PSYCHOLOGY

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

Little, Brown. Sept. 2019. 304p. notes. ISBN 9780316478526. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780316535625. PSYCH
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The prolific, best-selling Gladwell (David and Goliath; The Tipping Point) presents an intriguing analysis of what far too often goes wrong when strangers meet, diving deeply into relatively well-known controversial public incidents thoroughly covered by the mass media to cast doubt on how the general public has come to understand these events. The deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Pennsylvania State University, and the death of Sandra Bland highlight the premise that ordinary tools and techniques used to make sense of people we don’t know have failed society. The result of this failure is further conflict and misunderstanding that impact international relations and even threaten world order. Many of the examples exemplify how race, gender, age, language, country of origin, perceived threat, challenge to authority, contextual setting, and other variables can dominate impulsive behavior that shuns connections among people.
VERDICT This work should stimulate further research that could serve as control for these variables and more directly link how the factor of strangeness might influence certain reactions, providing a valuable contribution to psychology and psychiatry collections in larger university libraries.

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