The Tell: The Little Clues that Reveal Big Truths about Who We Are

Matthew Hertenstein. Basic, $26.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-465-03165-8
Drawing on poker’s concept of the “tell,” a mannerism that can yield clues to an opponent’s cards, and numerous behavioral studies in which he has been involved, psychologist Hertenstein has produced a study that is lively and engaging yet unremarkable in its conclusion that both environment and genes influence our decision-making. For example, he reveals that we’re able to predict ways an adult might behave by looking at early tells; thus, infants that have insecure attachments to their parents are more likely than those with secure attachments to develop some form of psychopathology later. Various studies have found that facial features can be useful in predicting aggression or lying and cheating: “In carefully controlled studies, men with wider faces were three times more willing to lie than slim-faced men.” In dating, women choose men based on facial attractiveness, symmetry, smell, and masculinity, while men choose “women who are attractive, youthful, and display signs of fertility.” Despite the inconclusiveness of evolutionary psychology, Hertenstein offers much material to ponder and suggests that we embrace the power of these tools for helping us predict behavior, though he also cautions against an overly prescriptive use of these approaches, which could lead to harmful cultural stereotypes. 31 b&w figures. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/09/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-465-03659-2
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-465-06988-0
Compact Disc - 405 pages - 978-1-62231-263-4
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