Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change

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"There are few academics who write with as much grace and wisdom as Timothy Wilson. REDIRECT is a masterpiece." -Malcolm Gladwell

What if there were a magic pill that could make you happier, turn you into a better parent, solve a number of your teenager's behavior problems, reduce racial prejudice, and close the achievement gap in education? There is no such pill, but story editing - the scientifically based approach described in REDIRECT - can accomplish all of this.

The world-renowned psychologist Timothy Wilson shows us how to redirect the stories we tell about ourselves and the world around us, with subtle prompts, in ways that lead to lasting change. Fascinating, groundbreaking, and practical, REDIRECT demonstrates the remarkable power small changes can have on the ways we see ourselves and our environment, and how we can use this in our everyday lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

That Malcolm Gladwell strongly praises this new book by University of Virginia psychology professor Timothy D. Wilson is totally understandable. Like Gladwell, Dr. Wilson proposes radical new slants on accepted truths by applying recent scientific research. Redirect piques our interest by asking provocative questions: Why might some sex education programs actually result in more teen pregnancies? Why do some self-help books leave you less happy and self-confident? (P.S. Wilson possesses enviable credentials, having been lauded as "one of the most brilliant, creative, and respected psychologists of his generation.")

Evening Standard
"Accessible, engaging and consistently instant classic of popular science."
New Scientist Culture Lab
"For those...who find in social psychology a viable vehicle for leading us more surely on the path towards what is true, right and good, REDIRECT is likely to be a stimulating, valuable read."
"In clear prose that does not trivialize the science, Wilson reviews the many success stories in social psychology....As the scientist Paul C. Stern once wrote, a policy objective of science is to 'separate common sense from common nonsense and make uncommon sense more common.' Wilson's book does science and society a great service by accomplishing precisely this."
Boston Globe
"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."
Daily Progress
"REDIRECT is a 10-chapter treasure trove of information on various aspects of social psychology....The man who wrote REDIRECT is patently honest and fair in his assessments of all the barriers keeping any of us from being all we can, and might, be....[It's] a book to stir all of one's human instincts and curiosity."
James W. Pennebaker
"Timothy Wilson's book Redirect reminds me why I became a social psychologist. Without solid laboratory and real world research, some of society's most important decisions can easily be guided by faulty beliefs. The genius of Wilson's book is that it points out how mistakes can be made and, at the same time, how research can help us to correct these errors. This should be required reading for any well-intentioned person who wants to make the world a better place. It brings together central issues in psychology, public policy, community activism, and science."
Greg Walton
"One of the foremost psychologists of our time, Timothy Wilson shows us that solving endemic social problems and making ourselves happier, healthier, and more successful is within our grasp. Redirect reveals the hidden meanings we assume in our everyday lives, how these meanings shape our behavior, and how we can change our assumptions and the world. Extraordinary."
David G. Myers
"Renowned social psychologist Timothy Wilson writes for those of us who want to make a real difference in our worlds and not just to fool ourselves into thinking we're doing so. With wit and wisdom, he shows us how to spare ourselves worthless or worse interventions, think smarter, and live well."
Carol Dweck
"Redirect is a great book! In his uniquely engaging way, Wilson shows how simple techniques can deliver large and lasting personal changes--and convinces us that only good research can give us these techniques."
Daniel M. Wegner
"Wouldn't it be amazing if a very smart scientist could write a book on happiness, crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, parenting, and teenage pregnancy-and sum up all the research in clear and surprising lessons on how we should live our lives? Well, Timothy Wilson is the scientist and Redirect is the book, and it is in fact amazing."
Daniel Gilbert
"This glorious book shimmers with insights-an instant classic that will be discussed and quoted for generations. One of the great psychologists of our time, Timothy Wilson has distilled the field's wisdom and shown us how to use it to change ourselves and the world. This may well be the single most important psychology book ever written. Not to be missed!"
Robert Cialdini
"With a deft narrative touch, an engaging metaphor for bringing about psychological change personal story editing, and a ferocious commitment to scientific evidence, Timothy Wilson has made a remarkable contribution to knowledge."
Sonja Lyubomirsky
"Is it possible to reinvent ourselves, transform our children, and improve our communities? Professor Timothy Wilson proposes an idea that many readers will find revolutionary - namely, that the most effective methods are often deceptively simple. What matters most is not pressuring the people that we want to change, but subtly helping them to shift the stories that they tell about themselves. Whether you are a parent, educator, employer, or simply someone who cares about making the world a better place, you should read this book."
Malcolm Gladwell
"There are few academics who write with as much grace and wisdom as Timothy Wilson. Redirect is a masterpiece."
Library Journal
Wilson (psychology, Univ. of Virginia; Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious) presents a fascinating argument for how humans make sense of the world. Basing his book on the classic work of Kurt Lewin, Wilson explains that to understand the choices people make, one must understand how they see the world. He believes people can change the way they and others view the world through interventions like story editing, story prompting, and his "do good, be good" approach. Although more relevant for academia, the material is nicely interpreted for lay readers and covers the impact of the author's techniques on improving personal self-esteem, preventing teen pregnancies, reducing teen violence and alcohol and drug abuse, combating prejudice, and achieving personal goals. A plausible and well-documented alternative to David Kinchin's and Victor Volkman's theories of trauma. VERDICT While Wilson's work is well researched and heavily cited, his novel ideas for treating trauma will likely raise eyebrows. Essential for mental-health professionals, especially those working with first responders and members of the military, and highly recommended for all university libraries supporting the helping professions.—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Kirkus Reviews

