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Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us about Spreading Social Change

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  381 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Should anti-war protesters use graphic images to get public support for their cause, or will such images turn the public off? In encouraging the public to adopt sustainable behaviors, should environmental organizations ask for small changes like using fluorescent light bulbs or big changes like giving up cars? Why do most Americans say they oppose the cruel practices of fa ...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Lantern Books (first published September 20th 2010)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Nick Cooney
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote it so of course I have to give it five stars :)
Veronica Noechel
Nov 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Very interesting book and well worth reading, however, I found a number of the suggestions skeezy at best, downright unethical at worst. Looking up local people on Facebook and choosing who to develop a friendship with in real life based upon who has the most friends so you can effect more people through that person seems duplicitous and manipulative. Using people is not a good way to enact change, even if it works. Just because something is effective doesn't necessiarily mean it's something one ...more
Erik Marcus
Dec 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
this review reprinted from

It’s easy to do animal advocacy that will save large numbers of animals from harm; easier still if you get a little reading under your belt.

Nick Cooney’s new book, Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change, is the most impressive book on animal advocacy tactics I’ve yet encountered. But it’s not the first book on the subject I’d read. Consider Cooney’s book a graduate level course, one that has a few prerequisites.

I’d start

Ira Therebel
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely amazing book.

It connects psychology and activism by bringing various researches that show how people are more likely to respond to change and what is the best way to achieve it. It answers different questions like "Why are about 95% against factory farming and yet the great majority of them does nothing?", talks about the influence of social norms, benefits of social networking and brings up many different techniques that can be used by activists.

A great thing this book talks abou
Jeffrey Spitz Cohan
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, veganism
“Change of Heart” is easily among the Top 3 books on advocacy that I have ever read.

Author Nick Cooney, who is a skilled and experienced advocate himself, presents a broad array of psychological research in this book and explains the implications for advocacy work. He has performed a real service by compiling so much research and presenting it in digestible form for the social-change community.

Admittedly, the more you learn about psychology, the more you despair of the human condition.

And peopl
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Required reading for all social change advocates.
Martin Smrek
Jan 31, 2022 rated it it was ok
Superficial and oversimplified literature overview with conclusions reduced to the point where they are barely actionable and in some cases even incorrectly interpreted.
Benjamin Fasching-Gray
Despite an endorsement from Dena Fleno of AFSCME, this book seems more relevant for chuggers than union organizers. At first I was a bit annoyed that much of the book is a literature review of the kinds of social psychology articles that are discussed in books like Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, and Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. So, like, one of those for chuggers, basically. But then I go ...more
Sarah Clement
Jan 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I will say first of all that this is a book that needed to be written. I've spent many years feeling rather frustrated that activists don't generally use the vast amount of information on behaviour change to inform their work, or even recognise that the act of behaviour change is at the heart of most of their work. That said, I think this book could have been better executed and having a) a good editor and b) an expert reviewer could have helped this book enormously.

This book is a good crash co
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I think this book is amazing just because it finally brings some practicality to activism. It presents itself essentially as a meta-study of relevant activist assumptions and techniques. It really will change at least some aspect of how you approach changing people's minds.

