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The Influential Mind summary

What the Brain Reveals About Our Power To Change Others

4.2 (242 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

The Influential Mind by Tali Sharot explores the power of persuasion and how our brains can be taught to influence others positively. Sharot presents insights from neuroscience and psychology to offer practical advice for impactful communication.

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    The Influential Mind
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    People aren’t very flexible in their ways, and this rigidity is hard-wired into our brains.

    At one time or another, your own opinion has probably been influenced by your friends, what you’ve read in the news or the popular beliefs of the time. We even tend to copy the mannerisms and behaviors of those we admire.

    Once we make up our mind about something, however, whether it be a book, a movie or something political, it can be extremely difficult to change that opinion.

    To put it another way, we tend to be inflexible in how we think and behave.

    This is true in both life and work: even when experience has shown us that certain behaviors fail to bring about great results, we nevertheless continue to repeat those behaviors.

    For traders on the floor of the stock exchange, you think they’d be quick to change their routines when new information points to new and more profitable alternatives, but even they don’t seem to catch on.

    In a 2014 study by the neuroeconomist Camelia Kuhnen, 50 participating traders were asked to make 100 consecutive investment decisions, choosing between a high-risk stock and a safe bond with reliable interest rates.

    Each time the participants chose the high-risk stock, they were told the current dividend and given a chance to change their investment. When the dividend was revealed to be high, they stuck with their choice, but surprisingly, when the dividend was revealed to be low, they ignored the warning sign and still stuck with the high-risk option.

    These results indicate that once people have made up their mind, they tend to ignore contrary information and forge ahead regardless.

    Researchers believe that this inflexible decision-making is programmed into the brain. During the stock choice experiment, the brain activity of participants was measured during the decision-making process.

    When participants chose the high-risk stock and were then told about the low dividend, scans showed that their brain activity dropped significantly upon receiving the bad information. This seems to suggest that when people commit to a decision, there is a natural defense mechanism preventing them from facing the fact that they made the wrong choice.

    So how can a person be made to change their mind? Let’s find out in the next blink.

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    What is The Influential Mind about?

    The Influential Mind (2017) is about the often surprising and sometimes inflexible ways in which the human brain operates. As the esteemed neuroscientist and author Tali Sharot points out, having a better understanding of how the brain works can provide us with better control over our day-to-day lives and a deeper appreciation of the human experience.

    The Influential Mind Review

    The Influential Mind (2017) is a captivating exploration of the science behind persuasion and how it can be harnessed to influence others. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • Offering insights from psychology and neuroscience, it uncovers the secrets behind effective communication and manipulation, giving readers the tools to better understand human behavior.
    • With its engaging anecdotes and real-life examples, the book brings concepts to life, helping readers see the relevance and practical applications of the theories.
    • Through its examination of the power of emotions and social influence, the book sheds light on how to build more meaningful connections and make a lasting impact on others.

    Best quote from The Influential Mind

    When an established belief is difficult to weed out, seeding a new one may be the answer.

    —Tali Sharot
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    Who should read The Influential Mind?

    • Students of neuroscience and psychology
    • Managers and HR personnel
    • Those who want more control over their lives

    About the Author

    Tali Sharot is a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London. Her work specializes in the emotional response of the brain and the impact this has on decision-making. She also wrote The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain, which was the basis for her popular 2012 TED Talk.

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    The Influential Mind FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Influential Mind?

    The main message of The Influential Mind is that understanding how our minds work can help us persuade and influence others effectively.

    How long does it take to read The Influential Mind?

    The reading time for The Influential Mind varies, but it typically takes several hours to read. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Influential Mind a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Influential Mind is definitely worth reading. It provides valuable insights into how our brains shape our behavior and offers practical strategies to increase our persuasive power.

    Who is the author of The Influential Mind?

    The author of The Influential Mind is Tali Sharot.

    What to read after The Influential Mind?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Influential Mind, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Mindsight by Daniel Siegel
    • Know Thyself by Stephen M. Fleming
    • The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
    • The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy (Ian McMahan revised)
    • This Is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan
    • Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza
    • Peak Mind by Amishi Jha
    • The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh
    • The Optimism Bias by Tali Sharot
    • Slow Productivity by Cal Newport