By Michael Bond
Published May 2014
We like to think we’re in control of everything we do, that we make our own decisions and dictate our own destiny. In reality it doesn’t work like that. However well we understand our own personality, our behaviour most of the time is dictated by a potent unknown quantity: other people. From what we buy, how we vote and the way we play sports to our behaviour in emergencies or under extreme duress, those around us have a far greater say over how we act than we’d like to believe.
Mixing narrative with scientific analysis, Michael Bond explores the remarkable effect of social influence on our lives, explaining real-life stories using results from decades of social psychology research. The book looks at the myriad ways we succumb to the pressures of conformity and how to defy them. It will explore the upside of that: how the power of brotherhood can inspire us to feats of courage and endurance, telling the stories of war heroes, polar explorers, astronauts, firefighters and many others whose actions are driven by group psychology – including round-the-world sailors, prisoners of war and others who are forced to survive long periods in solitude. Finally it will examine the strange dynamics of crowds, from the London rioters to the revolutionaries of the Arab Spring, and what we should watch out for when we’re caught up in one.