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Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations [Kindle Edition]

Chris Berdik
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.03
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

“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.

Editorial Reviews


"Although journalist Chris Berdik covers most of the usual topics, such as the famous placebo effect, he also delves into areas neglected in other books on the subject.... In the process, he uncovers some truly surprising phenomena.....MIND OVER MIND is a fascinating account of the power of conscious and unconscious expectations to alter our experience and our behaviour. If you think you might enjoy it, your expectations won't be shattered." - Irving Kirsch, New Scientist

"Explores the far-reaching influence of expectations - and reveals how you can use them to your advantage." - Emma Haak, O: the Oprah Magazine

"[Berdik] offers captivating case studies on the power of expectations, as well as valuable advice on how to use this knowledge advantageously." - Library Journal

About the Author

Chris Berdik is a science journalist and a former staff editor at The Atlantic and Mother Jones. He has written for numerous publications, including New Scientist, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The San Diego Union-Tribune. He lives in Boston.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1111 KB
  • Print Length: 286 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1591845092
  • Publisher: Current; Reprint edition (October 11, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007P7HURC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,951 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book on the Power of Expectations November 13, 2012
This is a good book about how expectations matter and matter a lot. It started out with sports and that sort of turned me off but after that it took off well. It roughly covers sports, consumption, relationships/people, and medicine. I thought the final couple of chapters on the placebo effect were particularly good.

The book goes into these topics in medium depth. It is not just light breezy stuff you often find in science-lite writing. The book drew me in and I learned something. This book has Amazon's "Search Inside" feature which lets you preview the book before you buy and I strongly recommend you make use of that wonderful feature.

Recommended for people who are curious about the human mind.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting to Some Readers, Not to Others May 5, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
On the plus side, the information in this book is interesting - very interesting, if you happen to be someone who is interested in why people do goofy things and think goofy thoughts. Also on the plus side, the author is an EXCELLENT writer. His style is very engaging, and his prose races along. It would be difficult to be bored reading this book.
On the minus side, the author doesn't really provide any insights on what you can do with the information. It's really more of a, "Based on the research presented here, people really are goofy." If you find that interesting, then you will find the book interesting.
However, if you're looking for the next logical step: "OK, People are prone to do goofy things and think goofy thoughts. What are some specific steps I can take to help me and my family members improve our lives as a result of this information?", forget it. The author provides no insight into this at all, other than two or three generic paragraphs on the last page of the book that basically say, "Now that you realize how goofy people are, you can try not to be so goofy."
Unfortunately, it's not that easy, because, according to the author's research, a lot of the goofy things people do and think really are HARD-WIRED into human brains, or, at very least, are at very subconscious levels. So, changing ones beliefs and behaviors isn't as easy as just saying, "Well, I'm not going to do THAT anymore!"
This book would have been much better, and been of much more value to readers, if the author had spent the first two-thirds of each chapter talking about the goofy things people do and the goofy things people think in various areas of their lives, and the final third of each chapter talking about specific ideas and strategies that readers can implement to address and overcome these natural tendencies.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Title actually nails it; recommended for the curious November 26, 2012
Very interesting survey and discussion of what we've learned (and haven't yet figured out) about how the mind often "operates in the future tense," and the surprising breadth and strength of impact on our bodies, behavior and performance.

Each chapter covers a specific domain in which our expectations - broadly speaking - somehow impact our "real" world. Berdik's syntheses of experiment results were often mind-blowing and had me reacting out-loud. Chapters on placebo effect are especially strong, as is the section on the impact of self-image on performance. Specific, applicable historical events are well-chosen, well-integrated and provide spark and humor.

Something that was important to me - a scientist at heart - the tone is appropriately modest given the limited volume and replication of these provocative experiments. At the same time, Berdik is quite persuasive that a simplistic, black-and-white model that treats the mind as intangible and separate doesn't fully describe our world or our experience, and ignores real and significant interactions.

It was great for me - a layperson interested in cognitive / behavior science who likes Gladwell-type books - but I could also imagine it being useful to someone in a self-help way, suggesting areas in which a reader might seek to improve his or her performance in some specific domain (e.g., presentation skills at work, dating).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Combo of Research and Storytelling November 29, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you enjoyed Nurture Shock or The Tipping Point, you will also love Mind Over Mind. It is a brilliant combination of science and story-telling - a non-fiction book that manages to inform and entertain at the same time. Different chapters will obviously have different appeal to different readers, but the book covers a variety of interesting topics, from sports to wine tasting to medicine to money, all of which skillfully intertwine current neurological, psychological, and physiological research with humor and a compelling, and often surprising, narrative. I loved the study about the milkshakes, for example. While I might have anticipated that the group drinking a supposedly "low calorie" shake would feel entitled to consume more, I found it fascinating that the subjects' brains were actually sending a chemical signal telling their bodies that they must be hungry just because they thought the shake was low cal! We all like to think that we are in control of our own actions, but it is amazing to recognize the extent to which we might be affected by our own expectations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meticulously researched. Excellent. January 11, 2013
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars In my top 50 books list for Business people.
One of my favorite books of 2014 (of the 52 that I read). This book reads like a series of case studies with reviews and discussions of research related to expectations. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Adam Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars A Really Fantastic Book!
When I was just 15 years old, a West Indian shipmate lent me a book with the comment, "Read this, it's good". Read more
Published 10 months ago by Robert V. Rose, retired education researcher
3.0 out of 5 stars Yes but what about ...
Interesting read; more thought provoking rather than practical.

For example, the book goes into how people can trick their body into tapping its reserves (the body... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Very helpful, it covers a lot of topics and has also many research basis. Maybe there is too much content related to placebo effect, but apart from that is a very interesting,... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Richar10
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting read
Nothing mind-blowing, but a solid compilation and presentation of insights and real studies into how thoughts are influenced by what we see or are told to be true.
Published 17 months ago by Alexeles
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected More
I saw this book in Oprah magazine and I was excited to buy it. It was not as interesting as I expected. Read more
Published 17 months ago by T-town
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read. Great facts.
I found this book very interesting, even though has tons of scientific data and research it feels natural and easy to understand. Read more
Published 19 months ago by A. Ricardez
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding expectations fulfilled
Very fun information book. Started to listen as an audio book on a trip liked it so much go kindle copy to go over ideas, studies presented. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Mcconn 318
5.0 out of 5 stars More than expected
The mind is a powerful thing. And, in ways that you might not even expect.

Chris Berdik's _Mind Over Mind_ reveals the power that our (often hidden) expectations have... Read more
Published on May 12, 2013 by Deb
5.0 out of 5 stars This one's sticking with me...
I finished reading this excellent book more than two months ago, and I still find myself thinking about it almost every day. Read more
Published on March 8, 2013 by Read A Good Book!
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More About the Author

Chris Berdik 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 Smithsonian.Com, WBUR (Boston's NPR affiliate), and

Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations (Current, 2012) is his first book. Interested in an author talk or reading? Go here:

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