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"Beauty draws us in...It takes us outside ourselves and it motivates us. It's essential to life and to happiness." (TED)

Are We Hard-Wired For Beauty?

by NPR/TED Staff
Apr 16, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode What Is Beauty?

Psychologist Nancy Etcoff joins philosopher Denis Dutton to explain why beauty inspires and motivates us. Etcoff says our response to beauty is visceral, and we use strong words — like "bombshell" — when we talk about it.

About Nancy Etcoff

Nancy Etcoff is part of a new vanguard of cognitive researchers asking: Why do we like beautiful things? And how on earth did we evolve that way? In her book Survival of the Prettiest, she refutes the social origins of beauty in favor of far more prosaic and evolutionary explanations. Looking for a partner with clear skin? You're actually checking for parasites. And let's just say there's a reason high heels are always in fashion.

Her recent research into the question of happiness exposes results that not only are surprising, but also reinforce things we should have known all along, like the fact that having flowers in the house really does make us happier. As the instructor of "The Science of Happiness" at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Program in Aesthetics and Well-Being at Massachusetts General Hospital, Etcoff is uniquely qualified to solve the mysteries of contentment.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Designer Richard Seymour at TED Salon. (TED)

How Does Beauty Feel?

by NPR/TED Staff
Mar 19, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode What Is Beauty?

About Richard Seymour's TEDTalk

A story, a work of art, a face, a designed object — how do we tell that something is beautiful? And why does it matter so much to us? Designer Richard Seymour explores our response to beauty and the surprising power of objects that exhibit it.

About Richard Seymour

As a partner with Seymourpowell, Richard Seymour designs idea-driven products — from household goods to trains and motorcycles. Seymour works on products with soul — from a curvy iron to a swift and sleek motorcycle. Seymourpowell is regarded as one of the world's leading product and innovation design consultancies, with clients that include Ford, Virgin Galactic, Tefal, Casio, Nokia, Guinness, Samsung and Unilever. Seymour has appeared extensively on British television, most notably in two series on design for Channel 4: Better by Design and Designs, and on several radio productions. In the 1980s, Seymour co-wrote The Mirrorstone, a children's book full of holograms, with Michael Palin.

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"Beauty is not just for the imagination. It's actually a way of altering human behavior for the better." -- Bill Strickland (TED)

Can Beauty Change A Life?

by NPR/TED Staff
Mar 19, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode What Is Beauty?

About Bill Strickland's TEDTalk

Bill Strickland tells a quiet and astonishing tale of redemption through arts, music and unlikely partnerships.

About Bill Strickland

As a Pittsburgh youth besieged by racism in the crumbling remains of the steel economy, Bill Strickland should have been one of the Rust Belt's casualties. Instead, he discovered the potter's wheel and the transforming power of fountains, irrepressible dreams and the slideshow. While moonlighting as an airline pilot, Strickland founded Manchester Bidwell, a world-class institute in his native Pittsburgh devoted to vocational instruction in partnership with big business — and, almost incidentally, home to a Grammy-winning record label and a world-class jazz performance series.

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Cameron Russell at TEDxMidAtlantic (TED)

Does Being Beautiful Make You Happy?

by NPR/TED Staff
Mar 19, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode What Is Beauty?

About Cameron Russell's TED Talk

Cameron Russell admits she won "a genetic lottery": She's tall, pretty and an underwear model. But don't judge her by her looks. In this fearless talk, she takes a wry look at the industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16 years old.

About Cameron Russell

Cameron Russell has spent the last decade modeling. A Victoria's Secret favorite, she has appeared in multiple international editions of Vogue as well as in ads for brands like Ralph Lauren and Benetton. But she is much more than just a pretty face. Russell experiments with creating street art and runs the blog ArtRoots.info, which is dedicated to covering grassroots public art and political power. She is also the director of The Big Bad Lab, which creates participatory art that aims to include people in radical demonstrations of positive social change.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Philosopher Denis Dutton suggests that humans are hard-wired to seek beauty. (TED )

Are Some Things Universally Beautiful?

by NPR/TED Staff
Mar 19, 2013 (TED Radio Hour)

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Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode What Is Beauty?

About Denis Dutton's TEDTalk

Denis Dutton has a provocative theory on beauty — that art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply "in the eye of the beholder," are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.

About Denis Dutton

Denis Dutton was a philosophy professor and the editor of Arts & Letters Daily, before his death in 2010. Dutton also taught philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. In his book The Art Instinct, he suggests that art is a need built into our systems, a complex and subtle evolutionary adaptation comparable to our facility for language. We humans evolved to love art because it helps us survive; for example, a well-expressed appreciation of art can — even in modern times — help us to find a mate.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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