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Book Review: "Change of Heart" by Nick Cooney

Today I finished reading the book called "Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us AboutChange of heart nick cooney  
Spreading Social Change," by Nick Cooney.

When I got this book in the mail after ordering it I was excited. I read good reviews about it and being an activistst myself, I was intrigued and motivated to learn how to be a better, and more effective, activist! I read the introduction and remained excited.

It started out interesting. It became largely repetative (the studies changed, but the message remained - it's hard to change people!).

My activist motivation waned a little more with each chapter.

Okay, I get it now, there are mounds of research that show the myraid of variables that go into motivating someone to change. Everything from how attractive you are, how you dress, the words you use, the brochures you hand out, societal influences, what comes out of your mouth, etc. The bottom line, after reading this book, is that creating social change is damn hard.

If you don't cover all the basis and consider this long list of factors in trying to deliver your message, your work will most likely not be effective. You may feel good personally, because you are doing something, but you are probably not being effective in what you are trying to achieve. One one hand you are supposed to be good looking and say something that they want to hear and on the other you are not supposed to be straightforward with your message. In another instance you come without warning, and you better be friendly! Oh, and you need to seem impartial, yet have prompts, and narrow their options! You should gauge your effectiveness, but don't ask them if they plan to go vegetarian. Uh, it's all so exhausting!

After reading all this research my head was spinning and it had me feeling more like throwing in the activist towel, rather than trying to find the perfect master code that covers all these variables in this book in order to get the animal rights/vegetarian message out! Sure, some may say that you don't have to worry about all the variables in the book, but I disagree. If you don't, there is a good chance that many of your efforts are being countered by some of the other problems discussed.

Honestly, I wish I had never come across this book. And I sincerely don't say this to be mean. I'm just an honest, straightforward kind of gal. But the truth of the matter is that it made me feel that:
1) All my activist work thus far has probably been a complete waste of my time.
2) If I want to be effective I will have to become obsessed with trying to work out a method that addresses the myriad of variables, yet at the same time doesn't drive me insane with all the analyzing!

The back of this book asks the question "What makes people change?" After reading this book I still don't really know. All I know is that there is no one thing that makes people change (now that would be a good book!). Rather, there are many variables that go into what makes and doesn't lead to changes. If you can figure out the crazy maze of them, perhaps, just maybe you will be more successful.

At the beginning of chapter four it starts out by saying "By now you  might be feeling a little depressed about your prospects for creating change; the psychological barriers are many and massive."

The author had hit the nail on the head there. I was feeling depressed about it all. Problem was, this continued through the rest of the book. Nothing picked me up and renewed my activist spirit. Instead, I was left feeling flat, wondering if all the work I have been doing has just been a complete waste of my time.


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Thanks for sharing this. It's unfortunate that the author drained your desire for activism. But, the thing I keep thinking is that, even though you may only change one person's mind out of every thousand you talk to, you're still saving the world. If you convert 1 person, you've done something incredibly impactful on the environmental movement, for animals, and for that person. Plus, that person could go on to convert several on their friends, and so on. Also, you may not convert anyone fully, but you've planted a seed in their heads that grows with each person that talks to them.

When I first became a vegetarian, it was because a lot of factors, but the main one was that an activist, Gary Yourofsky, gave a speech at one of my classes. He also changed the minds of several other people that I know. I went on the convert a few of my friends. I became a vegan after going to a speech Alicia Silverstone was giving about veganism and the environment. (I didn't even like Alicia Silverstone before that.) So I believe what someone says really can make a difference.

Keep doing what you're doing and don't let a book get you down! You've probably made more of a difference than you will ever even know. We're all part of a movement that's gotten huge in the last few years, and it becomes larger with every person.


Hi Amanda,

Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate it!

Gary Yourofsky is wonderful. I have no doubt that he has a big impact and changes people. I'm glad to hear that he influenced you. That's great!

I have helped lead people to vegetarianism, but it has not really been through my veg outreach events. It's really been people I've met over the years that were ready and searching for such info.

I have two veg outreach events planned for April. Fingers crossed that it does some good! :)


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