Anyone enrolled in an online psychology degree program knows that studying psychology exposes you to a broad range of topics related to the human experience – from the basic workings of the human brain and human development, to relationships, memory, mental health, and countless others.
Following is a diverse collection of 10 psychology-related Ted Talks about just a few of these topics. Some focus on mental health conditions such as depression and schizophrenia. Others address human behavior such as how to break old habits, what it takes to be successful, and body language.
They’re sure to give you some new insights into the field you already love – and may also provide you with something practical you can apply to your own life.
1. 10 Myths About Psychology, Debunked
Psychology is everywhere and we think we know a lot about the brain and human behavior. Listening to Mozart, for example, boosts your brain power, right? And people are either an analytical left-brained learner or a creative right-brained learner. In this talk, Ben Ambridge, psychologist, researcher, author and senior lecturer at the University of Liverpool, discusses the truth behind some of the most popular psychological beliefs.
2. The Optimism Bias
Why do we make resolutions every New Year’s with hope and good intentions? Why do we think that the future will be better than the past? According to cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot, our brains are biased toward optimism. In this insightful talk, Sharot explains that while there can be some risks to being unrealistically optimistic, for the most part, optimism has plenty of benefits.
3. Autism—What We Know (And What We Don’t Know Yet)
As a geneticist , pediatrician, and researcher, Wendy Chung, has made it her life’s work to increase understanding of the causes of autism spectrum disorder and help develop better ways to support individuals affected by the disorder. In this factual and informative talk, she explains why she focuses on the genetic factors and how early diagnosis and intervention can have a positive impact.
4. Depression: The Secret We Share
In this sobering yet eloquent talk, writer Andrew Solomon takes you inside his personal fight against depression – “the family secret that everyone has” – and his journey to understand it. Beginning with the “day hell came to pay him a surprise visit,” Solomon explores what causes some people to be more resilient than others, and why people who confront their condition are better able to tolerate it.
5. The Voices In My Head
As a college student, research psychologist Eleanor Longden began hearing voices in her head. The voices started innocuously and became increasingly antagonistic, and she was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Longden discusses her painful journey to understanding that the voices were meaningful responses to traumatic life events and the “good and generous people who fought with her and for her” and empowered her to save herself.
6. A Simple Way To Break A Bad Habit
Why is it so hard to stop smoking or lose weight when we know these habits are bad for us? According to psychiatrist and addiction expert Judson Brewer, it’s because the part of the brain that controls cognition is the first to go offline under stress. Brewer says that mindfulness training can be more successful at helping people quit negative behavior, and in this practical talk, explains why this tactic works.
7. The Key To Success? Grit
What’s the most accurate indicator of future academic or professional success? You might think it’s IQ, good lucks, talent, physical health, or even family income. Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth says it’s none of those factors. By studying children and adults in all kinds of settings – from the National Spelling Bee to West Point – to determine who is successful and why, she has identified a single characteristic as a significant predictor of success: grit. In her talk, Duckworth explains what grit is and why it matters.
8. What Do Babies Think?
If you’re interested in child development and how the brain learns, you’ll want to watch Alison Gopnik’s entertaining talk. A well-respected child development psychologist, Gopnik says that babies and young children are the research and development division of the human species, and that play is really a kind of experimental research program. She explains why babies are more conscious than adults and the benefits of thinking like a child.
9. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
Change your body posture for two minutes and you can change your life by changing how other people perceive you, says social psychologist and Harvard Business School researcher and professor Amy Cuddy. Her lively and entertaining talk dives into the meaning behind nonverbal communication and how our body language affects our minds, how we feel about ourselves, and our behavior, which, in turn, affects our outcomes in social situations.
10. Don’t Eat The Marshmallow!
This short presentation featuring author Joachim de Posada is a Ted Talk classic. DePosada discusses a landmark study on delayed gratification and how it can predict future success. Watch it if only to smile when you see how young children react when left alone with a marshmallow – and are told that if they don’t eat it, in 15 minutes, they will get another one.
Do you have any favorite psychology-related Ted Talks? Please share in the comments below.
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