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Talking Point and Summary: Week 1

I hope to have shaken up your assumptions about the reality of our ‘mental depths’ and started you thinking about the possible consequences.

I hope to have shaken up your assumptions about the reality of our ‘mental depth’ and started you thinking about the possible consequences.

In this video I talk with Jess about the common themes of this first week. Jess has also summarised the week’s themes here.

Week 1 Experiment

Now it is your turn to try out a psychological experiment!

Each week you are invited to take part in an online experiment that supports the course material and will help you consider the topics we have been discussing. Some of these experiments have featured in the BBC Radio 4 series, The Human Zoo, which I work on with journalist Michael Blastland. We designed these experiments to be fun and, we hope, informative. Each experiment illustrates something about how our minds work, but in addition, I’m hoping to give you a sense of how psychologists use experiments to uncover (sometimes very counterintuitive) aspects of the mind.

These experiments ran in 2013 and, now that the results have been processed, the website is no longer maintained, so may not be fully accessible or current and technical support is not available. Participants are encouraged to try the experiments in order to test this week’s theories in practice and see how their results compare with the overall findings. However, participation in the experiments is not essential to the learning outcomes of the course.

You can do the experiments in any order, all at once, or as the weeks of the course unfold. However, completing them week-by-week will help you understand the experiments in the context of the week’s material.

This week we are going to look at change blindness, see how quickly you can spot the changes!

Week 1 experiment

Talking Point

Before we move to Week 2 we’d be really interested to know how you’re finding the course, so please leave a comment or share some part of your experience so far. Think about different elements and resources you’ve used this week and what kind of impact they had on your perception or expectations of a ‘flat mind’, such as:

  • Did the experiments challenge your own perception of change blindness? Have you done something like this before?
  • Did Rory Sutherland challenge or reinforce your belief about how the commercial world looks when viewed through the lens of human behaviour?
  • Is there hidden mental depth, or is the mind an improviser?
  • What do you understand by the term a ‘flat’ mind?

On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 is a ‘believer’ and 1 is not) how much do you subscribe to the idea of a ‘flat’ mind? We’ll come back and ask you this again as we progress through the course – it’ll be interesting to make a note of your answer and see, at the end of the course, whether you’ve changed your mind, and why.

Don’t forget to contribute to the discussion by reviewing comments made by other learners, making sure you provide constructive feedback and commentary. You can also ‘like’ comments or follow other learners throughout the course.

Next Week

Next week we will turn to a specific and crucial topic: how we judge the properties of the world around us (height, weight, brightness) and our own experiences (e.g. pleasure/pain). The strange and unstable way in which we make such judgements will turn out to have surprisingly far-reaching ramifications.


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The Mind is Flat: The Shocking Shallowness of Human Psychology

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