Drawing on current research in anthropology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and the humanities, Understanding the Human Mind explores how and why we, as humans, find it so easy to believe we are right—even when we are outright wrong.

Humans live out their own lives effectively trapped in their own mind and, despite being exceptional survivors and a highly social species, our inner mental world is often misaligned with reality. In order to understand why, John Edward Terrell and Gabriel Stowe Terrell suggest current dual-process models of the mind overlook our mind’s most decisive and unpredictable mode: creativity. Using a three-dimensional model of the mind, the authors examine the human struggle to stay in touch with reality—how we succeed, how we fail, and how winning this struggle is key to our survival in an age of mounting social problems of our own making.

Using news stories of logic-defying behavior, analogies to famous fictitious characters, and analysis of evolutionary and cognitive psychology theory, this fascinating account of how the mind works is a must-read for all interested in anthropology and cognitive psychology.

chapter |3 pages

Getting Started

chapter 1|9 pages

How Your Mind Works

Travels in Wonderland

chapter 2|11 pages

Models of the Human Mind

How Do We Think About Thinking?

chapter 3|16 pages

Human Failings in Reasoning

Why Do You Trust Yourself?

chapter 4|14 pages

The Great Human High-Five Advantage

What Makes Us Human?

chapter 5|12 pages

The Brain As a Pattern Recognition Device

How Do You Know That?

chapter 6|11 pages

The Brain As a Pattern Learning Device

Why Do We Have Habits?

chapter 7|14 pages

The Brain As a Pattern Making Device

What Makes Us Creative?

chapter 8|11 pages

The Impact of Creativity

How Did You Learn That?

chapter 9|13 pages

Lies, Deceit, and Self-Deception

How Gullible Are You?

chapter 10|10 pages

Human Isolation and Loneliness

Private Lives and Public Duties

chapter 11|13 pages

Pros and Cons of Being Human

The War of the Worlds

chapter 12|12 pages

Making Sense of Our Future Prospects

Are We an Endangered Species?