310. The Expectation Effect with David Robson

Our expectations can shape how we navigate life in more ways than one. Expectations help us prepare, but not just through action; there are actual physiological changes that occur when we’re anticipating certain things.

David Robson, “an award-winning science writer who focuses on the extremes of the human brain, body, and behavior”, joins us for this episode. Through practical takeaways founded on scientific theory from his book, The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Change Your World, David opens our minds to a fun and transformative look at the fantastical power that the mind has in making expectations a reality.

Learn useful tools that you can use to your benefit, both in terms of increasing positive experiences and better managing the harder experiences that are unavoidable. Tune in for this game-changing episode that will shift your perspective and day-to-day experience in some fascinating and surprising ways. 

Listen and Learn: 

  • Why David describes the mind as a prediction machine 
  • Unpacking Alia J Crum’s “Mind-set Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect”  study and why it propelled David to write The Expectation Effect 
  • Finding the ideal level of optimism and pessimism with regard to expectations
  • How can people’s perceptions of the same events differ so widely from one another, and why might this be a strength rather than a point of conflict? 
  • The power of context in directing our expectations and impacting how we experience the world
  • Is willpower depleting or self-perpetuating, and does mindset play a role? 
  • The placebo vs. the nocebo effect 
  • The three different mechanisms for The Expectation Effect
  • What is the best way to set up The Expectation Effect when we are experiencing sadness or depression?
  • How researching The Expectation Effect changed the trajectory of David’s depression
  • The parallels between The Expectation Effect and other disciplines like Buddhism and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy 


About David Robson 

David Robson is an award-winning science writer specializing in the extremes of the human brain, body and behavior. He’s written for the Guardian, the Atlantic, New Scientist, Men’s Health and many more. His first book was The Intelligence Trap and his second, discussed in this episode, is The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your World

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Episode 310