DRUNK TANK PINK (n) : A bubblegum-pink color; in the early 1980s, psychologists daubed jail cells with drunk tank pink paint and discovered that the color calmed aggressive prisoners.  Soon, enterprising football coaches began painting their visitors’ locker rooms with the same shade, hoping to pacify their opponents.  Buses painted their seats pink and discovered that vandalism rates declined; door-to-door charity workers wore pink shirts and their donations rose threefold.

DRUNK TANK PINK, the book, is a compendium of context effects—relationships between features of the environment and our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and even broader outcomes in life.  Each chapter describes how a different feature affects us, beginning with the names our parents gave us at birth, and the names we in turn give to our children, companies, and hurricanes, and ending with the weather patterns that affect us all.

By the time you've finished reading DRUNK TANK PINK, you'll understand how two identical people with identical pasts and presents can come to experience two very different futures.  Much of the answer lies in whether they're unwittingly exposed to the nine cues that make up the world described in the book: the world within us, the world between us, and the world around us.



"The best science book I read all year."
- Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and David and Goliath.

“Adam Alter has collected the most wonderfully strange and surprising nuggets of recent psychological research in one book. I guarantee you’ll want to share the incredible anecdotes in Drunk Tank Pink with friends.”
Joshua Foer, author of New York Times bestseller, Moonwalking with Einstein

“You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll shake your head in disbelief as Alter shows you that we are all, to some degree, balls in a giant pinball machine. If you want to see the bumpers — and regain some control of your destiny — read this delightful book.”
Jonathan Haidt, author of New York Times bestseller, The Righteous Mind

“In this fascinating book, Adam Alter tells us about the forces that shape our thoughts and actions. More than you would ever imagine, your life is influenced by factors such as the first letter of your name, the average climate of our country, and whether you are in the presence of the color pink. With remarkable clarity and subversive humor, Alter presents a radical new perspective on human nature. ”
Paul Bloom, professor of psychology at Yale University, and author of How Pleasure Works

“Drunk Tank Pink is a smart and delightful introduction to some of psychology’s most curious phenomena and most colorful characters.”
Daniel Gilbert, author of New York Times bestseller, Stumbling on Happiness

“Reading Adam Alter’s book will change the way you look at our world. Seemingly banal things will begin to mean more than you ever realized.”
Dan Ariely, author of New York Times bestseller, Predictably Irrational

A fascinating compendium of the hidden currents that influence our thoughts, beliefs, and actions.”
Gary Marcus, New Yorker columnist, and author of New York Times bestseller, Guitar Zero

Halfway through Drunk Tank Pink, I began to wonder if the author was conducting an experiment. Were the words on the page arranged to deliver a subliminal message? Was the font manipulating my impression of the author’s intelligence? (Studies show that difficult-to-read fonts make us pay closer attention.) The answer is no—but Adam Alter’s book about the many ways our perceptions are affected is so compelling that it put me in a seriously suspicious frame of mind…Alter’s book is essentially a compendium of such studies, with a refreshing lack of editorializing; he seems to realize that his material does not require much to make it fascinating—not even a fancy font.
— The Smithsonian (a "Notable Book")

In this eye-opening study, Adam Alter, a social psychologist and professor at NYU, collects an array of recent findings about the inner and outer stimuli that influence decision-making -- occasionally in ways we're reluctant to acknowledge. (Did you know, for example, that we tend to give more generously to victims of hurricanes when the storm name and our own start with the same initial?) That's just one of the astonishing tidbits in store for readers here…We are, in several senses, curious creatures. Popular NYU psychology and marketing professor Adam Alter has applied his own inquisitiveness to compose a fascinating tome about the hidden things that make us think, act, and feel the way we do. The debut result will please readers of Malcolm Gladwell and other writers about unexpected wonders. Editor's recommendation.
— Barnes & Noble (A "Book of the Month" and "Editor's Recommendation" book)

Alter’s findings are intriguing…he peppers his text with illustrative anecdotes, incidents, studies and characters, making the book highly readable and informative. The author occasionally challenges folk wisdom—contrary to the popular notion that in spring, a young man’s fancy turns to love, Alter cites research showing that testosterone levels rise in the cold winter months—and he elucidates the reasons behind other taken-for-granted beliefs.
— Kirkus Reviews (A Kirkus Recommended book)

Alter, a social psychologist and professor at NYU, not only explains the source of many cognitive quirks, but convincingly argues that comprehending them affords a better understanding of broader behaviors, from cyclical poverty to altruism…in Alter’s hands, these case studies take on new life—the famous “two line” optical illusion opens into a fascinating explication of the perceptual effects of living in “geometric interiors.” Alter fluently moves between psychology, medicine, and cultural history, offering surprises to readers at many levels of expertise.
— Publisher's Weekly