Tali Sharot

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Author, Neuroscientist and Authority on Human Behavior

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1 Video(s) By This Presenter

Tali Sharot – TED

6 Programs By This Presenter

Successful innovation hinges on the ability to find new solutions to existing problems. Solutions that 1) other people did not think of, 2) did not dare to implement, 3) failed to carefully plan out, or 4) never managed to get working. What is it that makes certain individuals and organizations more likely to prosper at each of these steps? Based on surprising findings from social science, neuroscience and economics Tali Sharot shows how expectations can drive innovation. From directing our imagination towards promising solutions to increasing the likelihood that companies will launch new endeavors by biasing risk perception, (seemingly) unrealistic optimistic predictions have been linked to effective entrepreneurship. Yet, innovators are confronted with a paradoxical task: to remain confident while being mindful of potential obstacles. In this talk Sharot presents methods and practices that leaders can implement to induce real positive expectations, ones that trigger novel ideas and successful implementation.

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 very fashionable approach to decision making, popularized by “The Wisdom of Crowds”, is that whether selecting a business strategy or a dinner menu the more brains contributing to a decision the better. Crowd sourcing is all the rage and none of us dare make a decision without consulting online forums. But new findings show that the crowd is wise as long as the people in it are making their judgements independently, oblivious to what the next guy is thinking. How often does that happen in life? Not often. We are social creatures and our default setting is to interact. It turns out that humans become increasingly irrational when making decisions together. In this presentation scientist, Tali Sharot, will turn to findings in psychology and behavioural economics to highlight under which circumstances two, three or one hundred brains are better than one, and when they are considerably worse. Tali will show the audience how to identify situations when groupthink can be helpful and when it can be detrimental.

Many of our costly professional and personal mistakes could have been avoided if we had taken a good look at the evidence in front of us. Take the financial meltdown of 2008; economists have concluded that warnings signs were out there and timely action could have saved the market. Why then do we insist on imitating an ostridge, and is there anything we can do to raise our heads out of the sand? In this presentation Tali Sharot explains the dangers of the “ostridge effect” to managers, policy makers and companies. Using her own work as well as other’s from psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics, Tali shows that the tendency to look away when reality is undesirable is fundamental to human nature and thus difficult to overcome. It is therefore crucial to form strategies and policies to manage this human tendency before it leads to disaster. Tali outlines best practices for leaders and employees that will help do so.

The current crisis has forced people to change the way they work, live and interact. How can leaders help their teams thrive and adapt to the “new normal”? What are the likely obstacles workers face and how can they be overcome? How can we best navigate stress, anxiety, uncertainty and a restricted sense of agency?  Does the crisis bring with it an opportunity to evolve? When under threat people come together; social cohesion is observed and people feel a new need to conduct meaningful work. This sense of “togetherness” and motivation can be harnessed. My team has been studying a large number of people to assess the impact of the crisis on mental state, emotion and behaviour. This new data, together with years of research from behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience, provides useful insight into what people are going through and how to move forward successfully at work and at home.

When we think about financial markets, investments, profit we usually think about numbers and lines moving up or trembling down. But every number, every trend represents the decisions made by many humans. And specifically, by each human’s headquarters – the brain. To better understand markets we thus need to understand our minds. This is especially true during times of high uncertainty. To navigate the current crisis, we need a better understanding of how stress and anxiety influence people’s decision-making. What are people’s expectations of the future and how will they shape their choices? How does stress effect our own decisions and ability to process information? Our research shows that at times stress can in fact help people make better choices. My team has been studying a large number of people to assess the impact of the crisis on their choices and expectations. This new data, together with years of research from behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience, provides useful insight into what we can expect regarding peoples’ behaviour and how to make better decisions ourselves.


“Tali is clearly the smartest person in the room! Her message is a good one, but pretty technical. She has some very good takeaways that applicable to just about everyone.”

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