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You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

Walk into the fascinating world of human behavior

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

These books will change your life for the better.

You might not realize it but you need them.

These books offer insights into the human mind and behavior. Reading them you’ll learn about the rationality (or irrationality) of your choices.

As a result, you’ll be able to take the right steps at the right time. You’ll also understand others better.

Let’s go through an overview of each book!

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

Maximize your decision-making power.

Kahneman brings us face to face with our biases and preprogrammed beliefs.

These affect how we make quick decisions. We might think our quick decision-making is logical and rational. But that is not the case.

“Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.”

Understanding how little we know and how easy it is for us to let our past experiences tilt our decisions opens a new avenue. It helps us understand our own shortcomings.

The author discusses how human beings conflate their own knowledge. They think they know a lot. The reality is that their understanding of knowledge is limited to what they already know.

“A general “law of least effort” applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. …Laziness is built deep into our nature.”

This book will help you understand your brain’s decision-making process and its pitfalls.

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

Humans, why do they behave the way they do?

Sapolsky discusses various factors that affect human behavior e.g. genes, hormones, culture, etc.

He tells us how the brain develops from childhood into adolescence and adulthood. The frontal cortex is not fully developed until the mid-twenties. That explains the rash decision-making, risk-taking, and novelty-seeking of teenagers.

“…nothing about adolescence can be understood outside the context of delayed frontocortical maturation.”

Their limbic, autonomic, and endocrine systems are working but the frontal cortex is still developing.

Sapolsky shares many fascinating findings across the whole book.

He makes us realize that genes alone are not responsible for everything. For example:

Since the frontal cortex develops later on, our experiences play a significant role in how we perceive the world.

Similarly, he discusses how the heritability of cognitive development differs in kids from higher socioeconomic status (SES) families vs those from lower socioeconomic status families.

High SES allows the whole range of genetically inherited cognitive abilities to flourish. Lower SES restricts their development.

“Domains like these showcase the potential power of classical behavior genetics.”

In the same way, alcohol use heritability is lower in religious households because drinking is condemned.

If there is one thing this book shows us, it’s the fact that a person’s life experiences and influences mold his behavior and personality.

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

The secrets are out.

We are fools.

When observing the world, we miss out on the hidden correlations. This book, however, corrects that oversight and tells us about many associations that we never made.

“The ECLS data do show, for instance, that a child with a lot of books in his home tends to test higher than a child with no books.”

The authors prove that concepts of economic theory can be applied to other parts of life. Incentives and information asymmetry play an important role in how people behave.

A daycare started a fine for parents who came late. The lateness more than doubled. After the fine, the parents’ minds framed it as a purchase of a privilege.

“There are three basic flavors of incentive: economic, social and moral.”

The Ku Klux Klan isn’t as dangerous as it made itself out to be. It rode on the rumors and intimidated black people.

This is an asymmetry of knowledge.

Similarly, doctors, real estate agents, and mechanics, all operate due to the asymmetry of knowledge. Their customer never knows the full breadth of information.

This book will leave you with your mouth wide open.

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

Walk down the steps of human history.

Harari crunches up human history for us.

Humans defeated six rival species and dominated the earth. Their brains grew bigger and their guts grew smaller.

“One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.”

Because of mankind’s unique ability to craft fiction, they created stories and myths. Myths allowed them to come together and collaborate.

From religions to modern concepts of human rights and money, all are collective imaginations of human beings.

“A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying even in the midst of hardship, whereas a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal no matter how comfortable it is.”

Throughout the book, the author makes many interesting philosophical and personal observations.

If you are a history buff, you can’t afford to miss this book.

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

Learn how to rewire your habit loop.

Duhigg tells us about the habit loop and how we can rewire it for success.

The habit loop consists of:

  1. Cue: craving

  2. Routine: what we do

  3. Reward: the feeling of pleasure or fulfillment

“If you believe you can change — if you make it a habit — the change becomes real.”

The author tells us that bad habits are very hard to eliminate. Instead, we should focus on changing them to good ones.

This can be achieved by keeping the cue and reward the same but changing the routine.

For example, the craving for something sweet hits. (Cue) You eat a brownie. (Routine) You feel pleasure. (Reward)

In order to change this habit, whenever the cue happens, pick up a healthy sweet snack instead of eating a brownie. The habit loop will rewrite itself and ta-da, you have a good habit.

“Once willpower became stronger, it touched everything.”

Duhigg also tells us about Keystone habits that benefit our whole lives. E.g. exercising. When we exercise, endorphins are released. It means, we are happy, we get good sleep, and we make good eating choices.

This book will help you harness the power of habits in the right way.

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

The value of a split-second decision.

We think our snap decisions are irrational and the ones we think long and hard on, are logical.

The author tells us that even our subconscious decisions can be as good as the ones we spend more time on.

“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for.”

This happens due to a myriad of reasons.

One good way to balance intuition and cautious thinking is by gaining expertise in your fields. When we do that our split-second decisions improve greatly.

“The real me isn’t the person I describe, no the real me is the me revealed by my actions.”

But expertise has a downside. We might stop being curious because we start to feel we know about this. We might also become overconfident in our abilities.

Being humble is the way to go.

This book will help you understand the subconscious mind in a better way.

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

Randomness rules!

We underestimate what we don’t know.

Just because things were a certain way in the past, doesn’t mean they will stay the same. Anything can happen. The world is uncertain.

An uncertain event that leaves a strong impact is called a black swan. For example, 9/11 attacks.

“Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.”

This is why Taleb advises us to make our systems and processes robust.

He criticizes the banks and trading organizations for their faulty systems, making them vulnerable to black swan events.

“If you want to get an idea of a friend’s temperament, ethics, and personal elegance, you need to look at him under the tests of severe circumstances, not under the regular rosy glow of daily life.”

The book gives an example of an author who self-published her book on the internet. A small publishing company found her book and published it. The book became a bestseller. The author became famous and the publishing company became rich.

When the author wrote a second book, it failed. It means this author’s experience has two black swan events.

In short, the message is that you don’t know what will happen next.

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

The flavors of human morality.

In this book, Haidt tells us about the 6 flavors of human morality.

  1. Care/Harm

  2. Fairness/Cheating

  3. Loyalty/Betrayal

  4. Authority/Subversion

  5. Sanctity/Degradation

  6. Liberty/Oppression

“Love and work are to people what water and sunshine are to plants.”

The reason why people have different views of morality is because they focus on different flavors or have different views of the same thing.

For example: Fairness to conservatives means giving people what they worked hard for. To liberals, it means giving everyone an equal share.

The author even has a TED talk discussing how moral foundations inform the moral view of both sides i.e. conservatives and liberals.

“Our moral thinking is much more like a politician searching for votes than a scientist searching for truth.”

I think Haidt’s book is important as it focuses on understanding other people.

If we understand those who are different from us, only then we can form bridges. Once we do, the world will be a better place.

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

How do we win at negotiations?

Chriss Voss is a top FBI hostage negotiator.

Working in stressful conditions, where people’s lives depended on him, the author has learned a lot. In this book, he lets us in on the whole process.

He teaches us to exercise ‘active listening’ when listening to the other party.

“Negotiation is not an act of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible.”

He also tells us about the technique called mirroring. This means repeating a part of what your opponent is saying.

The author tells us not to be afraid of ‘no’. ‘No’ opens new possibilities.

“The fastest and most efficient means of establishing a quick working relationship is to acknowledge the negative and diffuse it.”

Voss teaches us to apply these strategies in work settings like business deals and salary negotiations.

This book will help you win arguments and deals the right way.

You Won't Just Love These Books. You'll Need Them

You are less rational than you think.

What is the one predictable thing about humans?

Their behavior will be irrational.

Dan Ariely is a professor and author. He uses behavior economics to make his claims.

“Once we take ownership of an idea — whether it’s about politics or sports — what do we do? We love it perhaps more than we should.”

Humans do not behave rationally. This doesn’t mean that their behavior can’t be predicted. Their irrational behavior can be predicted.

Our brains are wired to make the same mistakes over and over again, says the author.

For example, we are prone to taking ownership of ideas. Then we defend it with all our might. What happens next?

We become rigid in our stance.

“Resisting temptation and instilling self-control are general human goals, and repeatedly failing to achieve them is a source of much of our misery.”

The author outlines 13 ways in which consumers behave irrationally, making this book a great source for marketers.

Consumers are bad at self-control and following through with their plans. Ford recognized this and started sending customers reminders about car service. Car servicing increased.

Although this book is written with a focus on the behavior of customers, it can be applied to humans everywhere.


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