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Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  223 ratings  ·  33 reviews
How our fast-forward minds make something out of nothing

From a healing placebo to a run on the bank, the self-fulfilling potential of expectations has been observed for years. But now, neuroscientists and psychologists are beginning to solve the mysteries of our expectant brain and applying their findings to fields ranging from medicine to sports to education.

Mind over
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 11th 2012 by Current
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Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Monkeys enjoy lettuce. A monkey watches as a scientist places lettuce under 1 of 2 cups through a window from a connected room. Then the monkey enters the cup room and immediately lifts the cup where the lettuce was placed, eats the lettuce and the monkey is happy. Next, monkeys like bananas way more than lettuce. A monkey watches the same experiment but instead this time it sees a banana placed under one of the cups. The monkey then goes to the room and looks under the cup and sees...lettuce. ...more
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
**More than expected**
The mind is a powerful thing. And, in ways that you might not even expect.

Chris Berdiks _Mind Over Mind_ reveals the power that our (often hidden) expectations have over our actual experiences. This power goes way beyond the placebo effect. What we imagine will be true can actually effect the brains neurochemical responses:
The brain has many ways to make good on our expectations, both good and bad. In response to a clinicians promise, the brain releases painkillers as
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Gandolfication by:
Well-written, thought-provoking look into the way our minds operate as much based on expectations as on almost anything else. Dopamine actually spikes not during the pleasurable experience itself, but actually in the preceding moment of anticipation. The history of how expectations of all kinds, including interrelated in our medicine, is fascinating and begs whether the 'placebo effect' should be renamed the 'meaning response.' Learn why the history and expectations of English soccer stars in ...more
David Hooper
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I finished reading this excellent book more than two months ago, and I still find myself thinking about it just about every day. Chris Berdik does an excellent job of presenting a wide array of pertinent and thought-provoking information in a very accessible and entertaining manner. What he's taught me has helped to shape my perspectives on the ways in which our expectations truly create our realities. I'm hoping that I will eventually learn to harness this improved understanding and increased ...more
Marc Resnick
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a must read for anyone interested in placebos, expectations, and how much of our performance depends on how people expect us to perform and on how we expect ourselves to perform.

The book doesn't introduce anything new, but Chris summarizes so many good quality studies that it is a great value anyway. And by the time you finish chapter 10, you will be amazed at just how much there is out there. If we could harness the powers described in this book, well, the possibilities are endless.
Osman Kent
Learnt a lot of new things - will read it again
Rady Fahmy
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
It is a well researched book and generally well written. The material is unoriginal as it feels like it is an amalgamation of several books. It shows that we are fallible but not enough content on how to remedy that. Mostly though it suffers from unnecessary bloating. This book could have been 150 pages shorter!
Still many good quotes. Go through it fast and I hope that you will learn a few things.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I should have read this earlier. As it was, just about every study cited in the book was one I had heard of from other sources. Interesting information the first time around. But not enough to sustain the book for me.

A note on the audio: the narrator mispronounced so many words that it was a real distraction.
Carl Koubek
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Why I read it: The concept over mind over matter is neither new nor sophisticated. Im almost positive that even 1950s high school PE teachers knew this cliché. Berdik, though, presents this philosophy in an evidence-heavy read that convincingly argues the benefit of controlling ones thoughts. Although the book is not intended as a sermon, a reader gets the sense that the content of the book needs to be acted on.

This is not the first time the Power of Mind has come across my radar. In the
John Martindale
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Berdik did survey many studies by Dan Ariely and others' that I've already read elsewhere in more depth, but there was some new material here too. I liked how the book started with the story of Franz Mesmer. I couldn't help but notice the similarities of what Mesmer did, with exorcism and various Christian charismatic practices that lead to healing and peace of mind. What is interesting is that though Mesmer was completely off concerning the science behind what he was doing, he nevertheless, ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Gandolfication by:
Well-written, thought-provoking look into the way our minds operate as much based on expectations as on almost anything else. Dopamine actually spikes not during the pleasurable experience itself, but actually in the preceding moment of anticipation. The history of how expectations of all kinds, including interrelated in our medicine, is fascinating and begs whether the 'placebo effect' should be renamed the 'meaning response.' Learn why the history and expectations of English soccer stars in ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, brain
A collection of studies on how expectations and belief can control our performance, even our very biology. Investigating the fields of sports psychology (especially the reasons for top athletes choking in the clutch), medicine (with its use of placebos and their lesser-known opposites, nocebos), wine tasting (breaking down not only the experts claims for superior sensory discrimination but also their consistency), and others, Berdik shows the many and varied ways in which what we expect, even ...more
Marilyn Willison
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
There's no doubt that how we think is a crucial element of how well we live and how effectively we work. And while there has been a surplus of brain-centric literature during the past decade, few have been as informative and entertaining as Mind Over Mind by Chris Berdik (Current, $16.00, 274pp). Originally published as a hardbound book in 2012, with a dark gray cover and a graphic of a floating red balloon tied to a concrete brick, the paperback edition instead has (more appropriately) a bright ...more
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Provides compelling insight into how our minds effect us.

