The Social Psychological Narrative — or — What Is Social Psychology, Anyway?

From Edge:

Wilson640 TIMOTHY D. WILSON, the Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, is author of Strangers To Ourselves (“the most influential book I've ever read”, Malcolm Gladwell), which was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the Best 100 Ideas of 2002 He is also the coauthor of the best-selling social psychology textbook, Social Psychology, now in its seventh edition. His latest trade book is Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change.

“If liberating the unconscious had been Wilson’s only contribution to psychological science, it would have been enough. But it was just the start. Wilson has since discovered and documented a variety of fascinating ways in which all of us are “strangers to ourselves” (which also happens to be the title of his last book—a book that Malcolm Gladwell, writing in the New Yorker, correctly called the best popular psychology book published in the last twenty years). He has done brilliant research on topics ranging from “reasons analysis” (it turns out that when people are asked to generate reasons for their decisions, they typically make bad ones) to “affective forecasting” (it turns out that people can’t predict how future events will make them feel), but at the center of all his work lies a single enigmatic insight: we seem to know less about the worlds inside our heads than about the world our heads are inside.

The Torah asks this question: “Is not a flower a mystery no flower can explain?” Some scholars have said yes, some scholars have said no. Wilson has said, “Let’s go find out.” He has always worn two professional hats — the hat of the psychologist and the hat of the methodologist. He has written extensively about the importance of using experimental methods to solve real world problems, and in his work on the science of psychological change — he uses a scientific flashlight to chase away a whole host of shadows by examining the many ways in which human beings try to change themselves — from self-help to psychotherapy — and asking whether these things really work, and if so, why? His answers will surprise many people and piss off the rest. I predict that this new work will be the center of a very interesting storm.”

— Daniel Gilbert, Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University; Director of Harvard’s Hedonic Psychology Laboratory; Author, Stumbling on Happiness.

More here.

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