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.
  • @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.
  • @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.
  • @AthenaSees
    This was a great video. Thank you for creating it. One of the things holding scientists back from understanding human psychology and what grows healthy loving people vs. what grows psychosis is that we are observing identities or end results rather than observing the interrelationship between these end results. We become the people we are today because of what happened to us in our childhood. The spectrum of different outcomes is as clear as mixing colors. For a while we thought that red, yellow and blue were primary colors. In actuality cyan, magenta, and yellow are. This is similar to psychology. One of the biggest masks to understanding human consciousness is that people try to cover up their faults or at least reduce the actual negative effect of their actions by diluting it with other factors. Children become the kind of adults they are taught to be by those who are in charge of them. Many parents or adults have a hard time admitting that they weren't the best mentors because they tried to be.  
  • @ngyuenn
    Almost each of the floating university lectures concludes with telling the viewers that the subject will be a perfect one to major in college, and I agree each time!! I know it is almost impossible, but could Big Think continue with this series and make one on English literature?
  • @chrismokelky
    Taking psychology at college and he touched a lot of things discussed within an introductory lecture in psychology with social psychology. Very good video
  • @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!
  • @thedawapenjor
    Thank you Big Think for producing so many of these valuable videos for so long.
  • @brattenj57
    All I can say is: OUTSTANDING! Thank you, Paul Bloom, for bringing this to us.
  • @KikoMartinsUSA
    Professor Paul Bloom at his best! A synopsis of us, humans, just as the way we are. You've got to love him!
  • @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.
  • @halonothing1
    I just finished watching the last lecture in Professor Bloom's Introduction to Psychology course the other day. That course contained more interesting and potentially useful information than perhaps anything else I've ever watched. I'm definitely going to move on to another psych course and pursue it further.
  • Very awesome video. Big think is one of the only channel where not only are the videos very interesting and informative, but the community who follow it are also very intellectual. Love this video and will keep watching!
  • @raniyako
    I am a big fan of Professor Paul and very grateful for all his lectures
    Can you please allow the subtitle feature because i am very interested in translating it so that more people can benefit
  • @ashnesbitt4228
    I have never seen such an informative piece from a social perspective of psychology. I loved every second.
  • @AdamMusialBright
    Beautiful, clear, precise and simple psychology introduction - well done Paul Bloom
  • @Islldsj
    This man is such a great communicator. Very easy to understand his points. Great work !
  • @lifecloud2
    This was a wonderful lecture! I really learned a lot here. Thank you!
  • @beldonhuang
    How fascinating! There is also another talk by him, which I also found quite interesting, called "The Origins of Pleasure" on TED. So interesting that even made a video based on it! Highly recommend