Impulse: Why We Do What We Do Without Knowing Why We Do It

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9781847946867: Impulse: Why We Do What We Do Without Knowing Why We Do It
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Whether it's falling in love, shopping or overeating, why can't we help acting on impulse?
When you make a decision or form an opinion, you think you know why. But you're wrong. The truth is that most of our mental activity actually happens below the level of conscious thought. In this groundbreaking book, Dr David Lewis, director of the cutting-edge research agency Mindlab International, explores this incredible phenomenon. Delving into the mysteries of the 'zombie brain' that each of us possesses, he demonstrates how unconscious neurological processes underpin every aspect of our lives, from whether or not we find someone sexually attractive to how we resist (or give in to) temptation. In the process he shows how finger length is a reliable predictor of risk-taking behaviour, how seeing the logos of fast food chains can make you more impatient, and how holding a warm drink makes you find strangers more likeable. Above all, he reveals the practical applications of this emerging field of research, giving us insights into such diverse areas as child development, anti-social activities like rioting, successful dieting, and even the ways that supermarkets make us spend more. We may not be conscious of our impulses but it is clear that we can no longer afford to be ignorant of them.

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About the Author:

DR DAVID LEWIS is founder and Director of Research at the independent research consultancy Mindlab International. Dubbed the 'father of neuromarketing' for his pioneering studies analysing brain activity for research and commercial purposes, he currently specialises in non-invasive techniques for measuring human responses under real life conditions. He is the founding member of the Impulsivity Research Group (, which is dedicated to researching the psychology, neurology and genetics of impulsive behaviour.


So while neuroscientists and psychologists may dismiss free will as an illusion, it is an illusion individuals and society could never live without... It seems to us that we have conscious will. That we are free agents. That we cause our actions and should take responsibility for what we say and do. And that everyone else should do the same. 'Although it is sobering and ultimately accurate to call all this an illusion,' says Daniel Wegner, 'it is a mistake to conclude that the illusory is trivial.' This should not, however, blind us to the fact that -- as impulses help demonstrate -- the mind does not run the brain. The brain runs itself. The mind is part of the running. (From the Book)

An illuminating guide through the infamously disordered, oft-unwelcomed realm of impulse. In a society that values free will, we rarely think our actions are inherently uncontrollable...This book's readable balance of information and anecdote is sure to provide especially impulsive readers with a necessary moment of reflection.
(Publishers Weekly 2013-07-29)

Lewis...examines the role impulses play in falling in love, overeating, and spending, as well as violent and destructive behavior. His conclusions are sobering: most decisions are subliminal, self-control is influenced by outside factors such as genetics, and free will is an illusion necessary to maintain social order...Overall, a fascinating, readable explanation of scientific research on impulses and consciousness.
(Lucille M. Boone Library Journal 2013-08-15)

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Lewis, Dr David
Published by Random House Books (2014)
ISBN 10: 1847946860 ISBN 13: 9781847946867
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