Summary of Selfish, Scared and Stupid

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Selfish, Scared and Stupid book summary


7 Overall

8 Applicability

7 Innovation

7 Style


Don’t be self-centered, cowardly or dumb – well, of course not, you may think. After all, such well-meaning admonitions drawn from conventional wisdom are almost universally accepted. Yet according to behavioral researchers Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan, being “selfish, scared and stupid” has been and still is a primary formula for success. Acting otherwise is a recipe for failure. Even though it sounds counterintuitive, the authors explain why being selfish, scared and stupid are your only sane behavioral choices. Starting with their unusual premise, you’ll enjoy this wise, wry and observant chronicle. Despite joking that they may have a “nearly sociopathic perspective detached from values and judgment that may distort the interpretation of results,” the authors prove to be iconoclasts with a sense of fun and self-preservation. getAbstract recommends their methods to those seeking motivation, influence, success and peace of mind.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why the best possible game plan is to “think selfish, think scared and think stupid”;
  • Why this has been true since humanity’s earliest days;
  • Why society makes you think otherwise; and
  • How excess positivity can lead to negative outcomes.

About the Authors

Behavioral researchers and strategists Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan co-founded The Impossible Institute, an innovation think tank where Gregory is president and CEO.



Being Smart, Selfless and Fearless Doesn’t Work
The theories most behavioral researchers cite as sound and sensible ways to understand motivation are not anything of the kind. Many behavioral scientists use the word “positivism” to characterize why people take certain actions. The term...

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    ZoeAnn Lynch 2 years ago
    I'm not sure about this line of thought. If humans continued to be selfish, scared & stupid as the author suggests, exactly where would we be as a people? I would give it thumbs up only because it encourages discussion.
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    Colin Tisch 3 years ago
    I first thought this was a joke but the concept actually makes a lot of sense!

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