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Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature [Paperback]

Mark Earls
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

17 July 2009
"...fascinating. Like Malcolm Gladwell on speed." —THE GUARDIAN "HERD is a rare thing: a book that transforms the reader′s perception of how the world works". —Matthew D′Ancona, THE SPECTATOR "This book is a must. Once you have read it you will understand why Mark Earls is regarded as a marketing guru." —Daniel Finkelstein, THE TIMES This paperback version of Mark Earls′ groundbreaking and award winning book comes updated with new stats and figures and provides two completely revised chapters that deal with the rise of social networking. Since the Enlightenment there has been a very simple but widely held assumption that we are a species of thinking individuals and human behaviour is best understood by examining the psychology of individuals. It appears, however, that this insight is plain wrong. The evidence from a number of leading behavioural and neuroscientists suggests that our species is designed as a herd or group animal. Mark Earls applies this evidence to the traditional mechanisms of marketing and consumer behaviour, with a result that necessitates a complete rethink about these subjects. HERD provides a host of unusual examples and anecdotes to open the mind of the business reader, from Peter Kay to Desmond Tutu, Apple to UK Sexual Health programmes, George Bush to Castle Lager, from autism to depression to the real explanation for the placebo effect in pharmaceutical testing.

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Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature + Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness + Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions
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Product details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; First Updated edition (17 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470744596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470744598
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 131,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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‘The PM′s advisers would do well to consult the work of Mark Earls, whose book, Herd , explores the extent to which "the physics of mass behaviour" are governed by imitation more often than ideological purpose’ Matthew D’Ancona, Evening Standard ‘As the riots spread throughout London and the rest of the country, I grabbed for my edition of Herd to see what it held to explain behaviour such as this.  Author Mark Earls talks about how people’s behaviour can be influenced by a “system that is primed”’ Research  


"...entertaining and thought-provoking" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Glad to get to the end! 29 Mar 2012
By Pete
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is probably the first book I have read when I was glad to stop reading it. Let me clarify that:

I read books like this during my lunch at work, as it provides a welcome break from the office and a chance to muse over some psychology and philosophy points that I invariably don't live out in my life. To that end, I like a book which stimulates and challenges my thinking, but also provides a good sense of direction. I like to pick up little tit bits to ponder in the afternoon.

The problem with this book is that it is not at all fun to read. It's the reading equivalent of that shaky-hand wire game, and you have to constantly concentrate and keep check of yourself. I do think the topic being discussed is important and highly relevant. Critical even. But I found myself constantly hoping that the next page would be a good place to stop for the day, and that meant that it took the best part of 3 months to read this book, by which time I had forgotten most of the points made at the start. It's also fairly heavy on the marketing lingo at times, so be prepared to puzzle over what "MVC" and "MIC" are?

