Paul Bloom: The Psychology of Everything | Big Think

Published 2012-10-24
Paul Bloom: The Psychology of Everything
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Give Paul Bloom one hour, and he'll teach you "the psychology of everything." Through the case studies of compassion, racism, and sex, Dr. Bloom explores the intrinsic fundamentals of human nature, including some of our most intriguing tendencies, such as the kindness of babies, stereotyping (which can be both detrimental and beneficial), and our universal sense of beauty. Additional topics addressed in the lecture include: "What do studies suggest is the number one characteristic that males and females look for in a mate?", "How can I get someone to have compassion for causes I care about?", "Are we all unconscious racists?", and even, "What do the porn preferences of monkeys tells us about our own sexual choices?"

Paul Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University. An internationally recognized expert on the psychology of child development, social reasoning, and morality, he has won numerous awards for his research, writing, and teaching. Bloom’s previous books include Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil and How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like, and he has written for Science, Nature, The New York Times, and The New Yorker.

Hello, my name is Paul Bloom and I’m a Professor of Psychology at Yale University. And what I want to do today is present a brief introduction to psychology, which is the science of the human mind.

Now, I’m admittedly biased, but I think psychology is the most interesting of all scientific fields. It’s the most interesting because it’s about us. It’s about the most important and intimate aspects of our lives. So psychologists study everything from language, perception, memory, motivation, dreams, love, hate. We study the development of a child. We study mental illnesses like schizophrenia and psychopathy, we study morality, we study happiness.

Now, psychology is such a huge field that it breaks up into different subfields. Some psychologists study neuroscience, which is the study how the brain gives rise to mental life. Others, like me, are Developmental Psychologists. We study what happens to make a baby turn into a child and a child turn into adults. We study what makes a baby turn into a child and a child turn into an adult. We ask questions like, how does a baby think about the world? What do we start off knowing? What do we have to learn?

Other psychologists are Social Psychologists. They study human interaction. What’s the nature of prejudice? How do we persuade one another?

Some Psychologists are Cognitive Psychologists. What that means is they study the mind as a computational device looking particularly at capacities like language, perception, memory, and decision-making. Some Psychologists are Evolutionary Psychologists, which means they’re particularly interested in biological origin of the human mind.

There are Evolutionary Psychologists. Evolutionary Psychologists are particularly interested in the evolutionary origin of our psychologies. So they study the mind with an eye towards how it has evolved. What adaptive problems it’s been constructed to solve.

Finally, there’s clinical psychology. For many people, this is what psychology means. Many people associate psychology with clinical psychology, and in fact, it’s a very important aspect of psychology. Clinical psychologists are interested in the diagnosis that the causes and the treatment of mental disorders, disorders like schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorders. It would be impossible for me to provide a full spectrum introduction to all of these sub fields of psychology in the time I have.

So what I’m going to do instead is I’m going to focus on three case studies. I’m gong to focus on compassion, racism, and sex. I’ve chosen these case studies for two reasons. First, each of them is particularly interesting in its own light. These are questions we’re interested in as people, as scientists, but also in our every day lives. And I want to try to persuade you that psychologists have some interesting things to say about them.

Second, together they illustrate the range of approaches that psychologists use. The sort of theories that we construct, the sorts of methods we use when approaching a domain. I want to try to give you a feeling for what psychology looks like when we actually carry it out.

The first case study is compassion. Compassion...

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All Comments (21)
  • @bigthink
    Thanks for watching (and sharing)! We have 5 more that we'll release from this series. Stay tuned.
  • @shalimarsgirl
    "Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind" William Shakespeare, and "The most important quality in a mate is kindness". That's how it is. Excellent video. Thank you!
  • @tomatoxflames
    Watched the Yale lectures he has on YouTube. Very good 10/10
  • @skeetdroid
    i really like the way this video was put together and the visual representations of almost unfathomable things. very good job! i wish all lectures were like this.
  • @Pepetex26
    the presentation: 10/10 ign would play again. the sound effects: please make it stop kill me now.
  • @thedawapenjor
    Thank you Big Think for producing so many of these valuable videos for so long.
  • @dave474c
    "The more easily disgusted you are, the more aversion you have to outgroups" Very interesting.
  • @KikoMartinsUSA
    Professor Paul Bloom at his best! A synopsis of us, humans, just as the way we are. You've got to love him!
  • @alecmorrow8431
    Genuinely an amazing teacher, not only sonicly aware and understanding of what he is teaching, but equally as much capable of being interesting consistently.
  • @less4wireless
    I have no idea if mister Bloom will get this, but I want to personally thank him for helping me understand psychology better. Thank you sir, I improve my grades by 20%.And my life! Thank you! 
  • @brattenj57
    All I can say is: OUTSTANDING! Thank you, Paul Bloom, for bringing this to us.
  • @jolness1
    This is so damn good, I would love to see these make a comeback!
  • I was thinking about this before typing it as a comment. This might be the most useful video I have ever watched on YouTube!
  • @felixxia3604
    the boy at 7:20, i want to hug him. i wish he would not change and have even more compassion like that forever. if only everyone is like that..... the world will be even more beautiful
  • @JoanaKompa
    An excellent general introduction to psychology without regurgitating history. Bloom's focus is very much on social psychology. I liked the findings on disgust and prejudice against outgroups. Compassion, racism and sex are great topics as they relate to the experience of many viewers.
  • @yoden666
    Wow.. learned so much right now. Thank for the lecture, very well done
  • @shegsdev
    How come I am just seeing this series? I love Paul Bloom's lectures...always interesting and full of wisdom.