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Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,214 ratings  ·  208 reviews
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 be ...more
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Knopf (first published 2014)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  2,214 ratings  ·  208 reviews


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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
3.5 stars

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 o
...more
Damaskcat
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Darcia Helle
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it
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 cas
...more
Jennie
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: human-behavior
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 motivatio
...more
Anna
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 g ...more
Dr. Tobias Christian Fischer
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). ...more
Sean Goh
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psych
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
...more
Miranda
May 17, 2015 rated it liked it
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!)
...more
Sarah
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars. Some interesting info but overall pretty meh.
Lorilin
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wellness, arc
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
...more
Daniel Frank
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Juliet
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Marie desJardins
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
...more
Chris Boutté
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Saw some bad reviews of this book, but I picked it up anyways and wasn’t disappointed. This book is very enlightening about how we suck at reading others and what we can do about it
Elia Spyratos
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Nick de Vera
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Mira
Sep 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Pretty entertaining, easy to read, accessible to non-scientific audiences
Edrin
Apr 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Very accessible read of the psychology behind understanding minds: in ourselves, in others, in inanimate or conceptual objects.
Henrik Haapala
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very wise and one of the best books!

• 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 constructe
...more
E
Jun 11, 2017 rated it did not like 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
...more
Moayad Taibah
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 nice
...more
Aniel
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
"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 u ...more
Kevin
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Matthew Ting
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Very similar in style to 'Stumbling on Happiness', i.e. a bunch of practical psychology studies with some anecdotes in between. Reading this felt a little like reviewing my 2nd year social psych course. That being said, still took a lot of notes and think that it's a decent read. I did feel like it could be a lot more concise in what it discusses (tends to beat you over the head with the same few concepts), but still an enjoyable light read. ...more
Filip
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is about the failing of the human mind. People are bad at reading the mind of other, but also their own. At the same time, they vastly overestimate their own abilities at this skill.

Key points of book:
You do not really know what others think, despite that you think you do. Tests show only about 30% accuracy when subjects are asked what other strangers think about certain subjects. For couples, it was marginally better, at 37%, however, people thought they understand they spouse at 80-
...more
Dean
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: psych
U. of Chicago Behavioral Sciences Prof, Nicholas Epley provides a meticulous look into what he describes as an essential 'sixth sense' - the ability for humans to connect with others by understanding (intuitively and non) how another person is thinking and feeling. When this sensory perception is properly utilized it allows for a deep and honest connection with others but when misused conflict and damaged relationships are often the end result. Epley demonstrates the merits and negative aspects ...more
Eric
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nick Epley highlights great research, including his own, in this thought-provoking book about how to better understand the thoughts and motives of others, not in a spooky way but with real science. I highly recommend this great read.
Tim
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Understanding one another correctly is not as intuitive as we presume. There's wonderful insight here, and it's a neat and quick read. An easy recommendation. ...more
Himanshu Inamdar
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mindwise begins with a description of itself that pulls you in right from the start, “How we understand what others think, believe, feel and want.” The author Nicholas Epley, who is a professor of behavioural psychology at the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business, quotes Marcel Proust as we begin the journey to discover our real sixth sense, the ability to perceive what goes on in the minds of others. “The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not ...more
Gordon
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Nicholas Epley wants to tell us about mind-reading and, in particular, why we're so damn bad at it. It's not that we're no good at all at reading the minds of others. Our guesses about how others collectively view us -- as funny, attractive, intelligent and so on -- are correlated with reality much better than chance guesses. But our ability to know what any single individual thinks of us is much worse, and not much better than chance. Also, we vastly overestimate the accuracy of our ability to
...more
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