Mindwise Book Summary - Mindwise Book explained in key points
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Mindwise summary

Nicholas Epley

How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel and Want

3.7 (92 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

"Mindwise" by Nicholas Epley is a fascinating exploration of our ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of others. It challenges our assumptions on mind-reading and teaches us how to communicate better by being mindful of other people.

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    We are often too confident that we understand our own minds.

    Are you certain that you know what your partner is thinking when you see her frowning at you?

    You might think you do, but the fact is, you can only guess. But at least you know everything about your own thoughts, right?

    Wrong! Unfortunately, we don’t even have access to the mental processes that construct our own behavior.

    Even though we think we know ourselves well, the truth is that we’re only aware of the “final product” of our thoughts. This is because the majority of our mental processes occur unconsciously, beyond our direct control.

    The mind functions by making associations, meaning that two thoughts or behaviors that were previously connected can trigger one another.

    For example: when you show a person the word “me” and then ask him to fill in the last two letters of the word “go_ _,” he will write “good,” rather than “goal.”

    Why? Because he associates “me” with “good.”

    Yet because of such associations, we may come up with an inaccurate self image. The connection between “me” and “good” may seem logical as you believe you are a good person; but really, it’s just that your brain simply associates the two words automatically.

    Thus because we cannot access our thought processes completely, we then construct stories to make sense of our behavior.

    In one study, participants were shown photos of two separate people and asked to choose the one they found more attractive.

    Later, the same participants were handed a photo and asked to explain why they’d picked it. However, the photo was not the one they’d originally chosen; it was the other one, of the “unattractive” person.

    Surprisingly, only 27 percent realized that the picture they were given was not the one they’d chosen. Even more so, those who didn’t realize the error then offered a compelling explanation for choosing the photo they were shown.

    People create explanations for their own behavior in the same way as they try to read the minds of others: they observe their external behavior and then try to come up with a suitable explanation.

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    What is Mindwise about?

    In Mindwise, author Nicholas Epley looks at our ability to read the minds of other people, arguing that we believe ourselves to be far more adept at “mind reading” than we actually are. He reveals the common mistakes we make when trying to figure out what other people feel or want, and provides an entirely new perspective on how to handle both your own stereotypes and those of other people.

    Mindwise Review

    Mindwise (2014) by Nicholas Epley is a thought-provoking exploration of the human mind and our ability to understand and navigate the minds of others. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers eye-opening insights into how we perceive and interpret the thoughts and intentions of others, which can improve our relationships and communication skills.
    • Backed by scientific research and real-life examples, it provides a solid foundation for understanding the complexities of human psychology and behavior.
    • With its accessible writing style and relatable examples, the book is engaging and never dull, making it an enjoyable and informative read.

    Best quote from Mindwise

    Our stereotypes about group differences could be precisely right, but our explanations of those differences could be profoundly wrong.

    —Nicholas Epley
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    Who should read Mindwise?

    • Anyone wanting to understand the desires of people around them
    • Anyone curious about the common mistakes we make when guessing others’ feelings
    • Anyone interested in learning how their own mind works

    About the Author

    Nicholas Epley is a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In 2001, he earned his doctorate in psychology from Cornell University, and later became an assistant professor at Harvard University. His research includes studying intuitive human judgment and social cognition.

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    Mindwise FAQs 

    What is the main message of Mindwise?

    Understanding ourselves and others is key to better social interactions and decision-making.

    How long does it take to read Mindwise?

    The reading time for Mindwise varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Mindwise a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Mindwise offers valuable insights into human psychology, making it a worthwhile read for anyone interested in understanding human behavior.

    Who is the author of Mindwise?

    The author of Mindwise is Nicholas Epley.

    What to read after Mindwise?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Mindwise, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
    • Social by Matthew D. Lieberman
    • The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely
    • Read People Like a Book by Patrick King
    • Spy the Lie by Philip Houston
    • Dollars and Sense by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler
    • Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop
    • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
    • The Social Animal by David Brooks
    • Building a Non-Anxious Life by John Delony