Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Book Report: The Influential Mind


    In The Influential Mind – What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others, author, and neuroscientist, Tali Sharot writes about the interesting and sometimes stubborn ways the human brain operates. She talks about how our instincts are often ineffective because they aren’t consistent with how the brain works. Sharot points out that having a better understanding of how the brain works can leave us with better control over our lives and a deeper appreciation of our experiences. The book covers topics like incentives, emotions, and curiosity. She uses research from neuroscience, psychology, and behavior economics to back up her points throughout the book, while also giving plenty of examples the public can easily relate to.

    My favorite part of the book would have to be Curiosity (What do people really want to know). Sharot explains that when people encounter evidence that goes against their beliefs their immediate reaction is denial and distancing themselves from the facts. She gives an example of the stock market. When the stock market is doing well people check their accounts more often, but when the stock market is down they check their account a lot less. I feel like the concept really prevents people from learning the truth and being educated on important topics. I can only imagine how different our world would be if everyone was willing to face the truth.

    In the book Sharot talks about the ways your behavior is changed based on what is going on around you. She uses the example of a hospital medical staff. Staff was supposed to wash their hands before entering a patients’ room. A small amount of staff followed the rule until a board was put up to display instant feedback. The board gave each employee a “hygiene score”. They are all able to see the work that everyone is doing which instinctively makes us want to do better, which is called a social incentive. We learned about incentives in our readings and the readings allowed us to differentiate between positive and negative incentives. In this case the display board is a positive incentive.

    I came across a video where scientist, Lisa Barrett, speaks about her experience studying emotions. She breaks down what emotions really are and explains that we’re wrong about how emotions work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gks6ceq4eQ

    I don’t often think about why humans are the way they are or how they work. It was nice to hear explanations of why we are the way we are, and relate them to myself or my everyday life. In was very insightful and I think getting a better understanding of yourself (or others)  would be helpful to anybody.

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