Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The Influential Mind Book Report

 Tali Sharot is a professor at University College London where she investigates motivation and emotion through her “Affective Brain Lab”. She aims to explain influence, or changing others’ mind, from three different perspectives. She argues that the only way to change another person’s mind is to align ourselves with seven core elements: beliefs, emotions, incentives, sense of agency, curiosity, state of mind, and the knowledge and acts of others. The book talks about why it’s so difficult to change others. Sharot emphasizes the power of positive emotions because we’re biased to move toward rewards and away from punishment.

    My favorite part of the book was when Sharot attempted to explain why babies are so driven to iPhones. She argues that we're born with an innate predisposition to learn from those around us. Babies copy our behavior and learn from it. She also argues this applies to a screen (social media, television, etc). One example Sharot gives of this is the name Mason jumping in popularity in the United States. The name's popularity boost was traced back to Mason Disick, the song of reality television personality Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick. This all explains why babies are so driven to iPhones, which was fascinating to me.

According to the lecture slides, incentives are anticipated external stimuli that motivate behavior to occur. Reinforcers are behavioral consequences that select behavior and punishers are behavioral consequences that deselect behavior. In The Influential Mind, Tali Sharot talks about incentives. She uses the example of employees being required to wash their hands. When told to wash their hands, there’s a compliance rate of only 38.7 percent among people that work in the medical field. Setting up cameras to see who was washing their hands did not solve the problem, but setting up a feedback board in each room did. Positive feedback and rewards got the compliance of hand-washing to return to about 90 percent by installing electronic boards monitoring employees progress. Positive feedback worked better than threats or the idea of harming others. Overall, this book helps solve the question of how we influence others. This could solve a real-world problem by influencing those with troubled pasts to do good.

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