Talk Titles and Descriptions

The Science of Happiness

This talk presents both surprising and not-so-surprising information on the science behind happiness. What role do money, marriage, friends, children, weather, age, and religion play in making us feel happier? Is happiness stable over time? How can happiness be increased? Professor Catherine Sanderson will describe cutting-edge research from the field of positive psychology on the factors that do (and do not) predict happiness, and provide participants with practical (and relatively easy!) ways to increase their own psychological well-being.

What Predicts Success?

Many people focus on the importance of cognitive intelligence in predicting academic and professional success. But a growing amount of evidence suggests that other traits - including the ability to control impulses, manage adversity, find internal motivation, and build relationships – are essential in achieving the best outcomes in both personal and professional relationships. This talk will therefore focus on the importance of so-called emotional intelligence (or EQ) in predicting success, and provide specific strategies for increasing your own EQ.

The Power of Mindset

This talk describes cutting edge research on the power that one’s mindset – literally meaning the setting of the mind towards a particular set of expectations – on influencing thoughts, feelings, and behavior.  You’ll learn how making subtle tweaks in mindset can lead children to perform better on challenging math tests, college students to show improvements in their vision, and older adults to score higher on memory tasks.  You’ll also learn about the substantial impact of mindset on physical health.  Would you believe that simple shifts in mindset can lead to faster walking speeds, decreases in blood pressure and body fat, and increases in life expectancy?  Then you’ll have a chance to complete a Stress Mindset Measure to learn more about how you tend to think about stress, and how that tendency impacts your own physiological stress response.  Finally, and most importantly, you’ll learn specific (and relatively easy) strategies for changing your own mindset, which can lead to better psychological and physical well-being.

The Psychology of Good and Evil

In 2011, a 2-year-old in China wandered into a busy road and was struck repeatedly by passing cars. Although people walking and driving in the road clearly saw what had happened, not a single person stopped to help for 10 minutes; the child died of her injuries a week later. In Guyana in 1978, nearly 1000 members of the “Jonestown Cult” killed themselves – and their children - by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid following the order of leader Jim Jones. In the 1930s and 1940s, more than 23,000 non-Jews risked their lives to save Jewish people - usually strangers - from almost certain death at the hands of the Nazis. What explains these kinds of events? What drives human beings to be so horrifically cruel and callous to one another—or so heroically helpful and generous? Professor Catherine Sanderson examines these complex questions in this talk.

The Power of the Mind and Body

How much power does the mind have over the body? Can the size of a plate, the presentation of food and our dining partners influence how much we eat? How and when do placebo medicines lead to faster recovery from surgery? Why is a person with a stronger social support network less likely to develop a cold, even when directly injected with a cold virus? How can taking tango lessons, going on a safari and bungee jumping with your romantic partner increase your relationship satisfaction? Professor Catherine Sanderson will discuss these and other ways in which our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes both directly and indirectly influence our physiology and physical health.

What’s So Great About Love?

“What is love?” is one of the most popular Google searches, and countless books, movies, and television programs describe love stories.  Why do we care so much about love?  This talk will describe cutting-edge research from psychology, biology, and neuroscience that reveals the tremendous power of love.  You’ll learn why holding a loved one’s hand reduces pain during a medical procedure, how hugging helps prevent the common cold, and even how (happily) married people survive longer with cancer and heart disease.  Finally, you’ll learn specific (and relatively easy) strategies you can use in your daily life to reap the benefits of love. 

The Psychology of Persuasion

How do we explain the annual holiday craze about some toy (Cabbage Patch dolls, Tickle-Me-Elmo, ZhuZhu pets)? Do warning labels about violence and sex on video games actually increase teen's interest in these games? Why do television advertisements typically feature young and highly attractive people? This class will focus on these and other topics in the field of persuasion, meaning communications that are designed to influence people’s attitudes and behavior. You’ll learn about different strategies of persuasion, the factors that influence the effectiveness of persuasion techniques, and how to resist persuasion attempts

The Psychology of Sports

Why do some athletes choke at the crucial moment whereas others rise to the challenge? How does team chemistry or cohesion impact athletic success? What makes a good coach? This talk will examine these and other issues related to how our thoughts and feelings can influence sports performance in amateur and professional athletes alike, and provide specific strategies athletes at all levels can use to experience success.


General Public

  • One Day University (  New York City; Providence, RI; Montclair, NJ; Lenox, MA; Rye, NY; Sandwich, MA; Washington, DC; Minneapolis; Dallas; Philadelphia; Tampa, FL; Scottsdale, AZ; Seattle; Boston; Pittsburgh; Naples, FL; Portland, OR; Jacksonville, FL; Cleveland, OH; San Diego; Miami; Palm Beach, FL; Burlington, VT; Albany, NY; Sarasota, FL; Austin, TX; Charlotte, NC; Milwaukee, WI; Salt Lake City, UT; Vero Beach, FL;  Des Moines, IA;  Los Angeles
  • IvyConnect ( - Washington, DC; New York; Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Miami, FL
  • Women's clubs:  Richmond, VA;  Cleveland, OH

Business, Law, and Government Audiences

  • Alliance Bernstein: New York City, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, DC
  • Marriott: Cancun, Boston, New York, Portland (OR), Omaha, Orlando, San Antonio, Bethesda, Aruba
  • Merrill Lynch: San Antonio, Orlando
  • JP Morgan: New York City
  • Visium Asset Management: New York City
  • Ziff Brothers Investment: New York City
  • New Jersey Judicial College: Teaneck, NJ
  • Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Association (FICP): Boston
  • PSDA's Young Innovators Conference: Denver
  • Missouri Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems (MAPERS): Osage Beach, MO
  • Oxeon Partners: New York City
  • GE: Stamford, CT
  • Wells Fargo: Framingham, MA

Health and Social Services Audiences

  • Boston Association for the Education of Young Children (BAEYC): Framingham, MA
  • Action for Boston Community Development Head Start & Children's Services: Boston
  • Children's Trust, Marlborough, MA
  • New Hampshire Children's Trust, Concord, NH
  • Central New England Dental Research Group

Education Audiences

  • Amherst College Alumni - Amherst; Boston; New York City; San Francisco; Miami
  • Center for Global Humanities, University of New England, Portland, ME
  • The Williston Northampton School, Easthampton, MA
  • Deerfield Academy, Deerfield, MA
  • LEAP School, Bedford, MA
  • Texas Community Colleges Teachers Association, Dallas
  • Community College of Rhode Island, Warwick, RI
  • Providence College, Providence, RI
  • Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA
  • John Wiley Publisher, Hoboken, NJ


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