Writer on psychology, behaviour and wilderness
I write books about human behaviour, and particularly about how people interact with each other and with the natural world. I used to be a science journalist, and for six years was senior editor at New Scientist. I have also written for Nature, BBC Future, Slate, Prospect, The Observer, The Times, The FT, The New York Times and others. Currently I teach writing as a Royal Literary Fund fellow at Oxford Brookes University.
My latest project is Fans: A Journey into the Psychology of Belonging, published by Picador in May 2023. Fans have always had a bad rap, but my book tells a very different story of fandom. An investigation into worlds of obsession, belonging and human connection, it explores the remarkable reasons why people come together in pursuit of their shared enthusiasms, and the surprising ways in which they benefit.
Previously I wrote Wayfinding: The Art and Science of How We Find and Lose Our Way (Picador, March 2020), a book about the psychology of getting lost, how our brains make cognitive maps that tell us where we are (and, to some extent, who we are), and why some people are so much better at navigating than others. In North America this is published as From Here to There: The Art and Science of Finding and Losing Our Way (Harvard University Press, May 2020).
Here are some things people said about Wayfinding:
'A wonderful book'
'[Even] if this was only a science book about how we navigate it would be compellingly good'
(The Sunday Times, 'Books of the Year')
'One of the most fascinating books I have read for a long while'
'Michael Bond is an intrepid explorer of the kinks and crevices of the brain ... The fascinating facts speak for themselves'
(The Sunday Telegraph)
My two earlier books were The Power of Others: Peer Pressure, Groupthink, and How the People Around Us Shape Everything We Do (Oneworld, 2014), which was the British Psychological Society's book of the year in 2015; and Way Out West (McClelland & Stewart, 2001), a travel biography about the settling of the Canadian prairies.
In another life, I'm a founder member of the social problem-solving collective Common, which was set up in 2018 to find solutions to complex social issues using skills in behavioural science, psychology, service design and other domains.
21Pictures was one of my projects – a new kind of dating site based on insights from psychology. It was featured in the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard magazine and won recognition as a finalist in the UK Dating Awards in 2015.
21Pictures was designed to get people to make dating decisions intuitively, the way we do in the real world. You described yourself using (up to 21) pictures of your life, and found people you liked by looking at theirs. It was like Instagram for dating. We also steered you towards others who shared your values. We reckoned it represented behavioural science’s best shot at finding someone compatible. It resulted in at least one marriage!