Sunday, September 6, 2015

How we act varies with setting

These studies tell us something profound and perhaps a bit disturbing about what makes us who we are: there isn't a single version of "you." When you're surrounded by litter, you're more likely to be a litterbug; when you're walking past building with broken windows, you're more likely to disrespect the property that surrounds you. These norms change from minute to minute, as quickly as a New Yorker walks from one part of the city to another.
Adam Alter, Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave (New York: Penguin, 2012), ch. 8

The forces in Drunk Tank Pink affect us every day: at work, at play, when we're alone, when we're interacting with other people, and when we're making decisions that range from the trivial to the life-changing. And once we know that they exist, we're better placed to capitalize on them when they help and resist them when they hurt. Request a hospital room with a view; pay more for an urban apartment on the top floor—not just because of the view, but because you'll be farther from the noise below; and keep in mind that your decisions are likely to change as you move from Chinatown to Little Italy, from summer to winter, and from rooms painted blue to rooms painted red. No matter where you go, Drunk Tank Pink and other cues will follow—and, having read this book, you'll be in a much better place to identify them, recognize how they'll affect you, and harness or overcome them to maximize your health, wisdom, wealth, and well-being.
Id., Epilogue

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