100 Fascinating Psychology Lectures Online

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August 9th, 2010

The way the human mind works isn’t something that we always understand, but psychologists have been trying for centuries to unravel some of the mysteries that lie behind why we think and act in the ways that we do. In these highly informative lectures, students can get an online education in some of the biggest issues in psychology and human behavior, from what makes us happy to how we deal with trauma, and just about everything in between.

Field at Large

Gain a greater understanding of where the field of psychology stands today and where those working in it hope it will move in the future from these lectures.

  1. Martin Seligman on Positive Psychology: In this video from TED, Seligman talks about the future of psychology and the importance of focusing not just on disease but the healthy mind as well.
  2. The Trouble With Psychiatry: Professor at the Tufts School of Medicine, Daniel Carlat, talks about some of the deeply troubling problems that lie at the heart of current psychiatric practices.
  3. Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in the US: Learn about the startling rise in mental illness in the US and the ways in which psychiatric drugs may be facilitating this rise.
  4. A Child Psychiatrist Explores Her Mother’s Suicide: Nancy Rappaport discusses her own painful experiences dealing with suicide as a child in this moving lecture.
  5. New Windows on the Brain: Magnetic Resonance Imaging: In this lecture, you’ll learn how technologies like the MRI are improving doctors’ abilities to diagnose conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  6. Intellect or Instinct: Contemporary View of the Death Drive: Described by Freud as a drive in all things to restore an earlier state of things, this lecture takes a look back at how this theory can be applied in modern psychology to address self-destructive or aggressive behavior.
  7. Psychology Comes of Age: Learn more about the history of psychology and how it got to be where it is today in this lecture.
  8. Psychology Through History: In this lecture, you’ll get a chance to see how psychology has changed throughout the ages.
  9. History of Intelligence Testing: Want to better understand how the IQ test was created? Take a listen to this lecture.
  10. The Science of Psychology: Through this lecture, you’ll get a chance to learn more about the science and biology that underlies psychology.

Learning and Development

In these lectures, you’ll be able to learn how humans grow, develop and change and what it takes to make that happen in a healthy, normal way.

  1. Beyond Decoding: Word Knowledge and Reading Skill: This lecture will teach you about how humans learn how to read and the cognitive processes that make it possible.
  2. Play Is More than Fun: Play isn’t just fun and games, as this lecture will show you. It makes for smarter, happier individuals at any age.
  3. Coping with Learning Problems: Misunderstood Minds: If you’d like to learn more about childhood learning problems, take a look at this lecture featuring several experts on the subject.
  4. Touchpoints Three to Six: Your Child’s Development: Learn how a child should be developing emotionally and behaviorally in their early years from this lecture.
  5. Normal Adolescent Development and Behaviors: Figure out which strange behaviors from teens are normal and which can be signs of illness or behavioral problems with help from this lecture.
  6. Sigmund Freud on Development: Whether you’re a fan of Freud or not, you can learn about his ideas, many of which had a big impact on modern psychology, from this lecture.
  7. Intelligence: How Do We Know You Are Smart?: What is it that defines intelligence? This lecture will address just that issue and explains the difference between intelligence and knowledge.

Society and Influence

Here you’ll find several lectures on the influence society has over the actions and beliefs of individuals as well as the ways in which human behaviors drive society.

  1. Life Lessons from an Ad Man: Learn how advertising can change your perceptions and even your enjoyment of a product from this lecture.
  2. Opinion Makers: Lies My Pollster Told Me: Here, you’ll get insights into how polls work to sway public opinion rather than record it.
  3. Psychology of Surveys: Measuring Public Opinion: This lecture will help you better understand how surveys work or don’t work to record public opinion.
  4. So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood: If you think young girls are being sexualized too soon by media images, listen to this lecture for research that backs up that line of thinking.
  5. Behavioral Finance: The Influence of Psychology: In this lecture, you’ll learn why people make the financial decisions you do and how logic isn’t always the driving force behind them.
  6. How Human Psychology Drives the Economy: Check out this lecture for insights into how changes in human thinking can change markets worldwide.
  7. Attitudes and Behaviors: How Can We Be Controlled?: This MIT lecture will show you the basics of how opinion and behavior can be influenced and controlled by outside sources.


