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The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals…

The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change…

by Tali Sharot

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The author, a cognitive neuroscientist, researches the connections between psychology and neuroscience. Essentially, she uses experiments in human psychology to help understand the physical structures of the brain. That increased knowledge of the brain helps to inform and direct further research into human psychology. It is a true feedback loop that improves understanding of both the human brain and human psychology. This field is creating new insights into how we think, feel, influence others and, in turn, are influenced by others. It is a fascinating field only made possible by the advanced technology that allows us to peer into the brain while it is functioning. This research is forcing us to reevaluate many ideas we have had about why we behave as we do. While each of us is different, we are learning how startlingly similar we are in so many ways.
This book, as the title states, is about human influence. The author shares some of the results of research from the field by using well-crafted stories which drive home the point in an interesting and painless manner. This work is a godsend for anyone who has ever tried to change someone’s opinion by using a data driven approach, and who hasn’t. We have all felt the futility of this approach and she offers other means that have a much greater chance for success. She discusses other factors which go into influence such as emotions, a sense of agency, stress, and social learning among others. Researchers have much more to learn and to teach us about human thinking and emotion, but this is an excellent introduction to the field and I give it my highest recommendation. ( )
  MichaelLynnSr | Jun 28, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In her book, Tali Sharot, a neuroscientist, explains what scientific research has revealed about how the mind is influenced. The information in the book is useful not only for knowing how to influence others but also how to better understand how we ourselves are influenced. Sharot does not go into depth of how to specifically apply the science of influence, but the information she provides has important implications for business people, marketers, consultants, leaders, politicians, teachers, parents, and anyone else wanting to influence the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of others. This is also an important read for anyone who wants to better protect themselves from undue influence by others. ( )
  mitchellray | Jun 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"The Influential Mind" explains to us, through behavioral science, how illogical humans really are. We say that we're truly logical beings who use higher though to make our own, individual, decisions (not being influenced by anyone or anything else). Well, that's mostly wrong. Try to convince someone to think from a different perspective by using peer-reviewed journals, charts, graphs, loads of very scientific and convincing data? Nope, won't budge them, not at all (well, sometimes, but mostly no). Tell them a story using raw emotions and no scientific data whatsoever, describe to them a scene involving babies in pain, whales being slaughtered, things that make you angry, happy, empowered? That person will be more on board with your idea than you are.

Humans are heavily emotional, social creatures. We like emotions, we like the (positive) emotions of other people, we like to be praised, we like to be in control of our own choices and destiny, we follow opinions of the crowd or masses, even if they're wrong. We DO NOT like to be told what is best for us, or that we should be doing this or that for our health, even if we consciously know we should be doing this or that for our own benefit. If there's no reward, real or perceived, then we won't do it! We won't put energy into something that doesn't involve positive emotions, even if it's good for us.

We humans are convinced that we are solid individualists, when in reality we're semi-permeable membranes that absorb the ideas and behaviors of others, without us consciously knowing it, at all times. We mirror each other, we're a collective species. The author is showing us how truly influential we all are, and how much we can alter the people around us with just the slightest nudges. This also applies to ourselves, how consciously altering a habit we have, either trying to stop one or start one, can change our whole direct perception of the world around us, and in turn quite possibly change others around you in the process.

I would recommend this be read alongside the books "The Happiness Hypothesis" and "The Righteous Mind", both by Johnathan Haidt. All three should give you a very good idea on how and why humans think and make decisions the way they do.

Very fascinating book, I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks Tali Sharot! ( )
  Kronomlo | Jun 25, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book does a good job of exploring the various reasons that things we think will change people’s minds may not. The book is nicely organized so that different sets of data are gathered together by topic, e.g., how emotion or curiosity or priors can affect influence. She cites many studies, including but not restricted to her own. In addition she does a good job of providing a catchy story (or stories) for each chapter, which really does aid in remembering the points she makes. In this time of great divides, where opinions and data abound, this book will be interesting and thought provoking for many, and does give some practical ideas for how you might frame things differently to be able to persuade others. ( )
  ehousewright | Jun 24, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Using a combination of psychology and neuroscience, The Influential Mind describes how we can influence and change others around us ( and ourselves) by using innovative tactics. We should discard the old, conservative, tried-and-true methods of influence in exchange for these newer ones. For example, the Harry Potter books were rejected 12 times, but the opinion of an eight year old child influenced the editor to publish. Rather than listen to the experts ( other publishers), he listened to the target audience. Each chapter has charts and pictures of how the brain works or how each theory works. ( )
  06nwingert | Jun 24, 2017 |
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