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The Neuroscience of Changing Other People’s Minds with Tali Sharot: PYP 253

Tali Sharot is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, and director of the Affective Brain Lab. Affective, as in emotions and motivation. Brain, as in processing and decisions. Drawing on recent groundbreaking work in behavioral economics and neuroscience, Sharot shows us how to navigate the intricacies and predictable biases of minds; our own and those of others.

Dr. Sharot is the author of the new book The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others. When I saw the title, I knew I had to discover what she knows about influence: how we can do it well, and how we often screw it up.

I wasn't disappointed. There are thousands of books on persuasion and influence out there; few if any are as scientifically rigorous and practical.

I was delighted when Dr. Sharot agreed to talk about her insights and recommendations on the podcast. And the Atlantic Ocean, often stroppy when it comes to facilitating Skype calls, cooperated beautifully so that we could achieve darn good audio quality.

Dr. Sharot and I discussed:

  • why very smart people suffer more from confirmation bias than the rest of us
  • how to deal with confirmation bias without reinforcing it
  • the UCLA vaccination intervention
  • “there's always something we agree on”
  • brain studies of pairs of people agreeing and disagreeing
  • the evolutionary origins of confirmation bias, and why we don't believe people who claim to have seen pink elephants
  • how to talk to someone who believes in the health benefits of a paleo diet
  • “if we enjoy eating meat, we don't want to believe that it's not good for us”
  • the strategic deployment of carrots and sticks
  • the amazing “Go/No Go” brain circuit, and the mixed message of inhibition as a means to a reward
  • a new and empowering reinterpretation of the famous Mischel “Marshmallow Study”
  • the butterfly effect in groupthink
  • what would our phobias look like if they were rational and statistically based?
  • why we fear flying more than driving
  • we should be very scared of medicating ourselves
  • the importance of giving our counterpart a feeling of control and agency when we're trying to influence them
  • “under threat, we automatically absorb cues about danger”
  • “change their state before you change their mind”
  • the first step is always awareness
  • and much more…

Links

The Influential Mind

The Optimism Bias

The Affective Brain Lab website

The Affective Brain Lab on Twitter

The Skin Rash / Gun Control study: Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

Marc Guitart-Masip button-pushing experiment: “Action Controls Dopaminergic Enhancement of Reward Representations

Sean Taylor's study of manipulated initial ratings: “Social Influence Bias: A Randomized Experiment

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – RuthAnn Funderburk – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Martha Bergner – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Bonnie Lynch of Plant Happy Oregon – Sabine Kurtzhals – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Justine Divett – Joshua Sommermeyer – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Valarie Hummel – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Ian Cramer – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – for your generous support of the podcast.

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