The Influential Mind Book Summary - The Influential Mind Book explained in key points
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The Influential Mind summary

Tali Sharot

What the Brain Reveals About Our Power To Change Others

4.3 (218 ratings)
17 mins
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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.

    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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