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Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,897 ratings  ·  159 reviews
What if there were a magic pill that could make you happier, turn you into a better parent, solve a number of your teenager's behavior problems, reduce racial prejudice, and close the achievement gap in education? There is no such pill, but story editing -- the scientifically based approach described in Redirect -- can accomplish all of this.

The world-renowned psychologi
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 8th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2009)
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Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Redirect started strong, got weak enough in the middle that I was debating between 2 and 3 stars as I trudged through, and then got quite strong again at the end.

The initial argument of the book is twofold. First: a lot of the psychological interventions to help people (anything from helping first responder deal with traumatic events to keeping kids from getting pregnant) are either useless or counterproductie. We can't know without experimental testing. Second: a particular kind of approach cal
Kevin Denham
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
After thoroughly enjoying Dr. Wilson's first book "Strangers to Ourselves", I was delighted to hear he'd released another title a few months ago. Perhaps I approached the book from too skeptical a perspective since the book cover gave clear signals that Dr. Wilson had intended this title for a different audience than his first.

I wouldn't begrudge anyone trying to turn their passion and pool of knowledge into a higher standard of living, as I believe this title was intending to do. I would begrud
Ann Douglas
Sep 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ann by: Scientific American article
The key point that Timothy D. Wilson makes in Redirect is that people have key narratives (stories) about themselves and that, when these key narratives are rewritten, people's lives can be changed. Wilson devotes about two-thirds of the book to describing scientific research which backs up his premise. The book would be fantastic -- a 5+ star book -- if the book only consisted of this type of material. Wilson weakens his book by including interesting but unrelated material (explanations of what ...more
Morgan Blackledge
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is very useful (particularly if you are a psychology clinician, social worker, conscientious parent, educator, curious human being etc), as it (a) covers just enough experimental and statistical method to activate the "educated sceptic" module (b) rigorously shreds non evidence based interventions such as DARE and Scared Straight (c) introduces us to a broadly applicable method for adaptive personal and social change called "story editing" and effectively presents evidence for its effi ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I have my master’s degree in psychology, but this is the first I’ve heard of this new psychological treatment. It’s something that sounds like it would be perfect for me, book lover that I am. The treatment is called story editing. It involves telling oneself a new story or an edited story about events in one’s life that enhance one’s feelings of happiness and self-worth.

Very intriguing. I need to find out more about this powerful tool.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching, policy
Thank you -journal writing, done conscientiously, with periodic look-backs after enough time has passed to gain perspective on events, does work. I will admit to being shocked that the immediate CISD trauma feedback sessions seem to be shown by research to be (overwhelmingly) ineffective, yet it makes alot of sense that waiting until enough time has passed that the initial shock has worn off, so that a bit of perspective can start to develop, before writing about the experience would be helpful. ...more
Lis Carey
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Wilson gives us a highly readable account of what we do and don't know about psychological and social psychological interventions--what works, what doesn't, why, and how we tell the difference.

A major concern of Wilson's is many popular, widely accepted approaches to solving, reducing, or preventing problems, such as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) counseling for police and firefighters after a traumatic on-the-job incident, or popular and widely-respected anti-drug programs for the s
Heather Pagano
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cognition
Interesting and practical, a book that really changed the way I think about the thought patterns that motivate behavior. The focus of the book is "story editing," rewriting (redirecting) the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we can do, and how we feel. Wilson offers story editing as a tool for both personal and societal positive change.

Although I would have preferred that the book focus even more on how to effect change on a personal level, several techniques suggested for support
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the many unwelcome bits of advice my husband had for me in the early years of our marriage was that it's not a good idea to give loved ones self-help books. Especially for Christmas.

So true.

