Tali Sharot’s “The Optimism Bias” TED Talk

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People use to think of themselves as rational and logical, but scientists have proven that sometimes they are too optimistic. If one is asked how their life will be affected by divorce, illness, injury, or job loss, they are likely to underestimate the probable impact of such an event on their life. This is because people are prone to a cognitive error called optimism bias. This phenomenon is also called the “illusion of invulnerability” and “unrealistic optimism.” Because of it, people begin to believe that they will not suffer or that they will achieve success – even if the real chances of this are slim. Thus, most humans believe that they will live longer than average, that their children are smarter than others, and that they are more successful than most people. However, this is simply not possible – not everyone can live long, and certainly, not everyone can achieve the level of success they wish for,

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Optimism bias is the mistaken belief that the likelihood of unhappiness is lower, and the chances of a positive outcome of an event, on the contrary, are higher. In her TED video The Optimism Bias, Tali Sharot (2012) explains the new study that concludes that the human brain is often tuned to positivity and that the optimism bias, while indeed useful, can also be harmful. Still, as Tali Sharot (2012) states, people who have higher expectations are generally happier, even if they do not get what they want.

She explains the study conducted by her as a neurobiologist on the impact of optimism on people’s lives. First, Sharot and her team asked the test subjects to rate their chances of getting cancer. The people tended to lower their chances of having cancer, but even when they were told the exact rate of this possibility, they still decided their chances were lower than that. This also worked with the chances of divorces – people who just got married stated that their chances of getting divorced were really low or even zero. Thus, it can be concluded that optimism bias is a powerful feature of the human brain that helps people stay more positive about their lives. Indeed, it is important to stay realistic to understand correctly one’s chances at success, but optimism bias allows hope to build one’s confidence and boost the possible success rate.

References

Tali Sharot: The optimism bias [Video file]. (2012). Web.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, November 3). Tali Sharot's "The Optimism Bias" TED Talk. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/tali-sharots-the-optimism-bias-ted-talk/

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, November 3). Tali Sharot's "The Optimism Bias" TED Talk. https://psychologywriting.com/tali-sharots-the-optimism-bias-ted-talk/

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"Tali Sharot's "The Optimism Bias" TED Talk." PsychologyWriting, 3 Nov. 2022, psychologywriting.com/tali-sharots-the-optimism-bias-ted-talk/.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Tali Sharot's "The Optimism Bias" TED Talk'. 3 November.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Tali Sharot's "The Optimism Bias" TED Talk." November 3, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/tali-sharots-the-optimism-bias-ted-talk/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Tali Sharot's "The Optimism Bias" TED Talk." November 3, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/tali-sharots-the-optimism-bias-ted-talk/.


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PsychologyWriting. "Tali Sharot's "The Optimism Bias" TED Talk." November 3, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/tali-sharots-the-optimism-bias-ted-talk/.