Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Inspiring Science: The basis of our overly optimistic beliefs

The human brain seems to be wired for forward-looking optimism. In 2007, Tali Sharot and a team of scientists at University College London showed that people who were asked to imagine positive and negative future events consistently felt like the positive events are closer in time; the positive future events also felt closer than events in the past, whether positive or negative. More recently, Dr. Sharot has turned her attention to the “good news/bad news effect”, our tendency to update our beliefs to reflect good news more than bad news. Over the last few years, she and her team have identified the part of the brain responsible for this behaviour and even shown how to disrupt it.

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