Monday, April 27, 2020

Optimism Bias Book Report

Adore Bullock

                                                   Optimism Bias Book Report: Tali Sharot
                                                               (see comments for report)

SciShow Psych- Self Fulfilling Prophecy of Luck

Tali Sharot - Optimism Bias Ted Talk


  1. The psychology narrative “The Optimism Bias” by neuroscientist Tali Sharot is one that provides insight on how optimism affects the way we live. Sharot elaborates on subjects such as how emotions make our memories stronger, the difference between the minds of pessimist and optimist, and even how optimistic thinking can dictate important decisions made in our lives. The topics discussed are presented from vast points of view of psychology. All of which clarify the mechanisms of our brains and the actions and emotions that follow. While reading this book, it is easy to become engulfed in the fascinating explanations that solidify the way we think. Her story evokes many to further introspect on the reasons we do and feel what we do.

    The first of my favorite chapters is chapter 3: Is optimism a self-fulfilling prophecy? Sharot used Pat Riley as her main example, referring to the time that he guaranteed the Lakers would win the championship two years in a row. I found this concept intriguing since I believe in manifestation of future events. Reading up on her scientific standpoint on the subject felt enlightening, yet reassuring. Her take away from the chapter was that a prediction has an influence on the event it predicts because people’s behavior is determined by their subjective perception of reality opposed to objective reality. This idea confirms the power of expectation, as it can affect a variety of aspects in life such as, health, finances, and stereotypes.

    The second to catch my attention was chapter 7: Why is Friday better than Sunday? This section discussed the value of anticipation and the cost of dread. After reading, it had become clear to me that humans use anticipation to savor favorable, upcoming events and if the anticipation is the stressful form, then we will do what we can to suppress it and regain peace of mind. In terms of dread, we are more likely to choose the quickest outlet rather than living with dreadful thoughts because of the anguish they cause our minds and bodies, the longer the stick around.This topic stood out to me because my prior knowledge on the subject was surface level and the logic explained by Sharot allowed for what I’d known and what I’d learned, to come full circle. The chapter was able to put purpose behind the feelings of anticipation and dread that I am so familiar with, although I never knew exactly why those emotions came so naturally.

  2. The third chapter I found myself interested in was chapter 1: Which way is up? The subject of discussion was illusions. The particular section that interested me was titled “Cognitive Illusions”. The essence of the section was based on the idea that unlike visual illusions, where we share the same false perception, other illusions apply to our individual viewpoint. Sharlot described how the superiority illusion operates within our minds. It came as a surprise to me that we each instinctually have a strong sense that we are superior to others. The ironic fact that we cannot recognize our own biases, yet detect others’ makes the concept more captivating. It made me realize that although we’d like to think that we have a realistic view of the future, it is more likely that we are viewing it through rose colored glasses. This proves to be a survival mechanism that keeps our minds at ease, motivates us, and with hope, pushes us forward in life.

    Altogether, the book is one I would highly recommend. The topics in the book were interesting and made me want to keep reading. The narrative has the capacity to speak to the optimists in the world, while also giving the pessimists something to think about. All in all, it teaches everyone a bit about themselves. I enjoyed the way Sharot presented the concepts of her studies. She laid things out in simplest form, which allowed individuals without a psychology background to follow along with her discussions. Subsequently gaining a thorough understanding of what she wants us to know. Her fluent descriptions and examples made me wonder why I hadn’t been aware of them any sooner. The book has the ability to impact anyone who reads and teach them about the optimist bias that is embedded into their brains. I have no complaints about the book. It provided me insightful information that will stick with me, both as I continue with my psychology education and as I go through everyday life.

  3. After reading this, Chapter 3 seems to have caught my attention as well. The power of expectation really can influence the prediction of an event. I had an old therapist who always told me to keep a list of my goals somewhere where i could always see them. She told me that when i felt defeated or like i could not continue my dreams to read my goal list and remember why i chose them as my goals. This helped me always remember what i was fighting for while spending endless amounts of hours studying.