Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave by Adam Alter

Drunk Tank Pink gets its name from the bubblegum-pink color used in jail cells to curb aggressive behavior inmates. The realization that something as simple as a color could have such a tremendous affect on a group of people made way for more research on these “unexpected forces.”

The nine forces (names, labels, symbols, the mere presence of other people, the characteristics of other people, culture, colors, locations, and weather) that shape how we think are discussed in three different ways:
1. The world within us: stuff that resides within our heads –> what shapes us as individuals

  • Effect our own name has on us (eg. Ryan is likely to be partial to the letter R)
  • Masculine/dominant associations with certain letters of the alphabet (eg. Kodak, Google)

2. The world between us: social interactions –> how other people influence our behavior

  • Male grand master chess players make more risky moves (and lose more often) when their opponents are attractive women.
  • Even the most rational individual can be swayed by another person

3. The world around us: the physical world –> how our surroundings affect us.

  • During gallbladder surgery recovery, one group of patients were assigned to rooms with a view of trees while a control group was placed in rooms with their windows facing a brick wall. It was found that the group with the scenic only needed three doses of pain medication whereas the control group needed six and a half. By day six, patients from the first group were shown to have recovered more quickly.
  • Prolonged exposure to noise at home is a factor in children’s ability to learn to read and write

Verdict: I would definitely recommend! This book will force you to view the world in a whole new light. The studies Alter discusses provide a fascinating look at the quirks of human behavior and will have you questioning what influences the decisions of your own. After reading, you will be more perceptive to the world around you and wonder what other opportunities exist to optimize productivity and results. Overall, the book is easy to digest. It isn’t overly scientific which I like, but if you are interested in any specifics or further research, references to individual studies are cited throughout the book