The Fear Factor Book Summary - The Fear Factor Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Fear Factor summary

Abigail Marsh

How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths and Everyone in Between

4.1 (61 ratings)
18 mins
Table of Contents

    The Fear Factor
    Summary of 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    Empathy and the ability to recognize fear are closely linked.

    Empathy refers to the ability to understand another person’s emotional state, and can sometimes result in the direct experience of another person’s feelings. Usually, we tend to see people as either naturally empathetic and nice, or innately mean and cruel. However, empathy isn’t an inherent trait, but rather a result of where your focus lies.

    As such, empathy can, at least to a certain extent, be manipulated.

    For example, inspired by the 1978 study by psychologist Daniel Batson, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the author conducted an experiment where the subjects were asked to listen to a radio interview.

    The interview was of a woman named Katie, who’d lost both her parents and was responsible for taking care of her younger siblings. She worked several jobs while simultaneously studying to earn her college degree.

    Before listening to the interview, some participants were asked to focus on the technical details of her story, while the rest were asked to focus on and identify the emotions Katie was expressing. Afterward, the author asked if anyone would like to donate money to Katie. The results showed that those who had been asked to focus on Katie’s feelings donated more than those who focused on technical details.

    What the author also discovered during the study was that empathy was strongly related to the ability to recognize when others are experiencing fear.

    Following the interview exercise, the author asked the participants to study photographs of faces and identify whether they were expressing happiness, sadness, anger or fear. Interestingly, the participants who didn’t do well at recognizing happy expressions, but who were able to identify fearful expressions, had also donated the most money to Katie.

    What we can infer from this is that people who are good at recognizing fear in others also tend to be more altruistic. Let’s explore this concept further in the next blink.

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Fear Factor?

    Key ideas in The Fear Factor

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Fear Factor about?

    The Fear Factor (2017) examines the multifaceted role that fear plays in our lives. Though commonly perceived as a purely negative emotion, fear is in fact linked to several virtuous human characteristics, such as empathy and altruism.

    Best quote from The Fear Factor

    Fear was a better predictor (of) altruism (than) gender, mood and how empathetic people report themselves to be.

    —Abigail Marsh
    example alt text

    Who should read The Fear Factor?

    • People who want to become more altruistic
    • Those interested in neurology and how it affects certain behaviors
    • Individuals who want to turn their fears into something useful

    About the Author

    Abigail Marsh is a neuroscientist and psychologist at Georgetown University. Her studies focus on the social interactions of human beings, and her work has been included in the Times, the Huffington Post and NPR.

    Categories with The Fear Factor

    Books like The Fear Factor

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    27 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial