- Gebundene Ausgabe: 272 Seiten
- Verlag: Pantheon (14. Juni 2011)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0307378489
- ISBN-13: 978-0307378484
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 14,6 x 2,5 x 21,6 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 377.275 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 14. Juni 2011
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"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
"Very enjoyable, highly original and packed with eye-opening insight, this is a beautifully written book that really brings psychology alive." – Simon Baron-Cohen, author of The Science of Evil
"With rare talent Sharot takes us on an unforgettable tour of the hopes, traps and tricks of our brains…cutting-edge…a must-read.” –David Eagleman, author of Sum and Incognito
“If you read her story, you'll get a better grip on how we function in it. I'm optimistic about that.” –Richard Stengel, Time
“Lively, conversational…A well-told, heartening report from neuroscience’s front lines.” –Kirkus
“Insightful, Oliver Sacks–y first book.” –Village Voice (Summer Book Picks)
“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
“Fascinating.” –Insane Science, NPR
“A book I’d suggest to anyone.. offers evolutionary, neurological, and even slightly philosophical reasons for optimism” –Forbes
“An intelligently written look into why most people take an optimistic view of life… fascinating trip into why we prefer to remain hopeful about our future and ourselves.” –New York Journal of Books
“Fascinating book offers compelling evidence for the neural basis of optimism and what it all means.” –Scientific American Book club
“Once I started reading The Optimism Bias, I could not put it down.”. –Positive Psychology News Daily
“A fascinating yet accessible exploration of how and why our brains construct a positive outlook on life.” –Brain Pickings (7 Essential Books on Optimism)
“Engaging…There are many absorbing stories and facts in this concise and well-written book…you will find yourself reflecting on its contents long after you’ve read the final page.” –makewavesnotnoise.com
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Tali Sharot’s research on optimism, memory, and emotion has been the subject of features in Newsweek, The Boston Globe, Time, The Wall Street Journal, New Scientist, and The Washington Post, as well as on the BBC. She has a Ph.D. in psychology and neuroscience from New York University and is currently a research fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London. She lives in London.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
Das Buch zeigt auf, dass wir uns viele Illusionen schaffen um das Gefühl von Kontrolle über uns und unsere Umwelt zu haben: Wir glauben besser zu sein als andere, klüger zu sein, eine bessere Zukunft zu haben und grundsätzlich eigentlich alles besser machen und haben zu können als andere.
Besonders Interessant fand ich die Experimente, die beschrieben wurden und das Ergebnis, dass wir uns auch von Illusionen weiterhin täuschen lassen, obwohl wir sie bereits kennen und durchschauen. Auf irgendeine Weise ist das ziemlich absurd, andererseits auch irgendwie lustig. Während des Lesens habe ich häufig gemerkt, dass vieles aus dem Buch auch auf mich zutrifft - ich gehe also davon aus, dass viel Wahres in dem Buch steckt.
Zum Buch selbst: Der Autor ist mir eigentlich gar nicht bekannt. Das Buch liest sich angenehm flüssig und schnell. Ein paar Infos fühlen sich etwas gestreckt an, aber alles in allem ist das Buch von Umfang und Länge her absolut okay. Ich bin zufrieden mit dem Buch und würde es wieder kaufen.
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)
Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist by trade, was studying the effects of trauma on memory. Her first pronouncement is that exceptionally emotional events cause us to believe that we have flawlessly accurate recollections of them -- "flash-bulb" memories as they are termed; and they are largely a sham we foist on ourselves.
The Optimism Bias is not a self-help book. It is not "The Power of Positive Thinking". It is not Sun Zu goes to Wall Street, and not pop-psychology. It is a non-technical survey of current concepts in neuroscience. Dr. Sharot does not dumb it down, rather she seats the concepts with everyday examples to give us a solid understanding of how our neural system manifests itself in our everyday thoughts and behavior. People with a scientific/medical/technical background may miss the lack of complete technical discussion. I might have taken one star if I were concerned with only their perspective. But not two stars since the tour and terminology are still solid science that I found informative and helpful. For the general intelligent reading public, I stick with five.
This book will give you knowledge of yourself and those around you to the point of actually using this information to improve your life. Not a series of prescriptions or proscriptions, but a calm and level understanding of how we think and feel and act which can allow you to have more and better control of yourself. Knowledge here is power.
