Paul Bloom is a distinguished scientist and award-winning author with an international reputation. He is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Yale and a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. His work seeks to uncover how children and adults understand themselves, others, and the world at large, with a special focus on pleasure, morality, religion, fiction, and art. His research is heavily interdisciplinary, incorporating concepts from cognitive, social, and developmental psychology as well as evolutionary theory, behavioral economics, and philosophy.
One of Yale’s most renowned professors, he had the honor of having his immensely popular Intro to Psychology class be one of the first to be made available online for free through Open Yale Courses. The same course is now the basis for his latest release, Psych, a riveting guide to understanding ourselves and those around us. Fellow Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos calls it a "fascinating deep dive into the mysteries of human psychology." In the accessible and engaging manner that trademarks both Bloom's teaching and writing styles, he challenges common psych theories, explores the most intimate aspects of human nature, and reveals what psychology can tell us about both the most pressing moral and political issues of our time as well as the key to living happy and fulfilling lives.
Prior to Psych, Bloom authored six other books which all get to the roots of different human phenomena such as empathy, morality, and pleasure, written to appeal to laymen and professionals alike: The Sweet Spot, Against Empathy, Just Babies, How Pleasure Works, How Children Learn the Meanings of Words, and Descartes’ Baby.
Bloom’s work has been published in scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and he writes frequently for popular publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. He is the co-editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and the former president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology. Among his numerous honors and awards are the Klaus J. Jacobs Award, the Stanton Prize, and the Eleanor Maccoby Book Award.
The Psychology of Preference, Attraction, and Pleasure
In this talk, Paul Bloom summarizes the state-of-the-art findings from cognitive science and social psychology on why people are drawn to certain objects, including consumer products. The research findings that he presents suggest that people are natural essentialists when it comes to these everyday objects; we are strongly affected by what we see as their deeper natures, including who created them and where they came from. This influences our preferences in often surprising and counter-intuitive ways.
The Origins of Good and Evil
Where do our gut feelings about issues such as abortion, torture, and gay marriage come from? Do liberals think differently from conservatives? How much does religion matter? Based on his own research into everyday morality—including studies of babies and young children—Paul Bloom explores the factors that underlie moral conflict, and explores also how, at a deeper level, we all share the same sense of right and wrong.
The New Science of Pleasure, Happiness, and the Good Life
This presentation is an accessible and extremely funny discussion of everyday pleasure, drawing upon the research and ideas from Paul Bloom’s book, How Pleasure Works. In a wide-ranging discussion, he argues that there are deep and surprising commonalities in the pleasures that we get from art, food, sex, stories, and consumer products.