Dr. Tali Sharot Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Dr. Tali Sharot  

Leading Expert on Human Decision-Making & Optimism; Cognitive Neuroscientist & Author

Tali Sharot is an award-winning author and acclaimed Professor, leading expert on decision-making and emotion.

Professor Sharot divides her time between MIT and University College London where she directs the Affective Brain Lab. Sharot’s thought-provoking insights have helped organizations induce behavioural change, create decision-making policies, and shift beliefs.

Sharot’s ground-breaking work at the intersection of behavioral economics, psychology and neuroscience has been used by businesses to improve leadership skills, rethink messaging and refine strategy. Sharot is known for delivering engaging talks that are simultaneously lively and informative – explaining deep ideas about human behaviour in a simple way and highlighting how those insights can be implemented in a range of fields including finance, marketing, health and public policy. Her books - The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others and The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain - have been widely praised, including by the New York Times, Time magazine, Forbes, The Huffington Post and more. Professor Sharot has been a guest on CNN, The Today Show, MSNBC, co-presented BBC’s Science Club and spoke at TED. Her two TED talks have been viewed over 12M times.

Her speaking audiences also include Google, Microsoft, The European Parliament, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, Citibank, Deloitte & Touche, Johnson & Johnson and the World Economic Forum, among many others. She has written for top publications including TIME magazine, The Guardian, The Washington Post and the New York Times.

Speech Topics


Driving Successful Innovation: The Surprising Power of Expectations

Successful innovation hinges on the ability to find new solutions to existing problems. Solutions that 1) other people did not think of, 2) did not dare to implement, 3) failed to carefully plan out, or 4) never managed to get working. What is it that makes certain ndividuals and organizations more likely to prosper at each of these steps? Based on surprising findings from social science, neuroscience and economics Tali Sharot shows how expectations can drive innovation. From directing our imagination towards promising solutions to increasing the likelihood that companies will launch new endeavors by biasing risk perception, (seemingly) unrealistic optimistic predictions have been linked to effective entrepreneurship. Yet, innovators are confronted with a paradoxical task: to remain confident while being mindful of potential obstacles. In this talk Sharot presents methods and practices that leaders can implement to induce real positive expectations, ones that trigger novel ideas and successful implementation.

The Business of Moving Others: Using the New Science of the Mind to Induce Behavioral Change

A major goal of managers and companies is to induce behavioral change. We want to influence the actions of our clients, employees, colleagues (and even our kids) in positive ways. But are we using the right tools? In this presentation Tali Sharot demonstrates that by relying on empirical findings from the behavioral sciences we are more likely to have an effect on peoples’ beliefs and actions. Tali uses her own cutting edge science to highlight the power of providing positive information over tactics that involve scaring people into action. People are more likely to listen when you tell them how things can be better, rather than where the dangers lie. She explains how we can use innate human biases (such as the tendency to conform) in subtle ways to nudge people in the right direction, which biases are universal and which differ with culture, gender and age. The Hidden Pitfalls of “Crowd Wisdom”: How Can Leaders Lead In a World Where One Hundred Brains Are Perceived to be Better Than One The very fashionable approach to decision making, popularized by “The Wisdom of Crowds”, is that whether selecting a business strategy or a dinner menu the more brains contributing to a decision the better. Crowd sourcing is all the rage and none of us dare make a decision without consulting online forums. But new findings show that the crowd is wise as long as the people in it are making their judgements independently, oblivious to what the next guy is thinking. How often does that happen in life? Not often. We are social creatures and our default setting is to interact. It turns out that humans become increasingly irrational when making decisions together. In this presentation scientist, Tali Sharot, will turn to findings in psychology and behavioural economics to highlight under which circumstances two, three or one hundred brains are better than one, and when they are considerably worse. Tali will show the audience how to identify situations when groupthink can be helpful and when it can be detrimental.

