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Five TED Talks You Should Watch To Learn About Psychology

Psychology is defined by Merriam-Websters dictionary as, “the study of mind and behavior.” Although psychology is much more complex and branches off into different disciplines, many people have pre conceived notions about how their brain works, when in reality they don’t know much. If we ever want to change the way something is, we need to fully understand it first. I was surprised as to how much I didn’t know about how my own mind works after watching the five extremely informative TED Talks below.

1. Elizabeth Loftus: How Reliable Is Your Memory

The TED talk starts off with psychologist Elizabeth Loftus explaining a legal case she worked on in the past.  Elizabeth has studied memory for decades and explains that ¾ cases of falsely convicted criminals are due to faulty eyewitness memory. She explains that people tend to distort their memory after stressful experiences. Misinformation is everywhere, especially in the media. She comes to the conclusion that memories represent you and your identity but knows that memories are riddled with fiction.

2. Angela Lee Duckworth: The Key To Success: Grit

Angela Lee Duckworth, a former middle school math teacher, explains how success is not simply black and white. She comes to the conclusion that doing well in school and life depends on much more than how well you learn. Her experience as a teacher led her to be a psychologist, where she studied how and why people are successful from a psychological standpoint. She explains that the one characteristic that stood out to her in all successful people, was grit. She defines grit as, “… passion and perseverance for very long term goals.” She says that grit is almost inversely related to talent and that talent is almost useless if you do not have the motivation or commitment to reach your goals.

3. Ben Ambridge: 10 Myths About Psychology Debunked

In this TED talk, Ben Ambridge exposes many truths of psychology. The first thing he explains that women and men are basically the same and not as different as people say. He says that in most tests, although one group may be better at some things than the other, the majority is an overlap. He also explains the famous inkblot tests and how inaccurate they are at diagnosing people’s behavior. One thing I found extremely surprising was that learning types are actually a myth. He states that the best type of learning is not determined by the person but by the situation or content they are trying to understand. He also debunks the phenomenon of the left brain being more logical and the right brain being more creative. This itself relates to the myth that we only use 10% of our brain because everything you do relates to multiple parts of your brain.

4. Amy Cuddy: Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Body language significantly changes the way your life unfolds. Human beings are known as being more interested in others’ body language more than our own. Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, explains that non-verbals are just as important as verbal forms of interactions. She defines nonverbal expressions of power and dominance and how they impact our communication with others. She points out that both human and animals have similar body language. She explains that it is obvious that our nonverbals govern how others think about us, but says that it is equally as important in how we think and feel about ourselves. She breaks it down to a scientific level, saying that powerful and effective leaders have higher testosterone levels but lower cortisol levels.

5. Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Psychologist Shawn Achor starts off his TED talk with an anecdote about his sister falling off a bunk bed, which led to explaining his career in positive psychology. He explains that if we keep studying only the average – we ourselves will merely be average. He says that changing your perspective on reality is something that could change your life forever. The external world is not what makes you happy, it is the way you view the world that does. He says, “The absence of disease is not health.” This really resonated with me because I agree 100%. Something I realized is that just because you are not sad doesn’t mean you are happy. Humans find the need to point out the negative things more than positive. But your brain performs much better when you are positive and optimistic. He concludes with the idea that happiness does not come after success but is essential in achieving success in the first place.

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