You are a mind reader, born with an extraordinary ability to understand what others think, feel, believe, want, and know. It’s a sixth sense you use every day, in every personal and professional relationship you have. At its best, this ability allows you to achieve the most important goal in almost any life: connecting, deeply and intimately and honestly, to other human beings. At its worst, it is a source of misunderstanding and unnecessary conflict, leading to damaged relationships and broken dreams.
How good are you at knowing the minds of others? How well can you guess what others think of you, know who really likes you, or tell when someone is lying? How well do you really understand the minds of those closest to you, from your spouse to your kids to your best friends? Do you really know what your coworkers, employees, competitors, or clients want?
In this illuminating exploration of one of the great mysteries of the human mind, University of Chicago psychologist Nicholas Epley introduces us to what scientists have learned about our ability to understand the most complicated puzzle on the planet—other people—and the surprising mistakes we so routinely make. Why are we sometimes blind to the minds of others, treating them like objects or animals? Why do we sometimes talk to our cars, or the stars, as if there is a mind that can hear us? Why do we so routinely believe that others think, feel, and want what we do when, in fact, they do not? And why do we believe we understand our spouses, family, and friends so much better than we actually do? Mindwise will not turn other people into open books, but it will give you the wisdom to revolutionize how you think about them—and yourself.
This is one of those psychology books for a general audience that does much more to inform readers about the failings of the human mind than to teach us how to be better. In other words, it’s more intellectual than practical. That said, it’s accessible and I think most readers would benefit from at least some of its information.
People are pretty good at reading each other’s minds, all things considered, but also overestimate our own abilities. For that matter, we don’t always know our own minds: one study had people giving their reasoning for choices they hadn’t actually made, apparently believing that they had.
Mindwise discusses three common mistakes people make in inferring others’ state of mind. First, there’s assuming other people think the same as we do, when they actually are working with different information, or simply see things differently. Realizing that self-centered thinking is a mistake when drawing inferences about others’ minds can be liberating – one study had participants wear embarrassing T-shirts, which went unnoticed by most others. Second, there’s using stereotypes. This isn’t necessarily a bad word – given that none of us can ask every person in the world what they think about every subject, we have to make some assumptions based on the firsthand experiences we do have and the information we’ve gathered secondhand – but stereotypes often lead us wrong.
Third, there’s assuming others’ actions reflect their minds. While we recognize the effects of circumstances, chance, and other people’s actions on our own, when it comes to other people we tend to assume their decisions are made freely and reflect their character. An interesting example given in the book is that of the Black Friday shoppers who failed to help while a man died of a heart attack in the store. People hearing the story afterwards assumed the other shoppers were greedy and callous. Actually, first, it’s surprisingly hard to notice something is awry while focusing on something else (think of the gorilla on the basketball court), and second, people in crowds do a bad job of recognizing emergencies – they look to see how others are responding, and if nobody else seems to think it’s an emergency, usually won’t intervene unless their own training or experience has taught them otherwise. Epley also gives the example of the people who didn’t evacuate New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina: many politicians talked as if they simply chose not to, while in actuality, many of those who didn’t evacuate lacked cars, money for hotel stays, or out-of-town connections who could have taken them in. Without the resources to do otherwise, you don’t really have a choice, and a publicity campaign about the importance of evacuating wouldn’t have done nearly as much good as, say, providing buses.
As far as how to understand one another better, Epley doesn’t offer many answers. Studying body language is of minimal use to people who already have reasonable social skills (though it can be helpful to, say, those with autism); we actually gather far more from people’s voices than their bodies. Attempting to envision another’s perspective can also be unhelpful, entrenching us in our own positions and increasing our overconfidence without improving our accuracy. Epley’s best advice is to practice humility when attempting to read other’s minds, and to listen to what they say. (Your loved ones will appreciate you more if you buy them gifts from a wish list or pay attention to their hints than if you come up with your own ideas – yes, studies confirm this.) Of course, this is of minimal help if you’re looking for advice for situations where people won’t just tell you what they think – for instance, you want to know what others really think of you, or learn to distinguish truth from lies. But my takeaway is that there’s no easy answer to any of that: you just have to pay attention, and work to create conditions where people feel comfortable telling the truth.
