KURT GRAY is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He completed his PhD at Harvard University and has a special knack for testing the most interesting questions in the most interesting ways. He has discovered that good deeds make you physically stronger (donating a dollar allows you to hold a weight for 20% longer), found that showing skin leads people to see your mind differently (naked people are seen to have little agency but increased experience), and has determined exactly why grandma’s cookies taste so amazing (physical experience is improved by perceived benevolence).
He has given talks at two TEDx events, has been covered in media outlets across the world and has appeared in a host of recent blogs. Together with Wegner, he has investigated not only how people perceive minds, but why mind perception matters so much. His work has been featured in high-impact journals such as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, and Psychological Science.
Frighteningly—for both him and psychology—he was almost not a psychologist. High school dreams led him to study geophysics in college, but a weekend stranded and stalked by lynx in the freezing forests of Northern Canada convinced him otherwise. Two years later, his path toward ground-breaking psychological research was complete: while he was picking grapes and surfing in Australia, Dan Wegner phoned him and asked him to come to Harvard. A decade later, he has never looked back.