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Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave
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Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  3,427 ratings  ·  391 reviews
A revelatory look at how our environment unconsciously yet dramatically shapes the judgments and decisions we make every day.

Most of us go through life believing that we are in control of the choices we make, that we think and behave almost independently from the world around us, but as Drunk Tank Pink illustrates, the truth is our environment shapes our thoughts and actio
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 21st 2013 by Penguin Press (first published January 9th 2013)
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Emma Sea
Dec 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, auckland-library
*face palm*

So much no.

The whole book makes huge sweeping judgements with no evidence and no references. This is so bad I cannot even. Ugh.

Look, the title of the book exemplifies the problem, here. The book is named after, and begins with, the "popular culture sensation" that visual exposure to the colour pink decreases male aggression, a premise that "emerged as the unlikely solution to a host of difficult puzzles, from aggression and hyperactivity to anxiety and competitive strategy." (p. 3)

David Dinaburg
Apr 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
“Non-fiction subtitles” has been a particular peccadillo for me—a lot of the publishing industry’s marketing for nonfic subtitles serves to expand the target market of a book into the low-hanging fruit of the Self-Improvement section; they are so aggressively self-actualizing, so boldly declaratory, so omnipresent, that I now ignore them completely. That typically works; incredibly effusive subtitles for non-fiction books rarely have anything to do with the text itself. Drunk Tank Pink: And Othe ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Drunk Tank Pink is one of those pop psychology books that's fairly slightly, doesn't provide citations in-text, and presents a lot of experimental and theoretical thought as if it's a fact. Taking it for what it is, it's an enjoyable little survey of interesting facts, written well enough to keep the interest, and not getting into technical details which might bog down and confuse the interested but uninformed reader.

For me, since I've read a fair amount of pop psychology already, some of it rat
Ryan Sloan
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Cognitive Science and psychology are favorite subjects of mine, so I was excited to read this book. It was enjoyable enough, but I have a couple bones to pick:

1) The way sources are cited was a bit frustrating to me. There is a wealth of bad popular science out there, and one of the ways to distinguish good science writing from bad science writing is the quality of the sources they cite, and the kinds of conclusions the writer draws from the studies. I'm not claiming this book is bad science (in
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I--finally--got around to finishing this book. (Finally--not because I didn't like it. But because I was reading several others at the same time.)

I enjoyed this collation of current studies that describes the effect that our environment has on our mood, health, and actions. Some of this information you may have heard or read before if you pick Scientific American Mind, but much was new to me. There is a little of the typical biases that one finds in these type of books. The author spends times d
Aug 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
I’m a fan of pop sci, so I got fairly intrigued by the title. I got through the ‘drunk tank pink’ prologue, which was OK-ish. But when I got to the bit about Vyacheslav Voronin, I realized that the book was poorly-researched. The author tells a story how the aforementioned guy named his baby with a row of symbols because his own name means “slave” in Russian and he didn’t want to give his kid a name which meant anything. The thing is, Vyacheslav ( which is a fairly common name in Ukraine) has no ...more
Brian Clegg
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Going on the subtitle, which I had to because the title meant nothing to me, I was concerned this would seem to be yet another of the long string of books we've had looking at particular emotions and how the brain produces them. Instead it is far more fascinating because it's observational rather than theoretical. About, for instance, the way that bright pink decor seems to calm people (hence the title - this effect seems not to have reached the UK where I suspect prison governors might resist p ...more
Christopher Dubey
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Influential and important science. Weakly written book.

Early in Drunk Tank Pink, the author Adam Alter describes the color and research showing how exposure to this shade of pink enervates (decreases the energy) of people, both mentally and physically. This effect was then used to try to enervate opposing team players, reduce crime, calm psychiatric patients, et cetera.

That's exactly how I felt while reading this book. Enervated.

Alter cites a vast amount of research, anecdotal accounts, and fact
Mar 14, 2013 rated it liked it
This is another really interesting book about the psychological forces at work on our minds. What is refreshing about Drunk Tank Pink, and works quite well for it, is the structure of the book. Adam Alter neatly divides his examination into three parts: the forces that affect our own minds (within us); the forces that influence our social relationships (between us); and those that shape our interactions with the wider world (around us). This tripartite structure gives a direction to his discussi ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it liked it
This was another one of those neurology books that are all the rage nowdays. In the tradition of Malcolm Gladwell or Daniel Pink, Adam Alter walks us through scientific studies which show that the colour pink has a calming effect and why New Yorkers are so reluctant to help people who are bleeding to death.

Maybe I've just read too many of these; it seems like the same studies are presented in each book. And the conclusions in this book seemed particularly trite: racism still exists, people are m
Henry Manampiring
I really recommend this book to EVERYONE. It is full with amazing studies and experiments that reveal we have very little control of ourselves. We are constantly influenced subconsciously by a lot of things in life. From our name, other people, color, even the weather, we get influenced all the time without realizing it.

This book is HIGHLY readable. It's not boring or tedious, and often feels like Malcolm Gladwell's book on turbo. Illuminating and entertaining at the same time.
Nazrul Buang
Oct 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
I got a copy from a special book giveaway by my local library. Judging from the numerous praises by foremost psychologists, I decided to add this to my collection.

'Drunk Tank Pink' explains how human behavior can be shaped by extenuating and/or environmental factors. Using the famous 'drunk tank pink' theory (or hypothesis, depending on how valid you think the finding is) that suggests how using a specific shade of pink can calm a person as an example, author Adam Alter presents other examples a
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
The real subtitle of this book should be: How Men React to Being Surrounded By/ Seeing Pictures of/ Playing Chess With a Beautiful Woman.

"How old are the men?" you ask. "What is their race, socio-economic status, degree of education?"

