Here is an excerpt from brainpickings.org on the Benjamin Franklin effect: The surprising psychology of how to handle haters followed by a book review on You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself by David McRaney.

“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

“We are what we pretend to be,” Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote, “so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” But given how much our minds mislead us, what if we don’t realize when we’re pretending — who are we then? That’s precisely what David McRaney explores in You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself (public library) — a “book about self-delusion, but also a celebration of it,” a fascinating and pleasantly uncomfortable-making look at why “self-delusion is as much a part of the human condition as fingers and toes,” and the follow-up to McRaney’s You Are Not So Smart, one of the best psychology books of 2011. McRaney, with his signature fusion of intelligent irreverence and irreverent intelligence, writes in the introduction:

The human mind is obviously vaster and more powerful than any other animal mind, and that’s something people throughout all human history couldn’t help but notice. You probably considered this the last time you visited the zoo or watched a dog battle its own hind legs. Your kind seems the absolute pinnacle of what evolution can produce, maybe even the apex and final beautiful result of the universe unfolding itself. It is a delectable idea to entertain. Even before we had roller skates and Salvador Dalí, it was a conviction in which great thinkers liked to wallow. Of course, as soon as you settle into that thought, you’ll accidentally send an e-mail to your boss meant for your proctologist, or you’ll read a news story about how hot dog-stuffed pizza is now the most popular food in the country. It’s always true that whenever you look at the human condition and get a case of the smugs, a nice heaping helping of ridiculousness plops in your lap and remedies the matter.

This tendency of ours is known as “naïve realism” — the assertion that we see the world as it actually is and our impression of it is an objective, accurate representation of “reality” — a concept that comes from ancient philosophy and has since been amply debunked by modern science.

See full article via brainpickings.org

The Benjamin Franklin effect – You Are Now Less Dumb: Description

The Benjamin Franklin effect - You Are Now Less Dumb

You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself by David McRaney

The author of the bestselling You Are Not So Smart gives readers a fighting chance at outsmarting their not-so-smart brains. 

A mix of popular psychology and trivia, You Are Now Less Dumb is grounded in the idea that we all believe ourselves to be objective observers of reality–except we’re not. But that’s okay, because our delusions keep us sane.

Expanding on this premise, McRaney provides eye-opening analyses of seventeen ways we fool ourselves every day, including:

  • Enclothed Cognition (the clothes you wear change your behavior and influence your mental abilities)
  • The Benjamin Franklin Effect (how you grow to like people for whom you do nice things and hate the people you harm).
  • Deindividuation (Despite our best intentions, we practically disappear when subsumed by a mob mentality)
  • The Misattribution of Arousal (Environmental factors have a greater effect on our emotional arousal than the person right in front of us)
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy (We will engage in something we don’t enjoy just to make the time or money already invested “worth it”)

McRaney also reveals the true price of happiness, and how to avoid falling for our own lies.

The Benjamin Franklin effect – You Are Now Less Dumb: Review

Praise for YOU ARE NOT SO SMART by David McRaney

“Every chapter is a welcome reminder that you are not so smart — yet you’re never made to feel dumb.  You Are Not So Smart is a dose of psychology research served in tasty anecdotes that will make you better understand both yourself and the rest of us. You’ll find new perspectives on your relationships with people you know, people you don’t, and even brands. It turns out we’re much more irrational than most of us think, so give yourself every advantage you can and read You Are Now Less Dumb.” (Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder of Reddit.com)

You Are Now Less Dumb is positively one of the smartest books to come by this year — no illusion there.” (Maria Popova of Brain Pickings)

“Simply wonderful.  An engaging and useful guide to how our brilliant brains can go badly wrong.” (Richard Wiseman, bestselling author of 59 Seconds and Quirkology)

“McRaney’s sweeping overview is like taking a Psych 101 class with a witty professor and zero homework.” (Psychology Today)

You Are Now Less Dumb [is] the go-to blog for understanding why we all do silly things.” (Lifehacker.com)

“You’d think from the title that it might be curmudgeonly; in fact, You Are Not So Smart is quite big-hearted.” (Jason Kottke, Kottke.org)

“Want to get smarter quickly? Read this book” (David Eagleman – neuroscientist and author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain)

“A much-needed field guide to the limits of our so-called consciousness. McRaney presents a witty case for just how witless we all are.” (William Poundstone – bestselling author of Are you Smart Enough to Work at Google?)

“Fascinating… After reading this book, you’ll never trust your brain again.” (Alex Boese – bestselling author of Elephants on Acid and Electrified Sheep)

“Deflating to a certain audience that wants to believe in exceptions, You Are Not So Smart is a tonic to the noxious sweetness of overachievement, an acknowledgment of ordinariness that glories in the quirks of being human without forcing them into a triumphant pyramid. That which cannot be overcome is a part as vital to the human experience as that impulse to try even harder to overcome nature. And if that fails, the flip side to a population crediting itself with falsely inflated powers of observation is that no one might notice if you, too, are not so smart.” (The Onion A.V. Club)

About the Author

David McRaney is a journalist and self-described psychology nerd. He has written for several publications, including The Atlantic and Psychology Today. He lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.