In Invisible Influence, the New York Times bestselling author of Contagious explores the subtle influences that affect the decisions we make—from what we buy, to the careers we choose, to what we eat.
“Jonah Berger has done it again: written a fascinating book that brims with ideas and tools for how to think about the world.” —Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit
If you’re like most people, you think your individual tastes and opinions drive your choices and behaviors. You wear a certain jacket because you liked how it looked. You picked a particular career because you found it interesting. The notion that our choices are driven by our own personal thoughts and opinions is patently obvious. Right? Wrong.
Without our realizing it, other people’s behavior has a huge influence on everything we do at every moment of our lives, from the mundane to the momentous. Even strangers have an impact on our judgments and decisions: our attitudes toward a welfare policy shift if we’re told it is supported by Democrats versus Republicans (even though the policy is the same). But social influence doesn’t just lead us to do the same things as others. In some cases we imitate others around us. But in other cases we avoid particular choices or behaviors because other people are doing them. We stop listening to a band because they go mainstream. We skip buying the minivan because we don’t want to look like a soccer mom.
By understanding how social influence works, we can decide when to resist and when to embrace it—and learn how we can use this knowledge to exercise more control over our own behavior. In Invisible Influence, Jonah Berger “is consistently entertaining, applying science to real life in surprising ways and explaining research through narrative. His book fascinates because it opens up the moving parts of a mysterious machine, allowing readers to watch them in action” (Publishers Weekly).
Expanding on the ideas explored in his 2013 bestseller, Contagious, Berger offers an engaging guide to the concept of social influence. He examines how opposing categories of socially motivated behavior imitation and differentiation combine to create complex cultural patterns. He shows, for example, the imperceptible communal nudges behind baby-naming trends, racial achievement gaps, and group decision-making at work. Though Berger teaches marketing, his book appeals to readers beyond the M.B.A.s. Ultimately, the focus is on applied psychology. "We like things that are moderately similar," he says, "blending the allure of novelty with the comfort of the familiar." Some of his points are familiar from Psychology 101: familiarity increases attraction, stereotypes are shortcuts used to process new information. But unlike the writing in the average psych textbook, Berger's prose is consistently entertaining, applying science to real life in surprising ways and explaining research through narrative. He can be repetitive, and his stylistic brevity becomes distracting: sentence fragments are overused. Still, it makes for good retention. Social influence is an intricate subject, but Berger simplifies without patronizing. His book fascinates because it opens up the moving parts of a mysterious machine, allowing readers to watch them in action.
Very self gratifying. I always personally believed in the concepts behind the studies this book displayed. Jonah has confirmed what I have felt since social media and different influences arose.
Not as robust as Contagious
While this is still a worthwhile read, it mostly confirms what everyone already intuitively knows. This book almost serves as an example of one of his assertions, that a person who is winning will not push as hard as someone who is just barely losing and needs to prove himself. Come on Jonah, you’ve got more in you.