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Extended Audio Sample Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World Audiobook, by Sam Sommers Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (413 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sam Sommers Narrator: Joshua Swanson Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2011 ISBN: 9781101533055
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An entertaining and engaging" exploration of the invisible forces influencing your life-and how understanding them can improve everything you do.

The world around you is pulling your strings, shaping your innermost instincts and your most private thoughts. And you don't even realize it.

Every day and in all walks of life, we overlook the enormous power of situations, of context in our lives. That's a mistake, says Sam Sommers in his provocative new book. Just as a museum visitor neglects to notice the frames around paintings, so do people miss the influence of ordinary situations on the way they think and act. But frames- situations- do matter. Your experience viewing the paintings wouldn't be the same without them. The same is true for human nature.

In Situations Matter, Sommers argues that by understanding the powerful influence that context has in our lives and using this knowledge to rethink how we see the world, we can be more effective at work, at home, and in daily interactions with others. He describes the pitfalls to avoid and offers insights into making better decisions and smarter observations about the world around us.

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Quotes & Awards

  • [Situations Matter] offers inspiration to outsmart any situation. Psychology Today
  • In this wonderful and witty book, Sam Sommers reveals one of the most important factors driving human nature. (Hint: Look around.) He demonstrates time and time again that who you are is shaped by where you are. Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide
  • “Perhaps the least understood forces in the universe are the social powers that drive our thoughts and behavior. Sam Sommers is an expert at identifying these influences, and in Situations Matter he takes us on an entertaining and engaging guided tour. Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality
  • Understanding and appreciating the power of situations gives you a leg up in life, and Situations Matter is the best place to start investigating this challenge. It is excellent, entertaining reading for anyone interested in classic human questions about morality, conformity, and the real differences between men and women. Tyler Cowen, professor of economics, George Mason University, and author of Create Your Own Economy and The Great Stagnation
  • “It can be easy to overlook how ordinary situations shape behavior. It might seem like Sam Sommers is brilliant for choosing to write a book on this important topic, but he'd probably just explain that circumstance drove him to it. Still, we're all lucky he did. Leonard Mlodinow, author of The Drunkard’s Walk and co-author of The Grand Design

  • I loved Situations Matter.  True, I read it while sitting on my comfortable couch, but I bet I would have loved it no matter the situation, even if I read it submerged in ice-cold water.  Sam Sommers shows us the surprising extent to which humans are influenced by external factors.  It's a fascinating read, and one that will improve your life in many ways, whether dealing with road rage, choosing a spouse, or trying to handle your boss. A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically and My Life as an Experiment
  • This book is a true eye-opener.  From the boardroom meeting to the dining room table, from why we love to why we hate, you'll never look at the ordinary world around you in exactly the same way again. Wray Herbert, author of On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenna | 2/17/2014

    " Very good read with entertaining examples; accessible without being facile. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Polly | 2/17/2014

    " I expected to like Situations Matter more than I did; I think my disappointment is that Sommers seemed to expect me to be surprised by studies I've read about for 20 years or more. He has excellent points, and I need to be reminded that being in a hurry, or tired, or stressed makes me more likely to revert to character-based explanations for actions that are probably much more influenced by situation. He did make me laugh out loud once and smile many times. I just expected more new studies from the tone of the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ed Smiley | 2/5/2014

    " flip and amusing, lots of great stories about how we think, based on context, not character "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 H Wesselius | 1/21/2014

    " I think I've read too many behaviourial economics/psychology lately. Although the focus may vary from book to book, many of the same experiments and observations are cited in each book. In Situations Matter, how context affects decision making is the focus yet the usual crowd behaviour, racial bias, priming, etc experiments are cited. In some ways, Sommers states the obvious -- proximity and location matter even in cases of who we marry, for example. And its unfortunate, Sommers avoids the more in-depth questions. He cites the evidence for contextual decision making but doesn't extend his argument to discuss nurture vs nature nor does he delve into more in-depth discussions of decision making and its biological processes. In the end, its a superficial book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia | 1/19/2014

    " This is a read for everyone. The topics were interesting and all tied together well. It was clear and the points were put into light. It was very easy to follow and understand. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Methanie | 1/7/2014

    " I love reading books that shake up my view of myself and the world. This was quite an enjoyable and interesting read on how context and situations shape us - our decisions, how we view ourselves, our biases, who we are attracted to, how we learn. I highly recommend this book for, well, anyone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 1/2/2014

    " Thought provoking narrative non-fiction. Challenges the validity of "what you see is what you get" and that an individual will act or react the same in similar situations. It shows have variable human behavior really is and what unconscious factors come into play. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rutabaga | 12/23/2013

    " I was going to give it three stars, but the chapter on hate and racism was so revealing, it earned that extra credit. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/13/2013

    " I really liked this one. The authors style of writing is very readable and no excessive finger pointing just a gentle push to do a little better at being more aware and try to give other people the benefit of the doubt. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa Murray | 12/11/2013

    " Well-written, easy to read and chock with relevant research and stories. I liked this book so much I ended up buying it so I could mark up my own copy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle Wilkes | 12/10/2013

    " Sometimes non-fiction is a slow read and while this wasn't a page turner I found it a fascinating topic. As I have matured, I've tried to always keep perspective about behavior and not assume anything. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judy | 10/29/2013

    " Interesting book about how we react to the same thing but in different situations. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Chris Lynch | 4/12/2013

    " A good summary of pop psych I already knew. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurie | 1/4/2013

    " A couple of good tips on how people will act, including ourselves, in different situations and why. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 12/10/2012

    " Fun, informative, and a treasure-trove of teaching material. Great work, Sam! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sar | 9/28/2012

    " Just to reinforce what the message was in this book, I changed my rating as I looked at what the average rating was. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 L Eaton | 6/24/2012

    " a must read for understanding our perceptual limitations... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 2/23/2012

    " I enjoyed reading this book. Very informative and the author has a good sense of humor. It does make you think. "

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About the Author
Author Sam Sommers

Sam Sommers is an award–winning psychology professor at Tufts University. His research has been covered by Good Morning America, NPR, Harper’s, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives near Boston with his family.

About the Narrator

Joshua Swanson is an actor and voiceover talent. He’s worked in major motion pictures and television and as a voice talent has worked in all facets of the business. An award-winning audiobook narrator with over sixty titles to his name, Swanson has won five AudioFile Earphones Awards.