Cover image for Top dog : the science of winning and losing
Top dog : the science of winning and losing
Bronson, Po, 1964-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Twelve, 2013.
Physical Description:
vi, 335 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Studying competitive arenas from the workplace, the stock market, sports, politics, the military and schools and using the latest findings in genetics, neuroscience and behavioral psychology, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman unveil the astounding, often counter-intuitive truths about how we compete and the crucial ingredients that sometimes stand between winning and losing.
Part I: Foundations. Introduction: parachutists and ballroom dancers ; The competition machine ; What goes down when the stakes go up -- Part II: Formation. How the worriers can beat the warriors ; Even odds: why women need them and men don't ; The utter importance of pillow fights -- Part III: Individual. The difference between winning and not losing ; How one night of blackjack sped up the world economy ; The 'roid rage of chess -- Part IV: Collective. The hierarchy of teams ; Michelangelo had an agent ; How the Black Sox cleaned up Wall Street.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF637.C47 B76 2013 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BF637.C47 B76 2013 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BF637.C47 B76 2013 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



New York Times Bestseller

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's work changes the national dialogue. Beyond their bestselling books, you know them from commentary and features in the New York Times , CNN, NPR, Time , Newsweek , Wired , New York , and more. E-mail, Facebook, and Twitter accounts are filled with demands to read their reporting (such as "How Not to Talk to Your Kids," "Creativity Crisis," and "Losing Is Good for You").

In TOP DOG , Bronson and Merryman again use their astonishing blend of science and storytelling to reveal what's truly in the heart of a champion. The joy of victory and the character-building agony of defeat. Testosterone and the neuroscience of mistakes. Why rivals motivate. How home field advantage gets you a raise. What teamwork really requires. It's baseball, the SAT, sales contests, and Linux. How before da Vinci and FedEx were innovators, first, they were great competitors.

Olympians carry TOP DOG in their gym bags. It's in briefcases of Wall Street traders and Madison Avenue madmen. Risk takers from Silicon Valley to Vegas race to implement its ideas, as educators debate it in halls of academia. Now see for yourself what this game-changing talk is all about.

Author Notes

Po Bronson is an American journalist and author who lives in San Francisco, California.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Bronson and Merryman follow up the best-selling NurtureShock (2009) with this intriguing look at the nature of competition. Most of us are taught from an early age that it's good to be competitive, but we're not usually taught how to compete. Sure, we can learn how to play a sport, and we can practice the skills, but practicing is not the same as competing. You can perfect your baseball swing in practice, but how do you react when you're facing a pitcher who wants you to miss? The key element of competition, the authors say, is the ability to compete under pressure in situations that are not under one's own control. Using plenty of real-world examples, from Olympic athletes to fighter pilots to intelligence operatives, the authors persuasively argue that technical skill is only one part in many cases, the least important part of what it takes to come out on top. Expect lots of talk-show play for this one.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bronson and Merryman (coauthors of NurtureShock) praise healthy competition as a force that not only spurs individuals to excel but drives the progress of entire cultures, convincingly pegging the development of democracy as a side-effect of the original Greek Olympics, and the composition of Bach's masterpieces as a product of musical/religious politics. Citing studies that explore individual performance in the contexts that offer only intrinsic motivators versus those that provide a peer challenge, they find that performance is most enhanced when a competitor feels externally judged, opponents are few, the roles and goals are clear, and the participants are well-enough matched that the outcome is uncertain until the end. The authors explore physiological components of performance (like enzymes that may correlate with whether an individual needs stress to perform optimally), the role of gender in competition (men are more likely than women to overestimate their chances and take a risk), as well as the culture of competition at large, postulating on the effects of teaching universal self-esteem and the replacement of a "playing to win" ethos with one of "playing not to lose." Accessible for fans of pop science, yet substantial enough to have practical applications, Bronson and Merryman's investigation will have folks rethinking the impulse to win at work and play. Agent: Peter Ginsberg, Curtis Brown. (Feb. 19) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Part I Foundations
1 Introduction/Parachutists and Ballroom Dancersp. 3
2 The Competition Machinep. 22
3 What Goes Down When the Stakes Go Upp. 42
Part II Formation
4 How the Worriers Can Beat the Warriorsp. 63
5 Even Odds: Why Women Need Them and Men Don'tp. 84
6 The Utter Importance of Pillow Fightsp. 105
Part III Individual
7 The Difference between Winning and Not Losingp. 129
8 How One Night of Blackjack Sped Up the World Economyp. 149
9 The 'Roid Rage of Chessp. 172
Part IV Collective
10 The Hierarchy of Teamsp. 193
11 Michelangelo Had an Agentp. 210
12 How the Black Sox Cleaned Up Wall Streetp. 230
Selected Sources and Referencesp. 241
Acknowledgmentsp. 321
Indexp. 325