TED Talks offer a refreshingly brief introduction to “ideas worth spreading” in every realm of human knowledge. Psychology, which explores the science of the human mind, is a particularly accessible subject for the TED expert talks since every human has at times pondered the mystery of their own mind. These three recent presentations have unexpected ideas about human behavior, and the new possibilities they offer for individuals.
Susan Cain on The Power of Introverts
The author of “QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” discusses the importance of introverts in her February 2012 TED Talk that received a standing ovation. In an extroverted, group-oriented culture such as the United States, Cain makes a case for valuing the special talents of the introverted and solitary and points to Eleanor Roosevelt, Ghandi, and Rosa Parks, whose quiet and soft-spoken nature empowered transformative moments in history.
Those who prefer to work alone or thrive in solitude often face a bias in classrooms and workplaces, where teamwork and presentation are highly valued. Yet, the ability to focus inward brings its own unique creativity and insights that cannot be found in a group “brainstorming” session. Innovative thinkers from Charles Darwin to Steve Wozniak developed their expertise because of their preference for being alone.
The rewards of the contemplative life goes beyond the satisfaction to introverted individuals, but the larger society benefits. Cain hopes for a more balanced future where both extroverts and introverts can thrive. “Culturally we need a better balance, we need a better Yin and Yang between these two things,” says Cain.
Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability
The research professor offers her views on human connection and the unexpected insight she has gathered from years of study on human connection that “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” In her June 2010 TED, Brown discusses how vulnerability, often considered a weakness, is actually the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.
Brown shares her research, as well as her personal experience, in facing this bias as well as in American culture. Brown questions why “We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history” and points to the desperate need to numb in this society.
After the success of her first TED talk, Brown gave a second lecture, “Listening to Shame” in March 2012, which includes her surprising reaction to the popularity of her first talk--shame.
Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness
In this early TED talk from 2004, Harvard professor Dan Gilbert presents his theory that humans are actually quite bad at judging what will make us happy. Sharing his research from both psychology and neuroscience, Gilbert argues that our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy. In his book “Stumbling on Happiness,” Gilbert points to two types of happiness: natural happiness, which is getting what we wanted, and synthetic happiness, “what we make when we don’t get what we wanted.” Gilbert makes a convincing and funny case for our "psychological immune system" giving us happiness whether or not we succeed.
In 2008, Gilbert presented a second lecture on “Why we make bad decisions” that includes self-tests from his happiness research, as well as a Q&A session.
Our Guest Writer today is Rob Tucker. A career counselor and guest author at Best Masters In Counseling, where he contributed to the round-up of the Top 10 TED Talks on Psychology.