TED Talks Related to Psychology


Artist and computer programmer uses software and hardware to create dynamic artwork that responds to the viewer. Takes in concepts like synaesthesia, eye contact, body language, and phonemes.


Shows how we don't really have as much control over our decisions as we think we do. Trivial adjustments to the questions and choices we are given can have enormous effects upon our response. The power of the default, complexity, and relative benefits upon indecision.


Ad man shows how conventional thinking about the value of products and services can lead to irrational decisions by the producers and the consumers, and offers alternative approaches that are better for society. Smiley faces are more effective than speed cameras, and why make trains faster if you can make the journey more enjoyable? The value we place on things is as much a matter of perception as a matter of quality.


Beavioural economist shows how our intuitions are often misled and misleading. Using some revealing experiments, he shows how domains as diverse as nurses caring for people in pain might be using flawed techniques that cause unnecessary pain and suffering, despite the protestations of their patients, and that financiers trading on the stock market might well be cheating, but no more than anyone else would.


Journalist explains, with some amusing and amazing examples, how the pleasure we derive from consumer products may have more to do to our perception of their economic worth and status-giving properties than of their actual quality.


The normal trend with technology is to add features because the designers think it will make their products easier to use. However, as this talk shows, many features are added not because they should be added, but because they can be added. Many amusing examples are given of cluttered and simple user interfaces, demonstrating how simplicity should not be forgotten in the search for smaller and more powerful technology. Chimes with Barry Schwartz's talk on the paradox of choice.


How EEG has revolutionised the diagnosis of neurological disorders that were previously thought to be autism. With the correct diagnosis made possible by this technique, more appropriate treatments can be applied that transform the lives of these children.


Emminent psychologist Martin Seligman talks about how psychology and psychiatry have traditionally focussed on resolving psychological problems and are now moving toward helping healthy people become happier and more fulfilled and nurturing talent and genius.


Famous psychologist desribed how his observations about how conventional means to happiness are rarely effective lead to his discovery of "flow" where people become involved in a task where their skills are challenged at an optimal level. In these circumstances, people sometimes lose track of time and experience elevated levels of fulfilment and a profound sense of happiness rather the more superficial sense obtained from simpler pleasures.


A year after their life-changing event, paraplegics and lottery winners are equally happy. Dan Gilbert explains this counter-intuitive finding. He shows how the relatively recent but major evolution of the frontal cortex gives humans the ability to imagine situations with an 'experience simulator'. However, the simulator has an 'impact bias' fault that enables it to 'synthesise happiness', which, in turn, allows us to feel better about the world, despite our situation, resulting in our having a form of 'psychological immunity'. Some remarkable examples and experiments are used to demonstrate this phenomenon in action.


Moral psychology helps explain the differences and similarities between left wing and right wing political views.


5'47". With some familiar examples, the ways in which sound can affect our mood and our behaviour are demonstrated with startling effect.


19'43". Cognitive psychologist deconstructs happiness and explains what it is and how it affects us for the better, and sometimes for the worse.


7'44". Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran discusses the role of recently-discovered Mirror Neurones and how these give us the power of empathy, to a literally visceral level.


Animated commentary on how the quality of empathy has been shown to exist even in primates, and suggests that we are 'soft-wired' to be cooperative and empathic rather than competitive and hostile. Goes on to show how, given this innate tendency can help human evolution move in a more altruistic direction.


7'48". Philosopher Dan Dennet explains the evolution of preferences for sweet cakes, sexy women, cute babies and even funny jokes.


18'23". Psychologist Pawan Sinha argues that the human visual cortex can develop the ability to see much later than previously thought; dynamic visual stimuli seeming to be critical. He provides some moving case studies from his revolutionary Project Prekash to support his claims.


Neurospychologist Kim Gorgens describes the risks of concussion, especially in young people and sports, and argues for more attention to protection against such injuries.


Social scientist Sendhil Mullainathan shows how problems are not really solved when a solution exists, but when people are willing and able to use it; a step he calls "The Last Mile". His data shows how people are suffering and even dying from medical conditions for which treatments and cures have long been available.


Famous psychologist talks about the human capacity for kindness and compassion, and describes what can influence whether people express it or suppress it.


Sociologist Brene Brown talks about her research and personal experiences show that humans are happiest when, ironically, they open themselves up emotionally, thereby actually risking suffering.



Social entrepreneur Majora Carter, raised in the Bronx ghetto, talks about how local groups can and have achieved substantial improvements in their environment and quality of life with environmental and social projects that actually cost less than the national organisations they have replaced.

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Content last updated: 2011-06-20