Release date: 272 pp / 2013
Synopsis (from Amazon): Why are people named Kim, Kelly, and Ken more likely to donate to Hurricane Katrina victims than to Hurricane Rita victims? Are you really more likely to solve puzzles if you watch a light bulb illuminate? How did installing blue lights along a Japanese railway line halt rising crime and suicide rates? Can decorating your walls with the right artwork make you more honest? The human brain is fantastically complex, having engineered space travel and liberated nuclear energy, so it’s no wonder that we resist the idea that we’re deeply influenced by our surroundings. As profound as they are, these effects are almost impossible to detect both as they’re occurring and in hindsight. Drunk Tank Pink is the first detailed exploration of how our environment shapes what we think, how we feel, and the ways we behave.
Review: Adam Alter’s title Drunk Tank Pink alludes to a 1979 study that revealed staring at the color pink dramatically decreased the strength of men. This discovery led to a rash of pink prisons, doctor offices, housing projects and even visitor locker rooms. Alter states “This book is an attempt to uncover the role of Drunk Tank Pink and dozens of other hidden forces as they shape how we think, feel, and behave.”
Some observations may be familiar to readers: Freakonomics explored the effect of names on expectations and NYC subways saw sharp decreases in crime once graffiti was removed promptly. And many of the findings will seem common sensical: Who hasn’t experienced road rage on the hottest day of the year when sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic or felt the debilitating effects of decreased sunlight on the shortest day of the year? But who knew observing daylight savings or living on the ground floor of an urban apartment complex might make our children dumber? Or that blue lights will transform high crime areas and decrease suicide rates?
Alter re-frames familiar studies with more recent findings and concludes “At it’s heart, this book is designed to show that your mind is the collective end point of a billion tiny butterfly effects. Your thoughts, feelings, and actions are the products of chaotic chain reactions, fueled in no small part by… our names, the labels and symbols that surround us, who surrounds us and what they look and act like, the culture in which we were raised, colors, locations, and weather.”
Thank you to Shelf Awareness for asking me to read and review this!