Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What is Out of Character?



Is character a stable trait? The authors, Desteno and Valdesolo, don't think so. They think character is a fight between our long term planning and our short term search for gratification. I tend to agree. The situation is often responsible for how we respond. I liked their analogy about the grasshopper (instant gratification) and the ant (long term planning). It makes for easy reading and an ability to quickly understand what the research is about.

The book, even for non-psychologists, is easy to read. The examples drawn from real life cases are fascinating and present a good basis for their research. I found the presentation, moving between real life scenarios and research methods, very easy to follow and enjoyable.

On the negative side, I found that the farther the authors got into the book, the further they were stretching to make their hypotheses apply. I had a problem with the chapter on gratitude. It wasn't at all clear to me that the subjects were responding in the way hypothesized by the experimenters. However, that is, unfortunately, the case with most behavioral research. The one hypothesis fits all doesn't work very well.

I enjoyed the book, but would caution readers to read with a grain of salt. Accept what you can and leave the rest.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.