibilities. When asked what they see when looking at an aquarium, for example, Americans and Western Europeans usually comment on the school of fish swimming to the right, and one fish swimming left.
Japanese observers, on the other hand, usually describe the arrangement of plants and color of the water as well as the swimming formations. To mitigate such blindness and turn more situations into opportunities to connect rather than conflict, consider adopting these two mindsets.
Go slow to go fast We are hard-wired by our survival instinct, to respond sooner, more intensely and longer to what we perceive as negative behaviors than positive ones.
As that person acts badly toward you he may resent you for seeing him behave that way, quickly rationalize his rude response to preserve his self-esteem, and retaliate for his perceived grievance. Instead, know speed and loudness increase tension, so adopt the calming Slower, Lower and Less Effect.
While maintaining a genial facial expression slightly elevated eyebrows , speak and move more slowly, lowering your voice level and the amount, speed and level of your gestures.
Speak to the side of that person you genuinely like — and that he likes in himself. In so doing make evoke the appearance of that trait.
Situations Matter: To make his points, Sommers uses a multitude of both research and anecdotal examples that, while often college campus—based, are easily understood and relatable. The last three chapters all deal with some aspects of our relationships with another person. Sommers promises readers that his book will help them do four specific things more effectively: It intends to help us understand and counter undue or inaccurate context influence as we act or make decisions.
Through discussion of varied research and interesting stories, Sommers appears to reinforce three basic messages.
In my own words, they are:. The author builds on these three ideas in the first three chapters, then amplifies and reinforces them in the balance of the book. Further, he says, we expect our perceptions to be consistent. For example, when a small children see their beloved teacher in a non-school environment, they struggle to resolve conflicting views of behavior and role.
We want others to be consistent in their appearance to us, Sommers writes. As adults, we attribute expertise to someone even in areas where they are not experts. An emergency-room doctor seems almost omnipotent, for instance, so we often assume them masters of non-medical activities as well, such as dancing or sports. Chapter 2 is the most uncomfortable part of the book.
Sam Sommers's Books
Sommers examines several well-known murders, such as the Kitty Genovese and James Bulger killings, along with more current incidents. This section convincingly sets forth the idea that people in groups are less likely to act forcefully and clearly in potentially dangerous situations to help others and themselves. Our inability to clearly understand the impact of situations on our behavior is a theme throughout the book: We incorrectly think we would act differently and, most important, better than we realistically do.
Sommers makes convincing use of news stories, criminal investigations, and well-known psychological experiments, such as the Princeton study by Darley and Batson on the influences on helping behavior when people are confronted by a person in distress while on their way to a meeting.
The result: One telling experiment showed that when faced with smoke pouring through room vents, we are more likely to not react to this potential danger when others in the room do not react. Sommers also reviews the well-known Milgram obedience experiments conducted at Yale, in which participants were told to give shocks to others. The results support this message quite nicely. Sommers has written an engaging and surprising book about the real reasons that we do or do not do things.
He is particularly adept at showing us how situation can make much more of a difference than our personality, values, beliefs, or judgments. He writes for the general population and his examples are clear and non-academic.
Both those with a professional interest and those with a personal desire to learn more about behavioral influences will find much of value here.But I actually think the more context-dependent view of attraction and how we fall in love is liberating, not depressing.
I grabbed the box, got up quickly, as did he, and gave him a thin-lipped smile that he returned with vague warmth. As soon as the safety belt light went off I managed to find him and apologize, arousing several disgusted expressions from nearby passengers. From our love of underdogs to the importance of picking yourself up and dusting yourself off after a defeat, the behavior of both professional athletes and raving fans give us important insights into our day-to-day lives.
In short, different studies exploring how diverse settings influence social perception, cognition, and behavior.
Some of these studies are lab-based—for example, in which we vary the racial composition of pairs working on problem-solving tasks. It intends to help us understand and counter undue or inaccurate context influence as we act or make decisions. Are we, as human beings, programmed to be self-reassuring? Want to download the book or learn more?
Having the bravery to step out from cover could have saved his life.