Bruce Hood (psychologist)

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Bruce Hood
Bruce Hood.jpg
Hood in 2010
Born Toronto, Canada
Citizenship British
Nationality British
Institutions University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, University of Dundee, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Thesis Development of visual selective attention (1991)

Bruce MacFarlane Hood is a Canadian-born British experimental psychologist who specialises in developmental cognitive neuroscience and is the director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre at the University of Bristol. Hood's research interests include the cognitive processes behind adult magical thinking.


Bruce Hood completed undergraduate studies in psychology, then received a Master of Arts and a Master of Philosophy from the University of Dundee.[1] He received a PhD from University of Cambridge in 1991, studying the visual development of infants. After moving to the USA he took a place as a visiting professor at MIT and as an associate professor at Harvard University.[2][3] He directs the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre at the University of Bristol.

He is well known for his ideas that humans are not rational creatures and this innate irrationality leads to religion and superstition.[4][5][6]

Hood played a key part in exposing the ADE 651 bogus bomb detector and similar devices in January 2010 by explaining the ideomotor phenomenon which the fraudsters had used to fool naive users. He submitted evidence to the trial of the ADE651's creator Jim McCormick who was sentenced to ten years for fraud at the Old Bailey in May 2013.

He has been awarded a Sloan Fellowship in neuroscience, the Robert L. Fantz prize, the International Society for Infant Studies Young Investigator award and elected to fellow status of the American Psychological Association. In 2011 Hood delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures[7]


  • SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable (2009)
  • The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity (2013)
  • The Domesticated Brain (Pelican Books, 2014) ISBN 978-0141974866


  1. ^ Fisher, S.; Hood, B. (1987). "The stress of the transition to university: A longitudinal study of psychological disturbance, absent-mindedness and vulnerability to homesickness". British Journal of Psychology 78 (4): 425. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.1987.tb02260.x.  edit
  2. ^ Hood, B. M.; Willen, J. D.; Driver, J. (1998). "Adult's Eyes Trigger Shifts of Visual Attention in Human Infants". Psychological Science 9 (2): 131. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00024.  edit
  3. ^ "Harper Collins - About the Author". 
  4. ^ Laurie R. Santos; Hood, Bruce (2009). The origins of object knowledge. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-921689-4. 
  5. ^ Hood, Bruce (2009). SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable. HarperOne. ISBN 0-06-145264-5. 
  6. ^ James Randerson (4 September 2006). "Humans 'hardwired for religion'". 
  7. ^ "Christmas Lectures 2011 - Meet your Brain : Ri Channel". Retrieved 2011-12-29.