I'm kind of a self-help book addict, though—although you don't see too many self-help books on my "read" list. That's because I don't actually read them. Or at least, I don't finish them. Of all the self-help books I've ever started, I think 7 Habits is the only one I've ever finished. I had to—I was
Ben Thurley
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Basically this is a book with two ideas. The first, that social and psychological interventions should be rigorously evaluated for their effectiveness (and that randomised control trials are perhaps the best way to measure this). The second idea is that “story-editing”, prompts to change a person’s or group’s view of the world and underlying narrative influencing them in a given situation, can be remarkably powerful for achieving positive personal and social change.

This approach to psychological
Nov 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Do not read this book.
Unless you're someone with conservative US values and like to see those prejudices confirmed.

The author mixes cherry picked research examples with his own personal opinions and morals. The actual science is extremely thin and can be summarized in literally 150 words as the author does at the end of the book. Also, the core premise of the book is so obvious to anyone that has read anything on social psychology / sociology that this is also not worth reading.

Additionally, ab
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Redirect is one of the more interesting popular science books I've read. The book discusses how our narratives both as individuals and as groups affect our behavior and our future: i.e. our narrative affects how we interact with the world and therefore what happens to us. He examines how we shape other people's narratives as well, especially our children. I found it fascinating.
A couple of conclusions:
if you can, editing your narrative is a powerful tool.
Every parent and teacher should read thi
George Rodriguez
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookleverage-com
"Redirect" by Timothy D. Wilson is built around the concept of Story Editing, which he describes as
using changes, or edits, in the stories we use to understand ourselves and the social world around
us, to make lasting changes in our lives and the lives of others.

He shows why Self-Help authors, Scared Straight programs and D.A.R.E. initiatives don't work,
have never been scientifically tested and why efforts such as these deserve what he calls,
"Bloodletting" awards - solutions that seem to make sen
A. S.
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In “Redirect,” Timothy Wilson focuses on psychological strategies of changing one’s way of viewing life and re-directing their thought processes to become more optimistic. Popular strategies that Wilson uses in his book include story-editing (which is refocusing one’s view on a particular problem: e.g. the student who attributes his failed test to being stupid, versus a student who attributes his failed test to not enough studying—as a basic example of this premise), using writing as a way of co ...more
Joseph Adelizzi, Jr.
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Most interesting. The author's emphasis on testing ("Does a given intervention actually help, or do we just think that it should? Wait, it's counterproductive!") is something I'm very familiar with, since my husband has a background in computers and user testing.

Test, test, test...people can be so full of surprises. So often, something that seems like it should work just doesn't.

I confess, I was a bit disappointed only in that the author did not address how to change patterns of behavior that I
Thomas Edmund
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Quarrels with the title aside Redirect is a great book - perhaps a little heavy on the science (I guess thats one word in the title that makes sense) but worth trucking through nonetheless

Redirect reads as a debunk of conventional 'common sense' studies with an aperteif of story editing. Story editing is effectively positive thinking (if I dare be simplistic) with some added complexity.

The real strength of the book is the debunking. Most people who have completed a reputible psychology course kn
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I want to like this book but the author is so totally in love with his story editing theory he refuses to acknowledge the real lived sexism and racism people experience every day. His insistence we all just need to imagine better comes across as the view of one in privilege.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I actually picked this up thinking it would be a self help book on changing the way you describe your own past to yourself. nope. it was about how we implement programs to remedy social problems without actually testing their efficacy. many programs - scared straight, for example - seem like they would be effective, but actually make the problem worse. (kids who participate in scared straight are 13% more likely to commit crimes than kids who don't). the author goes into potential reasons for th ...more
This was tough to rate because I got a lot out of this book, despite not enjoying it very much. The central premise - using story-editing techniques to reframe how people think about things - is strong and I’m excited to apply some of Wilson’s recommendations in my classroom. However, most of the book is an extended harangue against people who implement programs without first conducting a scientifically sound study. I agree with his points, I just didn’t need 200 pages to convince me... Still, I ...more
The Book Grocer
Purchase Redirect here for just $12!