Berdik covers studies involving placebos; showing how are minds can help heal our bodies in certain instances.

He includes a favorite research experiment of mine done by Ellen Langer (a Harvard Professor who focuses on aging, the idea of "control", and mindfullness) where she gathered groups of men in their seventies and eighties in a house and had them pretend they were back in 1959. At first they were super elderly, barely able to carry
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A slow starter, but very glad I held out. This book does exactly what its title implies it will: it surprises you how much power your own expectations can hold.

There's something for everyone in this book: for athletes (you can trick your body into going faster/longer); for wine-drinkers (how much of our enjoyment of wine is due to expectations from price and awards alone?); for parents (who might unwittingly impact their children's expectations in a way that causes them to underperform on a
Julian Haigh
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it
The power of expectations is close to the power of belief. Obviously humans are constrained by our physical limitations but we continue to surpass what we thought was possible: continually defeating speed records, most dramatically in somewhat abruptly chosen 'four-minute' mile records. Placeboes have a real impact on patient's health even if they know it is a placebo, regardless of having no medicinal value and simply operating by the power of expectation. Our mind develops phantom limbs that ...more
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
This book is about the power of the mind to overcome beliefs, physical abilities and other things. I found parts of it quite interesting, especially the part about BELIEVING I am a faster swimmer, and how this will help me actually swim faster (I believe it). It was also said how thinking about working your muscles, or dreaming about working them, can actually build muscle strength, to a certain degree. I have known for years that the mind can keep a person alive, in spite of illness, and can ...more
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book for sure, but I am generally underwhelmed by books that just pummel you with study after study after study to make their points. It ends up feeling very choppy and disjointed to me and frankly, I don't really want to know the ins and outs of all the studies -- I just want to get to the takeaways or insights from them. Enjoyed reading the book but probably wouldn't recommend it (10 second summary: the brain is wildly powerful and continues to be very mysterious and ...more
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Much of this book will be familiar to those who have read Dan Ariely, Carol Dweck, Roy Baumeister, et al. Its strength is that it takes a lot of familiar information and puts it together in a way that focuses on the issue of how surprisingly powerful and effective expectations can be. The section on placebos and nocebos is especially intriguing. Be warned: the narrator reads this in a style I can only describe as "surfer dude," and those with a low tolerance for mispronunciation will find ...more
Phil Simon
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have always wondered about the science behind placebos, the mind-set of athletes during big moments, and even what our own physical posture conveys to others--and ourselves. In this fascinating book, Berdik covers these subjects and quite a few more.

Berdik's style is at once informative, intelligent, and conversational. This was a pleasure to read and I can't wait to see more from this author.

Get. This. Book. Now.
Sep 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
tl;dr Expectations influence reality.

I didn't learn anything new, and in fact I think this book is late to the game; a lot of these studies are common knowledge by now. It's also far too wordy. This could have been a blog post and still contained all the information you needed to know. Watch a TED talk instead or something.
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book contains a lot of historical anecdotes and references of psychological studies, so it's chock full of interesting information. However, the tone and writing style was not very engaging, and I had a hard time staying interested. I skimmed to see if I could get immersed into it, but just couldn't finish it.
James R
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cognitive
even more illuminating than the typical new age positive-speak. posits we are greatly affected by the "anticipation" of an outcome even more than the actual outcome thereby influencing the outcome (?) also an interesting correlation pointing to "social" choices
May 05, 2013 rated it liked it
The middle of this book offers great insight to the power of expectations. However, the book shifts to discussing the effects of placebos towards the end. If you are interested in Psychology and the theory behind placebos, this is definitely the book for you.
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting. Lots of neuroscience which I wasn't exactly prepared for ergo, I think I need a take two on this one. It is entirely possible that I am so enmeshed in the minutia that I am missing the big picture.
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a bit dry in places but overall it was very interesting. It discussed human expectation in a variety of contexts and I found most of the information to be captivating. I would recommend this for anyone who's interested in how people think and how the mind can warp reality.
Jeff Hotchkiss
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A really good book. It opened my mind to the power of expectations and how we create our reality in overt and subtle ways day in and day out. I highly recommend this to anybody following the path of self discovery.
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Sorry but for me this was excruciatingly dull. I gave it the requisite 53 page read then skimmed ahead a little to see if it picked didn't.
Elijah Christopher
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Seems that he had no organization as to the data he put down, but of course the main idea was expectations and how we are affected by them, great read, but a little disorganized.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-interested
I enjoyed the beginning, but lost interest when he started talking about sports!
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Chris grew up in Pittsburgh, but has lived most of his adult life in Boston. He is a freelance science journalist and a former staff editor at the Atlantic Monthly and Mother Jones.

His work has appeared in New Scientist magazine, Salon, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe, among other publications. His radio and multimedia pieces have appeared on

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