Want to get more comfortable with the hippocampus? Dig right in. How do anti-depressants work? Just what do they do? Come on in and get a clue. Dr. Sharot has good bedside manner when it come to a clear and interesting writing style. She is handy at anticipating our questions as well as where we may be likely to misinterpret, or to wrongly infer.
Dr. Sharot's hypothesis we have evolved this flash-bulb distortion (as part of a much larger proposition) of memory as part of a system we need to imagine the future. Imagining the future is part of our unconscious survival strategy. What a perverse notion, that we need to dupe ourselves into marching on. Remember the old days of warfare when two opposing armies lined up in file three ranks and more deep? That front line was called The Forlorn Hope.
But I will give you a better example of a different sort. I saw a study that looked for attributes or characteristics of women with successful children (read happy, capable and resilient, not big-shots) while pregnant. One of the strongest predictors by far, after you except not taking drugs, is their inclination to imagine their unborn child as a well developing young adult. She could envision her baby to be already sturdy and happy in the world, growing into a good place in the world. On the other hand, children who were cripplingly maladjusted to getting on had in common a mother that was unable to make such a projection into the future. This stuff is clinical, not judgmental, just as Dr. Sharot's approach always is. She is neither moralist nor evangelist. She shows us a few new things ourselves, and about the world we build for ourselves and for each other.
Here is the crux: We distort the past, in part because past and future notions share the same neural highway, but also because we need so many bits of the past to cobble together what we want or need the future to be. This enterprise is executed on grand and minuscule levels. We evolved to meet an uncertain future on the most hopeful terms, not the most effective, accurate or prudent ones.
She gives a good survey of important work done in recent times. She also shows her own research. For example, she conducted an experiment where subjects were asked to imagine a specified event. Dr. Sharot designed the experiment such that the event was innocuous, a haircut or a ride on one of the New York City ferries. Instead of an account of these events, she got fanciful embellishments of the imaginations' work. Mundane was made fantastic.
Dr. Sharot lays a heavy hand on the line. Optimistic bias is a significant contributor to the survival of the species and is "hardwired", in the argot of cognitive scientists, in the brain. Quotidian thought swims in a small sea of unconscious, irrational optimism. Baseline positive people are 50:33 over negative and neutral. She is showing us we are singing the songs from West Side Story, i.e. "Something's Coming" and "Tonight". But we have also seen the end. She shows us all sides to our puzzle. No pretension to completeness, but a reassuring thoroughness she delivers.
Important to all of this exploration is how you know what you think you might know. Here again, Dr, Sharot is putting her back into it. She knows her numbers and likes to keep count of everything. So she counts our events, our incidences of positive bias. She measures how we consistently overrate our own choices and our own precious abilities. Yet she has no agenda to tear anybody down. No blaming, no axes or cross-hairs, her stories are insightful, instructive and rather disarming.
We are terrible at introspection. Plenty of documentation here. But what surprised me was the work done by a bunch of Smarty-Pants Swedes who ran many trials where they handed out pairs of photographs asking the subjects to choose the more attractive. Then they pulled the old switcheroo and handed them back the picture NOT chosen. Whereupon 75% did not notice. They further went on to argue from the formerly rejected photo why this was indeed the attractive one.
Take this voyage within and do it leisurely. See yourself and the rest of us in many new ways. Understand because you want to, and then you can make it work for you.
She proceeds to discuss mental time travel and whether animals can think of a past and a future. Much of the discussion is related to how optimism developped in our brains and reasons why. As the book went on, I found myself starting to skim. It was an involuntary action, but I just could not stay with the author in her writing. Another reviewer said it felt like an article blown up to book length, and I would agree. I feel she has some great points to be made in this book, but the treatment is too long and short on solid information for the length of the book.
Worth reading or skimming once for a few key pieces of information, but I likely won't return to it.
The book gives us many more of those. It is an easy read, a popular essay on questions of psychology, involving philosophy and evolution. I like its way of giving names, like this focusing illusion, or `defensive pessimism' (holding low expectations will protect us from disappointment --- alas, not true), or the title story: `optimism bias', a cognitive malfunction.
The optimism bias stands guard. It is in charge of keeping us healthy. Where would homsap be if we would live according to our deeper insight of futility? Optimism counteracts knowledge of death. Schopenhauer and his ilk are the enemies of mankind's future. Evolution can't handle the depressed other than by sorting them out. Depression is the inability to construct a future. Religion's place in the overall scheme of evolution is reserved in the VIP sector. Optimists live longer!
