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Developing a Sense of Self

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The sense of self is so compelling that we rarely question exactly what it is. When we talk about our self, we usually refer to an autobiographical memory of identity. Or we may be asked to give insight into our immediate consciousness such as, “Tell me what you think?” In both cases, we experience a unity of identity but I would argue that is an illusion that our brains generate to maintain a coherent narrative that summarizes the multitude of influences, factors and past experiences that generate our thoughts and behaviours. In this talk I will uncover the illusion of self and how this formed over our lifetimes and the critical importance of early developmental experiences in shaping who we become.


Bruce Hood is Professor of Developmental Psychology in Society at the University of Bristol where he has worked for the past 16 years. He obtained his Ph.D. from Cambridge and worked at MIT and Harvard before returning to the UK. He is the Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre that researches early child development and has published three popular science books on the development of mind. In 2011, he presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, “Meet Your Brain.”

This talk is part of the Darwin College Lecture Series series.

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