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A starred review from Kirkus, check out some of the early buzz:

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Hivemind: A collective consciousness in which we share consensus thoughts, emotions, and opinions; a phenomenon whereby a group of people function as if with a single mind.

Our views of the world are shaped by the stories told by our self-selected communities. Whether seeking out groups that share our tastes, our faith, our heritage, or other interests, since the dawn of time we have taken comfort in defining ourselves through our social groups. But what happens when we only socialize with our chosen group, to the point that we lose the ability to connect to people who don’t share our passions? What happens when our tribes merely confirm our world view, rather than expand it?

We have always been a remarkably social species-our moods, ideas, and even our perceptions of reality synchronize without our conscious awareness. The advent of social media and smartphones has amplified these tendencies in ways that spell both promise and peril. Our hiveish natures benefit us in countless ways-combatting the mental and physical costs of loneliness, connecting us with collaborators and supporters, and exposing us to entertainment and information beyond what we can find in our literal backyards. But of course, there are also looming risks-echo chambers, political polarization, and conspiracy theories that have already begun to have deadly consequences.

Leading a narrative journey from the site of the Charlottesville riots to the boardrooms of Facebook, considering such diverse topics as zombies, neuroscience, and honeybees, psychologist and emotion regulation specialist Sarah Rose Cavanagh leaves no stone unturned in her quest to understand how social technology is reshaping the way we socialize. It’s not possible to turn back the clocks, and Cavanagh argues that there’s no need to; instead, she presents a fully examined and thoughtful call to cut through our online tribalism, dial back our moral panic about screens and mental health, and shore up our sense of community.

With compelling storytelling and shocking research, Hivemind is a must-read for anyone hoping to make sense of the dissonance around us.

Pre-order it here.



The Spark of Learning can be ordered here or at major booksellers.

If you’d like to hear more or discuss speaker engagements, please do contact me at sarahDOTroseDOTcavanaghATgmailDOTcom.



When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.(link is external)” – Dale Carnegie

I sat in my first college class with pen nervously poised, ready to absorb every word my professor had to say. I imagined that he would stand at the front of the class and stiffly, yet drolly – and preferably with an English accent – impart the wisdom of his many years in the field of psychology. Instead, the late, great Michael Fleming of Boston University stalked into the room with all the zeal of a velociraptor. He spent the following semester alternately delighting and terrorizing us – with shocking tales straight from the therapist’s couch; hissed, Mystery Science Theater style psychological commentary on scenes from popular movies; and by gleefully creeping up on sleeping students to startle them awake. It was my favorite class of a very long educational career, and it was a rollercoaster of emotions.

The lay assumption seems to be that learning is a dry, staid affair best conducted in quiet tones and ruled by an unemotional consideration of the facts, and historically we have constructed our classrooms and working environments with this assumption in mind. But I will argue that we learn – and work – at an optimal level when our emotions are fully engaged. Moreover, I’ll argue that even when a calm, careful approach is indicated (such as at the laboratory bench), we still do our best work when motivated by underlying emotional forces.
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Indeed, many emotion scientists believe that emotions are the most basic, essential motivators – that they evolved in order to drive us toward things that are advantageous for our survival and reproduction (high-calorie foods, attractive sex partners) and repel us from things that are potentially hazardous (rotten meat, venomous spiders). They do so in a way that is often not subject to our insight or control, and emotions can at times be so powerful that they hijack our entire cognitive and motivational systems. Anyone skeptical that emotions can take the driver’s rather than the passenger seat has never been in love, or experienced true grief. This centrality of emotion is what led scientist Elaine Fox to make the bold claim “emotions are at the heart of what it means to be human”.

The field of education is beginning to awaken to the potential power of emotions to fuel learning, informed by contributions from psychology and neuroscience. At the forefront of this charge is Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, educational psychologist and recipient of the Award for Transforming Education through Neuroscience. She argues that we need to consider social and emotional forces even when assigning something as seemingly unemotional as a physics problem. She details how emotions play a role in each step of tackling the problem: spurring motivation to get started, determining persistence, managing anxieties that one may not be able to solve the problem, and finally following a strategy to solve the problem that feels the most rewarding.

Thus, we can enhance the motivation, attention, memory, and productivity of our students by understanding – and then harnessing – the power of emotion. Not only will they learn better, but exploiting emotional power could also yield a truly transformative life experience.

2 thoughts on “Books

  1. Thanks for sharing this overview. I look forward to reading the book and will also share it with my granddaughter, Courtney, who is a teacher and an avid reader.

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