6 Mind-Blowing TED Talks About Psychology & Human Behavior

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human behaviorThe human brain is complex and confusing, which explains why human behavior is so complex and confusing. People have a tendency to act one way when they feel something completely different.

How many times have you been asked “What’s wrong?” only to answer “Nothing,” even though something truly was wrong? Personally, I’ve lost count. Humans are strange creatures, indeed.

And yet, the craziness of human behavior doesn’t end there. There are hundreds–even thousands–of different aspects to our behavior that have a strange science behind them. Some of what you believe may actually be false.

Here are a few interesting TED Talks that delve into human psychology and try to explain why we are the way we are.

The Paradox of Choice

The secret to happiness is low expectations.

With a quotable snippet like that, I think it’s easy to see that the giver of this TED Talk is very entertaining in his delivery and insightful in his material.

In this 20-minute clip, Barry Schwartz talks about the gradual increase in choices that we have as consumers and how making the right decision in a sea of choices can have a negative impact on our lives. He calls it the paradox of choice, and it all stems from a simple assumption: more freedom leads to more happiness.

Watch this video and learn why the availability of choices can actually be a detriment to your happiness as an individual.

A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success

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Alain de Botton, a Swiss philosopher, presents a philosophical discussion on the modern world’s idea of success and how the structure of society influences our notions of success and failure. With a number of insightful illustrations and analogies, I think Botton successfully challenges the popular understanding of individual success.

He’s articulate, eloquent, and quite witty with his comments and remarks. Plus, he’s just plain funny. Even if the subject matter bores you (which I guarantee it won’t), you’ll still be entertained by his delivery style and his intelligent jokes.

Watching this clip was a pleasure and you won’t be disappointed.

The Surprising Science of Motivation

In this talk, Daniel Pink discusses the outdated notion of extrinsic motivators in the modern world. Outside factors, like increased pay and other incentives, can actually be damaging to creativity, inspiration, and motivation.

While the idea of extrinsic motivation was useful and effective in the 20th Century, Pink argues that this outdated idea must be replaced by a new one: intrinsic motivation. Because 21st Century tasks differ so fundamentally from 20th Century tasks, new motivational forces are required.

This is a mind-blowing talk that confirms what we, as humans, already know: productivity is heightened when we want to do something rather than when we are only encouraged to do something. A must-see clip, indeed.

How We Read Each Other’s Minds

In this TED Talk, scientist Rebecca Saxe discusses a region of the brain–called the Right Temporo-Parietal Junction–that is used when you make judgments about other people and what they’re thinking.

Through a series of experiments, Saxe shows how the development of this area of the brain contributes to how you view other people, their thoughts, and their motives behind their actions. In other words, underdevelopment of the RTPJ results in a lessened ability for representing and understanding another’s beliefs.

If you love science jargon and scientific analysis, this one’s for you.

What You Don’t Know About Marriage

Nowadays, it’s a well-known fact that marriages–at least in America–are more likely to end in divorce than a happily-ever-after scenario. However, writer Jenna McCarthy presents her researched findings about the factors that are common in all successful marriages.

As a writer, McCarthy has injected jokes and humor into her presentation. Some may find her cute and pleasant to listen to. Others may be put off by her attempts to make the subject matter funny.

Nonetheless, if you are interested in making your current marriage work or if you want to know how to bulletproof your future marriage, this is the TED Talk for you.

The 8 Secrets to Success

Secrets? Perhaps if you’re young or if you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last decade. The topic of success–and how you can achieve it–has been examined and studied to death. Everyone wants to be successful, but not everyone is successful.

How can you increase the chance for your own personal success? In this TED Talk, Richard St. John tells you in eight simple words.

But beware: even if these are the secrets to success, they are not shortcuts to success. There are no shortcuts to success. So buckle yourself down, watch this video, and prepare yourself for the mental fortitude that you’ll need in order to cross the line from failure to success.

Do you follow TED Talks? Tell us about your picks in the subject of your choice.

Image Credits: Psychology Image Via Shutterstock

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20 Comments - Write a Comment


Jeff Layden

I have seen all of these but you just gave me an excuse to review them. Very good stuff. I think if someone were to watch these on a daily bases, they would be very “successful”.

Joel Lee

I agree that if someone were to watch these every day, their mindset would transform into one of “success.” I believe that one of our problems as human beings is not that we don’t know, but that we often forget.

Great point, Jeff. Thanks for sharing.



Joel Lee

I actually had this video queued up, ready to watch, but at some point I lost that tab and wasn’t able to find it again. Thanks for the link! :)



Thanks I will check it out :)



Great list. Other notable mentions in the field of neurology: http://bit.ly/91LkB5 , http://bit.ly/8S0aPL , http://bit.ly/qNzY5 . Also it’s a bit ironic to posts youtube links for TED talks.

Joel Lee

I intended to link directly to the TED links, but there was no easy way to embed the videos into the article. No matter though, as the YouTube videos that are linked in this article are owned by the TED YouTube account.



You should mentioned this too.


Joel Lee

I tried to confine this list to official TED Talks, but that TEDx talk was great, indeed. Thanks for sharing it. :)


Humza Aamir

Amazing and thought provoking. Thanx for the wonderful share.

Joel Lee

Thank you. Glad you found it as awesome as I did. :)


Z.B. Manfred

I’d heard someone mention TED Talks before, but only the name; I didn’t realize it was an acronym, and thought it was just videos of random people named Ted. (YouTube has a reputation for being random like that.) Ted Kennedy, Ted Turner, Ted Williams… but probably not Ted Kaczynski.

I thought this was a spoof on “Steve Notes,” the unofficial term for Jobs’ keynote speeches at Apple, and that there’d be others named “Bob Talks” and “John Talks” or something like that. (“D*ck Talks” would probably be one that 4chan would put up.) ;-) Thanks for educating *me* that intelligent life does indeed exist somewhere in the realm of Astley, Bieber, and Chanonymous. :-D



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Chris Hoffman

I’m not a big Apple fan for other reasons, but part of the reason Apple is so successful is because it provides so little choice. Just a few solid products. Meanwhile, it seems like each PC manufacturer offers 50 different laptops.

Lots of companies and industries could learn from that video (and Apple).

Joel Lee

I definitely agree with you. Even though I’m an Android user, it’s easy to see how the iPhone holds some advantages.

All iPhones are standardized, so if you know how to use an iPhone, you know how to use it. Period. Whereas if you know how to use a certain Android ROM, that doesn’t mean you won’t be lost when trying to use your friend’s phone when he has a different ROM.

Too many choices can be burdensome, indeed.


I may disagree with the proposition on less choices. Apple may be the one with few choices and yet successful , but what it has got other than visual appeal . Other platforms like android have surpassed apple just due to flexibility it gives to users. Technically too ,apple is far more inferior than Android.
Choices are neccessary , We just have to tailor it our needs in a best possible manner . Those who cant do that , there is a word for them which starts with “L”.



Less expectations more happiness is very beautiful thought l believed and followed

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