Image - speakers
Past Event

Tali Sharot and Cass Sunstein: The Power of Noticing What Was Already There

Neuroscience professor Tali Sharot and Harvard law professor (and presidential advisor) Cass R. Sunstein have investigated why people stop noticing both the great and not-so-great things around them and how to “dishabituate” at the office, in the bedroom, at the store, on social media, and in the voting booth.

Have you ever noticed that what is thrilling on Monday tends to become boring on Friday? Even exciting relationships, stimulating jobs, and breathtaking works of art can lose their sparkle after a while. Sharot and Sunstein say that many people stop noticing what is most wonderful in their own lives. They also stop noticing what is terrible. They get used to dirty air. They stay in abusive relationships. People grow to accept authoritarianism and take foolish risks. They become unconcerned by their own misconduct, blind to inequality, and are more liable to believe misinformation than ever before.

But what if we could find a way to see everything anew? What if you could regain sensitivity, not only to the great things in your life, but also to the terrible things you stopped noticing and so don’t try to change?

For fans of Thinking Fast and Slow and The Power of Habit, Sharot and Sunstein offer a new study of how disrupting our well-worn routines, both good and bad, can rejuvenate our days and reset our brains to allow us to live happier and more fulfilling lives. Join us for a special online talk with Sharot and Sunstein about their work, based on decades of research in the psychological and biological sciences, and how they say it illuminates how people can reignite the sparks of joy, innovate, and recognize where improvements urgently need to be made.


Sharot photo by Michael Lionstar; Sunstein photo by Phil Farnsworth.

March 6, 2024

The Commonwealth Club of California
United States

Image - Tali Sharot

Tali Sharot

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London and MIT; Founder and Director, Affective Brain lab; Co-Author, Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There

Image - Cass Sunstein

Cass Sunstein

Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard Law School; Co-Author, Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There; X @CassSunstein

Image - DJ Patil

In Conversation with DJ Patil

Former U.S. Chief Data Scientist; General Partner, GreatPoint Ventures; Member, Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California Board of Governors; X @dpatil