“There is a picture of me that I treasure. It’s a bright early summer’s day, and I’m sat on a picnic blanket with my grandfather’s fedora drooped over my tiny two-year-old head and his thick-rimmed glasses sat crooked on my nose. He is looking back at me, my little yellow cherry- embroidered hat perched on the top of his head. I’m told I put it there to make him smile, that it was the first time he’d laughed since my nanna had died. It’s comforting to think this is true, to picture myself as caring enough and sufficiently wise at that young age to know how to give him a momentary respite from his grief. In reality, I was probably just doing what every child does, copying what I saw and mirroring his behaviour unthinkingly. That’s what made him laugh.
This imitation is not just a human capability. To observe and copy what others in the ‘clan’ are doing is essential to all learning. Have you ever noticed a kitten watching her mother clean herself only to try doing the same? Or you may have seen footage of a sea otter opening a shellfish with a rock. A young pup cannot do this until they’ve witnessed the act and then tried it a few times themselves. This is the nature by which mammals know how to behave in different situations. We observe, imitate, assimilate and repeat, sometimes knowingly, but often without even noticing.” Extract from Mirror Thinking How Role Models Make Us Human
This is what Bloomsbury have to say:
The first book to explore the importance of role models in shaping our lives through the power of the brain’s mirror neutron, widely accepted as one of the most important advances in modern neuroscience.
Most of us have someone we look up to and consider a ‘role model’, whether it’s a parent, a teacher or a manager. In fact, a lot of people we come into contact with, whether we consider them a role model or not, probably have more of an impact on us than we realise. The area of the brain that we have to thank for this is our mirror neurone, which learns through imitation, enabling us to grow and develop through the transfer of behaviours and knowledge. Some of this is through conscious learning, but there are many influences we are unaware of. Every interaction we have powerfully imprints on our brain through this neuron, regardless of whether it is something we want to absorb or not.
In Mirror Thinking, Fiona uses her experience and insight as a psychologist to empower us to leverage the mirror system to our advantage. Fiona unpacks the psychological principles behind the system in a real and relatable way. Readers are given the skills to consciously harness this knowledge and take more control over this incredible system. She also explores the broader societal implications of the system, including the influence of social media and celebrities, and considers the impact it is having on the younger population of today. Finally, Fiona looks at what it takes to be a great role model to others. If people are mirroring you, what are the things you’d prefer others not to repeat? And what do you want to see played back to you in someone else’s behaviour?
“Written in an understandable, accessible way – exploring complex neuroscience and psychology with some wonderful case studies and examples that bring it all to life. It is a book that anyone will enjoy and learn from – what more can you ask for?”
David Sole, former Scotland Rugby Captain and Managing Partner at the School for CEOs
“A very compelling and fascinating read. Fiona’s insights are incredibly useful both from a personal and professional standpoint, but also in the wider context of societal norms and our biases”.
Brenda Trenowden CBE, Global Chair of the 30% Club
“Mirror Thinking, Fiona Murden’s investigation into role models and how we are influenced by others, takes a fresh look into our socially-networked world. She writes with panache and authority, and lightens the subject with her own personal touch. Mirror Thinking holds a mirror up to our behaviour, our world, and how we can change things for the better; it is solidly researched, engagingly presented and packed with fascinating insights.”
Sir Dermot Turing, author of Prof: Alan Turing Decoded, trustee of the Turing Trust and the Bletchley Park Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford.
“An insightful and thought-provoking read, providing a different lens to understanding ourselves and others through the mirror system. This is a highly recommended read for anyone who is keen to reflect and consciously try to improve themselves and their interactions with others, but also help shape a better world.”
Maria Fasli, UNESCO Chair in Analytics and Data Science, Director of Institute for Analytics and Data Science, University of Essex
“As a professional athlete I found Fiona’s book very insightful on both a professional and personal level. Mirror thinking is something we all do and Fiona gives a great insight on how this influences not just our life but those around us. I highly recommend adding this book to your collection.”
David Smith MBE, Nike Athlete, 2x World Champion and London 2012 Gold Medallist.
Image Pexels – Gustavo Fring