Homo sapiens' outstanding skill, compared to other species, is mental time travel, the ability to remember and to look and think ahead and make plans for contingencies. Sharot tells us that the ability to do these mental travels is located in specific brain regions. It has been observed, she says, that special brain regions in London taxi drivers shrink when they retire and don't need to keep their navigational knowledge up to speed any more. Makes me wonder if it is safe to start forgetting all the football results that I remember?
Much of the argument in the book is based on practical research, such as using brain images. Luckily I gather that the time has not yet come where a brain scanner can read your thoughts accurately.
Among the less appreciated insights in this book: people who like gardening are apparently happier than people like me. I don't do gardening. Tough luck. She doesn't say anything about cooking. That's another bad habit that I stay away from. I like to consider myself reasonably happy without gardening and cooking, but maybe I confuse `happy' with `lucky'?
Why is optimism like red wine? Obviously, a little of it is good for you, but beware not to overdose!
Same might be said for vinegar, right? I need to thank my acetic zoo pal for this recommendation!
While there is a great deal of good material in the book, there is also a lot of what feels like padding. In the first chapter, there's several pages of "intro to perception" material-including a "thatcherized" photo of a young girl that had me desperately wishing for some brain bleach-that feels like could have been summed up much more quickly.
In general, the feeling I got was that there was enough here for a great article or two, but not quite enough to justify its inflation to book length.
In addition, some of the references to current events don't seem particularly apt. Early on, Sharot enthuses that some believe optimism might be a curiously American invention, "a by-product of Barack Obama's imagination." Huh? Before 2008 no one in America was optimistic? She hinges an entire chapter on "when private optimism meets public despair" on just how incredibly awesome the president is; his election apparently set an unprecedented wave of optimism sweeping over the nation despite dire economic circumstances. It gets scary when she compares listening to an Obama speech to holding a baby, patting a dog, or having sex, telling us that hearing him speak triggers a feeling called "elevation" that erases cynicism and generates hope. And the Coca Cola Corporation would like to teach the world to sing, I'm sure. Sharot doesn't mention "I'm going to lead you to a better future, just trust me" is a theme presidents from Reagan to FDR have sounded before; its something every politician who wants to get elected is going to tell you, no matter where they stand on the political spectrum. It seems willfully naive to believe that any politician, no matter how well-packaged, is that much different from the thousands of others who have come before. Also, her use of Lance Armstrong as a case study in the power of optimism seems a bit off, in light of the doping allegations that continue to surround him. For someone who has a psychology background, Sharot seems to take an awful lot at face value.
There are some really interesting implications of Sharot's thesis-that the human brain is conditioned to take an irrationally rosy view of the future-for the study of gambling. Mercantile or commercial casino games are, almost without exception, negative expectation games where the player is sure, over time, to lose to the house. Yet they have not lost their appeal. Could this be because most people assume that, like getting cancer or losing one's job, sevening out is something that will happen to other people, but not to them? Intuitively, that seems like a reasonable assumption. I'd really like to see neuroscientists like Sharot look more deeply into how gambling fits in to the optimism equation.
In short, THE OPTIMISM BIAS has some genuinely thought-provoking material and offers a nice window into the author's interesting work, but disappoints as a book. Still, I'm hopeful that future writing from Sharot will be a little more on-point and help the general public better understand her work into the mechanisms of hope.
Sharot wisely anticipates that her audience will resist the notion that the human brain is pre-wired to have a flawed perception of the world. As a result, she introduces the book with objective evidence that, even when operating normally, people's brains sometimes play tricks on them. She cites examples including (1) the sometimes-fatal spatial disorientation that can be experienced by airplane pilots who lack normal visual environmental cues, and (2) certain optical illusions whose "brain tricks" can be made readily apparent to persons experiencing them. Tarot then describes various "cognitive illusions," of which she claims the optimism bias is one. It is on account of the optimism bias' status as a cognitive illusion that people typically remain unaware of, and will deny, their own excessive optimism, even while observing such a bias in others.
Sharot goes on to support her first proposition, regarding the general human tendency toward excessive optimism, with the results of psychological research. For example, she describes certain psychological studies that support the existence of a "superiority illusion" - the phenomenon that most people believe that they are better than average, when, as a practical matter, it is impossible for most people to be so. Further evidence is found in studies demonstrating that people who initially rate two potential outcomes as equally desirable will, after having been called upon to choose between the two outcomes, subsequently unwittingly report a preference for the outcome they have chosen. Both cases are characterized by the tendency of the study participants to adopt an inordinately rosy view of their own situations or futures.
