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Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature Paperback – 17 Jul 2009


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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: 13 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

‘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  

Review

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Pete on 29 Mar 2012
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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By N. J. Baker on 13 Mar 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jwinnar1 on 18 Dec 2010
Format: Hardcover
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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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Kay on 9 Feb 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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