Paul Bloom (psychologist)

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Paul Bloom
Bloom in 2014
Born (1963-12-24) December 24, 1963 (age 60)[1]
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
CitizenshipCanada, United States
Alma materMcGill University (BA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
Occupation(s)Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto
Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Yale University
AwardsStanton Prize
Lex Hixon Prize
Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Toronto
Yale University
University of Arizona
ThesisSemantic structure and language development (1990)
Doctoral advisorSusan Carey

Paul Bloom (born December 24, 1963) is a Canadian American psychologist. He is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor Emeritus of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University and Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on language, morality, religion, fiction, and art.

Early life and education[edit]

Bloom was born into a Jewish family in Montreal, Quebec.[2] As an undergraduate he attended McGill University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology (with honors first class) in 1985. He attended graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a PhD in cognitive psychology in 1990, under the supervision of Susan Carey.

As a rationalist and a self-declared atheist, he rejects all notions of spirits, deities, and the afterlife.[3]


From 1990 to 1999, he taught psychology and cognitive science at the University of Arizona. Since 1999, he has been a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University.

Since 2003, Bloom has served as co-editor in chief of the scholarly journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

He joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto in 2021.

Honors and awards[edit]

Bloom has held the Harris Visiting Professorship at the Harris Center for Developmental Studies at the University of Chicago (2002); the Nijmegen Lectureship at the Max Planck Institute at the University of Nijmegen (2006); the Templeton Lectureship at Johns Hopkins University (2007-8); and the Visiting Distinguished SAGE Fellowship at the UCSB SAGE Center for the Study of Mind (2010).

In 2002, the Society for Philosophy and Psychology awarded Bloom the Stanton Prize for outstanding early-career contributions to interdisciplinary research in philosophy and psychology,[4] and in 2005–06, he served as the society's president. In 2006, he was made a fellow of the American Psychological Society in recognition of his "sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology".

In 2004, he received the Lex Hixon Prize for teaching excellence in the social sciences at Yale. In 2007, his Introduction to Psychology class was selected as an outstanding Yale course to be made available worldwide through the Open Yale Courses initiative.

In 2017, he received the $1 million 2017 Klaus J. Jacobs Research Prize for his investigations into how children develop a sense of morality.


Bloom is the author of seven books and editor or co-editor of three others. His research has appeared in Nature and Science, and his popular writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The American Scientist, Slate and The Atlantic.

His article in The Atlantic, "Is God an Accident?"[2] was included in The Best American Science Writing 2006. Bloom concludes that "the universal themes of religion are not learned." Taking his cues from Darwin, Bloom posits that our spiritual tendencies emerged somewhere in the evolutionary process, most likely as "accidental by-products" of other traits.[3]

He has had regular appearances on National Public Radio and


  • Bloom, P. (2023). Psych: The Story of the Human Mind. HarperCollins. ISBN 0063096358[5]
  • Bloom, P. (2021). The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning. HarperCollins.ISBN 0062910566[6]
  • Bloom, P. (2016). Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. Ecco. ISBN 0062339338[7]
  • Bloom, P. (2013). Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. The Crown Publishing Group.ISBN 0307886840[8]
  • Bloom, P. (2010). How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.ISBN 0393066320[9][10]
  • Bloom, P. (2004). Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human. New York: Basic Books.ASIN B008UYQFES[11]
  • Bloom, P. (2000). How Children Learn the Meanings of Words. Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT Press.ISBN 0262024691
  • Jackendoff, R.; Bloom, P.; & Wynn, K. (1999). Language, Logic, and Concepts: Essays in Honor of John Macnamara. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.ISBN 9780262600460
  • Bloom, P.; Peterson, M.; Nadel, L.; & Garrett, M. (1996). Language and Space. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.ISBN 0262522667
  • Bloom, P. (1994). Language Acquisition: Core Readings. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Selected popular articles[edit]


  1. ^ "Paul-bloom-cv-november-2016.pdf" (PDF).
  2. ^ a b "Is God an Accident?". The Atlantic. December 2005. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b "JENNIE ROTHENBERG GRITZ, Wired for Creationism?, The Atlantic, DECEMBER 2005 ISSUE". The Atlantic. 22 November 2005.
  4. ^ "Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SPP)". Archived from the original on 2020-07-16. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  5. ^ Greenawalt, Marc (2022-12-02). "Spring 2023 Announcements: Science". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2022-12-14.
  6. ^ Hardcover 2021, ISBN 978-0062910561
  7. ^ Hardcover 2016, ISBN 978-0062339331
  8. ^ Paperback 2014, ISBN 978-0307886859
  9. ^ Paperback reprint 2011, ISBN 978-0393340006
  10. ^ Bloom, Paul (2010). "Why we like what we like". Observer. 23 (8). Association for Psychological Science.
  11. ^ 2005, ISBN 978-0465007868
  12. ^ Bloom, Paul (March 2010). "How do morals change?". Nature. 464 (7288): 490. Bibcode:2010Natur.464..490B. doi:10.1038/464490a. PMID 20336117.

External links[edit]