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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Optimistic Versus Pessimistic Brains

October 2, 2011, 11:00 AM

What's the Latest Development?

Whether you think you can learn from a mistake may influence your ability to make better decisions in the future, suggests a recent study to be published in Psychological Science. Researchers studied how the brain reacts to mistakes in two different groups of people: Those who think intelligence is malleable and those who think it is predetermined and fixed. By giving individuals a simple task in which it was easy to make a mistake, the researchers were able to see differences in the brain activity among the two groups of people. 

What's the Big Idea?

The differences in the cerebral reactions between the two groups of people translated to important behavioral differences: Individuals who thought of intelligence as malleable were more likely to bounce back from their errors and pay more attention to their behavior in the future. In short, they monitored themselves for mistakes while individuals who thought of intelligence as fixed were resigned to repeating the same errors in the future. The research could help show people that they can learn more by understanding how their brain reacts to mistakes.


Optimistic Versus Pessimist...

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