I'll Have What She's Having: Mapping Social Behavior

Front Cover

How we learn from those around us: an essential guide to understanding how people behave.

Humans are, first and foremost, social creatures. And this, according to the authors of I'll Have What She's Having, shapes—and explains—most of our choices. We're not just blindly driven by hard-wired instincts to hunt or gather or reproduce; our decisions are based on more than “nudges” exploiting individual cognitive quirks.

I'll Have What She's Having shows us how we use the brains of others to think for us and as storage space for knowledge about the world. The story zooms out from the individual to small groups to the complexities of populations. It describes, among other things, how buzzwords propagate and how ideas spread; how the swine flu scare became an epidemic; and how focused social learning by a few gets amplified as copying by the masses. It describes how ideas, behavior, and culture spread through the simple means of doing what others do.

It is notoriously difficult to change behavior. For every “Yes We Can” political slogan, there are thousands of “Just Say No” buttons. I'll Have What She's Having offers a practical map to help us navigate the complex world of social behavior, an essential guide for anyone who wants to understand how people behave and how to begin to change things.

 

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Contents

1 OUT OF THE TREES
1
2 RULES OF THE GAME
15
3 COPYING BRAIN SOCIAL MIND
25
4 SOCIAL LEARNING EN MASSE
41
5 CASCADES
67
6 WHEN IN DOUBT COPY
87
7 MAPPING COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR
111
BIBLIOGRAPHY
129
INDEX
141
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

R. Alexander Bentley is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee and coauthor of I'll Have What She's Having: Mapping Social Behavior and The Acceleration of Cultural Change: From Ancestors to Algorithms (both published by the MIT Press).

Mark Earls is a London-based author and consultant on marketing, communication, and behavior change.

Michael J. O'Brien is Provost and Professor of History at Texas A&M University–San Antonio and the coauthor of I'll Have What She's Having: Mapping Social Behavior and The Acceleration of Cultural Change: From Ancestors to Algorithms (both published by the MIT Press).

An internationally recognized leader at the intersection of design and technology, John Maeda is Executive Vice President/Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient. He was the 16th President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and before that was Associate Director of the MIT Media Lab. He is a designer, technologist, and catalyst behind the national movement to transform STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to STEAM with the addition of the arts. He is the author of Design by Numbers (1999), The Laws of Simplicity (2006) and Redesigning Leadership (2011), all published by The MIT Press.

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