Bruce Hood is a developmental cognitive neuroscience expert and a British experimental psychologist and philosopher who was born in Canada.

His main research interests include intuitive theories, self identification, essentialism, and the cognitive processes underlie adult magical thinking. He is now located at the University of Bristol.

Hood earned a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy from the University of Dundee after completing his undergraduate studies in psychology.

In 1991, he got his PhD from the University of Cambridge, where he studied baby visual development.

He became a visiting professor at MIT and a faculty professor at Harvard University after migrating to the United States.

He is presently a professor at the University of Bristol, where he does research and teaches Developmental Psychology courses in the School of Psychological Science.


Bruce Hood Quotes on Psychology

This is true for many species. For example, birds of species that flock together have comparatively larger brains to individuals of those species who live more isolated lives. ~ Bruce Hood.

Ego depletion comes from American psychologist Roy Baumeister, who believes that enduring something stressful exhausts our capacity for willpower to the extent that we give in to our temptations that we would rather avoid. ~ Bruce Hood.

Defaulting to the self in explanations of human behavior enables us to draw an abrupt stop in the chain of causality when trying to understand thoughts and actions. ~ Bruce Hood.

Our identity is the sum of our memories, but it turns out that memories are fluid, modified by context and sometimes simply confabulated. This means we cannot trust them, and our sense of self is compromised. Note how this leaves us with a glaring paradox—without a sense of self, memories have no meaning, and yet the self is a product of our memories. ~ Bruce Hood.

This daily experience of our self is so familiar, and yet the brain science shows that this sense of our self is an illusion. Psychologist Susan Blackmore makes the point that the word “illusion” does not mean that it does not exist—rather, an illusion is not what it seems. We all certainly experience some form of self, but what we experience is a powerful deception generated by our brains for our own benefit. ~ Bruce Hood.

You only exist as a pattern made up of all the others things in your life that shape you. If you take each away, “you” would eventually cease to exist. This does not mean that you do not exist at all, but rather that you exist as a combination of all the others who complete your sense of self. ~ Bruce Hood.

The most horrifying idea is that what we believe with all our hearts is not necessarily the truth.” Memory as a Compost Heap We all know that we forget things but to discover that a recollection is completely fabricated is something else. It is shocking because it makes us question our own minds. If we all can vividly remember events that never happened, then this undermines the reliability of memory and ultimately the reality of our self. This is because part of the self illusion is that we know our own minds and recognize our own memories. But we are often mistaken. ~ Bruce Hood.

Our self illusion is so interwoven with personal memories that when we recall an event, we believe we are retrieving a reliable episode from our history like opening a photograph album and examining a snapshot in time. If we then discover the episode never really happened, then our whole self is called into question. But that’s only because we are so committed to the illusion that our self is a reliable story in the first place. ~ Bruce Hood.

Every child at some point in time has been told that they must “behave” and when they do not, they are “misbehaving”. What parents really intend when they scold their children for misbehaving is that they must learn how to control their thoughts and actions that conflict with the interests or expectations of others. Self-control is a feature of our developing frontal lobes of the brain and is central to our capacity to interact with others. Without self-control, we would never be able to coordinate and negotiate by suppressing the urges and impulses that could interfere with social cooperation. This capacity for self-control is critical when it comes to being accepted and without it we are likely to be rejected – labelled anti-social because we fall foul of the moral and legal codes that hold our societies together. ~ Bruce Hood.

When did this game of life become so unfair that we blame individuals rather than the circumstances that prevent them from achievement? This is know as the fundamental attribution error in human reason. When other people screw up, it’s because they are stupid or losers, but when I screw up it’s because of my circumstances. ~ Bruce Hood.

Most have no memory of self before their second birthday and, even then, the memories from around that time are fragmented and unconnected. It’s not that you have forgotten what it was like to be an infant– you simply were not ‘you’ at that age because there was no constructed self, and so you cannot make sense of early experiences in the context of the person to whom those events happened. ~ Bruce Hood.

Unravelling the complexity of human development is a daunting task and it is unlikely that scientists will ever be able to do so for even one individual, because the interactions of biology and environment are likelihoods and not certainties. There are just too many ways that the cards could stack up. More importantly, as the vernacular saying goes, “Shit happens”, which is a very succinct and scientifically accurate way of saying that random events during development can change the course of who we become in unpredictable ways. ~ Bruce Hood.

You only exist as a pattern made up of all the others things in your life that shape you. If you take each away, “you” would eventually cease to exist. This does not mean that you do not exist at all, but rather that you exist as a combination of all the others who complete your sense of self. ~ Bruce Hood.


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