Open in the App Open in the App Open in the App
Get the key ideas from

The Influential Mind

What the Brain Reveals About Our Power To Change Others

By Tali Sharot
13-minute read
Audio available
The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power To Change Others by Tali Sharot

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.

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

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.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from

The Influential Mind

What the Brain Reveals About Our Power To Change Others

By Tali Sharot
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power To Change Others by Tali Sharot
Synopsis

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.

Key idea 1 of 8

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.

Key ideas in this title

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.