Last Updated on December 29, 2020
Resident Bill Miller will review The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Jonah Berger [New York: Simon & Schuster, 2020] on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 7 PM on TV 972.
Have you ever tried to change someone’s opinion or behavior and totally failed at the attempt? Then this is the book for you. The author is a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and has spent many years studying the science of social influence. He has conducted hundreds of experiments on what drives peoples’ decisions and choices, and he has consulted with companies such as Apple, Google, Nike, GE, and some nonprofit organizations.
The Catalyst draws on successful techniques of persuasion used by hostage negotiators and from behavioral science research. It is replete with examples of how these techniques have been successfully used to change peoples’ behaviors.
Berger talks about the power of inertia and how one needs to overcome the resistance to change. He then proceeds to discuss better methods for getting people to change their ways of thinking and relates this to a chemical reaction.
For Berger, Catalysts are change agents who change minds by “removing roadblocks and lowering the barriers that keep people from taking action.” They begin by listening and building trust rather than trying to forcefully persuade someone. He focuses on why the presentation of facts and evidence and trying to convince people is doomed to failure.
This book focuses on “discovering the hidden barriers preventing change” and “identifying the root or core issues that are thwarting action and learning how to mitigate them.” It focuses on a set of five key roadblocks that restrict change: Reactance, Endowment, Distance, Uncertainty, and Corroborating Evidence. A chapter is devoted to each of these elements and how to address each one, illustrated with case studies.
Taken together, the acronym is REDUCE. “Catalysts reduce Reactance, ease Endowment,
shrink Distance, alleviate Uncertainty, and find Corroborating Evidence.” Simply stated, the book is about reducing roadblocks to change.
In addition to his work at the University of Pennsylvania, Jonah Berger has authored two international bestsellers: Contagion and Invisible Influences.
Bill Miller and his wife have lived at Charlestown for three years. In addition to serving on committees, he has led Great Decisions classes. Before moving to Charlestown, his work involved forming public/private partnerships for community development. Book reviews are aired when program scheduling permits.
~ Janet Neer and Jane Backstrom, Book Review Coordinators ~