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You 2.0: The Mind's Eye

A runner crosses the finish line.
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Many idioms in English draw a connection between what we see and what we do. We're told, "Keep your eye on the prize." "Set your sights high." "I saw that coming."

Emily Balcetis, a psychology professor at New York University, knows that there's a deep truth to these sayings. As she shows in her book Clearer, Closer, Better: How Successful People See The World ,our visual system and our behavior are linked. We can use our sight, she says, to help us make better decisions and reach our goals.

"A hidden secret about goal pursuit is that what we see is really tied to what we think, what we decide and what we do," she says.

She lays out specific strategies for making the most of our sense of sight. In some situations, it makes sense to narrow our focus. At other times, the key is to change what's in our line of sight, or to make our abstract choices tangible — choices we can see, even feel.

This week on Hidden Brain, in the second episode of our annual You 2.0 series, we look at how we can use visual perception to change our reality.

Additional Resources:

" From Thought to Action: Effects of Process-Versus Outcome-Based Mental Simulations on Performance" by Lien B. Pham and Shelley Taylor in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1999.

" See What You Want to See: Motivational Influences on Visual Perception" by Emily Balcetis and David Dunning in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2006.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Shankar Vedantam is the host and creator of Hidden Brain. The Hidden Brain podcast receives more than three million downloads per week. The Hidden Brain radio show is distributed by NPR and featured on nearly 400 public radio stations around the United States.
Tara Boyle is the supervising producer of NPR's Hidden Brain. In this role, Boyle oversees the production of both the Hidden Brain radio show and podcast, providing editorial guidance and support to host Shankar Vedantam and the shows' producers. Boyle also coordinates Shankar's Hidden Brain segments on Morning Edition and other NPR shows, and oversees collaborations with partners both internal and external to NPR. Previously, Boyle spent a decade at WAMU, the NPR station in Washington, D.C. She has reported for The Boston Globe, and began her career in public radio at WBUR in Boston.
Rhaina Cohen is a producer and editor for NPR's Enterprise Storytelling unit, working across Embedded, Invisibilia, and Rough Translation.
Jennifer Schmidt is a senior producer for Hidden Brain. She is responsible for crafting the complex stories that are told on the show. She researches, writes, gathers field tape, and develops story structures. Some highlights of her work on Hidden Brain include episodes about the causes of the #MeToo movement, how diversity drives creativity, and the complex psychology of addiction.