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254 of 267 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Research And Destroy, 22 July 2009
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This review is from: 59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot (Paperback)
Richard Wiseman has journeyed into the badlands of self-help books with a train of porters carrying academic research on what actually does work when it comes to fulfilling all those rather grandiose goals(losing weight, finding (or indeed fighting as I first typed) the perfect mate, or becoming hugely rich and impossibly attractive). One effect of this is that he packs a lot more advice into the book because the researchers finish off rather quickly some of the wackier (but sadly ineffective) theories that are often used to pad out self-help manuals.

The book therefore has at least two uses. Firstly, it is amusing to see what does work and why it might work (one needs to be careful in assuming the rationales have the same degree of scientific rigour). Secondly, there is some very good advice in here if you want to deal with various problems. My favourites are smiling in front of the mirror with a pencil between your teeth (increases well-being) and the starting a difficult task so you get sucked into finishing it (defeats procrastination). Something that entertains and informs, I recommend it.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Apr 2010 18:11:26 BDT
Nik says:
Thanks for the review. Can you share what the advice on getting sucked into finishing a difficult task is?


In reply to an earlier post on 22 Apr 2010 19:05:24 BDT
You start the first bit of it, frequently having begun the task you find yourself doing the second and third parts as well, sometimes even finishing it all. I'll try and find the scientific example.

Posted on 19 Apr 2012 20:07:03 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 12 Jun 2012 16:08:25 BDT]

Posted on 13 Jun 2012 22:19:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Aug 2013 13:37:36 BDT
James Taylor says:
I'll quickly edit in: Charles has actually posted his review three times on this page (two others posted on 23/10/2011). Also Julia Flyte has posted her review twice. Why? And how did this get past Amazon? This enthusiasm to get the review noticed, along with the responses to my posts, seem quite odd (5 neg votes, probably from the same outlets as the 5 votes for the other posts, all arriving almost simultaneously - but I suspect more will follow when he realises I've said this). I honestly think that my posts 'add to the discussion', they could possibly even deserve a yes vote from people like myself who like discussing these things - although it seems that this 'discussion' is probably not about 'getting sucked into a difficult task' at all, but is a back-slapping exercise hosted by a professional reviewer who has been asked and maybe even paid to write nice things about the book in question. I invite Charles to write a post if this is not the case. The neg votes are presumably in 'retaliation' for my having included a relevant (short) paragraph from my book about language in a post now long deleted, which I apologise for; although I still cannot see what is wrong with offering relevant information to a discussion in this way. I even wrote a 5 star review for this book - an overly generous act I'm now regretting. Here's the post that seems to be upsetting team RW so much.

Re the question asked by Nik: This is known as the Zeigarnick effect, which RW discusses on page 97 of this book. If you google this topic, you will see that there are two connected ideas here: Firstly, we dislike being interrupted while we are carrying out a task, and we will experience anxiety if we don't finish it. Secondly, while we are performing a task we will be able to recall a lot of information related to it, but after the task has been completed much of this information will be forgotten.

First idea: Interruption anxiety. Some of the blogs will tell you, as Rich W does, that we can defeat procrastination by carrying out the first step of a task. The idea being that the initial effort makes us anxious to see the job through to completion. This will work for tasks that can be done in stages, such as writing up the accounts for the tax-man, or, in fact, any large clerical job. However, many, if not the majority of tasks cannot be done in stages, so the procrastination problem is not completely solved. For these jobs, how about writing the job down and assigning a time to do it? Or if there are a set of smaller jobs, write a list, and maybe set yourself a deadline for completing all of the tasks. Although this doesn't actually involve doing any portion of the task(s), it does involve making a commitment to complete within a time-frame, which may provide the impetus to start doing it. Writing down the task actually becomes the first step of the task, causing us to desire completion.

This first idea also relates to Robert Cialdini's idea of consistency, which suggests that when start something we become committed to seeing it through to completion, and we become reluctant to quit. (Also re Kahneman and Tversky sunken cost). Cialdini raised this idea in his book Influence, and again in his joint book Yes, in which he explains how car salespeople can attract customers by offering a `bargain', and then hidden `extra charges' may be revealed just before the customer signs on the dotted line; the customer will usually have committed themselves to buying the car and will accept the extra charges even if the car no longer offers value for money. Cialdini provides many other great examples of this principle.