My core criticism of the book is that it doesn't seem to really know where it is going. It builds and builds and builds like there is going to be some kind of epiphany moment brought on by all the countless examples and case studies. But you never really reach that summit, and so rather than providing answers it just poses more and more questions. You leave feeling intellectually battered and bruised, and looking forward to going back to your 'real world', even though you have now been convinced that it is a false and useless real world. The crux of this book teaches you one thing: people are relational and social; businesses have misunderstood (or refused to accept) that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good! 18 Dec 2010
This is an intersesting book on herd mentality and how to influence people or sell them something or an idea. It wasn't quite as scientific as I was hoping- more a marketing/management slant due to the author- but there are some references in it so you can follow up the background stuff if you want. His writing style is a nice and easy to read and his humour is great; and there are lots of interesting asides from the examples, for example discussing the Join-Me movement who enact Random Acts of Kindness to strangers. Although you might expect a book about influencing the masses to be a bit of a downer, in fact one of the things that comes out is that we are a super-social species and work best in our herds- or troupes I guess as we are apes- and some positive thoughts about society and the future. A good and thought-provoking read.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This book was totally compelling - my copy is now completely covered in crib notes - having devoured it at some speed I now want to go back and read the whole thing again. Not just interesting for people working in marketing, but also for those, like myself, working in small businesses, or, frankly, anyone interested in social psychology. Put simply (although there's nothing much simple about this book) Mark investigates how we are less driven by independent thought than we would like to believe, and more by peer influence; more than simply recapitulating that word-of-mouth is the best form of marketing (something we already knew) he gets right down to the roots of how it occurs, who perpetuates it and what it actually consists of, throwing up some fascinating insights into human behaviour in the process. He then strips back many existing marketing assumptions and presents some compelling new ideas as to how these theories should affect marketing in the modern world. Marketing tips aside, the book leads you to re-examine your choices, decisions, preferences, taste and even identity. It's immaculately researched and a totally absorbing read. Steven Poole in the Guardian compares him to Malcolm Gladwell on speed; I'm thinking more Robert M Pirsig with a point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncomplicated intorduction to social psychology 15 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An interesting book explaining, in easy and simple language, why and how new social phenomena catch up quickly amongst the masses.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I've just finished reading Herd. Actually, I devoured it in two sittings. And I urge you to go and read it if you want to think about how to better trigger changes in mass behaviour.
Unlike most business or marketing books it's not a set of case studies or a 'how to' process guide to mechanistic thinking.
Rather, it's an excellently written analysis of the new thinking (and the forgotten old thinking) about how people think, act and behave. It doesn't give you answers or tell you what to do, but rather raises questions in your mind about the principles on which most communications thinking is built.
Already, it's made me question a lot of the assumptions I have been taking for granted, made me think differently about some of the problems I'm trying to solve and helped me ground some of the different thinking I've been doing over the last couple of years.

The new paperback version adds fresh content and argument to further strengthen a strong argument and make it a worthwhile purchase for existing readers.
Whether you agree with all the conclusions or not, we need more stuff like this that brings fresh, challenging, provocative thinking into the far too conservative world of marketing and communications.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars From ghost bikes to cellotaphs
Mark Earls is an advertising and marketing man. His misgivings about how traditional marketing is done (assuming we are totally rational beings who act in our own self-interest)... Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Dunbar
5.0 out of 5 stars smart thinking - not clever
Clever people get simple things and over complicate them.

Smart people get complicated things and break them down so we can all understand and access easier. Read more
Published 11 months ago by android
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this if you're in marketing. Or if you're human.
I saw Mark Earls deliver the keynote at a conference a few years back. I remember enjoying the talk and having great intentions of reading Herd.... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jonny Wooldridge
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, whether in the field or not.
Im not in marketing or even business but I still found this to be a great read that was very interesting, I found it well thought out and learnt alot about us as the pink monkeys... Read more
Published on 8 Jan 2011 by N. B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant new thinking that will turn your world upside down
I enjoyed this book more than any other I have read in the last two years.

HERD is a fun, awe-inspiring outing. Read more
Published on 29 Oct 2010 by Brian McCarter
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all humans
Mark's book has had a dramatic effect on not only the way I approach advertising but how I navigate my personal life as well. Read more
Published on 28 Oct 2010 by John Burke
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment...
"Although there were a few interesting things, this was a bit of a disappointment considering all the positive feedback this book has been receiving. Read more
Published on 27 July 2010 by taupe5
1.0 out of 5 stars A triumph of style over substance
I'm not quite sure how the author succeeded in being compared to Malcolm Gladwell - well done for that - but I would think very seriously about buying this book. Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2010 by Mr. Will S. Phipps
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, special and fascinating
Here's the thing. I work in research & development (R&D), so a book like this is clearly not aimed at me. Read more
Published on 3 Nov 2009 by A. Gundle
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read for anyone who works in marketing
Mark is a well known regular on the conference circuit in the world of marketing. This book gives you a great insight into peoples' decision making process when they're in groups. Read more
Published on 1 Nov 2009 by Prolix
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