Give these lectures a try to gain a better understanding of the biological factors that underlie how we think and act.

  1. Al Seckel Says Our Brains are Mis-Wired: Learn how the ways our brains and eyes are wired allows them to be fooled.
  2. Structural Plasticity in the Adult Brain: Given at Princeton, this lecture will teach you about the mechanisms by which the adult brain can adapt and change.
  3. Steven Pinker Chalks It Up to the Blank Slate: In this lecture, you can hear Pinker’s assertion that the mind isn’t just a blank slate and that we’re all born with some innate traits.
  4. Brains, Beliefs and Beyond: Want to understand the biological foundations of morality? This lecture from Michael Gazzaniga can help you unravel some of the mysteries of the brain.
  5. Helen Fisher Studies the Brain in Love: In this lecture, you’ll learn how our brains are hardwired for love and how they change when we are enamored or have had our hearts broken.
  6. Evolution of Our Moral Intuitions: Marc Hauser argues in this lecture that morality may be hardwired into our brains.
  7. Biology of Mood: Molecules on Your Mind: More and more children are being medicated with drugs like Ritalin, but learn in this lecture how they can affect the brain and cause depression later in life if a child doesn’t truly need them.
  8. The Psychology of Blink: Based on the best-selling book by Malcolm Gladwell, this lecture explains how the brain works to make split second decisions.
  9. Sleep: Where Biology and Psychology Meet: Learn both the physical and mental reasons behind our need for sleep and rest in this lecture.
  10. Your Body Affects Your Thoughts: Check out this lecture from Missouri State to see how your physical well-being has a big impact on how you feel mentally.
  11. The Brain: Between the Ears, Behind the Eyes: This lecture will teach you some of the basics of brain biology.


The study of the self and the struggle to define identity is an integral part to understanding human behavior. Give these lectures a try to better understand your feeling of self and how we define who we are.

  1. Who Are You? The Psychology of the Self: In this lecture from MIT, you’ll learn the basics of the psychological studies and theories related to self identity.
  2. Humanistic Psychology on Personality: Check out this lecture for insights into how a humanistic approach to psychology views personality.
  3. Identity Across Space and Time and the Soul Theory: You likely aren’t the same person today you were ten years ago– few are. Learn how identity changes over time through this lecture from Yale.
  4. Personal Identity: What Matters: Do you have certain traits that you feel define you? This lecture deals with what matters most in defining who we are.
  5. Disability and Identity: Learn how having a disability could change how you define yourself as an individual.
  6. Consciousness: What Does It Mean to Be You?: Take a look at the conscious mind and what it means to see yourself as an individual from a psychological standpoint in this lecture.

Social Interaction

These lectures provide you with a chance to learn more about human interactions and social life.

  1. How Stereotypes Affect Us: Social psychologist Claude Steele discusses how widely held stereotypes can influence how we act, even if we’re not aware of it.
  2. Communication and Conflict in Couples and Families: In this series of lectures, students can better understand how intimate dynamics in families and couples work.
  3. Steven Pinker on Language and Thought: Steven Pinker talks about how the words we choose to express our thoughts might let on more than we think to our real feelings.
  4. How the Internet Enables Intimacy: Stefana Broadbent talks about how new technologies aren’t necessarily pushing us apart but allow for greater intimacy and connection.
  5. Daniel Goleman on Compassion: In this lecture, you’ll learn more about human compassion and why we are so reluctant to practice it.
  6. Games People Play: Game Theory in Everyday Life: Learn how game theory applies to common social, economic and political interactions in this video.
  7. Intercultural Communication and Media: Think you know another culture? This lecture may prove otherwise, as Lynn Gregory explains how the media can change your perceptions of others.
  8. On Apology: Senior Psychiatrist Aaron Lazare explains why a simple apology can have a big effect.
  9. The Psychology of Drinking and Dancing: Most of us enjoy drinking and dancing, but why? This lecture addresses that and other issues.


