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The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  357 ratings  ·  38 reviews
What makes a winner? Why do some people succeed both in life and in business, and others fail? Why do a few individuals end up supremely powerful, while many remain powerless?

The "winner effect" is a term used in biology to describe how an animal that has won a few fights against weak opponents is much more likely to win later bouts against stronger contenders. As Ian Robe
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published June 1st 2012)
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Clare O'Beara
Sep 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
The researches and messages of this book on neuroscience and psychology are interesting, but I felt the presentation suffered.

I liked that the work included Ireland and UK but I was keener on research experiments carried out on volunteers, than on analysing the words in Tony Blair's speeches. Yet if we are to have leaders, we must elect people capable of doing a job and give them power. The author makes this point at length - perhaps too much so - including stating that all relationships are pow
David Dinaburg
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something too simple about The Winner Effect, something about the colloquial tone covering some of neuroscience’s most in-depth and detailed fMRI-fuelled discoveries that makes me wonder: what, exactly, am I learning here?
The right prefrontal cortex has a predilection for a quite different chemical messenger than the dopamine of its gung-ho partner - its favoured neurochemical cocktail is noradrenaline...[which is] linked to vigilant, watchful behaviour in real life, and that this in tu
Adrian Lee
Chock full of anecdotes from history and social experiments, this book tries to explain the contextual nature of power - how winning primes our neurocircuitry to take more risks, narrow our focus, and increase our egocentricity, with all the attendant benefits and disadvantages. More intriguingly, it makes the case for describing all relationships in terms of power plays (whether or not we are conscious of this), and describes the vicious feedback loops involved in power addiction and the resolu ...more
Sinduja Ragunathan
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
A good read. This one sure has plenty of original and authentic research studies quoted; including ones that even regular psychology enthusiasts might not have heard of. It sticks to the main point of what makes winners and how winning affects them. However, I felt it emphasized more on power rather than other factors.

The only downside of the book is how each chapter has been structured. To support one main point, the author begins with an example, and to support that example, he moves to anothe
Daniel Taylor
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
Every one of us is a winner in some area of life -- we all hold power over at least one other person.

In this book, Robertson poses many questions related to winning: Are we born to win? Is winning a matter of chance and circumstance? What does power do to us? Why do we want to win? Does winning have a downside?

He gives a thorough answer to these questions as he explores the factors that affect winning, but the book does lurch from topic to topic quite quickly and in a way that's jarring.

It's an
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
2-3 stars out of five. I am giving 3 stars, because of legit sources, and some interesting ideas. Unedited review:
The richness, multiverse of contents and feasible sources ( a lot of scientific researches, and factual data) makes this book interesting to read and consider the author's ideas seriously.
Meanwhile, the author uses a style of providing different cases, which are summarized by a main idea-section in the end of the chapter. This worked for me only in a couple of last chapters, but most
Henrik Haapala
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
4,5/5 very good insights on power and winning. Bedded and intertwined with stories. Power can be good and bad and we can be Influenced in different ways but we can also change.

• Picasso's son: how come successful people don't have successful children? Paulo died at 54 at the same time as having legal battles that left him with a small fraction of the fortune.
• Succession of CEO position to a family member can be bad for the business.
• People in powerful positions experience a belief of contro
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting summary of the Matthew Principle as manifested in psycho-physiology across species: as an animal (including humans) wins a competition (regardless of its difficulty), the likelihood that that they will win the next competition increases due primarily to the increase in testosterone and dopamine in the animal. Robertson provides useful data and findings from other eminent researchers that proves both interesting and useful. I personally think this book also serves as a scientific p ...more
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Must re-read.
Has given me a greater appreciation of why winning is important - because the quality of your life literally depends on it.

The default is mediocrity. Suffering, scarcity, low-quality, and unfulfilled potential.
Losers let things happen to them.

Winners relentlessly shape their own reality.
They assume responsibility and take ownership of their circumstances, when majority resort to blame and helplessness.

Ties in with a lot of other works relating to success. Re-read in 1 year
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
I find it far easier to go about the tactics and techniques outlined by this neuroscientist than to clearly go through all of Ian H. Robertson's book and fully grok what he goes on about in order to explain it to others in hopes they can join the ranks of the élite.

What the book discusses is intriguing. You may want to take a look, particularly at what he discusses regarding restless legs syndrome and gambling.
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Read it a few years ago.

I have mixed opinions on this one, a very diverse book. Sometimes I found some nuggets of truth that resonated with me and I was able to draw parralel lines between the book and my personal life through the examples and stories the author shares, other times the book was dull and boring and the presentation wasn't very good.

The topic I found to be very interesting and it challenged the way I say thing - I like that about this book.
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting insights into the human psychology and the effects and aspects of power. While the story telling style to me sometimes felt slightly exhausting (and it doesn't dive quite as deep as I'd have liked), it makes the book an easy read despite giving an overview of a lot of research and inner workings. ...more
Fidel Magallón
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Some science on the effects that winning has on your brain. There's great info on this one but I found it a little tedious to is however, a must if you want to harness all the power that winning gives you and protect from it's downfalls. ...more
Roni Kabeya
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Winning Is Just One Important Outcome Of The Shifting Patterns Of A Web Of Interconnections Between Our Brain And The Surrounding World.

