Monday, August 8, 2022

Book Report: The Influential Mind

The book that I chose to read for my report was The Influential Mind, written by Tali Sharot. This book focuses on an individual's ability to influence others in a negative and positive way. The author considers this influence in the context of roles, specifically our roles in life. The book explains in various manners why people are stuck in their ways and hesitant to change their thoughts and behavior. This is caused by prejudices, natural born tendencies, emotions, selfishness and a need for control. The author's intention of this book is to help others understand the inconsistent success of persuasion and apprehension in society. 

Chapter one immediately grabbed my attention with it focusing on a topic I continually ask myself all the time, “Does Evidence Change Beliefs?” The author begins with a scenario of a  married couple who can't agree where to settle down. Both want to settle in their home countries but the problem is that they each have their own, which is thousands of miles apart. They each present evidence to each other supporting why their point is better, but they still can not agree. Through this scenario the author emphasizes how data does not always change minds although it may be accurate. People are not driven by data but belief and emotions. Data is useless to our brains because naturally people side with what makes them feel good or what beliefs have been instilled in their minds over their life. Ms. Sharots research has led him to these conclusions, for example he asked a group of volunteers their opinions of climate change. The conclusion from this was that people only changed their views if evidence or data was in their favor. Our human nature is to support material that goes with whatever preconceived notions that we have. 

This book reminded me a lot of the reproduction chapter in class, specifically the topic of mate selection. We as humans are selfish and want to be with a partner who can benefit emotionally, mentally and physically. In the video shown in class, people who were highly rated were sought after the most. People want a partner who has higher attractiveness or financial means. This concept is similar to the book, people seek information that benefits them. When information does not benefit one's personal agenda, it is cast away or considered last. By default the mind looks for what it is attracted to, whether that be information or a boyfriend. Our minds hold so much power that we sometimes forget. 

I believe that Ms.Sharot's ideas can be used in our everyday lives because he exposes all of the ways in which we remain stuck in our ways and prevent ourselves from expanding our knowledge and changing our beliefs. I think we need this today more than ever because whether the topic is vaccines, abortions or health care, every one refuses to look at any other perspective that is  not theirs. You have to open up your mind to be able to accept anything into it. For example, If our U.S government officials were more open minded, more laws and legislation would be passed. Instead of the back and forth or striking down of potentially beneficial and life changing legislation. The type of thinking that the author is calling out is heavily present in congress and other governmental authorities.

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