Tali Sharot studies why our brains are biased toward optimism.

Why you should listen

Optimism bias is the belief that the future will be better, much better, than the past or present. And most of us display this bias. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot wants to know why: What is it about our brains that makes us overestimate the positive? She explores the question in her book The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain. 

In the book (and a 2011 TIME magazine cover story), she reviewed findings from both social science and neuroscience that point to an interesting conclusion: "our brains aren't just stamped by the past. They are constantly being shaped by the future." In her own work, she's interested in how our natural optimism actually shapes what we remember, and her interesting range of papers encompasses behavioral research (how likely we are to misremember major events) as well as medical findings -- like searching for the places in the brain where optimism lives. Sharot is a faculty member of the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences at University College London.

 

What others say

"Hope isn’t rational, so why are humans wired for it?" — Tali Sharot

Tali Sharot’s TED talks

Tali Sharot on the TED Blog

Culture

New TED Book: The Science of Optimism

November 26, 2012

The world may be a tough and tenuous place, but we humans tend to think that the future will be better than the past. Why? In the new TED ebook, The Science of Optimism: Why We’re Hard-Wired for Hope, author Tali Sharot expands on her earlier research into the optimism bias, and explores the many reasons why we are […]

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Science

Thinking about the optimism bias: Tali Sharot at TED2012

March 1, 2012

Photo: James Duncan Davidson Neuroscientist Tali Sharot comes on stage to discuss the “optimism bias.” It’s a topic that she’s been studying in her lab and she claims that 80% of us experience it. “It” being the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of good things happening to us. As she puts it: “we’re more optimistic […]

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Quotes from Tali Sharot

We're optimistic about ourselves, we're optimistic about our kids, we're optimistic about our families, but we're not so optimistic about the guy sitting next to us.
Tali Sharot
TED2012 • 1.2M views May 2012
Informative, Fascinating
Whatever happens, whether you succeed or you fail, people with high expectations always feel better, because how we feel — when we get dumped or we win employee of the month — depends on how we interpret that event.
Tali Sharot
TED2012 • 1.2M views May 2012
Informative, Fascinating
Regardless of the outcome, the pure act of anticipation makes us happy.
Tali Sharot
TED2012 • 1.2M views May 2012
Informative, Fascinating