Book Review: Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow

Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow Review

This book has absolutely nothing to do with subliminal messaging! I thought that would be quite important to clear up right away.

There’s actually a lot more to the word subliminal than flashing secret messages in people’s faces for fractions of a second to convince them to do something.

Subliminal: How Your Unconcious Mind Rules Your Behavior is both fun to read and hugely informative.

Also by Leonard Mlodinow

Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Constantly Changing World

“By uncovering the secrets of our flexible minds, Elastic explains how to thrive in an endlessly dynamic world, at a time when an ability to adapt is more important than ever before.”

The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

“The Drunkard’s Walk reveals the psychological illusions that prevent us understanding everything from stock-picking to wine-tasting – read it, or risk becoming another victim of chance.”

Leonard Mlodinow is a highly accomplished physicist who has crossed traditional disciplinary boundaries (many a time) and has written on a wide range of topics from Physics and Maths (co-authoring with Stephen Hawking) to Psychology. He’s even written for TV!

Drawing on a wide range of classic social psychology, cognitive and neuroscience studies, spanning the last two centuries, Mlodinow unravels the development of our understanding of the unconscious: what it is, what it does, how we use it, and how it uses us.

Subliminal: How your unconscious mind rules your behaviour, by Leonard Mlodinow

With a good balance of scientific detail and anecdotal chatter, this book is certainly worth reading if you are intrigued as to how people make decisions, interact with others, and negotiate their way through life.

If you are interested in understanding more about research methods, but prefer to avoid the dryness of the methodology section of an academic article, Mlodinow explains a huge number of studies in clear and understandable terms, without getting bogged down in the heavy details.

It’s worth pointing out that the book doesn’t refer to subliminal messaging at any point in its 218 pages, so if you’re interested in discovering more about that then this book’s title is ever-so-slightly misleading. However, if you get this book, I assure you that you’ll be surprised and impressed by your subliminal (or unconscious) mind.

Mlodinow himself is from a theoretical physics background, which makes a change for a Psychology book. So, throughout the book, there are little references to physics as well.

For me, this makes reading Mlodinow’s work a modern day equivalent to reading some of the classic philosophers (Weber, Nietzsche and co.) who tied many academic interests into whichever topic they were exploring at the time – a much more varied and interesting read than had the book been written without Mlodinow’s appreciation of other scientific and social disciplines.

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About Daniel Edward 65 Articles
Daniel set up Psychology Unlocked in 2016 to support Psychology students in higher and further education. Daniel has a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Psychology, Politics and Sociology from the University of Cambridge.