Tali Sharot


Humans have a bias. It is a bias that convinces the brain that everything is going to be okay.

In the prologue of her book, The Optimism Bias, Tali Sharot describes what she calls “the optimism bias” as the brain’s tendency to hope for a better future than should be rationally expected. In other words, what makes humans optimistic? According to Sharot’s book, this is “one of the greatest deceptions of which the human mind is capable.”

Sharot will be giving the final Chautauqua lecture of the semester Thursday, Dec. 3. Sharot is the director of the Affective Brain Laboratory at University College London, and her book will serve as the basis for her lecture of the same name.

“I’ll be showing that people have an optimism bias in their personal and professional lives and asking how this could be, how it affects mental and physical health and how it’s related to success,” Sharot said.

Chautauqua Lecture Coordinator Erik Liddell said the lectures should be tailored to their audience.

“This is not just for professors,” Liddell said. “This is not just for academics. This is for students. This is for the community.”

Liddell noted Sharot’s lecture will be appealing to a multitude of people.

“Sharot is a very innovative thinker and a very dynamic speaker,” Liddell said. “She’s on the cutting edge of human behavior, and her book has made a big splash. This is the kind of material I think everyone’s interested in, no matter their academic background.”

Sharot also said the lecture would have universal appeal.

“The audience will gain a better understanding of themselves, of what expectations of the future they have and how realistic those expectations are,” Sharot said. “You should attend if you’re interested in yourself or if you want to understand the people around you better.”

Sharot will be speaking at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 3, in O’Donnell Hall in the Whitlock Building.

All Chautauqua lectures are free and open to the public.