Such an engaging book that I will revisit again and again throughout my life - so much information and so much insight into psychology that I just hadn’t thought of before.

Brooke - The Book Grocer
David McCormick
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
If you love social psychology, this is an amazing book. I love the focus on experimentally testing social theories instead of defaulting to common sense solutions. At times, the book did focus a little too much on debunking the bad without providing clear alternatives, but I appreciate the content greatly.
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
*Rewrite, revise, redirect.*

Popular belief and common sense would have you believe that self-help books (like the way-too-publicized _The Secret_) and programs to prevent and reduce child abuse, teen delinquency, and substance abuse (like Healthy Families of America, Dollar-A-Day programs, and the D.A.R.E. Program, respectively) work. After all, with all the publicity and praise they get, they surely seem to be accomplishing their goals, right?

As Timothy Wilson shows in his book _Redirect_, not
Eric Schreiber
Nov 21, 2011 rated it liked it
While the premise of Redirect is that the story people tell themselves about a situation can change their long-term outlook on life, it spends a lot of time simply focusing on how multitudes of intervention programs don't work. Wilson is a strong believer in testing programs using a proper scientific method, with randomly selected treatment and control groups, and he makes this point over and over again. He digs into closing-the-gap education programs, teen pregnancy programs, school dropout pro ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a well-focused book from an established academic in the field of Social Psychology. His premise is pretty simple: what he calls "story editing" is a technique to "redirect people's narratives about themselves and the social world in a way that leads to lasting changes in behavior." The basic premise is that changing the stories we tell ourselves can have measurable positive impacts on what we do.

The balance of the book applies this story-editing perspective to a variety of social issues:
Derrick Trimble
Apr 17, 2013 rated it liked it
There really is nothing new under the sun. I dove into the book with high expectations. After all, Malcolm Gladwell called Redirect a 'masterpiece.' The first three chapters did not let me down. Setting the foundation of the principles of redirecting, Wilson moved on to the validity question, and then on to refreshing look at shaping our narratives. The candor and unabashed evisceration of the self-help and actualization movement had me going "Yeah", "See," and left me with a sense of self-satis ...more
Carielyn Mills
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
this book has a few very useful strategies to redirect your thinking when you're stressed and feeling insecure about yourself. it lists them by detailing social programs gone wrong.

the takeaway is to beware of popular approaches aimed toward social improvement (which seem like common sense) and instead opt for methods backed by science and evidence-based testing.

it's a bit boring and slightly repetitive at times, but that's because several studies are quoted for each strategy, which is the main
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
I like the insight in this book and the refreshing approach of story-editing. I think it might be a bit oversimplified - whenever I read books like this, I am always depressed by the fact that so many little things can influence people's behaviors (other than themselves). We bend in the direction of least resistance. I would like to take this idea further and possibly in a completely different direction; in particular, how most initiatives and programs don't work specifically because they focus ...more
David Tendo
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I didn't get as much out of this as I thought I would and the cover is actually quite deceiving. Don't get me wrong, this is an absolutely fascinating and thought-provoking read; extensively researched and referenced, but I didn't feel that there were any practical applications for the findings and it does nothing to "redirect" your thinking. Wilson mentions the "story-editing" method a lot, but he doesn't actually go into it in any great detail or explain how to use it, he does touch on it brie ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Which one is the most effective intervention? Does it work? The book starts by explaining that for a conclusions from a study to represent the truth the study should pick the participants in random manner. Several examples present why this fact measures causation vs correlation. The author then focuses on several well publicized or adopted programs. Each chapter represents a different social behavior and it is mainly focused on kids. Although the book mentions how to apply it to adults every now ...more
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Timothy D. Wilson is the Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. He has written for Science and The New York Times, among other publications and journals, and is the author of Strangers to Ourselves, which was named by New York Times Magazine as one of the Best 100 Ideas of 2002. Wilson is also the coauthor of the best-selling social psychology textbook, now in its ...more

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