The Influential Mind: By Tali Sharot
The book written by Tali Sharot called “The Influential Mind” is a very unique read that takes you on a journey through the many ways in which we as human beings can influence others. The author herself is a neuroscientist who has performed an immense amount of studies on the different ways in which people can be influenced. Sharot also references a wide variety of experiments that ultimately helps the audience better understand many of the topics she introduces throughout the book. There were also a few instances when Sharot mentions that people do not change their minds about certain things, such as when a person has serious beliefs (whether it be regarding religion or politics). The overall idea that Sharot wanted to get across to her readers is that there are many ways in which we all are influenced about the decisions we make on a daily basis, whether we recognize it or not! Growing up we have had to make decision after decision that has ultimately shaped the way we are as we grow older. From the people we meet, to the places we decide to live, even the occupation we ultimately choose to pursue. At the end of the day, the way we make decisions has to do with how our brains are wired and Sharot explains how our brains are wired from centuries of information due to evolution. Because of this, there are many things we do that we may not understand because it is a reflex that has been passed on from centuries ago. Overall, this was one of the best books that I have had the pleasure of reading in a while. This is because it allows readers to truly learn about how our minds are wired and specifically, how they can be influenced!
There were many different topics that Sharot introduced in this book that I found intriguing. Each chapter within this book helps the reader to really think about things in a different light. However, I believe that my favorite topic that the author discussed was about how fear stems from the sense of losing control. Sharot explains how “most people become stressed and anxious when their ability to control their environment is removed” (p. 83). The example that she provided in the text referred to the film director of the movie Charlie's angels, McG. McG was afraid of flying in airplanes because he was not able to be fully in control while flying on a plane. Although McG felt safe while driving a car, he would frequently refuse to fly on a plane because it was not him flying the plane, he had to rely on a pilot to do the flying and that made all of the difference to him. The loss of control is an unsettling feeling for most people, and this can explain why many people suffer from certain phobias or fears such as; aerophobia (which is what McG suffered from), claustrophobia, acrophobia and much more. The author also elaborates on this topic by explain how those who attempt to regain control can also develop psychological problems such as an eating disorder, addiction, and even suicide. Therefore, the sense of losing control is not something to just brush off, rather, it is a topic that deserves to be explored in more depth! I myself can relate to this uncomfortable sense of losing control of something, and that is why I believe that this topic resonated with me so much.
One specific topic that Sharot discussed was about control, specifically self-control. This is a topic that we have discussed in class as well. The author even refers to the study that was done with children to test their level of self-control, a study we observed in our class as well. This study included children being given a marshmallow and being told that if they wait to eat the treat until the experimenter returns, then they will be rewarded with an extra marshmallow. Some children were able to resist the temptation of eating the treat sitting in front of them, but others were not. This experiment was also shown to us as a video within one of our power- point slides. I feel that this experiment is very interesting because we get to see how kids distract themselves in order to really resist the temptation sitting directly in front of them! Sharot elaborates on this idea by explaining how the children who were able to wait for the experimenter to return were more entrusting of others than the ones who were unable to wait. I found this idea quite fascinating because that is something that I did not think about when I first watched the experiment being done. In the end, the willingness to have self-control is an important concept for everyone to learn! Another important topic that was discussed within the book as well as within the classroom was the idea of freezing out of fear. Sharot explains how this is an evolutionary response to dangerous situations. The idea is that we freeze because predators do not attack immobile prey! I found this idea fascinating because I have always wondered why people often freeze up instead of running away from a dangerous person or situation.
One of the concepts that could be used in order to help in a real-world situation would be to influence others by considering people’s need for control. For example, many people dislike the idea of paying taxes because for the most part they are not aware of where their tax money really goes. In turn, this often causes many individuals to stop paying their taxes altogether. Although these individuals will eventually be caught, what if we could stop them from not paying their taxes all together? Sharot provided an incredible example about how the government could avoid having many individuals not pay their taxes by simply providing everyone with a list of what their tax money is being used for! From this list, people are able to choose what their tax money is used for. Thus, if people are aware of exactly where their money is going, then they are more likely to pay their dues because they have a sense of control over where their money is going. In the long run, if everyone were to pay their taxes then the government would be able to get things done with more ease and we could potentially be in less debt as a country overall! In the end, this idea is all about giving people a sense of control over where their hard-earned money is going and thus, better assuring that the money is being paid in the long run.
Overall, this book was absolutely incredible because it continuously had me thinking about the different ways our minds work. The author of this book did a wonderful job in describing each concept that was presented! I believe that I was able to visualize each scenario with ease while reading this book.
I have already recommended this book to a few friends thus far. After reading this book, I feel as if my mind has been opened up to a new view of the world and the way we as human beings tend to think and evaluate the world around us.
This video clip elaborates on the concept of being an influential person. Specifically, this video elaborates on how an individual can become a quality influential leader! Ron Carucci explains how in order to influence others, we need to learn more about those we hope to influence. Overall, I feel that he really depicts what it takes to become an influential leader.
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