1. The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo
Creator of the famous Stanford Prison Experiment asks, Why do good people commit evil acts? Zimbardo explains how cognitive dissonance, groupthink and other elements of behavioral psychology contribute to breakdowns in group decision making.
For fraternities, self-awareness can be a powerful anecdote to hazing. Mere knowledge of these group psychology phenomena is sometimes all it takes to change a chapter for the better.
2. Building Leaders the West Point Way by Major General Joseph P. Franklin
Think one of the nation’s premier leadership labs creates leaders through hazing? Think again:
“I handled this abuse as well as anyone, I guess, but I couldn’t help wondering what was going on. On the one hand, I was required to commit to memory this great pronouncement by Schofield and his farsighted, thoughtful approach to discipline; on the other hand, my day was an endless barrage of insults and threatened punishments. There seemed to be a clear and obvious contradiction, and yet nobody bothered to express it!”
3. Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement by William Duggan
A refreshing complement to strategic planning. The best ideas often arrive as a flash of insight when we least expect it.
4. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman
“A provocative new book about the psychological forces that lead us to disregard facts or logic and behave in surprisingly irrational ways.” -New York Times
5. Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson
“A revelatory study of how lovers, lawyers, doctors, politicians–and all of us–pull the wool over our own eyes. The politician who can’t apologize, the torturer who feels no guilt, the co-worker who’ll say anything to win an argument–in case you’ve ever wondered how such people can sleep at night, Mistakes Were Made supplies some intriguing and useful insights…Reading it, we recognize the behavior of our leaders, our loved ones, and–if we’re honest–ourselves.” -Francis Prose
6. Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Confusing correlation with causation is a common source of ill-advised decision making, leading us to make important decisions based on a false interpretation of data. By explaining the “hidden role of chance,” Taleb encourages readers to consider the possibility of randomness in attempting to connect the dots of life’s everyday events.
From chapters that credit hazing with creating a strong brotherhood (rather than the shared positive experiences) to the recruitment chairman who mistakenly concludes that parties produced a record candidate class (ignoring a campus-wide increase), Fooled by Randomness holds insightful parallels for fraternity leaders.
7. The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
What could tennis possibly have to do with student leadership? This sports psychology classic was written to help players improve their tennis swing, but each lesson begs a parallel to leadership. From creating self-awareness by filming and watching your own swing (evaluating your chapter’s progress) to creating a vision of your ideal shot (strategic planning and visionary leadership), The Inner Game of Tennis teaches leaders to watch for advice from unexpected sources.
BONUS: The Story of Sigma Nu by John C. Scott (Purdue)
The story of three men who challenged the status quo.