The Power of Surprise

How Your Brain Secretly Changes Your Beliefs

Rousell examines the rich and complex nuances of the science of surprise and shows us how we can use it strategically to enrich lives.

Random events transform us. After studying formative events, moments that define us, for over three decades, Michael Rousell discovered that most of them took place during a spark of surprise. This breakthrough launched a fascinating journey from neuroscience to stand-up comedy. Rousell draws on research from a wide variety of brain science disciplines (cognition, motivation, neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence, persuasion, evolution, and learning), then examines those who already use surprise strategically (comedians, film directors, entertainers, magicians, and novelists). This examination illustrates the hidden, yet critical features inherent in surprise, while demystifying the complexities.

Surprise evolved as a mechanism to instantly change our beliefs. Rousell shows how surprising events produce invisible influence because they open a window to spontaneous belief change with no warning or conscious awareness. You’ll see how seemingly minor features of surprise create profound differences and can be used to strategically enrich lives, create positive mindsets, and maximize influence.