Paul Bloom explores some of the most puzzling aspects of human nature, including pleasure, religion, and morality.

Why you should listen

In Paul Bloom’s last book, How Pleasure Works, he explores the often-mysterious enjoyment that people get out of experiences such as sex, food, art, and stories. His latest book, Just Babies, examines the nature and origins of good and evil. How do we decide what's fair and unfair? What is the relationship between emotion and rationality in our judgments of right and wrong? And how much of morality is present at birth? To answer these questions, he and his colleagues at Yale study how babies make moral decisions. (How do you present a moral quandary to a 6-month-old? Through simple, gamelike experiments that yield surprisingly adult-like results.)  

Paul Bloom is a passionate teacher of undergraduates, and his popular Introduction to Psychology 110 class has been released to the world through the Open Yale Courses program. He has recently completed a second MOOC, “Moralities of Everyday Life”, that introduced moral psychology to tens of thousands of students. And he also presents his research to a popular audience though articles in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. Many of the projects he works on are student-initiated, and all of them, he notes, are "strongly interdisciplinary, bringing in theory and research from areas such as cognitive, social, and developmental psychology, evolutionary theory, linguistics, theology and philosophy." 

He says: "A growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life."

What others say

“Bloom is after something deeper than the mere stuff of feeling good. He analyzes how our minds have evolved certain cognitive tricks that help us negotiate the physical and social world.” — New York Times

Paul Bloom’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Paul Bloom

We humans

Is empathy overrated?

March 24, 2017

While it can result in tremendous good, empathy is also narrow, biased and surprisingly insensitive, suggests psychology professor Paul Bloom.

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We humans

Why pleasure is important

June 10, 2015

Psychologist Paul Bloom studies the nature of pleasure. In this conversation with Ben Lillie, he discusses how knowing the history of an object can profoundly affect our enjoyment of it.

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Examining prejudice: An in-office TED session

February 12, 2014

Last night in our office, we held a miniature TED session around the theme “Examining Prejudice.” And while it explored issues of discrimination and homophobia, it also veered to some unexpected places — like your dislike of Brussels sprouts. “When we think of prejudice, we think of stupid people doing stupid things,” said psychologist Paul […]

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