Understanding How Context Transforms Your World
By Sam Sommers
(Riverhead Trade, Paperback, 9781594486203, 336pp.)
Publication Date: December 31, 2012
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A “thought-provoking and entertaining” (The Washington Post) exploration of the invisible forces that influence your life—and how understanding them improves everything you do.
The world around you is pulling your strings, shaping your private thoughts and innermost instincts. And you don’t even realize it.
Every day we overlook the enormous power of situations in our lives. We fail to appreciate that life’s basic details—where we are, whom we’re with, and even whether we’re in a hurry—affect how we think and act. Sommers argues that understanding the powerful influence of context forces us to rethink how we see ourselves and makes us more effective at work, at home, and in our daily lives. He describes the pitfalls that we should avoid and offers compelling suggestions on how we can make better decisions and smarter observations about the world around us. Insightful, engaging, and readable, Situations Matter is a primer on the importance of context in our lives and on what really makes people tick.
Sam Sommers is an award-winning psychology professor at Tufts University. His research has been covered by Good Morning America, NPR, Harper’s, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives near Boston with his wife and two daughters.
“Thought-provoking and entertaining.”—The Washington Post
“A fascinating glimpse into the way our most important judgments are framed by the world around us.”—Salon.com
“[Situations Matter] offers inspiration to outsmart any situation.”—Psychology Today
“Perhaps the least understood forces in the universe are the social powers that drive our thoughts and behavior. Sam Sommers is an expert at identifying these influences, and in Situations Matter he takes us on an entertaining and engaging guided tour.” --Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality
“Understanding and appreciating the power of situations gives you a leg up in life, and Situations Matter is the best place to start investigating this challenge. It is excellent, entertaining reading for anyone interested in classic human questions about morality, conformity, and the real differences between men and women.” --Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics, George Mason University, and author of Create Your Own Economy and The Great Stagnation
“It can be easy to overlook how ordinary situations shape behavior. It might seem like Sam Sommers is brilliant for choosing to write a book on this important topic, but he'd probably just explain that circumstance drove him to it. Still, we're all lucky he did.” – Leonard Mlodinow, author of The Drunkard’s Walk and co-author of The Grand Design
“I loved Situations Matter. True, I read it while sitting on my comfortable couch, but I bet I would have loved it no matter the situation, even if I read it submerged in ice-cold water. Sam Sommers shows us the surprising extent to which humans are influenced by external factors. It's a fascinating read, and one that will improve your life in many ways, whether dealing with road rage, choosing a spouse, or trying to handle your boss.” --A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically and My Life as an Experiment
“This book is a true eye-opener. From the boardroom meeting to the dining room table, from why we love to why we hate, you'll never look at the ordinary world around you in exactly the same way again.” --Wray Herbert, author of On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits