(by N. J. Goldstein, S. J. Martin & R. B. Cialdini)

Yes 1In terms of value for money, practicality, directness and ease of assimilation of the material this is the best book around in my opinion. It consists of 50 mini articles – each one about 2-3 pages long. Each one is based on one or more scientific studies and there are references at the back of the book. Following the description of the study and a brief discussion of the principle involved, the writers have considered possible applications – in the vast majority of cases in the world of business. The style of writing is clear, jargon-free and humorous.

In terms of the ideas, it is a true treasure-trove! Many of them will be familiar to people with some experience in the field – others far less so! For instance, did you know that if you are going through a job interview, it may be a good idea to start with one of your shortcomings? (p. 102) Or that if that if it is hard for people to imagine using something they are far more likely to ignore it, regardless of how good it is? (the ‘Fluency’ principle – p. 148)  Or that one of the best way to get people to like us is not to do things for them but to get them to do things for us? (‘The Franklin Principle’ – p. 72)

There are simply dozens of ‘take away’ messages for us teachers. Clearly, that hint about interviews might come in handy to us too and the fluency principle is vital whether we are presenting a new strategy or a new Web tool – if something looks too complicated students will shun it. The Franklin principle has immediate applications everywhere; to paraphrase JFK ‘Ask not what you can do for your students; ask what your students can do for YOU!’ 🙂  Incredibly, they are going to like both you and the lesson more!

And that’s not all: on p. 26 we learn that giving students too much choice can backfire! (Moral: whether it is Readers or Essay Topics less is often more!) The ‘consistency’ principle (p. 56) suggests that to get students to do something ‘big’ it pays to start small; language benefits aside, when a student listens to the BBC News for 5 min or brings a single joke in class, they come to see themselves in a different light! And here is my favourite principle: ‘Labelling’ (p. 59) Simply telling people at random that they are above average in civic-mindedness made them more likely to vote! But what about learners? Amazingly telling children that they seemed to care about their handwriting made them practice – even when nobody was present! (p. 60) Excellent!

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