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Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By Paperback – 31 Jan 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (31 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0141042249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141042244
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Particularly when criticizing various failed social policies and programs, REDIRECT is sensible and reasonably convincing. Wilson...knows his behavioral research and is a fair and careful critic."-- Boston Globe

About the Author

Timothy D. Wilson is the Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. He has written for Science and "The New York Times," among other publications and journals, and is the author of Strangers to Ourselves, which was named by New York Times Magazine as one of the Best 100 Ideas of 2002. Wilson is also the coauthor of the best-selling social psychology textbook, now in its seventh edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By EmmaN on 22 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Unlike the previous reviewer, I found this book fascinating.

Yes the "story editing" approach has much in common with REBT and CBT, but the point is that those techniques have failed to take hold in the world outside the psychologist's consulting rooms. Instead, too often, individuals and organisations rely, and spend thousands of pounds, on "common sense" approaches to social and psychological problems without ever ascertaining their effectiveness. In the cases where it turns out that these interventions have no effect at all, then at least the damage is only financial, but the author also highlights instances where "common sense" approaches may have done more harm than good. The irony, as the author points out, is that the techniques that do work are often quicker and much cheaper.

The argument for randomised control trials seems to me to be worth making. Many of the people tasked with spending what is often public money on these programmes won't have had any training in how to spot snake oil. If this book prompts a few of them to ask whether and how an intervention has been evaluated before they sign the cheque, then it will have done something very worthwhile.

Unless you are a practising psychologist or a very recent psychology graduate, I guarantee that you will learn something new and interesting from this book and that the process will be quite painless!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Longaz on 3 April 2012
Format: Paperback
I found `Redirect' to be really intriguing. Reviews I've read have stated that this book really isn't about personal change and more about social change. I would agree to a point in that the latter half of the book does delve more into social psychology, yet the few things that the author does recommend for personal change I think are powerful tools, such as the information on a specific type of journaling, and I probably wouldn't have run across them without them being mentioned. Also, the social psychology section I think is powerful in that it does show that people's intuitions on how certain acts or programs that will affect others need to be widely tested before any of it is accepted as valid and implemented widely. In many cases the programs that were put together for positive reasons and intentions turned out to have a negative overall impact. Overall a very thought provoking book and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in personal and social change.
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42 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Sami on 19 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Redirect' promises to reveal the 'surprising new science of psychological change', a technique that Timothy Wilson calls 'story editing': redirecting the 'narratives' we tell ourselves about our personal and societal problems. One example of this is in academic underachievement. First-year university students often find the new academic landscape to be a difficult transition from previous experiences, and commonly grades suffer, leading to underachievement or attrition. Wilson contrasts two 'narratives' when faced with disappointing results: student A tells himself that he's not cut out for university, whereas student B tells herself that early setbacks are common and she'll need more effort and a different approach. The first student drops out and the second turns things around. The key concept here is the self-fulfilling prophecy: if you believe you can, you're right; if you believe you can't, you're right. All that's needed is for people to edit their narratives to look more like student B.

Although that's the essence of the story editing approach - reframing your beliefs into more rational and helpful ones - very little of the technique is anything new. Rational emotive behavioural therapy (REBT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have been outlining this technique since the 1950s. Further to this, the writer takes liberties with his story editing technique, folding in various psychological findings that only have a glancing similarity to his concept. He includes James Pennebaker's writing technique and borrows from behavioural activation therapy, ideas that don't even seem superficially related to Wilson's own definition of story editing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Walton on 1 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book and I think it has two important ideas in it:

1. Common sense often does not always work: only by doing proper randomized trials can you find out whether an intervention is effective. Many of the interventions we take for granted today such as diversity programs or 'prison works' (my example) are largely unproven and may or may not be true. Is there hard evidence? is what we all must ask.

2. Story editing can be a very effective and fast way of helping people - changing people's approach and attitude by giving examples of what others in the same situation have done. I think this has strong parallels to Seligman's 'learned helplessness' where he found that people can very quickly become stuck and not see their way out of a situation. As I see it Wilson is describing the positive version of this - what I'd see as 'learned resourcefulness'. I disagree slightly with Wilson in that I don't think it's as alike to CBT (or REBT) as he thinks - CBT teaches people explicitly to recognize the issue and act consciously; Wilson's story-editing approach is often implicit and not explained. But that's a minor quibble.

An easy to read, interesting book.
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