In the age of big data, it’s easy to assume that cold, hard facts can drive change. Not so fast, argues cognitive scientist Tali Sharot, whose new book, The Influential Mind, explores how emotion tends to overpower reason when it comes to human decision-making.
Consider a study that found that people were more likely to donate to a medical fundraiser when it had a photo of a young woman smiling in the sunlight, rather than a picture of a person suffering in a hospital bed. Although the sick-looking patient may need more help, it’s hard for people to imagine that patient having a happy ending; the smiling picture evoked hope, which is a greater motivator.
“If we want to affect the behaviors and beliefs of the person in front of us,” Sharot concludes, “we need to … go along with how their brain works.”
This appears in the October 02, 2017 issue of TIME.
- Here’s How Effective the Original Vaccines Are Against Omicron
- The Promise—And Possible Perils—of Editing What We Say Online
- How Trump Survived Decades of Legal Trouble: Deny, Deflect, Delay, and Don't Put Anything in Writing
- Flint Is Still Shaken by its Water Crisis—and Residents Are Experiencing Long-Term Mental-Health Issues
- A Beer Shortage Is Brewing. A Volcano Is Partly to Blame
- How Fasting Can—and Can't—Improve Gut Health
- Cities Keep Enforcing Curfews for Teens, Despite Evidence They Don't Stop Crime
- Joe Manchin’s Red Tape Reform Could Supercharge Renewable Energy in the U.S.
- Column: We Should Talk More About What a Brilliant Actor Marilyn Monroe Was