Mind Over Mind

Mind Over Mind

The Surprising Power of Expectations

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101595275
  • 288 Pages
  • Current
  • Adult


“Our brains can’t help but look forward. We spend very little of our mental lives completely in the here and now. Indeed, the power of expectations is so pervasive that we may notice only when somebody pulls back the curtain to reveal a few of the cogs and levers responsible for the big show.”

We all know expectations matter—in school, in sports, in the stock market. From a healing placebo to a run on the bank, hints of their self-fulfilling potential have been observed for years. But now researchers in fields ranging from medicine to education to criminal justice are moving beyond observation to investigate exactly how expectations work—and when they don’t.

In Mind Over Mind, journalist Chris Berdik offers a captivating look at the frontiers of expectations research, revealing how our brains work in the future tense and how our assumptions—about the next few milliseconds or the next few years—bend reality. We learn how placebo calories can fill us up, why wine judges can’t agree, how fake surgery can sometimes work better than real surgery, and how imaginary power can be corrupting. We meet scientists who have found that wearing taller and more attractive avatars in a virtual world boosts confidence in real life, gambling addicts whose brains make losing feel like winning, and coaches who put blurry glasses on athletes to lift them out of slumps.

Along the way, Berdik probes the paradox of expectations. Their influence seems based on illusion, even trickery, but they can create their own reality, for good or for ill.

Expectations can heal our bodies and make us stronger, smarter, and more successful, or they can leave us in agony, crush our spirit, and undermine our free will. If we can unlock their secrets, we may be able to harness their power and sidestep their pitfalls.

Drawing on psychology, neuroscience, history, and fascinating true stories of xpectations in action, Mind Over Mind offers a spirited journey into one of the most exciting areas of brain research today.


New Scientist

Mind Over Mind takes us deep into the human psychology of expectation through the worlds of wine tasting, penalty kicks, compulsive gambling, and police lineups. Berdik delivers an optimistic message with a convincing punch: understanding the power of imagination can challenge our assumptions about what it means to be human and liberate us from the tyranny of self-fulfilling prophecies.”
—Colin Ellard, author of You Are Here; director, Research Laboratory for Immersive Virtual Environments, University of Waterloo

Mind Over Mind is a captivating read, a mix of great stories and compelling science that shows us how expectations can influence our success—for better and for worse. Berdik gives us the tools to change our own behavior and influence others.”
—Sian Beilock, author of Choke; professor of psychology, University of Chicago

“This is a delightful book: a mind-bending survey of what scientists are beginning to learn about the remarkable powers of the imagination. Fascinating, illuminating, and full of surprises, Mind Over Mind will forever change the way you think—about the way you think.”
—Toby Lester, author of Da Vinci’s Ghost and The Fourth Part of the World

“Chris Berdik’s vivid portrait of the placebo effect and related phenomena reveals that our brains are the clumsiest of time travelers, altering life in the present by anticipating outcomes in the future. So many books about the brain focus on what’s going on in other people’s heads. Mind Over Mind helps you see what’s going on in yours.”
—Michael Erard, author of Babel No More

“From the French court of King Louis XVI to today’s neuroscience labs, Mind Over Mind surveys the too often neglected and misunderstood power of our expectations—over our health, performance, and preferences. With wide-ranging examples from the worlds of sports, business, politics, and medicine, Chris Berdik has whipped up an engaging soufflé of a book brimming with quirky and surprising detail.”
—Seth Shulman, author of The Telephone Gambit

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