Thursday, January 4, 2018

Book Review: 'Unthinking' by Harry Beckwith

Unthinking: The Surprising Forces Behind What We Buy
Harry Beckwith
Business Plus/Hatchette Book Group (2011)
In this, his latest of five bestselling books, Harry Beckwith shares a number of especially valuable insights. His objective is to share with his reader what he has learned about the process that “leads us to choose what we choose, without really thinking” and suggests that the forces and their sources that influence our choices of various kinds are largely explained by our childhood, our culture, and our eyes. In fact, he believes that “we think with our eyes.”
Throughout his lively and eloquent narrative, Beckwith cites dozens of examples that illustrate various dimensions of juvenile, cultural, and visual forces and sources that help to explain why our human nature
• Loves to play
• Loves to be surprised and delighted
• Loves to tell and be told stories
• Feels empathic toward underdogs
• Celebrates individualism, and yet
• Needs to be connected with others
• Appreciates simplicity
• Is most comfortable with what is familiar, and
• Is essentially optimistic
Beckwith devotes the third part of his book to “Our Eyes’ Sheer Force: Five Studies,” explaining how and why design (e.g. shapes and colors) changes not only our perceptions but also our behavior and why “beauty looks divine to us – literally.”  He also suggests that “The Lion King reminds us we are part of something special: the circle of life. We speak lovingly of our circle of friends…We call a person we think is complete ‘well-rounded’…The working space we most deplore is called a cube…None of the logos among the world’s twenty-five favorite logos employs a rectangle, much less a box…We love the curve and dislike the edge.”
These and countless other facts and insights help to explain how and why people choose what they choose or reject…including the decision not to make a choice. In my opinion, this is Harry Beckwith’s most valuable book….thus far. It is also his most entertaining. Bravo!

Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.