Tali Sharot


About Tali Sharot - Leading Expert on Human Decision-Making, Optimism and Emotion:

Tali Sharot is a neuroscientist by trade, and combines research in psychology, behavioural economics and neuroscience - to reveal the forces that shape our decisions, beliefs and inaccurate expectations of the future and how those can be altered (or sustained).

Why do people discount bad news (a tendency that contributed to the 2008 financial downfall, enhances ill-preparedness in the face of disaster - and reduced medical screenings)? Why do we have unrealistic expectations of the future (underestimating our chances of divorce and expecting our kids to be uniquely talented)? Why is it so difficult to change a decision after it is made?

Sharot, a Visiting Professor at MIT, is also an Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London - where she directs the Affective Brain Lab. Her team is dedicated to answering such questions - with an aim at identifying ways to encourage behavioural change that enhance well-being.

Sharot is the author of The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain; The Science of Optimism and The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals about Our Power to Change Others. She has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, The Science Channel, the Today show, BBC - and many publications around the world. Sharot also co-presented BBC’s Science Club (BBC2). She wrote TIME magazine’s cover story The Science of Optimism (May, 2011) - as well as cover stories for The Observer Review, The Guardian, The Washington Post Health Section and a New York Times Op-Ed (Major Delusions, 2011).

Sharot has given keynote addresses to a diverse collection of private and public companies/groups - including those in the field of insurance, financial management, marketing, gaming, social entrepreneurship, arts, health and safety, mental health and academia. She has also delivered many public talks including at TED 2012.

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What Tali Sharot Talks About:

Smart Influence: How you Affect the Decisions, Desires and Opinions of Others
Part of our daily job as humans is to affect others – we guide our patients, advise our clients, teach our children and inform our online followers. We do this because we each have unique experiences and knowledge that others may not. But how good are we at this role? Turns out we systematically fall on to sub-optimal habits when trying to change others’ beliefs and behaviours. Many of these instincts – from insisting the other is wrong to exerting control – are ineffective, because they are incompatible with how the mind operates.

Tali Sharot, a leading behavioural neuroscientist and author of a book on influence – explains how an attempt to change will be successful only if it’s well-matched with the seven core elements that govern how we think. She shows how each of these factors can either hinder or help an attempt to influence others in positive ways.

How to Make People Happy and Why Organizations Should Care
Happy people are more productive, healthier and more successful. New research shows that being happy significantly contributes to these positive outcomes. Take a pair of young siblings – one is happy and the other not so – revisit them in twenty years and you will likely find that the happier one has a better job, earns more and has stronger social bonds. The question then is – how do you increase happiness in your organization, community, family?

In the last couple of decades scientists have made huge progress towards uncovering the answers. Working on the intersection of neuroscience, behavioural economics-  and psychology Tali Sharot has been part of this scientific revolution. In this talk she shares what we have learned. From creating anticipatory events to reducing inequality, what really matters for happiness may surprise you. The audience leaves not only with a deeper understanding of what drives well-being – but also with practical applications for enhancing it.

The Business of Moving Others: Using the New Science of the Mind to Induce Behavioural Change
A major goal of managers and companies is to induce behavioural change. We want to influence the actions of our clients, employees, colleagues (and even our kids) in positive ways. But are we using the right tools? In this presentation Tali Sharot demonstrates that by relying on empirical findings from the behavioural sciences – we are more likely to have an effect on peoples’ beliefs and actions.

Tali uses her own cutting-edge science to highlight the power of providing positive information – over tactics that involve scaring people into action. People are more likely to listen when you tell them how things can be better, rather than where the dangers lie. She explains how we can use innate human biases (such as the tendency to conform) in subtle ways to nudge people in the right direction – which biases are universal and which differ with culture, gender and age.

The Power of Optimism: How to Use its Benefits and Guard Against its Dangers
What does the future hold? Every decision you make is guided by the answer to this question. We invest in a stock if we believe the value of its shares will rise, we accept a job offer if we believe the position will bring us satisfaction. Predictions are an integral part of every business decision – from finance and security to entrepreneurship. How good are we at making these estimates? Turns out, there are systematic biases in how we view the future.

In this talk Tali Sharot presents the most important one: our tendency to be overly optimistic. Optimism is a good thing; it makes people happy, productive, creative. Yet, it can also get us into trouble; lead to unnecessary risk taking, financial collapse and poor planning. In this talk Tali shares her decade long research into the science of optimism; why we have it, how we can use its power to our advantage – and protect ourselves from making the wrong decisions.

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 Recent Publications

Tali was terrific. She did a great job of informing and challenging our audience but in a very accessible and non-threatening way. She did a great job of setting the tone for our conference, and we had people quoting her and referring to her comments in subsequent presentations, speeches and casual conversations.


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