Change is hard. Or is it? A keen observer of the human condition explains how tweaking our personal narratives can have a huge effect on our lives.

"I'm such an idiot!"Who hasn't admonished themselves in similar fashion at some point in their lives? The problem, according to Wilson (Social Psychology, 2009, etc.), is that such seemingly innocuous interior narratives can have a profound effect on the way we view ourselves in society. Like the college freshman who muffs her first math test and immediately concludes she's just not cut out for higher education; the little leaguer who strikes out his first time at bat and thereafter confines himself to the dugout. The way we internalize our experiences matters. The good news, writes the author, is that the same toxic narratives that produce drop-outs and bench warmers can just as easily be replaced with positive narratives that promote valedictorians and all-stars. Individually, that means happier, more fulfilling lives. Nationally, it could mean reduced crime, fewer unwanted pregnancies and the end of racism. Wilson looks at how well-meaning people have tried to combat societal ills in the past and concludes that they have been ineffective because they have failed to recognize the importance of core narratives. The same goes for a host of other sociological interventions that on the surface appear sound, but ultimately fail to stand up to scientific scrutiny. That's the second part of Wilson's premise. He's keenly interested in understanding why a certain approach succeeds of feels, and the result is an important examination of the ways we try to ameliorate societal ills.

Rendered in bite-sized portions with ample servings of statistics and case studies, readers should have no trouble digesting any of it—no matter how faulty their own personal narrative about "science books" may be.

From the Publisher

“Wilson clearly and straightforwardly lays out his concepts, and Gardner, in turn, effectively communicates them to listeners. . . . This interesting and thought-provoking work provides listeners with tools for self-discovery and change.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316051880
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/8/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 248,663
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet 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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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Redirect: Small Edits, Lasting Changes 3

Chapter 2 Testing, Testing: Does It Work? 23

Chapter 3 Shaping Our Narratives: Increasing Personal Well-Being 39

Chapter 4 Shaping Our Kids' Narratives: Becoming Better Parents 75

Chapter 5 Just Say... Volunteer: Preventing Teenage Pregnancies 113

Chapter 6 Scared Crooked: Reducing Teenage Violence 135

Chapter 7 Everybody's Doing It... Or Are They? Reducing Alcohol and Drug Abuse 155

Chapter 8 Surely They Won't Like Me-Or Will They? Reducing Prejudice 181

Chapter 9 It's About Me, Not My Group: Closing the Achievement Gap 203

Chapter 10 Sustained Change: Finding Solutions 235

Acknowledgments 243

Notes 245

Bibliography 253

Index 271

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 30, 2013

    Too predictable

    While Redirect has a number of useful insights in the first few chapters, which I must admit seem very promising, Wilson falls into a pattern such that one hardly needs even to read the last few chapters.

    A useful tool in one's arsenal? But of course. However, it could have red a touch better in the tail end.

    I would recommend reading this book in conjunction with Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow"; Pink's "Drive"; and Duhigg's "The Power of Habit"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2011


    A must read for parents and educators

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2012

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    Posted May 12, 2013

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