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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Lindstrom, Martin: Buyology

  Amazon  

4 stars

In his book Buyology, Martin Lindstrom discusses the conclusions he reached after conducting a three-year neuromarketing study. Marketers have traditionally used two tools to determine the efficacy of advertising campaigns--observation of the real-life buying decisions of people and feedback in the form of polls and questionnaires. These are inexact tools, particularly the latter, as people are very often not conscious of the factors that lead them to make buying decisions, and thus are poor reporters of their motivations. Lindstrom and his team of scientists, by contrast, used brain-scanning instruments (magnetic resonance imaging and steady-state typography) on more than 2000 volunteers to track their subjects' responses to advertisements and brands in real time. The scientific equipment allowed Lindstrom and his team to observe their volunteers' physical responses to various stimuli, which were very often at odds with the subjects' self-reported responses.

In Buyology, Lindstrom discusses the results of his study, touching on myriad topics related to marketing--subliminal advertising, the relationship between brands and rituals, the influence of our non-visual senses on buying decisions, the curious allure of unboxing videos, and so on. Lindstrom grounds his discussions in real-world examples, which makes for interesting reading. He discusses, for example, the success enjoyed (or not) by the sponsors of American Idol, the ritual of eating an Oreo cookie or pouring a Guinness, the unfulfilled promise of the Segway.

Lindstrom promises that his findings will "transform the way you think about how and why you buy." While some of the results were unexpected--for example, that warning labels on cigarette packs actually encourage smokers to light up because they activate an area of the brain associated with cravings*--I didn't find myself particularly surprised by any of the material presented. But certainly what Lindstrom has to say is interesting, and his book may make readers more aware of the ways in which they are being manipulated by advertisers. (Readers may, like me, imagine that they are above many of the tricks advertisers use. The various tactics of high-end clothing stores are surely lost on someone like myself, for example, who is rarely attired in anything more stylish than Russell Athletics sweatpants, and who would run screaming from a pair of Manolo Blahniks. But none of is completely immune to the siren song of artfully presented merchandise: I'm as apt as anyone to swoon over the latest Apple gadget.)

Buyology, then, is relevant to almost everyone. It's also highly readable. Indeed, Lindstrom presents his information in laudably clear prose, and he is adept at tossing out teasers to keep his audience interested. The book should appeal to anyone who enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, which likewise packages thought-provoking discussion of how we make decisions in accessible prose.

* Likewise, graphic anti-smoking ads encourage smokers to smoke. But Lindstrom doesn't discuss whether the ads and warning labels are effective in deterring non-smokers from picking up the habit.

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