All that is pretty interesting, though not mindblowing, a helpful reminder even if much of it sounds obvious. And it’s a short book, under 200 pages if you don’t count the notes, though it could have been shorter. There’s an out-of-place chapter about anthropomorphism, which seems to be included as a mirror for the chapter about the ways we dehumanize other people. But the ways people attribute human characteristics to animals, machines, the weather, etc., has nothing to do with the subject of this book (how people understand each other, or fail to). And it showcases an apparent disdain for animals and pet owners on Epley’s part; he talks about people being “tricked” into having relationships with their pets.
At any rate, this is pleasant reading, with an accessible and engaging style, and with the possible exception of the anthropomorphism chapter, I enjoyed the author’s voice; he comes across as good-hearted and thoughtful. If you know much about psychology, you’re unlikely to encounter much new information here, but overall it was worth my time.
This is an easy, light read, written in everyday language that works well for the casual reader. Epley offers data from various studies to show us how often we make assumptions about others, and how often those assumptions are wrong. He also gives us insight into how and why we - often unconsciously - make those assumptions.
While much of this content isn't brand new research, it's presented well. I particularly liked the chapter on stereotypes. At one time or another, all of us are guilty of casting people into stereotypical groups. This chapter explores why we do it and how easily that tendency can lead us astray.
I was disappointed in the chapter on anthropomorphism (attributing human traits to inanimate objects). Throughout much of this content, Epley lumps animals in with inanimate objects such as computers and cars. Whether intentional or not, the information was presented as if humans are the only beings capable of mindfulness. Granted, dogs don't wallow in guilt when they pee on the carpet and cows don't sit around pondering their existence, but they certainly do have minds. They have a different method of thinking, but they do indeed have thoughts. Epley's failure to acknowledge animals as conscious beings is a major stumbling point for me.
Epley weaves in a few personal anecdotes when explaining certain phenomena. This gives the book a friendlier feel, which is particularly good for those readers who don't want the 'text book' experience.
The Notes section provides more detail on the studies and observations made throughout the book. I wish some of this had been included within the main text, because it adds to content that can otherwise be a little too light for readers like me who want to explore this topic in depth.
Overall, this book offers a look at how our minds work, and gives us one important conclusion: If you want to know what someone is thinking, ask.
One of my pet hates is people who try and tell me what I’m thinking when I say something – or tell me my reasons for making a particular remark or performing a particular action. My invariable response is ‘Don’t try and tell me what is going on in my head – you don’t know unless I tell you.’ Human beings are prone to thinking that everyone shares their beliefs and thoughts and as a result we misjudge people, especially those close to us on a daily basis. As a result we end up quarrelling for no real reason.
This book provides many examples – academic, anecdotal and historical – of human beings misunderstanding each other with frequently disastrous consequences. We never seem to learn from our mistakes and continue to think we are excellent at mindreading and understanding precisely how others think and believe. What we continually fail to realise is that not everyone is like us.
The book looks at stereotypes and how damaging they can be in our relationships with others. It also looks as anthropomorphism and the human habit of endowing other species and inanimate objects with human emotions and characteristics.
While the book quotes many academic studies it is written in a way which will appeal to the general reader as well. There are notes on each chapter and an index. If you want to understand how you misinterpret other people then read this book.
This book was not what I was hoping for and I kept waiting to have some revelation about interpersonal interaction... I never did.
I am not the intended audience for this book and neither are any of my social worker friends (so feel free to skip it, you already know everything in this book anyway). And neither are you if you've ever thought or studied about how people relate to one another.
Basically: people do OK figuring out general things about what others are thinking and their motivations, but never great. And Shocker! we think we are WAY better at this than we actually are. Oh, I'm sorry, should I not be snarky about that? "ahem" People think that they are better at knowing what other people think than they actually are. Basically, we all overestimate our abilities when it comes to understanding other people.
I suppose this book is great and super helpful if you don't have a social work degree and didn't spend years studying how to identify and address stereotypes and to help others do the same. Basically the best advice Nicholas Epley (and all of the PhD's he cites) can give you is : ask people about their experience and what they are thinking and then LISTEN to them. Otherwise, feel free to Imagine what other people are going through and what outside circumstances effect their lives but don't expect to be right. Keep an open mind and be curious, ask, and listen to answers!!!
Or you can go get an MSW like I did and be totally bored with pretty much every book on human behavior that you read. Perhaps its time for me to stop reading about this crap and go get a PhD in behavioral economics so I can learn new things ;)
Oh, total sidenote: This author earns MAJOR points for calling out The Female Brain as the SPECTACULAR piece of total brain frying, stereotype reinforcing garbage that it is.
