The Influential Mind by Tali Sharot
After earning a Ph.D. degree in psychology and neuroscience, Dr. Tali Sharot went on to study the neural basis of decision making, optimism, and emotions. Tali Sharot shared her studies and findings in her novel, The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others. As a neuroscientist, Sharot explains the effects of influence and opinions and how it can alter not only oneself but others as well. As previous studies and the evolution of instincts have transpired through the years, Dr. Sharot claims that there are far more effective elements that can change beliefs and actions within the human brain. Through emotions, incentives, curiosity, and control, all empower the opportunity to alter another’s thoughts and feelings. Tali gives scientific evidence on the difficulties of changing attitudes and emotions, but gives supporting strategies to prove it is possible.
I personally found all nine chapters to be quite eye opening and interesting in their own way. My favorite however was chapter two, “How We Were Persuaded to Reach for the Moon (Emotion): The Incredible Sway of Emotion.” Emotions are a large part of what makes an individual unique. Some people claim to be too emotional while some simply cannot express even an ounce of emotion. Emotions are a part of every second of everyone’s’ life. From happy to sad, excited to bored, awake to tired, there are hundreds of emotions that our brain has the ability to put into expression. Within this chapter, Tali Sharot expresses the power of emotion. Sharot used the example of watching the Olympic games solely for her enjoyment through the spread of emotions. There was a few sentences she included that I adored fully. “Their happiness is contagious. You cannot help but smile when those faces on the screen do.” (page 45) I personally have grown up in a very positive, loving family where my parents have always instilled in my siblings and I to smile at strangers. My parents would tell us that you truly never know who your smile can touch and within a second, we have the power to change someone’s day. Happiness is absolutely contagious. The ability an emotion has to alter someone else is incredible. Brains are wired to quickly transmit emotions back and forth to one another to convey information. “Emotions- which are, in essence, bodily reactions to external events or internal thoughts- travel from one person to the other, delivering with them important messages.” (page 47) Within the lecture slides of Reproduction, this influence of emotions can be directly related. Mate value is a cluster of characteristics that make a person desirable as a partner. If a happy, uplifting person meets a potential mate who is miserable with an attitude, the chances of their own mate value declining is high. The uplifting partner will eventually get tired of the negative emotions the other puts off into the world and their time together will most likely be short. Throughout the whole book, Tali brought up great ideas and ways to embrace one’s life. From using young children to adults in a nursing home, these claims are able to meet any age group and provide valuable information to all. Whether it be within happiness or extending ones’ independence, emotions span through any occurrence. Although cliché, I have always stated that I want the ability to change at least one person’s life during my years. After reading this book from a highly known neuroscientist, I feel more inclined to make a difference with many more aspects to go from that I was not aware of before.
This link shows how a group of students are personally affected by the power of a smile.