Raising our Heads out of the Sand – Effective Decision Making and How to Avoid Pitfalls by Managing the “Ostridge Effect”

Many of our costly professional and personal mistakes could have been avoided if we had taken a good look at the evidence in front of us. Take the financial meltdown of 2008; economists have concluded that warnings signs were out there and timely action could have saved the market. Why then do we insist on imitating an ostridge, and is there anything we can do to raise our heads out of the sand? In this presentation Tali Sharot explains the dangers of the “ostridge effect” to managers, policy makers and companies. Using her own work as well as other’s from psychology, neuroscience and behavioral economics, Tali shows that the tendency to look away when reality is undesirable is fundamental to human nature and thus difficult to overcome. It is therefore crucial to form strategies and policies to manage this human tendency before it leads to disaster. Tali outlines best practices for leaders and employees that will help do so.

Moving Forward

The current pandemic has forced people to change the way they work, live and interact. How can leaders help their teams thrive and adapt to the “new normal”? What are the likely obstacles workers face and how can they be overcome? How can we best navigate stress, anxiety, uncertainty and a restricted sense of agency? Does the crisis bring with it an opportunity to evolve? When under threat people come together; social cohesion is observed and people feel a new need to conduct meaningful work. This sense of “togetherness” and motivation can be harnessed. Research from behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience, provides useful insight into what people are going through and how to move forward successfully at work and at home.

The Business of Moving Others: Using the New Science of the Mind to Induce Behavioral Change

A major goal of managers and companies is to induce behavioral change. We want to influence the actions of our clients, employees and colleagues in positive ways. Sharot has advised some of the world largest companies, including Pepsi, Bank of America and Prudential, on inducing behavioural change. In this engaging, thoughtful and humours presentation Sharot shares which factors - according to empirical findings - have the largest impact on peoples’ actions, and why. Using her own cutting-edge science she explains how we can use innate human tendencies to nudge people in the right direction, and which commonly used approaches often back-fire. The audience learn powerful practical applications for inducing change and gains a deeper understanding of human behaviour.

Smart Choice: Making Better Decisions using behavioural science

Making good decisions is key to the success of any company and a critical skill for leaders and investors. Yet, making wise choices, whether regarding finances, business or health, is difficult. We now know that human decision-making is rife with bias; from over-confidence to irrational optimism and future discounting. The good news is that understanding where people go wrong enables us to improve the decision-making process. Sharot occupies a unique spot at the intersection of behavioural economics, neuroscience and psychology. From this rare seat Sharot integrates up-to-date research in decision science and transforms this knowledge into practical insights. In this lively talk Sharot helps the audience identify systematic decision-making errors and offers methods for corrections and improvement.

Influence: How You Affect the Opinions, Decisions and Desires of Others

Part of our daily job as humans is to affect others; we advise our clients, guide our patients, teach our children and inform our online followers. Yet, science shows we systematically fall on to suboptimal habits when trying to change others' beliefs - from insisting the other is wrong to exerting control. Based on her award-winning book, The Influential Mind, internationally acclaimed behavioral neuroscientist, Tali Sharot, explains how an attempt to alter beliefs will be successful only if it is well-matched with the core elements that govern how we think and feel. By understanding the minds and brains of those around us, we become better at advising and communicating information.

Mental Time Travel: optimism, imagination, and how thinking about the future alters the present

As our world is rapidly changing, companies and governments are occupied with the question of what the future holds. Imagining the future is a marvellous ability that can foster creativity and innovation. But our capacity to think about the future is also constrained - by the past, by what we hope will be true and by our current beliefs. In this talk, Sharot shares what science tells us about the human ability for “mental time travel”; how we can use this skill to our advantage avoiding poor planning and systematic mispredictions. Sharot builds on her pioneering discoveries in this area, described in her book ‘The Optimism Bias’, to explain how we can better prepare for, and shape, the future, today.

Related Speakers View all


More like Dr.