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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2013
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
on 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
on November 29, 2012
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
on 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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2012
Berdik excels at summarizing research and he keeps his aim sharp. He focuses on various ways our expectations of things impact the results, from performance in sports, to medical treatments, to addiction. The key element in our psychology is anticipation and being able to manipulate what we anticipate.

Some of the studies I'd read about before, but there were many inquiries into placebo and sports psychology that were new to me, and memorable. The long uncomfortable relationship between science and placebo has some entertaining origins, which Berdik explores early on, and returns to at the close of the book. He closely examines the wild word of wines, and the circular relationships between what we're told about wine and what we experience when we drink them.

I read the book in two sittings, over several hours, which is in many ways the best review I can possibly give. Towards the middle the repetitive pattern of reporting on research dragged thin, but the closing chapters were strong and returned to the core theme of examinations of placebo.

I'd recommend Mind over Mind it to anyone trying to better understand their own habits, and the latest scientific understanding of how our brains and psychology help and hurt us in trying to live the lives we desire. The book isn't structured around how-to advice, but there are plenty of lessons in each chapter that clarify erroneous beliefs about how our beliefs work, which if nothing else will lead to great conversations with your doctors, trainers and partners.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2012
This book is a terrific combination of interesting and amusing real life situations looked at from the perspective of scientific studies that give a fascinating glimpse into what makes us humans tick. Berdik has done thorough research into the cases he discusses and he does it with humor and high quality writing deep enough for a scientist while also totally accessable to the layman. I recommend this book for anyone who wants either some good knowledge or a happy chuckle into the mysteries of human nature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2013
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 over our actual experiences. This power goes way beyond the placebo effect. What we imagine will be true can actually effect the brain's neurochemical responses:
"The brain has many ways to make good on our expectations, both good and bad. In response to a clinician's promise, the brain releases painkillers as strong as morphine. Anxiety short-circuits anticipation and the athlete's worst fears come true...simply looking powerful drops cortisol and raises testosterone as much as actually being in charge, and sometimes more. Time and again, the effects of expectations and assumptions mimic at least some of the changes triggered by more conventional means." (pp. 201,180)

(Whoa.)

So, what can you expect by reading this book? The author shares his expectations:
"The research in this book doesn't promise mind control or unlimited success or freedom from struggle and loss. Its greatest value may be to encourage us to stand back and challenge our assumptions from time to time. We might be bold enough to compare that pricey wine we've grown so attached to with a cheaper bottle in a blind taste test. We might question whether we truly are shy, or not great with numbers, or a poor public speaker. Maybe we'll try to walk a little taller or reinterpret our jitters before a test for extra motivation...Hopefully, through all this questioning, we will gradually build up more trust in ourselves...Even if we don't have all the answers, we can be a little less insistent on separating what we imagine and what's real." (p. 230)

This book, no doubt, can change the way you think about your thinking. Expect to be engaged, entertained, and even surprised when reading this book. And, as (I expect) you'll see, expectations are often more than you expect!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2012
Berdik's new book is enjoyable on a number of levels. First, the examples of how the mind affects outcomes, and vice versa, are well-written and fascinating. I expecially liked the examples from the sports world. Who would have known why British soccer players are so bad at penalty shootouts? (Answer: they expect to be bad.) His style is flowing and easy to read; I found it difficult to put down because I wanted to see what would come next. Frankly, I would have hoped that each section were longer, with even more examples. Perhaps he will devote his next book to expansions of the several important topics highlighted here. Berdik presents surprising and useful hints and directives as to how we can improve our lives by recognizing that our expectations truly "bend" our reality. Fellow wine lovers, your purchasing patterns never will be the same after reading this book. Lots of folks on my Christmas list will be getting a copy of Mind Over Mind this year. Lucky them!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2013
I finished reading this excellent book more than two months ago, and I still find myself thinking about it almost 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 awareness, and thus live a happier and more effective life.
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