Why Do We Believe in the Unbelievable: The Science of Supernatural Belief

APRIL 10, 2015

Dr. Bruce Hood

Professor of Experimental Psychology
The University of Bristol

What is the talk about?

Why do so many people believe in supernatural phenomena? Is it something we grow up with? Do TV shows and movies about paranormal activity feed our desire to believe? Culture plays a role in transmitting beliefs, but new research says that we are predisposed to form beliefs when we are young, and that this forms the basis for supernatural thinking when we are adults. Dr. Hood will examine the evidence for this idea, and demonstrate that even rational adults can hold supernatural beliefs that they themselves may not recognize.

This Hot Science – Cool Talks event serves as the keynote address for the UT Department of Psychology’s Breaking New Ground in the Science-Religion Dialogue Workshop.

About our presenter

Dr. Bruce Hood

Dr. Bruce Hood

Bruce Hood is a professor of experimental psychology and the chair of developmental psychology and society at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. His research interests include the cognitive processes behind magical thinking, which he studies at his lab, the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre. He has worked at MIT and Harvard, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Biology, and was the 2011 Christmas Lecturer for the Royal Institution of Great Britain. He is the author of three popular science books: SuperSense, The Self Illusion, and The Domesticated Brain.