During a series of official TED conferences staged over the past few years, four notable speakers shared their ideas about positive psychology, introverts, experience vs. memory, and freedom of choice. Their engaging presentations are must-watch material for anyone with an interest in the brain and behavior.
The new era of positive psychology
In this presentation, psychologist Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, shares his thoughts about the science and its shift beyond the mere focus on disease and mental illness. He also shares insights about what positive psychology can help people become. Rather than dedicate his career to studying abnormal psychology, Seligman instead targets the positive – optimism, character strength and happiness. He’s the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center.
The power of introverts
Former corporate lawyer Susan Cain, a self-described introvert and the author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” mesmerized her TED conference audience when she spoke about the abilities and talents introverts possess. In a world that’s built for extroverts, Cain argues that society wastes great talents by gearing itself toward catering to the extroverts. Citing legends such as Gandhi and Chopin, Cain illustrates just how introverts make the world a better place. She also explains why introverts are capable of great accomplishments, not because they’ve overcome their personalities, but because of them.
The riddle of experience vs. memory
Considered by many to be the world’s most influential living psychologist, Nobel laureate and behavioral economics founder Daniel Kahneman’s work has changed the way people think about public policy, economics and even themselves. In his TED conference talk, he discusses the ways that people’s “remembering” and “experiencing” selves often perceive happiness differently, and the implications the distinctions can have.
The paradox of choice
Renowned for studying the connection between psychology and economics, psychologist Barry Schwartz is known for his status quo-challenging insights about modern life. In this TED conference speech, Schwartz contends that freedom of choice does not make people freer. Instead, he asserts, it paralyzes and leads to dissatisfaction instead of happiness.