It’s hard to explain just why you feel something is right or wrong– most of us just know. These lectures address that phenomenon and its origins in these lectures.

  1. George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness: Because it has no lasting biological benefit, the question of why humans behave altruistically has puzzled scientists for decades. In this lecture, you’ll get a look into the depths of human kindness and despair alike.
  2. Jonathan Haidt on the Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives: In this lecture, you’ll learn the five basic moral principles that form the basis of our political decisions.
  3. Philip Zimbardo Shows How People Become Monsters or Heroes: Ever wonder what causes such seemingly nice people to turn into cold-blooded monsters? This lecture explores the psychology of evil and what allows this shift to take place.
  4. Learning to See in the Dark: The Roots of Ethical Resistance: What goes into our ethics and morals? This lecture interweaves biology and psychology to explain our beliefs about right and wrong and ourselves.
  5. Biological Foundations of Morality: What Is Virtue?: Listen to this lecture to gain insights into what brain biology might have to do with virtue and morality.
  6. Automatic Controlled Processes in Moral Judgment: What controls our moral judgments? Harvard psychologist Joshua Greene theorizes it’s a combination of emotion and intuition with control and reasoning in this lecture.
  7. When Our Moral Compass Goes South: This lecture from Marc Hauser takes a different approach, positing that moral judgments are based on abstract principles rather than emotion.
  8. Our Buggy Moral Code: Why do we think that things we know to be wrong are ok to do sometimes? This lecture addresses the irrationality of our moral beliefs.
  9. Exploring the Mind of a Killer: Learn what makes killers tick in this fascinating lecture from neuroscientist Jim Fallon.
  10. Cognitive Neuroscience of Callous and Unemotional Traits: In this lecture, you’ll learn how the brain can determine the levels of psychopathy in individuals.

Decision Making

What information and processes we use to make out decisions is a fascinating subject of discussion, and one that is addressed in a myriad of ways in these lectures.

  1. A Monkey Economy as Irrational as Ours: Look into the foundations of human irrationality with this lecture on the way our primate relatives make decisions.
  2. The Art of Choosing: This lecture will teach you about how we make choices and how we feel about those choices that we make.
  3. The Upside of Irrationality: Irrationality doesn’t have to be all bad, as this lecture from behavioral economist Dan Ariely shows.
  4. Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error: Have you ever thought about why we so love to be right and so despise being wrong? This lecture addresses how humans deal with error, for better or worse.
  5. The Paradox of Choice: In this lecture, you’ll learn why having more choices doesn’t always lead to more happiness.
  6. Are We In Control of Our Own Decisions?: Learn why we’re not as rational as we think we’re being when we make decisions in this fun and illuminating lecture.
  7. Rethinking Free Will: Robert Kane addresses the long-standing debate of whether or not free will exists with societal expectations and morality all playing a role.
  8. Neuroscience of Human Will: Take a scientific approach to studying free will in this lecture from psychology professor Patrick Haggard.
  9. Tony Robbins Asks Why We Do What We Do: Motivational speaker Tony Robbins explains the invisible forces that push us to do what we do in this lecture.
  10. Emotional Hijacking and How We Decide: This lecture will show you how emotion can sometimes override reason when it comes to making decisions.
  11. Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness: Are politicians on shaky moral ground when they develop policies that encourage people to make certain decisions about their health and finances? This lecture discusses that topic and more.

Happiness and Motivation

Find out just what makes us happy through the expert discussions in these lectures.

