Understanding How Context Transforms Your World
By Sam Sommers
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594488184, 304pp.)
Publication Date: December 29, 2011
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An "entertaining and engaging" exploration of the invisible forces influencing your life-and how understanding them can improve everything you do.
The world around you is pulling your strings, shaping your innermost instincts and your most private thoughts. And you don't even realize it.
Every day and in all walks of life, we overlook the enormous power of situations, of context in our lives. That's a mistake, says Sam Sommers in his provocative new book. Just as a museum visitor neglects to notice the frames around paintings, so do people miss the influence of ordinary situations on the way they think and act. But frames- situations- do matter. Your experience viewing the paintings wouldn't be the same without them. The same is true for human nature.
In Situations Matter, Sommers argues that by understanding the powerful influence that context has in our lives and using this knowledge to rethink how we see the world, we can be more effective at work, at home, and in daily interactions with others. He describes the pitfalls to avoid and offers insights into making better decisions and smarter observations about the world around us.
Sam Sommers is an award-winning professor of psychology at Tufts University. His research has been covered by NPR Good Morning America, Harper's, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives near Boston with his wife and two daughters.
“[Situations Matter] offers inspiration to outsmart any situation.”
"In this wonderful and witty book, Sam Sommers reveals one of the most important factors driving human nature. (Hint: Look around.) He demonstrates time and time again that who you are is shaped by where you are."
---Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide
“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