What You Are Is A Product Of Context In Your Home, Social And Working Life.

Fantastic Book! A Must Read.
James Fricker
Very cool concepts but poorly delivered
Zack Frank
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Big fan of the message; not a huge fan of the ping-pong narrative writing style.
Robertson Kunz
Jan 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Winning changes the chemicals in your brain, making it more likely to win in a subsequent situation.
Roman Pikalyuk
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A bit too much politics. But besides that the book is great. I wish I had read this book earlier
Paul Bard
Nov 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-to-be-read
When, in this book, Ian Robertson's writing jumps from subject to subject in rhetorical circles to engage attention, he is overestimating the attention span of his audience. And at least in my case, over-esteeming the interest of the lay reader in what he has to say.

And no, I'm not saying it's boring. I'm saying it's long-winded and circuitous. The book uses a frame of " five mysteries" for things that are actually self-evident.

We are treated to a chapter on Carol Dweck's non-determinism, follow
This was an excellent book although I think that the title doesn't accurately reflect the subject matter. Essentially this book was more about Power and how it gets into some people's heads and derails them into misusing and abusing it. I didn't particularly like the structure, for example in order to prove one point the author gives a gazillion examples, so at times it's a bit difficult to follow through. Nevertheless, all the examples were amazing and eye-opening and I learnt a lot of new thin ...more
Mihai Pintilie
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1-b-mindset
Key points

The Winner Effect

Deal with all the unconscious prejudices towards success or being a winner!

Power puts blinders on us, makes us more focused.

Noradrenaline causes caution and it's a lack of power.

The need for power is an extremely important personality indicator and suggests how your interraction will go with that person.

Social evaluative threat (SET) is toxic and it occurs over time.

Money boosts the sense of self sufficiency and gets you have more control to focus on what you want, it
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mind
Pick it up in Library from a shelf as I do sometimes. It looked like another pop-science book which are frequently boring. This one turns out to be good one. It is miss-titled though, IMHO, it should be named how Power Corrupt Otherwise Good People (must read for bosses or who want to understand them). There are plenty of other interesting things. Have to check out author other books and references.
Nov 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is very scientific in nature , plenty of studies to support the ideas, but I felt that it was way to dense with experiments to be able to formulate the idea with ease. It is based on a Q & A basis , some may find that curiosity make you want to read more, but personally I felt slightly infuriated because he has not gotten to the point yet , and I have 30 pages left to finish the book. Testosterone is key issue in this book , so all feminist need to keep an open mind.
deleted d
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good book, main point is that winning makes up more likely to win, because it changes our brain. Increasing our testostorone levels and other cool things.

Don't read the book, instead I recommend you watch the author's ted talks available on youtube, where he gets to the point much faster lol.

The winner effect
-Winning makes you more likely to win again by rewiring the mind
-Fake it till you make it! Power poses increase testostorone
Cassandra Kay Silva
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This book was mostly about power and the effect it has on the way people deal with difficult situations. At times I think we have all let it "get to our head", and this seems to happen to people on different levels. This gives a good insight as to why this happens and what kinds of checks and balances we should put in place to check and balance this in our leaders. ...more
Kumar Vikramjeet
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I haven't read any book which explained so pragmatically the science behind why we behave in certain ways in certain conditions, as this book did.
The book mainly revolves around power types and it's implications.
It presents many research and experimental data to prove it's point.
In all it's nice read.
BuenoBomb aka Andre Bueno
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Someone who has had success is more likely to have more of it in the future as a result of neurological and chemically changes. Through many anecdotes, and case studies, he describes to the reader this phenomenon, how they can harness this power in their lives, and the downside of identifying with the results.
Martin Velinský
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How testosterone affects humanity.

The author takes us on a journey through interesting studies, where he slowly, yet systematically uncovers the reasons behind their results. Whether you are fascinated by the fact that Oscar winners live few years longer than non-winners, or how "evil" mass events like holocaust can happen, you will find your answers here.
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I hate it when they try to market popular psychology as self help. This wasn't self help; it was a reasonably serious (though definitely written for a lay reader, which I am) look at the effect of power on the brain. One of the more interesting books I've read recently. ...more
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
great book , explains many things in my life . why people behave the way they do ?
why some people change when they are in power , and how they change .
Why some people are more likely to succeed than others ? and how to learn more in a faster way ?
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Ian Robertson is Professor of Psychology at Trinity College, Dublin and founding Director of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. Robertson is the first psychologist in Ireland to have been elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy. Robertson also holds the positions of Visiting Professor at University College London, Visiting Professor at Bangor University, University of Wales, and Visiti ...more

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