Oh, who cares? The important thing is that the woman is always simply "beautiful," and she makes stuff happen to (apparently all) men. This book felt like it was written in the mid-1960's from all the ridiculous gender biases and giant leaps of (or over) logic.
Carrie Christian
Feb 23, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-like
This was trying too hard to be Malcolm Gladwell with all the excitement of watching grass grow.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. It was good narrative, from a pop science perspective but just left me wanting more, especially with regard to critical appraisal of some of the studies (e.g. small n, statistically significant but not necessarily meaningful differences).
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you have exhausted all of the factoids you learned from Freaknomics or Everybody Lies and worry you will be a boring dinner party guest, put this on your list.
May 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just love the half-rhymey title: Drunk Tank Pink. That’s a shade somewhere on the pink spectrum between baby and hot. This book made my list after I read about it last year, even though the only new thing about it is the title story. Everything else you’ve probably read about in Buzzfeed, Lifehacker, BBC News Magazine (like 2012’s “The curse of a ridiculous name”) or some other magazine (like Pacific Standard’s “We aren’t the world”).

The topic is popular but not new, so don’t read this for the
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Kind of interesting look into biases (and that as an angle works nicely), but I'm not too impressed. The book looks into how we are affected by names, labels, symbols, other people, culture, locations, weather and of course colour as the infamous Drunk Tank Pink of the books title.
We're in the strange land between the behavioral scientist like Dan Ariely and Daniel Kahneman, and the pop psychology journos like Malcolm Gladwell - And having read them all (and heard a few live) I was a bit disappo
Sumit Singla
There are well-researched books like Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, and Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and then there's this one.

So many sweeping generalisations and poorly worded 'research' made this book a massive waste of time. The clever way in which the author writes makes you almost believe that he's making some vaid points. Trust me, he's not.

For som
May 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I agree with some of the other reviews that mention this author's unsupported statements. I worked in a hospital once where they had a pink room to calm down drunk or mentally unstable patients, and I was curious about the concept. The book started out fairly interesting, and it was believable that he was referring to actual research. When I got to the point where he said people like words typed with more right-handed letters on a QWERTY keyboard better than words with more left-handed letters I ...more
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was basically a loosely organized collection of "Look at this study that revealed an unexpected aspect of human nature!" Very interesting, but I feel like the weakest points were where the author tried to draw connections, or the very high-school-English-essay-feeling introduction and conclusion paragraphs at the beginning and end of chapters. I mostly ignored those and just enjoyed the descriptions of the research.
One particular section I found both interesting and dubious was the one
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although I doubt anyone more well-versed in social sciences and psychology than I would be very interested.
But for the uninformed like myself, I thought this was a very readable intro to some of these theories. It isn't a dry read like a textbook, there are plenty of interesting anecdotes that depict how the ideas behind these theories present themselves in real life or in experiments by researchers. Which leads me to my one main complaint-- while the author pres
Peter Galamaga
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I gave this book 4 stars - more for the impact that it had upon me than as a statement about the book's quality.
Frankly, I felt that the book was longer than it needed to be and oftentimes went into detail unnecessarily.
That said, this book is a quick, worthwhile read. If you enjoy Malcolm Gladwell, you will enjoy it very much.
The author examines many areas of life that pass one by on a daily basis and seem trivial - the color of a room, the first letter of your child's name, common symbols you
Apr 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: psychology dabblers
I had to return this to the library before finishing it, so it's a hot read right now. I think you may find it fascinating if you've never taken a social psychology class. I have and was kind of surprised to be reading about the same studies I learned about back in 1993. I guess they are classics for a reason! I was also a little surprised by how quickly and offhandedly he dismissed the DSM (how all mental illness is diagnosed). I get it that labels can be harmful, but I would argue they can als ...more
Kate Mccreight
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I enjoy reading books that are not always purely scientific, but also a mix of possibility and creativity. I also enjoy the applied behavioral side this book seems to take because a lot of researchers are not as interested in observing behavior even though it is incredibly important. Most people criticize this book for not being more purely scientific, but that is what I enjoy about this book. If I wanted purely scientific, then I would do a Pubmed search and go to town reading article ...more
Mar 23, 2014 rated it liked it
In the Freakonomics mold, readable & enjoyable

p21: Fluent stock-ticker names have higher returns

p167-168: Hitchhiking women with red T-shirts are picked up more (21%) than women wearing other colors (12=14). Work by Guéguen (2010)

p175 Referees award more points to red-clad competitors: Hagemann, N., Strauss, B., and Leissing, J. (2008). When the referee sees red. Psychological Science
see e.g.

p221: Daylight savings time: accidents up by 7%
Alex Sarll
I suspect there are an awful lot of books like this - they include lots of information, only some of which is horribly flawed and much of which really should be quite interesting. And yet the overall effect remains ineluctably reminiscent of PowerPoint.
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great - more insight on why we really do the things we do and act the way we act. So much is really "reaction" to light, colors, other people, weather, environment. In my next career I want to be a Social Psychologist. ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, audiobooks
This is basically the same book as Freakonomics and NurtureShock with a slightly different focus. Thus: three stars for everyone!
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work


+ 9 influences over 3 categories
1. The world within us
“In each case, a feature of the environment activated related concepts in the minds of the people who encountered those features, prompting unexpected thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that come to make sense once you trace a mental path from the original word or image to the final outcome”
- Names
“Hurricane Katrina tugged just a bit harder at the heartstrings (and purse strings) of Kims, Kevins, and Kaylas because they associated the st
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Adam Alter is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and the author of Drunk Tank Pink, a New York Times bestseller about the forces that shape how we think, feel, and behave, and Irresistible, a book about the rise of tech addiction and what we should do about it.

Alter was recently included in the Poets and Quants “40 Most Outstandin

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