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Conformity: The Power of Social Influences Hardcover – 28 May 2019


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"An investigation of the underpinnings of conformity, cascades, and group polarization could not be more timely. Cass Sunstein once again brings the latest social science to bear on a knotty legal and political problem, helping us see, with his customary lucidity, how we can design institutions to counter the foibles of our own psychology."--Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America

"Conformity is indeed as old as mankind itself. But the best book ever on conformity starts right here. And who better to write it than the arch non-conformist Cass Sunstein?"--Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics, George Mason University

"Cass Sunstein, one of the most original minds of our era, offers a powerful critique of conformity and the dangerous consequences of blind, like-minded thinking. From politics to law, Sunstein urges readers to see the value of institutions that reward a diversity of views so that we can reach the wisest and best decisions. At a moment when the country is watching the damaging impact of tribalism in our polity, this a much needed work that offers a fascinating, analytical explanation of what keeps us from thinking outside the box."--Julian Zelizer, Princeton University and co-author of Fault Lines: History of the United States Since 1974

"If you are alarmed, as many of us are, by the radical polarization of our political life, Cass Sunstein's new book will explain to you why it is happening and why the checks and balances built into our institutions constitute a barrier to the realization of our worst fears. Readers of Conformity will come away greatly informed, chastened in their idealism, but nevertheless optimistic about the survival of those same ideals."--Stanley Fish, Professor of Law at Florida International University and Visiting Professor at Cardozo Law School

"Sunstein unearths fascinating and surprising revelations ... Perhaps the most profound insight from Sunstein's book is the realization that conformity is working on us pretty much all the time. We think we choose what movies to watch, what books to read, or even what political tribe to claim--but our ability to form our own opinion on anything is greatly influenced by imperceptible forces nudging us towards consensus. That's not always a bad thing. But, as Sunstein himself writes, 'For all the good conformity does, it can also crush what is most precious and most vital in the human soul.'"--GQ

"Points out the positive benefits of conformity while also exploring how following the crowd can easily take individuals down paths of extreme thinking. Drawing on scientific studies, Sunstein discusses the corrective effects of dissent for the common good and not simply out of contrarianism. Eminently relevant, Sunstein's clarifying discussion is a must-read."--Booklist

About the Author

Cass R. Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. From 2009 to 2012, he served as the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He is the bestselling co-author of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness and The World According to Star Wars.


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