Tali Sharot
Neuroscientist, Professor, and Decision-Making Expert

A leading expert on human decision-making, optimism and emotion, neuroscientist Tali Sharot combines research in psychology, behavioral economics and neuroscience to reveal the forces that shape our decision, beliefs, and inaccurate expectations of the future—and how these can be altered.


Dr. Sharot, neuroscience faculty at University College London and currently a visiting professor at MIT, founded and directs the Affective Brain Lab at University College London, where her team researches ways to encourage behavioral change that will enhance well-being. Her research seeks explanations for otherwise opaque qualities of the human brain. Why do people discount bad news—a tendency that contributed to the 2008 financial downfall, weakens our ability to manage disaster, and lets us skip important medical screenings? Why do we underestimate our chances of divorce, or expect our kids to be uniquely talented?


Dr. Tali Sharot explores these and further questions in her first book, The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain, and her newest book, The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others, released by Henry Holt in September 2017.


Dr. Tali Sharot is co-editor of The Neuroscience of Preference and Choice (Elsevier). She has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, The Science Channel, the BBC and many publications around the world. Sharot also co-presented BBC’s Science Club (BBC 2). 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 OpEd (Major Delusions, 2011).

Download Bio
What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others
Henry Holt and Co.

In The Influential Mind, neuroscientist Tali Sharot takes us on a thrilling exploration of the nature of influence. We all have a duty to affect others—from the classroom to the boardroom to social media. But how skilled are we at this role, and can we become better? It turns out that many of our instincts—from relying on facts and figures to shape opinions, to insisting others are wrong or attempting to exert control—are ineffective, because they are incompatible with how people’s minds operate. Sharot shows us how to avoid these pitfalls, and how an attempt to change beliefs and actions is successful when it is well-matched with the core elements that govern the human brain. Sharot reveals the critical role of emotion in influence, the weakness of data and the power of curiosity. Relying on the latest research in neuroscience, behavioral economics and psychology, the book provides fascinating insight into the complex power of influence, good and bad.

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 suboptimal habits when trying to change others' beliefs and behaviors. 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 behavioral neuroscientist and author of an upcoming book on influence, explains how an attempt to change will be successful only if it is 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, behavioral 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 Behavioral Change A major goal of managers and companies is to induce behavioral 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 behavioral 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.

A new study from Dr. Tali Sharot’s team shows stress makes people better at processing bad news.

Tali weighs in on leadership styles for NPR.

The Influential Mind made the shortlist for the 2018 British Psychological Science Best Book Award in Popular Science.

Discover why President Trump is lying more often–the psychological explanation.

Read the New York Times op-ed about why it’s hard to accept expertise from people with different politics.

Read Tali’s article on “Why Facts Don’t Unify Us” in the New York Times Sunday Review.

See Tali featured in an investigation into optimism versus pessimism in the Guardian.

See “The Optimism Bias” featured as one of Business Insider’s “8 TED talks that will change how you think about human psychology.”

Tali explains how being “hardwired for hope” affected the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election in the New Yorker.

See Tali’s wisdom from #WomenInProgress events featured in Forbes.

Hear Tali’s TED talk featured on NPR’s TED Radio Hour episode, “The Case for Optimism.”

Tali weighs in on the relationship between lying and politics in Vox.

See Tali’s research featured as New York magazine debates “whether hope is good for you.”

Read Tali’s take on how “being optimistic is good, but knowing about optimism bias is better” in BigThink.

Praise for The Influential Mind

"Take it from a leading neuroscientist: every day, we all miss opportunities to influence others. This timely, intriguing book explains why it's so difficult to shift the attitudes and actions of others―and what we can do about it."
― Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take

"The Influential Mind will make you gasp with surprise―and laugh with recognition. Many of our most cherished beliefs about how to influence others turn out to be wrong; Sharot sets them right. Packed with practical insights, this profound book will change your life. An instant classic."
― Cass R. Sunstein, Harvard University; former Administrator for the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and bestselling coauthor of Nudge

“A fantastic journey through the process of forming beliefs and ideas”
― Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com and New York Times best-selling author of Delivering Happiness

“The Influential Mind brilliantly unpacks the science of influence, offering guidance not only on how to influence others, but how to stop others from influencing us.”
― Michael Norton, coauthor of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending

“A concisely written, compellingly presented, and eminently applicable guide on how to successfully win over others―at work and at home.”
― Steve Martin, New York Times bestselling co-author of Yes! 60 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion

“[A] fascinating, accessible primer on what current research teaches us about the art of persuasion. Her book strives to‘reveal the systematic mistakes we make when we attempt to change minds,’ a topic that resonates in today’s divisive political climate… She has a gift for providing engaging vignettes that are apt and illustrative for nonacademics. The writing exhibits model clarity and brisk pacing. Readers will find themselves jotting notes to apply Sharot’s findings to a wide range of areas, including workplace politics, parenting, and Facebook arguments.”
― PublishersWeekly

Praise for Tali

"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."
— Taxand