If you are reading this, it is likely that in Myers-Briggs personality type indicator terms you are a `perceiver'. This means that you will probably be slightly disorganised, slightly less tidy than average, and you will probably have a number of tasks you ought to do but haven't got around to doing, some of which may be started but left unfinished. You probably leave everything until the last minute, and you are probably frequently late. This is your personality type and, like me, we have to accept that this is just the way we are. Had you been born a judger, you would have made lists and completed those tasks, but I'm sorry, you weren't, so you'll always have odds and ends that you just can't get around to doing. Which reminds me; I really should be ...

The second part of the Zeigarnick effect suggests that when we finish a project, we forget a lot of the details that we recalled so easily while we were doing it. When waiters are working, they will memorise and work with the needs of several tables simultaneously, but when the customers leave, all the details will be forgotten almost instantly. Likewise, a friend of mine explained that when he was at a conference he made a lot of friends, but having come home, he had forgotten a lot of their names. He also felt that, on seeing the people at the next conference, all of the names would come back to him. This actually suggests some sort of temporary closure, and although, granted, certain other cues might assist his memory (Tulving), we could argue that the temporary closure might be changed to a continuation when he saw his friends. We can use this open/closed effect in the way we use our language, in order to assist our hearers to memorise our words. See Get the edge page 211, also see Making sense of grammar p162. The basic idea here is that if an idea is ongoing, our memory will recall it more easily.

I think we should congratulate Rich W for producing a great compilation of studies. Well done Rich, great job. Although most of these studies are well known to psychology students, particularly the studies this book shares with Cialdini's books, it really is wonderful to see all this material brought together under one roof in plain English.

Here are the links for the other books in my post: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion, Get The Edge: How Simple Changes Will Transform Your Life, Making Sense of Grammar.

I posted a relevant (+ very short) excerpt from my own book in the previous (deleted) post, but sadly, someone obviously thought that this was politically incorrect, hence my deletion. I apologise for this, even though I still cannot see what is wrong with posting any relevant material.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Dec 2012 00:55:11 GMT
V.S. says:
James, I am interested in your views because of the government funded project I am involved in, intended to help businesses, free of charge to them, but with very little take up. Would you be able to contact me separately to discuss how we might discuss how your interests could help us?

Posted on 14 Dec 2012 18:33:24 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2013 20:33:38 BDT
James Taylor says:
Thanks. Have you got an agency address I can contact?

If you're looking for more uptake generally I'd recommend looking at Cialdini's joint book Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion, because this is a step beyond Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion giving more practical illustrations of persuasion psychology. It's very business oriented, and it has helped a lot of people increase their turnover.

I'LL EDIT IN that the phantom neg voter has visited, (same 5 voting outlets as used for other the posts in this 'discussion' so far, but he'll be looking for another when he reads this) so I'll explain a little bit more. The reason I suggested the Cialdini book is simply because Cialdini is the main man in this field (persuasion). Cialdini has taken many other researchers' work and a lot of his own, and he has bottled it into six neat categories. His books show a lot of insight when he applies these principles to practical situations, being particularly relevant to the business end of the market. The section on persuasion in 59 secs is actually simply a selection of experiments that can be found in any psychology text book (plus Cialdini's books). I'll also suggest that people check out a website called Psyblog which has all the same useful information discussed in 59 secs (and more), but presented in a more useful and grounded manner. No, I'm not connected in any way to the site.

Assuming that the phantom voter is Charles Vasey, I'll pose the question again: Why did you post your review three times? (2 others posted 23/10/11). It is also highly unlikely that the general public would give so many neg votes to any informative posts, like my last two. Given this, and the unusual high percentage of 'helpful' votes for your reviews (some aren't particularly accurate!), and then to cap it all an obvious reluctance to give a straight reply to my question, I am beginning to wonder whether you have been manipulating the Amazon system by posting multiple reviews, and I also suspect you have found a way to vote for yourself (and neg others). This may or may not be the case, and again I invite you to explain what is going on.

Readers, check out numbers of votes for the top reviews of the classic, Awaken the Giant within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Life to give you a fair benchmark.

As for your statement about RW and a train of porters - NOOO. I cannot understand how you got so many votes for such an inaccurate review. The information is freely available on the net anyway. A more critical appraisal of the information along with a more insightful assessment of its practical value would have made a much more useful book. However, as I said in my review, there is some stuff in it that may be of value to certain people - I gave the book a five star review for this reason. Although in hindsight I think I was being far too generous, particularly if other members of team RW share your attitude.
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