An interesting book, but I'm not sure I understand people any better after reading this. I do, however, understand why I don't understand them a lot better. Especially interesting were the parts where Epley explained how trying to understand other people often ends up in understanding them a lot worse than without trying to understand them. Sounds weird, doesn't it? Well, apparantely science proves this. And boy, does that explain a lot about modern day politics and why we just cannot seem to get along with each other.
The main lesson I learned: The more we try to understand each other (without actually talking to each other), the worse we end up. The most sad thought ever. I think I'll just go be a hermit now somewhere and pretend I don't need anyone ever, mmkay? (I'm quite sure reading this book should've had the opposite effect, but human relationships depress me a tad too easily anyway.)
I thought this book sounded really interesting from the title, but I found it quite dull and rather repetitive. The explanations that Epley gives of "why we misunderstand others" seemed pretty obvious and not especially useful for actually becoming *better* at understanding others.
To understand another person's thoughts, we can try to take their perspective. But one gets distracted by selfishness and stereotypes - this happens easily and often unconsciously. The best way to understand your fellow human beings is to just ask and talk to them (Blinkist, 2020).
Sixth sense = theory of mind = mind reading (or assuming, more accurately)
The problem with our sixth sense is that the confidence we have in this sense far outstrips our actual ability, and the confidence we have in our judgement rarely gives us a good sense of how accurate we actually are.
The human brain is good at being aware of what (the finished product), but not how (the process of arriving there).
Failing to engage the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) leads to dehumanisation.
It is easier to see intrinsic motivation in yourself rather than others, which causes one to assume other people are extrinsically motivated.
Talk to your cabdrivers. They'll always have good stories to tell. Nobody waves, but almost everyone waves back.
To recognise another mind (even in inanimate objects), motion at the speed of us is critical.
We tend to anthropomorphise when there is some explaining to do (machinery failing, unexpected behaviour of things "having a mind of its own, natural disasters or "acts of God")
The problem with the rule of thumb that other minds are likely to be similar to our own is that likely is not certainly. Egocentrism (what would I do) is a good place to start, but a horrible place to end.
The problem with a lens is that you look through it rather than at it, and so your perspective doesn't seem unique until someone else informs you otherwise.
Curse of knowledge: Assuming what's crystal clear in your mind is as clear in others.
In general, stereotypes are more accurate when you've had direct experience with a group (e.g. one you belong to), know a lot about the group (e.g. because they are the majority) and are asked about clearly visible facts (outward behaviour VS attitudes and beliefs)
The article on sex differences in human mate preferences found that there are a lot more similarities in mate preferences (kind, understanding, intelligent) than differences (earning power for females and physical appearance for males) Men think about all their urges (not just sex) more than women did.
Recognising a difference doesn't mean you understand the cause.
*As-if principle (see rip it up) Even if careful thought suggests otherwise, the first instinct is still to assume that actions are produced by corresponding intentions. See scripted to serious romances between film stars.
Don't try to guess another's perspective by 'putting yourself in their shoes'. Go and actually get it by asking. Many people will tell you the truth (or at least something closer to the truth) if you ask a direct question in a context where they feel at liberty to give an honest answer and you are open to hearing it. But it cannot prevent more subtle forms of deception, like bad news from being sugarcoated, or unpleasant conversations being avoided. The main reason people lie is to avoid punishment, so put them in a context that diminishes punishment.
The other problem with getting perspective is sometimes others don't really know themselves honestly.
Knowing the shortcomings of your own social sense should push you to be more open in sharing what's in your mind with others, but also more open to listening to others.
Recognise others as they are, not as you imagine them to be.
Summarized interesting studies. Focused on the "thinking" a lot more the "feelings" side of things but compelling all the same. Remember we are good at understanding each other but not as great as we think. Remember to ask, express, reflect, and listen. (There, now you don't have to read it!)
I felt like this was kind of shallow with a lack of review of studies. I would have liked every assertion to be backed by a reference to a study explaining methodology, for example. The title implies that by reading this book you can better understand the minds of others but actually it just goes through a lot of fallacies that we have ourselves.
