This book details my adventures and experiments and also pays homage to unusual research carried out by the small band of dedicated academics that has kept the quirky flag flying for the past century. Each chapter reveals the secret psychology underlying a particular aspect of our lives, from deception to decision making, selfishness to superstition. Along the way, you will encounter some of my favorite pieces of strange but fascinating research: experiments that have, for instance, measured the amount of subsequent horn-honking when cars become stalled at traffic lights; examined why a disproportionate number of marine biologists are called Dr. Fish; secretly analyzed the type of people who take more than ten items through express lines in supermarkets; asked people to behead live rats with a kitchen knife; discovered whether suicide rates are related to the amount of country music played on national radio; and proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Friday the thirteenth is bad for your health.
Most of the research that you are about to encounter has, until now, been hidden away in obscure academic journals. The work is serious science, and much of it has important implications for the way in which we live our lives and structure our society. However, unlike the vast majority of psychological research, these studies have something quirky about them. Some use mainstream methods to investigate unusual topics. Others use unusual methods to investigate mainstream topics. All are aimed at discovering the big truths in small things.
Let the quirkology begin.
Copyright © 2007 by Richard Wiseman
Published by Basic Books
A member of the Perseus Books Group