The Influential Mind written by Tali Sharot goes into depth in explaining how influence has such a great power over us and how you are able to influence those around you effectively. Sharot is a neuroscientist who is very knowledgeable about the human brain. With evidence, emotion, incentives, curiosity, etc. in each chapter she goes over how you can shape your opinion to effectively influence those around you. She explains why most people do not listen on an airplane when the flight attendants are giving their safety protocols and why we enjoy having control. The influence that one can have on another’s mind is so powerful and Sharot goes on to explain that in detail throughout the book.
In the first chapter, Sharot talks about a couple who is deciding where they want to live and have a family. In the argument, each partner found facts that backed their reasoning on why they should raise their children and family in the area specific to where they felt as though would be best fit. Sharot explains that when we are in an argument our first instinct as humans is to prove why we are right and your opponent is wrong. The “boomerang effect” which is providing information that contradicts their opinion causing them to then come up with new arguments to strengthen their side. Providing the other side with new data will then give them the idea to find out more information on that topic that will then support their side. By the end of the chapter we learn that when trying to persuade someone’s opinion we should consider the other individuals side and focus on convincing them rather than yourself. Therefore, common goals and motivations will help you more effectively get the message across.
In the third chapter, it is based on incentives and debating whether or not we should scare into action? It gives the example in a hospital and being given two years and $50,000 to improve the sanitation in the ICU unit. Cameras were installed and notified auditors when a staff member entered/exited the room. The auditors would then record whether or not the staff used hand sanitizer or not. Shockingly knowing that they were being watched, only one in ten members followed the rules. The team later thought of the idea of giving the staff members immediate feedback with an electronic board being placed in each room. Once they finished following proper sanitation the numbers would go up. This led to a 90% increase in washing their hands. Researchers believe that these numbers improved so quickly in such a short period of time because rather being presented with a threat, the staff was given something positive. This goes on to show that immediate positive feedback allows people to maintain that positive behavior even after it has been removed.
The last chapter that I would like to look into is chapter five. The example given in this chapter is to look around and see how many people are actually paying attention on an airplane when the safety protocols are being given. Why are more people not paying attention to something that could save your life? This led to the question of how can they get people to pay close attention to this information when it is being presented. Considering the emotional state of your audience can allow the brain to process the information and pay closer attention to information that could potentially save their life in the case of an emergency. Playing a song, comedy or even a dance will help grasp people’s attention and may help them remember information easier.
After finishing The Influential Mind, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about the brain and why we do the things we do. I normally do not enjoy books that are very informative but Sharot kept you engaged and wanting to learn more. She gave real life examples that almost anyone could relate to, which made the read more enjoyable. There was nothing about this book that I can say that I disliked.
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