On the chapter on stereotypes, he says that men performed as well as women on tests of emotion-reading if they were paid to do it. But that really has no bearing on real-life because men don't get paid to act more sensitive. Also, he says that in polls effect sizes are small if you stereotype what someone may believe but I don't think that's true. for example like 93% of blacks supported Obama in 2012. that's hardly a small effect size, it really depends on the guess and your actual judgment...
The last chapter says that we should ask people what they want because that's more effective than guessing, inferencing, putting yourself in another's shoes, etc. He actually says that trying to put yourself in someone else's shoes is ineffective and we shouldn't do this. This book is about trying to understand the minds of others but this advice makes you understand people worse. There have been a thousand times in my life where someone could have acted less callous had they taken 2 seconds to attempt to understand what someone else was going through. The whole point of deontology is that there is a universal law that is applicable to everyone in a moral system and assuming that you can't know at all what anyone would want strikes me as really underselling people's general intelligence.
Also, asking what someone might want is good advice, but the whole point is that people lie, cheat, steal, and are generally unpleasant and crazy and in some situations you really need to figure out what they're thinking without asking them. In cases like this his advice is "make the environment safe for people to voice their concerns honestly," and gives an example of a worker at BP not reporting safety issues because the executives didn't give them an environment to do so. This advice also strikes me as pointless because none of us are executives at BP and it's often the people who are not in power who need to accurately discern the minds of those who are in power. It's easier for people who are in a position of power to not care what anyone thinks. So yeah, this book was pretty useless in regards to the title, and recycles a lot of famous psych studies that you can get in other books.
I think the lesson I have learned here is never read these pop psychology books & just flip directly to the references section and read the actual studies, and if you want to actually understand the mind of others, read psychological fiction or read biographies of people who were actually good at it instead of someone schilling a bunch of psychology studies and who thinks that you can't understand anyone unless you ask them directly.
First off, I have to say how much I appreciate Epley's writing style. This book is PACKED with information, but it was effortless to read because he is such a clear and focused writer. In every chapter, he outlines what he's going to say, then he says it, and then he summarizes what he said and explains how it relates to his next point. Another writer may have let his reader feel bogged down and overwhelmed by so much information, but Epley is really a wonderful guide.
And, most importantly, this book was fascinating! I learned so much about how the mind works, how we try to guess what people think and feel, how forming these guesses is such an important skill, but not one that we are necessarily very good at executing accurately all the time--and we are not nearly as accurate as we think we are. There were a lot of tidbits of information that I found intriguing, but here are some that really stood out to me:
*** Botox makes you less empathetic. *** Racists may not be as racist as they think they are, especially when face-to-face with the person they supposedly hate. *** It's a lot harder to shoot someone, even an "enemy," if you can see that person's face. *** We are wired to see differences and form stereotypes, but we tend to exaggerate the degree of our differences. *** We may know our spouses or good friends reasonably well, but we think we know them much better than we actually do.
Ultimately, my take-away from this book is that our minds are impressive, powerful data-computing machines capable of inferring a lot from just a little. Unfortunately, though, our minds don't always have or use the most accurate information to make assumptions about what others are thinking, and so we are wrong about the intentions, feelings, and thoughts of other people more times than we think. As Epley describes it, our confidence far outstrips our ability. His solution? Recognize your limitations when it comes to guessing what others are thinking. Be more open to sharing what's on your mind, and, most importantly, LISTEN when other people tell you what they are thinking, feeling, or wanting.
Overall, this was a great book--very well-written and incredibly engaging.
This book would have been revolutionary to me if I read it in 2014; in 2018, it's interesting, but most of the information has been said elsewhere.
Short summary: we badly overestimate how well we understand our own mind, and those of others. This is an important lesson, so whether you read the info in this book or another, it's worth reading somewhere.
I want to commend Nicholas Epley for writing the perfect social science book. Concise writing, clear language, no hyperbolized examples, and most importantly, and as short as it should be.
This is a practical book that offers insight into how minds, specifically one's own mind, works. The author argues that we too often believe that we can read the minds of others, especially those close to us. In reality, these assumptions can lead to incorrect or dangerous outcomes. Through relatable anecdotes, Epley shows that the most important thing we can do when trying to imagine how or why others think, feel, and act is to have humility.
