Caitlin Juliano-(History & Systems) Group Book Book Report

Caitlin Juliano
Professor M. Berg
PSYC_Psychology: History & Systems
Saturday, 4th April 2020
Book Report on Group Book 
"The Optimism Bias", By: Tali Sharot

I highly recommend that you all not only read her thought-provoking and modern read, but go check out Tali Sharot's TED Talk on The Optimism Bias

          Tali Sharot, who is the author of this fascinating book, received countless positive ratings from the public- such as: Richard Thader, who is the author of Nudge. While developing ideas and writing 245 pages of The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain, Ms. Tali Sharot was ultimately inspired by overall psychology and the human mind. As a result, she began to discuss all throughout the chapters in her book about how many, if not most, people in the world try their very best to upkeep a strong and optimistic sense of excitement and hope on life. For an example, I personally try my very best, no matter what life throws at me, to maintain a positive outlook on life. If we, as humankind, were negative (especially, 24/7)- we would all stoop into a major depression and/or generally be such lazy, angry, and pessimistic individuals. While positivity, which is also best known as optimism, is so crucial to our everyday lives. Sharot explores numerous categories on the human brain, the brain's various functions, in addition to different situations of human life, and beyond. 

             Truthfully, I really enjoyed this book. Therefore, I had quite a few favorite chapters. The way that Tali Sharot even named her chapters captivated me and my book group all in all. While the titles were so uniquely worded and at times rather ironic, my initial favorite chapter was chapter three. After being already two chapters into Sharot's book, I was very eager to read this one- especially because that short, yet powerful title caught my attention, as the reader, instantly. Her title was "Is Optimism a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?" (pg. 40). Underneath her title, she wrote another little caption, as per usual with her writing styles, and it stated: "How the Mind Transforms Predictions into Reality"(pg. 40).  As this title really got me thinking, the core concept that I enjoyed learning about t e most in this section of her book was the forceful power of stereotyping. As we all now, stereotyping is extremely negative and sadly still exists in America and beyond. On page 49 of chapter three, Sharot describes how not only are stereotypes an additional example of a "self-fulfilling prophecy", she discusses how they are truly targeted at all types of people- not matter various characteristics, such as: gender, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or financial standing. Her points as the author are powerful, and the statements truly get you thinking about the human mind, life, and behavior. To conclude, her most interesting and powerful example of this crucial concept was on pages 50-52 of the third chapter. This example discussed all about the stereotyping of race and its bad influence on behavior in Southern U.S. schools. With certain Southern U.S. states being negatively known for their strong racism, Jane Elliot, who was the third grade teacher at the school, reversed roles on the blue-eyed and brown-eyed kids to discourage racism in their all-white classroom setting- especially after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assignation. Elliot began to notice a major different after time; and now, her popular and empowering positive experiment is known all over the world. 

                  Correspondingly, my second favorite chapter in the fourth chapter. This title too was a good one. The title of Sharot's fourth chapter was, "What Do Barack Obama and Shirley Temple Have in Common?" / "When Private Optimism Meets Public Despair" (pg. 58). I remember reading that title firsthand and thinking to myself, "Huh? That makes absolutely no sense at all." After reading the entire chapter, I go my "Aha!" moment for sure. While we are all optimistic in our own unique ways, this chapter exposes how we even look at people, such as public figures, as a source of hope and overall positivity. Hence, Barack Obama was glorified as a source of hope and leadership during his first term of U.S. presidency because he managed to get us, Americans, out of the 2008-2009 recession. This horrific and stressful recession was best defined as, "The Great Recession". Obama guided our country and its people into economic relief as this worldwide recession, which initiated in about Fall 2008, was truly so chaotic. Therefore, the famous actress, who is named as Shirley Temple, was seen as the 1920s-1930s source of positivity, hope, and confidence during the scary and anxiety-ridden great depression. The 1920s-1930s Great Depression was a result of the stock market crash. Hence, this resulted in countless jobs lost, an immense amount of money lost, and beyond. With people in debt or losing/lacking basic necessities of life (i.e. clothing, food, heat, etc.), Shirley Temple brought laughter, love, and smiles to many in such an unbearably dark, crazy, and stressful time in 20th century America. I for sure believe Tali Sharot's views in this chapter to be completely true and valid. 

                        Finally, my third favorite chapter is "Are Memories of 9/11 as Accurate as They Seem" / "How Emotion Changes Our Past" (pg. 149). As we all known 9/11 is the name of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City. After September 11th of 2001, our American society was changed forever. The horrific and traumatic attacks that killed, injured, and traumatized countless of innocent American men and women truthfully caused everyone an immense amount of intense emotions and endless heartache. This horrible event, which is now apart of American history, occurred in the 20th century. Sharot  explores the topics of the mental and emotional impacts that such trauma and drama have brought so many Americans in terms of both past and present-day U.S. societies- especially, in New York. As per Sharot's words in her 9/11 chapter, as humans, all of our memories are full of countless things- the good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly, and beyond. Just like memories and the overall human mind, life is not perfect. Life is truly a beautiful mess with its ups and downs, highs and lows. After reading Tali Sharot's chapter, she proclaims that if we ultimately chose to learn and grow from the negative things in life and move on forward to greatness- this will then lead us all to constant and strong optimism.

                               Personally, I remember reading another one of Sharot's books last Spring semester for Motivation Psych. course with Professor Berg. After finishing her book for our class group project in the Spring '19 semester, I truthfully enjoyed her book. I found it to be thought-provoking, fascinating, and inspiring. As a result, I could not wait to read this book written by her this Spring '20 semester. Therefore, I have to say that this book did not disappoint. At times, I couldn't even put it down. I would just keep reading ahead, because I wanted to see what would be discussed and why so in the proceeding chapters. Like I said earlier, her titles alone would captivate one to read more in the book. All in all, this was an excellent read and I highly recommend others to read it. Sharot's book is clear, concise, and captivating.