The best books on who and what influences our thoughts and behavior

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated and intrigued by human behavior and decision-making. What influences our thoughts and behavior and why? In hindsight, I probably should have majored in psychology instead of business, but as a business school professor I still get to investigate all the little quirks and biases of the human mind. I live in Bergen, Norway and devote much of my time researching and teaching consumer psychology and decision-making. I hope you find some inspiration in this list of brilliant books!   


I wrote...

More Numbers Every Day: How Data, Stats, and Figures Control Our Lives and How to Set Ourselves Free

By Helge Thorbjørnsen, Micael Dahlen,

Book cover of More Numbers Every Day: How Data, Stats, and Figures Control Our Lives and How to Set Ourselves Free

What is my book about?

Welcome to the numberdemic, where a deluge of figures, stats, and data manipulate your every move. From the way you work, date, and exercise to the products you buy and the news you read, numbers have worked their way into every part of our lives. But how are all of those numbers affecting us? 

In this book, Micael and I investigate the strange psychological effects of numbers on the way we humans think, act, and feel. You'll learn why viral videos, however inaccurate, become more convincing with every view; how numbers can affect the way we physically age, if we let them; why the more films you rate, the less impressive you'll find them and how numbers that 'anchor' themselves in your brain can affect the size of your mortgage.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities for Personal and Collective Success

Helge Thorbjørnsen Why did I love this book?

This is a book about (social) identity and how our understanding of self is derived from the social groups we are part of.

Two brilliant psychologists, Jay Van Bavel and Dominic Packer, use their own research and insights from social psychology and neuroscience to explain how identity really works and how it influences our thinking and doing every single day.

The book really makes you think about how our social nature impacts on all kinds of decision-making, and it will give you new ideas and insights about power and influence. 

By Jay Van Bavel, Dominic J. Packer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Power of Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you're like most people, you probably believe that your identity is stable. But in fact, your identity is constantly changing - often outside your conscious awareness and sometimes even against your wishes - to reflect the interests of the groups of which you're a part. And that fluid identity has a powerful influence over your feelings, beliefs, and behaviours.

In THE POWER OF US, psychologists Packer and Van Bavel integrate their own cutting-edge research in psychology, neuroscience and economics to explain what identity really is and show how to harness its dynamic nature to:

Increase our productivity - Improve…


Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Helge Thorbjørnsen Why did I love this book?

Cialdini’s Influence is a classic, but still highly relevant and the book ages well.

This “bible of persuasion” is practical, entertaining, and backed by hard science. You will learn about different strategies or principles of influence and how to use them to persuade your partner, customer, or supplier – or, perhaps more importantly; how to defend yourself against cunning influence attempts.

Although not quite updated on all the dark mechanics of modern social media, AI, and tech, the book is a light and enjoyable “must-read” for everybody curious about the mechanics of persuasion.  

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

23 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…


Book cover of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Helge Thorbjørnsen Why did I love this book?

Predictably Irrational is a classic and influential book on human decision-making.

Ariely is a seasoned storyteller and the book is backed by both scientific facts, clever experiments and amusing anecdotes. The key theme is that people often behave in strange and seemingly irrational ways, such as when we overpay, procrastinate, or underestimate.

However, with a little help from psychology and behavioral economics, Ariely shows us why it makes sense after all and why we are, yes; predictably irrational. 

By Dan Ariely,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Predictably Irrational as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do smart people make irrational decisions every day? The answers will surprise you. Predictably Irrational is an intriguing, witty and utterly original look at why we all make illogical decisions.

Why can a 50p aspirin do what a 5p aspirin can't? If an item is "free" it must be a bargain, right? Why is everything relative, even when it shouldn't be? How do our expectations influence our actual opinions and decisions?

In this astounding book, behavioural economist Dan Ariely cuts to the heart of our strange behaviour, demonstrating how irrationality often supplants rational thought and that the reason for…


Book cover of Foolproof: Why Misinformation Infects Our Minds and How to Build Immunity

Helge Thorbjørnsen Why did I love this book?

Misinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories influence our minds, polarize societies and decrease trust.

The topic of this book is obviously very timely and highly relevant. In particular on social media, online conspiracies and misinformation spread like wildfire.

Foolproof explains the origins and mechanisms of misinformation in a clear manner and provides concrete strategies to overcome it. I think the ‘virus’-metaphor works well (“misinformation infects our minds”), and the book constitute a pretty good vaccine.

All in all, a well-written examination on how and why our brains entertain misinformation.   

By Sander van der Linden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Foolproof as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From fake news to conspiracy theories, from inflammatory memes to misleading headlines, misinformation has swiftly become the defining problem of our era. The crisis threatens the integrity of our democracies, our ability to cultivate trusting relationships, even our physical and psychological well-being-yet most attempts to combat it have proven insufficient. In Foolproof, one of the world's leading experts on misinformation lays out a crucial new paradigm for understanding and defending ourselves against the worldwide infodemic.

With remarkable clarity, Sander van der Linden explains why our brains are so vulnerable to misinformation, how it spreads across social networks, and what we…


Book cover of Rationality for Mortals: How People Cope with Uncertainty

Helge Thorbjørnsen Why did I love this book?

Ok: This is not an easy read like the other books I’ve recommended.

In fact, some parts of it require quite a lot of the reader. But it is a very smart and novel book on human reasoning, uncertainty, and probability.

Gigerenzer elegantly shows us how human behavior often is more rational than one might think, and his concept of “fast and frugal heuristics” is instrumental in understanding how we deal with probability and risk.

If you’ve read Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman and are open to some new and different perspectives on rationality and decision-making, this is your book.  

By Gerd Gigerenzer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rationality for Mortals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gerd Gigerenzer's influential work examines the rationality of individuals not from the perspective of logic or probability, but from the point of view of adaptation to the real world of human behavior and interaction with the environment. Seen from this perspective, human behavior is more rational than it might otherwise appear. This work is extremely influential and has spawned an entire research program. This volume collects recent articles, looking at how
people use "fast and frugal heuristics" to calculate probability and risk and make decisions. It includes the revised articles and newly written introduction that were first published in the…


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By Joylynn M Ross, Falessia Booker (editor),

Book cover of Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business: Ways to Achieve Financial Literary Success

Joylynn M Ross

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business is for anyone who wants to learn how to make money with their book and make a living as an author. Many authors dive into the literary industry without taking time to learn the business side of being an author, which can hinder book sales and the money that can be made as an author.

This resource serves as a guide to mastering the art of financial literary success and to help avoid the mistakes that many authors make while learning the ropes on their own. This book helps authors “think outside the book” in order to make money in ways other than book sales and create multiple streams of literary income.

Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business: Ways to Achieve Financial Literary Success

By Joylynn M Ross, Falessia Booker (editor),

What is this book about?

Do you want to make money with your book? Do you want to make a living as an author? There’s more to doing so than simply writing and publishing your book. Many authors dive into the literary industry without taking time to learn the business side of being an author. This could dramatically hinder your book sales and the money you can make as an author. Without a guide such as this, mastering the art of financial literary success can take you years, and you’ll be sure to make mistakes during the learning phase. Some mistakes could cost you money;…


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