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The Optimism Bias: Why we're wired to look on the bright side [Kindle Edition]

Tali Sharot
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Psychologists have long been aware that most people tend to maintain an irrationally positive outlook on life. In fact, optimism may be crucial to our existence. Tali Sharot's original cognitive research demonstrates in surprising ways the biological basis for optimism. In this fascinating exploration, she takes an in-depth, clarifying look at how the brain generates hope and what happens when it fails; how the brains of optimists and pessimists differ; why we are terrible at predicting what will make us happy; how anticipation and dread affect us; and how our optimistic illusions affect our financial, professional, and emotional decisions.

With its cutting-edge science and its wide-ranging and accessible narrative, The Optimism Bias provides us with startling new insight into how the workings of the brain create our hopes and dreams.

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Lucid, engaging and cutting-edge... a must-read for anyone interested in imagining the future. (David Eagleman, Neuroscientist and bestselling author of Sum and Incognito.)

An intelligent written look into why most people take an optimistic view on life...stimulating easily understood language...fascinating trip into why we prefer to remain hopeful about our future and ourselves. (New York Journal of Books)

Very enjoyable, highly original and packed with eye-opening insight, this is a beautifully written book that really brings psychology alive. (Simon Baron-Cohen, Cambridge University Professor and author of Zero Degrees of Empathy / The Science of Evil.)

If you read her story, you'll get a much better grip on how we function in it. I'm optimistic about that. (TIME)

Her fascinating book offers compelling evidence for the neural basis of optimism and what it all means. (Scientific American Book Club)

Lively, conversational...A well-told, heartening report from neuroscience's front lines. (Kirkus)

A book I'd suggest to anyone. (Forbes)

Read it and cheer. It's important to your longevity. (Examiner)

Most readers will turn to the last page not only buoyed by hope but also aware of the sources and benefits of that hope. (Booklist)

What a treat. A charming, engaging and accessible book written by a scientist who knows how to tell a story (Richard Thaler, author of Nudge)

Engaging....Sharot studies optimisim as the neural level and knows her subject well. (The Psychiatrist)

Book Description

One of the most innovative neuroscientists at work today investigates the neural basis of our bias towards optimism.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original and informative 5 Jan. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sharot's main point is that we evolved to look at the future with optimism, because we if we were too realistic in our outlook, it would be unbearable. In fact, people who have an accurate view of what the future holds are often depressed. Since memories and projections are formed by similar mechanisms, memory is also subject to revision.

Unlike too many popular science books, which rehash old research, this is bright and original. Much of the research is the author's own and she adds depth with references to social history, popular culture and personal anecdote.So why haven't I given it five stars? Unfortunately, some of the research she quotes involved cruelty to animals and I was disgusted at the account of dogs being given electric shocks. I don't have any axe to grind on this subject, but it made very uncomfortable reading and spoiled my enjoyment of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endlessly fascinating 19 Mar. 2012
Scientists and politicians are becoming increasingly aware of the effects non-conscious mental processes have on our everyday activities. The bias in our thinking the non-conscious causes is endlessly fascinating. Sharot's book provides the latest ideas, results and arguments on this topic within cognitive neuroscience. I find her book entertaining and informative. Awareness of how these processes work can help us counteract biased actions.
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Despite being bombarded with daily news of health scares, wars and worries over the environment, most of us expect to live long, healthy and successful lives. This makes for a fundamental mystery: what is the source of this optimism bias? And how does the brain create a rose-tinted view of the world? In a tour de force, Dr. Sharot's book draws on the latest neuroscience and psychology of emotion and decision-making to show how we are wired for optimism. Peppered with engaging examples, from how pilots deal with vertigo, to an explanation for the LA Lakers' winning streak, Sharot deftly weaves the science into an entertaining page-turner. It is rare to find a writer both at the cutting edge of her field (she conducted most of the studies herself) and with a flair for explaining how these findings affect our daily lives. Read this book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read for anyone at any level 4 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A truly fascinating book to read for anyone who ever wanted to know about the brains functionality, it's sense of optimism and how it almost carries a survival mechanism to help us reach our goals. This is a cognitive neuro-scientific approach to Abraham Maslow's work on behaviour. I love the way Tali Sharot uses everyday examples to put her point across, I read a friends copy, just ended up reading the whole book and could not help myself wanting to highlight various parts for my own reference, I decided to place my order the very next day. The world health organisation predicts depression to be the second biggest killer by 2020, after reading this book I feel we may be able to change this prediction!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de force 14 Mar. 2012
This book is well worth reading, for anyone who ever wanted to know about the brain and how it conspires to make us content. And whether it's sometimes tricking us. Really interesting read.Great examples from sports etc
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why optimism is evolutionarily adaptive 29 Mar. 2012
By DigiTAL
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A rosy view of the world is one of our species' most common traits. Nearly everyone thinks they're more popular than others, more likely to succeed, and less likely to fall foul of life's pitfalls than others. Not everyone can be right.

If our expectations are so out of sync with reality, then how could these traits have been selected for by evolution? Surely our ancestors with more realistic views should've been the ones to pass their genes on.

This book answers these questions with some of the latest neuroimaging data. One of this book's answers is that second-guessing yourself can lead to a lot of stress and unhelpful rumination. That stress can lead to worse health outcomes. (This book points out that more optimistic people tend to live longer, but since it's correlational data it isn't enough to show that higher optimism causes longer living.)

This book also covers such topics as errors in memory, cognitive dissonance (adapting beliefs to match actions), and provides the interesting fact that people with positive self-images tend to process mistakes with a unique part of the brain that can aide learning.

The conclusion is that in many areas an optimistic bias might have benefited our ancestors, although nowadays with things like gambling, smoking, and dietary decisions you'd be well advised to try and see the world how it really is.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight into our minds 22 Aug. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's often hard to believe we are wrong and this book demonstrates some thoughts and memories are completely wrong and completely out of our control. A great insight into how our brains work and where we should be careful when being determindly right about some things.
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5.0 out of 5 stars optimism bias 7 April 2012
By Eve
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I am interested in why some people are optimists and some pessimists and this book was recommended by focus magazine which gave it 4 stars. It is an excellent book in my oppinion and I really enjoyed reading it. It is easy to read.
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