  1. Dan Gilbert on Our Mistaken Expectations: This lecture will show you how unrealistic expectations can hijack happiness.
  2. Philip Zimbardo Prescribes a Healthy Take on Time: In this lecture, Zimbardo explains why slowing down can help you stay happier and healthier.
  3. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow: Discover more about what helps individuals find their flow and enjoy greater happiness, creativity and fulfillment.
  4. Positive Psychology: Praising Others, Changing the Self: Here, you’ll find discussions of studies on the positive side of human psychology, related to moral elevation, admiration and awe.
  5. Plug Into Your Hard-Wired Happiness: Break out of your mindset and embrace happiness with tips from this lecture.
  6. Don’t Eat the Marshmallow Yet: This lecture will show you how delayed gratification can help attain future success.
  7. Why Are We Happy?: How can we feel happy even if things don’t go as we planned? This lecture explains the mechanisms behind it.
  8. A Positive Attitude Creates Altitude: You are what you think, at least that’s what this lecture on the impact of attitude states.
  9. Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness: Take a look at this lecture to better understand the mechanisms by and the conditions under which humans are happiest.
  10. Motivation and Emotion: Learn what roles motivation and emotion play in human behavior with this lecture from MIT.
  11. The Riddle of Experience vs. Memory: This lecture from Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman will explain how we experience and remember experiences, and the happiness that comes with them, differently.

Unhappiness and Mental Illness

Not everything can always be hunky-dory. These lectures address what happens to the human mind when things go wrong.

  1. Remembering Trauma: Here, you can learn more about how repressed memories may not be a real phenomena and the lasting physical and mental impact of tragedy.
  2. Terror Dream: The Post-9/11 American Psyche: Learn more about the collective psychological response to the events of 9/11 from this lecture.
  3. Psychotropic Drugs and Children: Drugs to prevent anxiety and ADHD may be doing more harm than good in children, as you’ll learn from this lecture.
  4. Electroshock Therapy: In this lecture, you can hear surgeon Sherwin Nuland talk about the use of electroshock therapy to treat severe depression.
  5. Depression and Anxiety: This lecture will teach you some of the causes and potential symptoms of these conditions.
  6. The Psychology of Pain: Check out this lecture to better understand how the mind deals with pain.
  7. What Happens When Things Go Wrong: Mental Illness: In this Yale lecture, you’ll be able to study the effects of mental illness on the behavior and well-being of individuals.
  8. Defining Mental Illness: Are Suicide Bombers Insane?: Does a will to die indicate an underlying mental illness? This lecture discusses this interesting and potentially provocative topic.

Human Quirks

In these lectures, you’ll discover some things that make human psychology so unique, for better or for worse.

  1. The Uniqueness of Humans: Check out this lecture to see how some of the actions humans consider normal are strange to the rest of the animal kingdom.
  2. Impact of the Highly Improbable: Take a look at random, improbable events and how human thinking makes them seem less so in this lecture.
  3. The Pattern Behind Self-Deception: It might seem counter-productive to deceive yourself, but this lecture will show how we are almost hard-wired to believe these things and how these beliefs can get us into trouble.
  4. The Hidden Brain: Learn what an impact your unconscious mind might be having over your conscious actions in this lecture from Washington Post writer Shankar Vedantam.
  5. How Positive Thinking Undermines America: You might think positive thinking is a good thing, but this lecture will show you that it can actually lead to more depression, despair and unhappiness.
  6. Rodger Kamenetz: History of Last Night’s Dream: What do dreams mean? While we might never know precisely how they work or what they mean, this lecture poses some theories as to what goes on in our dream worlds while we sleep.


Learn what impact technology is having on our brains and behaviors in these lectures.

  1. What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains: Find out how all that surfing and Googling is influencing your brain from this lecture.
  2. Whither Psychoanalysis in Digital Culture?: Learn what role psychoanalysis has to play in our modern, digital culture in this intriguing discussion by Shelly Turkle.
  3. Transrobotism: Human-Robot Bonds: What happens when a robot elicits an emotional response and connection from a human? This panel discussion addresses the emotional and psychological impact of relationships with AI.
  4. Ceaseless Society: Is 24/7 Good for Us?: In this lecture, you’ll get a hard look at the way our constant access to goods and information is affecting our minds, bodies and spirits.

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