Summary of The End of Average

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Rating

8 Overall

8 Applicability

9 Innovation

8 Style

Recommendation

Behavioral psychologist Todd Rose takes issue with something so ingrained in society that people rarely give it a thought – comparing and ranking people against the average. He contends that “averagarian” thinking is wrong and misleading and that it damages people’s self-esteem and potential. Rose belongs to a group of progressive thinkers who embrace the “science of the individual” and reject characterizing people by type or category. He presents three principles of individuality that will help you recognize and use your uniqueness to excel in life. getAbstract recommends his clear presentation of a complex theory to thought leaders from every field.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How average became the norm,
  • How “averagarian” thinking influenced every aspect of society and
  • How using the three principles of individuality can improve your life.
 

About the Author

Todd Rose is a developmental psychologist, a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School and co-founder of the Center for Individual Opportunity. He also wrote Square Peg.

 

Summary

No Such Thing

In the late 1940s, United States Air Force planes crashed in noncombat situations at an alarming rate. Engineers couldn’t find the cause of these accidents. In most cases, they blamed “pilot error.” When they couldn’t pinpoint a deficit in pilot skills, they considered other sources, including cockpit design. At the time, cockpits conformed to typical dimensions of male pilots calculated in the 1920s by averaging the physical measurements of hundreds of pilots. Military engineers recalculated these averages by measuring more than 4,000 pilots for arm length, head size and other dimensions. One young scientist on the project, Lt. Gilbert S. Daniels, drew a surprising conclusion. He compared each of the 4,063 subjects to the 10 primary physical dimensions of the average pilot. The researchers assumed a high percentage of pilots would fall within the average range in most dimensions. However, not one pilot conformed to the average range in all 10 dimensions. Fewer than 3.5% fell within the averages using three size dimensions. Daniels concluded that there’s no such thing as an average pilot. Based on his findings, the US Air Force redesigned cockpits with adjustable seats, foot pedals, and the like.

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