A Rhetorical Analysis of Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want
For as long as time can tell the brain has been an enigma to man, and only up until relatively recent history have scientists been able to make the first steps towards fully understanding our own brain. Because of this universal fascination with how our minds work, and with a title such as Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want, I was genuinely inclined to pick up this book and read it, which says a lot because it takes a great deal for me to become interested in a book. What I ended up finding was not necessarily a step by step guide to reading minds, which I was hoping for, but instead found something different. I found a wealth of knowledge that reaches not just an individual's brain, but also how individuals interact and use their brains. What's more is that I noticed some things that can be improved by the author, Nicholas Epley, who is a professor of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Chicago, like how he presents his ideas and findings on psychology. However, I also found moments of genuine enjoyment from the book because of specific strategies the author uses to get his readers involved. As for myself, before reading this book, I had no real legitimate knowledge on how the brain functions, or moreso how our minds work. I only had a general understanding of how our brains work, with things like knowing that the brain is divided into specific parts, and each part contributes differently. This was the only knowledge I had that was to be my guiding lantern through the dark confusing journey I would embark upon, which was to be guided by the author. Overall I knew that progress had already been made in understanding the brain, and that much more research can and is still being conducted to find out more, and I was curious to see what I could learn from this book.
To summarize this book into one concise sentence so that someone who has no idea about Mindwise, one would say that this book is essentially a some two hundred page crash course in psychology. A lot, and I mean a lot, can be learned by reading this book, for better or worse, but more on that later. The author has a somewhat unique way of making each chapter stand on their own while also connecting to the overall themes of the book. The structure of each chapter stands out as a point of interest. Many chapters follow a similar format of introducing the subjects of each chapter, whether that be how the human brain dehumanizes other people’s perspectives and ideas, or how the human brain anthropomorphizes things that do not think into a being that does, etc. . These chapters begin with a short recount of a real-life event so that the reader can understand where the author is coming from, and so the reader can better grasp the knowledge he or she is about to gain. Admittedly, the topics in this book are difficult to understand if the reader has no background knowledge on the human brain, which, also admittedly, many people do not. Had these short accounts been omitted from the text completely, each chapter would definitely be much more boring. For instance, had chapter seven not started with the story of “Walter Vance” having a “heart attack at the worst possible time” (Epley 141), the entire chapter would have been much more difficult to understand, and because of this, the chapter itself would have been much more uninteresting, because the reader would have nothing to connect the information they were learning to, even if it was the scenario of a man dying in the isle of a Target on Black Friday. If one is writing about such a topic as the human brain, with all its complexities included, the biggest challenges is crafting the book in such a way where it is understandable and enjoyable to those who read it, and it is something that the author struggles with. As previously mentioned, the biggest challenges for a book of this caliber is making the content interesting. The contents of this book are objectively interesting and enjoyable, it is just hidden behind the barrier of not understanding what the author is talking about sometimes. Bringing up the structure of each chapter mentioned earlier, what follows the short story at the beginning chapter is usually a big dump of information with some visuals sprinkled in to keep the reader’s attention. I found myself frequently unable to keep up with what the author was trying to say, or my attention was lost, and the two paragraphs I had just read were not remembered, which forced me to reread, which made everything worse. This problem might stem from how the author usually delivers his data and explanations. For the most part, the author delivers his data through experiments conducted by college level psychological experiments, in which the author takes this data, makes a graph, and then explains the experiment, the data, and the subsequent graph. Being a college level professor in this field, the author makes use of his own students to conduct and analyze these experiments, as seen when he captions one of his graphs with, “I asked my MBA students whether they considered…” (Epley 102). This use of ethos further establishes the credibility of what the author is presenting. This style allows for more information to be delivered, at the cost of the “fun factor” of the book. The entertainment factor ends up suffering the most, because of the routine that the book falls in. Furthermore, when the author is in one of these information “dumps”, his diction can become very scientific, informative, and bland. Take this sentence for an example, “If the only thing necessary for understanding the minds of others was attending to the same things, then others would be open books” (Epley 99). The author’s diction becomes very straightforward, and at times can become monotonous, as it is missing that “pizazz” that truly great books are known for, and at some times these explanations can transform into what feels like a college lecture. But, there is still hope. So far I have made this book sound like it is nothing short of a plain rice cake. A bland dump of information that is only enjoyable to psychology experts. I apologize for depicting the book this way, I only did that to highlight what needs to improve. I admit, there are areas that are enjoyable, and at the heart of these areas lies a common theme: Reader Involvement. There are moments in the book where the book stops feeling like a college level lecture and more like a one on one conversation with a psychology expert, which is way more entertaining than the previous. At one point in the book, the author prints the following sentence in apart from the rest of the book: “Finished Files Are The Result Of Years Of Scientific Study Combined With The Experience Of Years” (Epley 103), and then