Fortunately, it seems that many of these methods are now being employed, but often they are not. I hope everyone trying to affect positive change in the world reads this book.
Ginny Messina
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Read this two years ago, and I'm not sure why I never rated or reviewed it. I still refer back to this book often; it's essential reading for any activist, and especially animal activists. ...more
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A very useful book for anyone trying to create social change either on a global or local scale.
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is great for skimming - I spent too much time going beyond that when I didn't need to.
Some of the ideas in this book are great (although a better book for the psychology of choice in people would be Kahnemann's "Thinking Fast and Slow"). Some of the ideas in this book are not so great. Perhaps what stuck out most to me was that, looking at the difference in political situations from 2011 to today, some of Cooney's ideas or theories he shared clearly don't hold up anymore - when we look
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When making a decision, we're usually inclined to use our intuition and common sense, but that can sometimes lead to the opposite effect of what we want. This book explains a lot about how humans think and behave and it can be of help when it comes to human interaction. It gives many examples and studies that confirm certain strategies and methods of communication.
This is one of the best books you can read as an activist if you want to work efficiently towards your goal. It's packed full of prac
Apr 19, 2022 rated it it was ok
This started pretty promising, but ended up being really dry. I felt it was pretty repetitive at parts, and while the subject matter is interesting the presentation was not enticing at all...if I didn't have to read this for class it would have been a DNF. And I love social psychology! I've read really interesting books about it! This is just not one of them. ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and inspiring, I recommend it to anyone involved in a movement to create a better world.
Nov 11, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
read Switch by the Heath brothers instead
Signe Tolbøll
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, animal-righta
While I think Change of Heart has some really good observations and some ideas I can definitely use in my activism, the author also admits to be single-issue orientated which I am definitely not and hopefully never will be. And since my activism is not purely single-issue I also advocate other types of activism that is not just about behavioral change but definitely also, if not even moreso, about mental change (like queer-feminism is for me rather about changing peoples mindset, than their beha ...more
Alasdair Reads
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Would be one of the best books on effective altruism style ideas to give to somone who was conventionally involved with activism. Goes over a lot of ground, infact too much - a but more discrimination would have helped in refining the message. In addition, some of the academic results are speculative at best and some skepticism of the papers presented in places is definatley justified. But a good resource book.

Would also have benefited with more engagement with commerical advertising and messagi
Nov 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Vegan Book Club 2nd selection
This book explores what makes people change. I didn't realize there was so much thought and money that went into research by activists in order to promote their ideas. Behavioral changes involve much more from people than traditional advertising for material goods purchasing. This book gives lots of advice on how activists can be more effective in promoting social change. Of course getting laws passed is the fastest way to get changes made.
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this book difficult to rate... Unfortunately the author and I seem to have read a lot of the same books. I was familiar with about 70% of the research Cooney mentioned in his book.

That being said, I think for the vast majority of activists this will be an extremely helpful book and an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. I did enjoy the parts of the book with ideas and information that were new to me.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: topic-vegan
This field manual highlights not only the many psychological and social obstacles to creating change – which are plentiful – but also opportunities, based on science from the same fields. It leaves you with a feeling that there is a lot of work to be done and many challenges to overcome but I’m now also more armed than ever to meet these head-on.

Well worth a read and I’d recommend it to anyone who is serious about creating a better world!
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
It’s essential for advocates to understand why people make the choices they do, what influences them, and what kinds of strategies can inspire positive change. This book distills decades of research to help changemakers become more effective, and offers specific ideas for how to implement the research in their activism.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
People are not robots but much of what we do to spread good behaviors is based on that assumption. This short, accessible book goes over the psychology research explaining what works better and that is very valuable information. The examples are heavy on animal rights, but the reader can generalize to other issues.
Jan 12, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm only at Chapter Two and I LOVE this book! It combines my studies in Community Organizing and Advocacy with my love of animals. Nick's radically different way of approaching activism is enlightening! ...more
Michael Broadhead
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for any effective activist. It will save you hours of research and help you boost your effectiveness at creating positive change in the world.
Feb 16, 2011 marked it as considering
Recommended by Civil Eats
Apr 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011
This book was factual and well-written, just not terribly interesting to me. I would highly recommend it to people who work for non-profits, however.
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
A collection of Activist Mind Tricks. A valuable resource for anybody who wants to convince anybody of anything.
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you are involved in any sort of activism or are interested in social change, this book is a must read. Lots of fascinating information and it is all based on social science research.
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Comment on the blurb 1 7 Jan 18, 2011 09:30AM  

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Nick Cooney is an investor and advocate in the alternative protein industry. He has spent almost twenty years working in the food and beverage industry, initially working on the policy and consulting side and more recently from the venture capital investment side.

Currently, Nick works as managing partner at Lever VC, an early stage venture capital fund that Cooney founded in 2018. Lever VC invests

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