The Optimism Bias goes on to present brain imaging and other evidence to support the notion that excessive optimism is consistently associated with heightened activity in certain brain structures. In particular, studies have shown that the brain structures known as the amygdala and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex are highly active when the optimism bias is at work. Conversely, malfunctioning in these areas of the brain has been linked to a bias toward pessimism (i.e., depression). The book further argues that there is a necessary relationship between exhibiting optimism, on the one hand, and being able to imagine oneself in other times and places, on the other. The latter ability, which Sharot dubs the ability to "mentally travel" through time and space, has been associated not only with a tendency to display excessive optimism, but also with increased activity in, and even changes in the size of, the posterior hippocampus, a brain region more typically associated with spatial memory.
Sharot seizes on this last point in support of her third contention - that a moderate degree of irrational optimism has been evolutionarily selected for because it has survival benefits. To support an evolutionary basis for the optimism bias, Sharot reviews studies indicating that humans are not the only creatures for whom the ability to "mentally travel," both in time and space, correlates with a demonstrated optimism bias. For example, certain birds, known as scrub jays, which display various behaviors indicative of planning for the future (e.g., storing extra food in diverse locations), have also demonstrated an optimism bias in controlled experiments. Sharot argues that the correlation of these traits in creatures that are as low on the evolutionary totem pole as birds, coupled with the demonstrated physical basis of overly optimistic behaviors, indicates that the mental ability to conceive of alternative realities is necessarily tied, as an evolutionary matter, to a behavioral tendency to have unwarranted positive expectations.
In further support of her contention that an optimism bias has been selected for evolutionarily, Sharot discusses brain-imaging and sociological evidence indicating that optimistic expectations can actually lead to enhanced learning and more favorable future outcomes. Ultimately, Sharot concludes that, given the potentially destructive effects of a positive attitude that is too extreme, it is a moderate optimistic tendency that is most adaptive and that has been selected for over time.
Sharot's communication of her message in The Optimism Bias is effective for two reasons. First, she intersperses her discussion of the scientific evidence in support of her theory with entertaining and illustrative anecdotes from popular culture, modern history and the human collective experience. One might not otherwise expect that (1) Pat Riley's 1987 guarantee of the L.A. Lakers' repeat championship the following year, (2) World War II spy stories, or (3) the amount of time it takes "to pour and serve a perfect pint of Guinness" would have anything to do with the neuroscience of optimism. By weaving such vignettes into her work, Sharot makes her argument easy to read despite the complexity of her underlying assertions.
Second, Sharot supports her thesis that there is a biological and evolutionary basis for irrational optimism with evidence drawn from a variety of scholarly disciplines, ranging from psychology and sociology, on the one hand, to genetics, neurochemistry, and neurobiology, on the other. Given the complex ramifications of her theory, it is helpful that she is able to rally support from such diverse perspectives.
Nevertheless, the strengths of Sharot's approach also give rise to some apparent shortcomings. Her anecdotal diversions sometimes cause the reader to wonder whether she is oversimplifying some of the lessons to be learned from the "harder" evidence that she cites. In addition, the breadth of perspectives that Sharot draws upon to support her conclusions occasionally leaves the reader struggling for a cohesive understanding of the complex, intertwined relationships among optimism and depression; spatial and chronological orientation; the human experiences of anticipation, dread, expectation, and choice; and the biological underpinnings of the foregoing. It may be the case, however, that a more nuanced and integrated appreciation of Sharot's position and arguments merely requires multiple reads of her book or a more concentrated study thereof.
Overall, in The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain, Tali Sharot presents a compelling argument in favor of a biological and evolutionary basis for the human tendency to be excessively optimistic. Her thesis, if true, has potentially startling implications. For example, is it true that people who have the most realistic view of the world and their place in it are also mildly, if not clinically, depressed? Stated differently, are those of us with somewhat positively-skewed perceptions of risk actually healthier, mentally, as a result of our biased perceptions? And, if so, what do Sharot's findings suggest for appropriate public mental health policy, in view of the immense private and public costs that result from depression in our society? Perhaps Sharot will take on questions such as these in her next work.