TED-style talks, coming soon to APA
Beginning next year, APA’s public education
campaign will produce a series of “TED-style”
talks by prominent psychologists, which will
be available for free on the APA website and
for download. Linda Smith, PhD, of Indiana
University, will give the first talk, discussing
language acquisition in children.
The project is the brainchild of APA President
Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD, inspired by
her presidential initiatives to attract the next
generation of early career psychologists and
increase awareness of psychological science.
“TED talks are very widely viewed, and very
well known among the younger generation,”
she says. “These can attract the next generation
of psychologists and appeal to and educate the
The first talk will be available in 2013 and the
series will run through 2014.
important ideas into that short attention-sustaining time
frame. “The reason it’s worked is that we have not just
brilliant people, but people capable of communicating
brilliance to a broad audience and compressing it. Not
everyone can do that,” he says.
Choosing speakers, Anderson says, is an art as well as a
science. Organizers sift through thousands of suggestions from
the public and also pay attention to local TEDx and other
events to look for speakers for the main conferences.
Schwartz, for example, got a TED invitation after he spoke at
a small “TED-like” event in New York, where Anderson was in
the crowd scouting for speakers. Schwartz has been astounded by
the reaction to his talk. He first spoke in 2004 — wearing shorts
and a T-shirt because it was “unbearably hot” that day, he says —
and signed a permission form for the video to be posted online.
In the days before You Tube, he didn’t expect anything to come of
it. “I thought, ‘Who watches these things? Nobody,’” he says.
Check out these psychologists’ TED talks:
Barry Schwartz, PhD, on the paradox of choice.
Naif Al-Mutawa, PhD, a clinical psychologist by
training who has created a comic book of Islamic superheroes.
Paul Bloom, PhD, on the origins of pleasure and why we like
what we like.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD, on creativity, fulfillment
and the state of “flow.”
Dan Gilbert, PhD, on why we so often misjudge what will
make us happy.
Daniel Goleman, PhD, on human compassion — and why
we’re not compassionate more often.
Alison Gopnik, PhD, on how babies think.
Jonathan Haidt, PhD, on how human morality evolved.
Sheena Iyengar, PhD, on how we can improve the choices
Daniel Kahneman, PhD, on the difference between our
“experiencing self” and our “remembering self.”
Inge Missmahl, PhD, on bringing psychosocial treatment to
Laurie Santos, PhD, on “monkey economics” and how our
economic mistakes may arise from our primate brains.
Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD, on positive psychology and how
psychology can move beyond a focus on disease.
Philip Zimbardo, PhD, on how to encourage people to be
everyday heroes. n
How to give a TED talk
Want to learn to make your own research talks
more accessible and engaging? Veteran TED
speaker Philip Zimbardo, PhD, will lead a session
on the “Secrets of a Great TED Talk” at APA’s
2012 Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla.,
Aug. 4, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Zimbardo will analyze
the key components of a TED talk, using
examples of some of his favorite talks from
psychology and other fields.
MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY • JULY/AUGUST 2012