proceeds to ask the reader to count how many times the letter F shows up in this sentence. By adding in this little, almost insignificant, game with the reader, the author is able to connect to the reader, and pique their interest. Personally, I would have loved to see this little addition more often in the book, because moments like these captivated my attention and made me invested into the book. The book, and ultimately any book, becomes more enjoyable when the reader is involved with what the book is saying, and it makes the ideas presented within the book to be much more tangible and meaningful to the reader, and it helps extend the ideas beyond just words on a page. As a reader, when I saw myself miss some F’s in the above sentence when asked to count them, it acted as a realization that what the author was presenting actually mattered to me. This, in turn, stops someone from reading information from the book, and then disregarding it after they have finished the book, and makes what you read in this book last in your memory. When remembering what this book taught me, my brain can easily remember the time the author showed me that I can not count letters in a sentence. (There are six F’s by the way) Overall, I feel that the author did a tremendous job given what task he had in front of him. I can only imagine the difficulty of explaining one of the most advanced topics on the planet in a concise book under two hundred pages, especially to an audience of the typical consumer, who has no knowledge on the human brain to begin with. The author was able to convey a great deal about how our minds work in a way that, although could be rough to read at times, was never confusing because of how it was presented, rather than what is being presented. What I mean by this is that whenever I was confused about what the author was saying, it was not because he could not explain things properly, it is just because the concepts themselves were difficult to understand, which ultimately is out of his control. I recommend this book to anybody who has a general interest in psychology, and who wants to receive a general baseline understanding of the topic, as this book is very informative on the topics it covers.
I love psychology books and this one's a prime example of it. It approaches human communication and biases from various angles: giver/receiver and positive/negative. I found it very comprehensive and practical. One of my all-time favorites along with "Out of your mind" which is a very different psychology book, but delivered a similar wow-effect.
This book came highly recommended from a person that I trust greatly and as I read it, I kept waiting for it to get good and interesting and offer some amazing breakthroughs... which never happened.
Here's what you need to know: Humans think they're good at mind-reading. They're actually bad. This can lead to disastrous consequences. The only way to understand what another person is thinking is to ask them. The end.
It was a pretty easy read if not a particularly enlightening one.
Okay overall. Our guessing is pretty bad, asking is better than guessing, Ekman's science is thin, 'male brains' and 'female brains' are mostly nonsense. Citing Stephen Jay Gould was jarring, apparently some people still respect Gould.
does a very good job of contextualizing scientific studies and making them understandable along with the topic of the chapter. also provides intriguing information about why assuming we are able to do a good job at reading another person is dangerous and uses interesting real-life examples to convey that message.
good read and thoughtful, the application aspect is simple but if applied correctly is very effective.
• Sixth sense: you are a mind reader • Strangers read each other with an average accuracy rate of 20% , close friends and married couples 35% • We have an illusion of insight; a gap between how much partners actually knew about each other and how much they believed they knew p.9-10 • Planning fallacy: students were too optimistic in assessing when they will finish their thesis in both good case, realistic and worst case scenario • Your vision is constructed by your brain. This leads to visual illusions • Pictures of our selves and how we explain our own mental processes show that we are in some sense "strangers to ourselves". Example Anthony Weiner "I don't know what I was thinking" • We dehumanize. Example: standing bear. Foreign in appearance, manner, and language "they" did not simply became "other" people they became "lesser" people. P.40 • MPFC: medial prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain makes inferences about the minds of others, the question: "what on earth are they thinking?" • Lesser minds; we think other minds are less sophisticated and more superficial than our own. • Ubuntu: a person is a person through other persons • Parochial altruism: a strong commitment to benefit one's own group or cause without regard for the consequences for oneself. Example: terrorists • Shock and awe seems like a poor strategy for fighting warriors who love their cause as much as we love ours. P.53 • We could recognize others as fully human rather than savage animals or mindless objects • Money is not as motivating as intrinsic motivation • Happiness: in a large study having positive relationships with family members and friends was the only necessary ingredient for being very happy • We don't "enjoy our solitude". Isolation is also bad for health • Lesson: when I started smiling and waving everybody else did respond in the same manner. Nobody waves, but everybody waves back. • We have distorted view of reality: I can think of the times I made breakfast more easily than I can think of anyone else making breakfast. Also we believe we are happy 85% of times and also happier than others • This is self centered over claiming • Anthropomorphism according to Xenophanes: Greek gods have flowing hair and fair skin, African gods have curly hair and dark skin • Your memory may be mistaken but it's not stupid; calculating average of different sizes of circles automatically • We have overwhelming similarities. Both sexes ranked the characteristics kind-understanding and intelligent higher than earning power. Stereotypes of men and women are not completely wrong either • Most important concept: perspective taking and perspective getting. You actually have to get the other persons perspective and perhaps the only way is asking what they want or listen carefully while they drop hints and then give it to them. • "The patient is trying to tell you what's wrong with him. You have to shut up and listen" p. 172
I'm finding a hard time categorizing this book, from one side it was informative on how we, as social beings, try to gain an understanding of those around us, but it did give a self development vibe.
