Tag Archives: Behavioral science

Book Review: The Small Big: Small Changes that Spark Big Influence By Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein and Robert B. Cialdini

the small big

This was another book that was sitting on my shelf for almost a year and I finished reading it a couple of weeks back. Due to time crunch these past couple of weeks couldn’t post this review earlier.

The small BIG: Small Changes that Spark Big Influence by Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein and Robert B. Cialdini is a very interesting & powerful book. The authors are all behavioral scientists and have written books earlier as well on this or related subject, specially on science of persuasion. If human behavior or persuasion strategies interests you this book is a goldmine.


★★★★★ (5 out of 5)

The Storyline

The authors talk about how bringing small changes in the way we do things can bring about BIG difference in its outcome. Hence the title The Small BIG: Small changes that spark big influence. Also the changes that the authors suggest costs very little or nothing at all and they have backed up their suggestions with case studies and scientific findings.

Some of the examples or case studies are pretty impressive. The first one shows how a small change in the letters sent to the tax payers in UK resulted in a greater number of people paying taxes.

Another good example is how a small change in the way the appointments are booked at doctors resulted in a considerable number of people turning up for their appointments. The authors earlier mentions that people not showing up for appointments when clubbed together for a country amounts to losses in billion dollars. So even a small change done resulted in saving of millions of dollars.

Authors go on to suggest many other such small changes that can drastically improve the productivity, procrastination, the precision in doing things, etc.

There are 52 such small changes divided into 52 chapters that can have a big influence and as mentioned earlier it costs almost nothing (even if they don’t work for you).

What I Think

I have earlier read  few such books on behavior and habits and how altering them can benefit you. This books joins the ranks of those top books. The best thing about this book is its simplicity or the simplicity of the methods or changes suggested, which can be implemented by anyone. If you are a sales rep, a computer professional, HR executive or an entrepreneur. These “pearls of wisdom” can help you in all walks of life. Although the authors can’t be credited for all these findings (and they give due credit and references to the scientists who did actual studies and findings) but they can definitely be credited for bringing these changes up to a wider audience and writing it so simply.

Each small change has a chapter of its own. So if you are in a hurry or some changes don’t interests you, you can simply skip to the chapters you want to read without losing the ‘plot’ anywhere.

After reading the book I did realize that some of the changes are ‘common sense’ (or so I think) and a few of them I already follow in my life or work and they were logical deductions on my own after experimenting and experiencing. I am sure many of you will have the same findings.  Nevertheless there are a lot of things that I or you wouldn’t know without reading this book.

Now all the changes may not work for you, it’s basically a pick and choose according to the situation which even authors suggest in the book. But I would recommend going through all the chapters just to get a feel of how small those changes are and even you can start observing and changing a few things not mentioned in this book which can work for you.

One such small change from the book suggests that if you want people to really follow up on their promise “ask for a plan”. So if your friend has promised you that he would get you that book you asked for ask him how do he plan to carry the book to you while he rides that motorbike. This will improve upon the chances of fulfilling his commitment and you getting that book.

Last Words

It’s a very powerful book and the thing I like about it most is its simplicity. The case studies or findings are also written in an uncomplicated manner.

If human behavior interests you or you think about how better you can do things or communicate with people you should definitely read The small BIG: Small Changes that Spark Big Influence
However if you are looking for a quick fix like ‘5 steps to a happy life’, ’10 steps to be an effective communicator’ or any of those sort of books, don’t bother. This is definitely not for you.

You can buy this book at low price from Amazon.


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