The Optimism Bias

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2012-06-12
  • Publisher: Vintage
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What is included with this book?


From one of the most innovative neuroscientists at work today, an investigation into the bias toward optimism that exists on a neural level in our brains and plays a major part in determining how we live our lives. Psychologists have long been aware that most people maintain an often irrationally positive outlook on life. In fact, optimism may be crucial to our existence. Tali Sharot’s experiments, research, and findings in cognitive science have contributed to an increased understanding of the biological basis of optimism. In this fascinating exploration, she takes an in-depth, clarifying look at how the brain generates hope and what happens when it fails; how the brains of optimists and pessimists differ; why we are terrible at predicting what will make us happy; how emotions strengthen our ability to recollect; how anticipation and dread affect us; and how our optimistic illusions affect our financial, professional, and emotional decisions. With its cutting-edge science and its wide-ranging and accessible narrative, The Optimism Biasprovides us with startling new insight into the workings of the brain.


Table of Contents

Prologue: A Glass Forever Half Full?
1. Which Way Is Up?Illusions of the Human Brain
2. Are Animals Stuck in Time?The Evolution of Prospection
3. Is Optimism a Self- Fulfi lling Prophecy?How the Mind Transforms Predictions into Reality
4. What Do Barack Obama and Shirley Temple Have in Common?When Private Optimism Meets Public Despair
5. Can You Predict What Will Make You Happy?The Unexpected Ingredient for Well- being
6. Crocuses Popping Up Through the Snow?When Things Go Wrong: Depression, Interpretation,
and Genes
7. Why Is Friday Better Than Sunday?The Value of Anticipation and the Cost of Dread
8. Why Do Things Seem Better After We Choose Them?The Mind’s Journey from Expectation to Choice and Back
9. Are Memories of 9/11 as Accurate as They Seem?How Emotion Changes Our Past
10. Why Is Being a Cancer Survivor Better Than Winning the Tour de France?How the Brain Turns Lead into Gold
11. A Dark Side to Optimism?From World War II to the Credit Crunch—Underestimating Risk Is Like Drinking Red Wine
Epilogue: A Beautiful Mademoiselle or a Sad Old Lady?From Prediction to Perception to Action

From the Hardcover edition.

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