The Power of Us is available for preorder!
The Power of Us is on its way. Please help us spread the word!
Our book comes out in three weeks and we could not be more excited! In this week’s newsletter, we thought we would tell you a bit more about ourselves, the book we wrote, and why we really hope you’ll buy it. And we hope you’ll help us spread the word to others as well!
We are social psychologists who study how the groups that people belong to influence how they perceive the world, what they come to believe, and how they make decisions. We have spent the past 20 years conducting experiments and analyzing data to better understand how social identities affect everything from basic perceptual experiences like what we taste and smell to large-scale social processes like leadership, social change, and revolution.
It turns out that the dynamics of social identity we started studying together as students two decades ago are keenly relevant to understanding and addressing many of the most important challenges humanity confronts today—from the pandemic to political polarization, from misinformation to democratic backsliding, from protest and policing to rising inequality and climate change.
Of course, we are hardly the first to notice the importance of identity. Terms like “tribalism”, “identity politics”, and “groupthink” routinely roll off the tongues of pundits and politicians, professors and prognosticators. But this is not just another book about tribalism! In fact, we think the idea of tribalism is a fundamentally flawed way of thinking about how people behave in groups.
Our goal is to reveal as much as we can about how identity really works. Harnessing shared identities enables our groups to improve performance, increase cooperation, and promote social harmony. And as individuals, understanding identity allows us to take charge not only of who we are, but of who we want to be.
The Power of Us explains why individualism is frequently a form of conformity, why dissent is motivated by loyalty, how leadership is fundamentally about followers’ identities, and why it is through groups that people exert (rather than lose) agency in the world.
Along the way, we share stories about doomsday cults, towns divided for decades by shoes, people brought together by crisis, and plane hijackings. Our aim was find great stories to match the science, not only to make the book more enjoyable, but also more memorable. Our brains evolved in small groups where people shared stories—not data points—and we want to share the lessons of social identity in a way that will stick with you long after you’ve finished the book.
If this sounds interesting to you, we invite you to pre-order the book now! It’s available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, iBook, and Libro (for audio). You will receive it right away when it is released on September 7.
Is the book any good?
We (and our moms!) think so, but we are biased!
Fortunately, The Power of Us just received a Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly, which “recognizes books of outstanding quality, and is one of the most prestigious designations in the book industry”. They wrote:
“Giving equal time to the detriments of identifying strongly with a group (such as political polarization and blind loyalty), as well as the benefits (solidarity and a shared sense of purpose), Packer and Van Bavel deliver a balanced assessment of the potential impacts identities play in even the most mundane activities. Providing a wealth of insight in a page-turning package, this timely survey hits the mark.”
The Power of Us has received advance praise from Charles Duhigg, Annie Duke, Jonathan Haidt, Francis Fukuyama, Arianna Huffington, Amy Chua, and Robert Cialdini. We also just learned that it has been selected as a nominee for the Next Big Idea Club!
Why preorder the book?
As new book authors, we are learning a lot about how publishing works. And one of the things we’ve learned is that preorders matter. The more books people order in advance, the more books Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other vendors stock. The more they stock, the more books our publisher prints!
Preorders also count toward sales numbers during the first week the book is out, which are key to determining whether it ends up on a best-seller list. As we explain in The Power of Us, these lists are important for sales because they exert a form of informational influence—people tend to buy books that lots of other people have bought!
So please help us spread the word! We truly appreciate the tremendous support we have received from the community of people who believe that the science of identity is important—perhaps especially so during these fraught times. Thank you!
If you would like to support our book beyond buying it and recommending it to friends, here are a few additional ideas: