Dan Gilbert
Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

Dan Gilbert's Idea Of A Great Book

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Scientific psychology from science fiction.

Dan Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert is the Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research with Tim Wilson on "affective forecasting" investigates how and how well people can make predictions about the emotional impact of future events.

Dan has won numerous awards for his teaching and research—from the Guggenheim Fellowship to the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. However, he says that his greatest accomplishment is that he appears just before Dizzy Gillespie on the list of Most Famous High School Dropouts.

Dan's research has been covered by The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Money, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, Scientific American, Oprah Magazine, Psychology Today, and many others.


Question: Is there a book you find particularly inspiring?

Dan Gilbert: I wish I had more time to read fiction. I don’t have as much time to read it as I might, so I’m the wrong person to ask about the most exciting novel ever written. But I certainly know that the work that Phillip K. Dick inspired me 25, 30 years ago in ways that I still find myself reflecting on. Phillip K. Dick at that time was, of course, a genre science fiction writer now recognized as a great American writer. But in his novels, reality was constantly working and bending. And what we were constantly learning was the nature of reality is how your brain constructs it. And the slightest change in the way your brain works can make a great change in the reality around you. That was a lesson never lost on me, and one that I think is probably the underlying lesson of scientific psychology.

Recorded on: 6/12/2007