The book is about how we try to use our minds among other things to gain an understanding of the minds of others , how much of our understanding is wrong, why, and what can we do about it. The author certainly backed his arguments with research studies and examples from real life and it tied in nicely with what he had to say. The organization of the book was also helpful in gaining an overall view and the writing helped at that too by covering the main points at the end of each chapter. However, it would've given a better "bigger picture" if it had tied some of the arguments to the overall point cause it was really easy getting lost in the details at times.
My main gripe about the book is the last chapter, which I was really looking forward to. The whole book described what we do wrong when we try to decipher the mind of the person we're interacting with so I was expecting a "here's how to do it right", and there was but it was a bit of a let down since it seemed too simplistic to cover the complexities that could rise in our day to day interactions.
One might argue that the content of this book is painfully obvious, and they may be right, it is addressing our own minds after all. With that said though, it was nice to understand and gain some in-depth information about the "obvious", or at least have them clearly labeled.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in social psychology or learning about what might be standing between him/her and understanding the mind of others.
"Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want" by Nicholas Epley, a highly regarded social psychologist and professor, is a wonderful insight into reading the minds of others. The book covers a range of topics, such as "your real sixth sense, Misreading minds. An overconfident sense; What you can and cannot know about your own mind; does it have a mind? How we dehumanize; How we anthropomorphize; what state is another mind in? The trouble of getting over yourself; The uses and abuses of stereotypes; How actions can mislead through the eyes of others. How, and how not, to be a better mind reader Being mindwise." Epley explores these topics through discussing various social psychology studies and exerpts from social psychology articles.
This book was a fascinating read for me, as it brought to light many important facts and concepts often overlooked in social interactions in our world. It is evident through his writing that he had put great thought and research into the creation of the book. It was the perfect balance between too academically challenging and simplistic in its content. He organizes the novel in a way in which each idea gradually builds upon another; he begins with establishing a bases, and uses many examples of psychological studies and materials to flesh out his points. They all come together at the end to form a conclusion and a basis which we can use to practice reading the minds of others. I found this book very informative and easy to understand. Overall, I thought it was a very interesting read and is suitable for even beginners in psychology.
Focused on the 6th sense we have in detecting when another has a mind. Offered a nice supplement to a book I just finished, "Evolution of God" by Robert Wright where he emphasized the need to understand another's perspective. In Mindwise, the author cites research that merely imagining how another feels or what their motivations can still result in barely better results than guessing but high confidence in our own (mostly inaccurate) predictions. We tend to be overconfident and ego-centric. The solution is to engage the other and truly find out how they feel and their motivation based on a dialogue, vs just our imagination of their mind.
We have a ... "universal tendency to assume that other’s minds are less sophisticated and more superficial than one’s own."
Another takeaway was the term naive realism. While I've been familiar with the concept, I like that there is a name and official definition given to it. Naive realism. "The intuitive sense that we see the world out there as it actually is. Rather than as it appears from our own perspective."
Mindwise also delved very carefully into some religious/spirituality topics. How can you not when talking about the imagination of minds, though. He did so without spending much time on it, nor much emphasis.
"Those who tended to reason by relying on their intuition were also more likely to report believing in the existence of a mindful god. Whereas those who tended to reason more deliberately reported significantly less belief." He goes on to reference David Hume's term of "ignorance of causes" to explain our tendency to anthropomorphize nature.