Hidden Brain

By NPR

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Category: Science & Medicine

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manohar
 Nov 29, 2018
Love this podcast channel. Great research, good presentation, analysis and insights. I look forward to the podcasts everyday.


 Nov 17, 2018

wanderlust and murder
 Nov 10, 2018


 Nov 1, 2018


 Oct 29, 2018

Description

Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.

Episode Date
Starving the Watchdog
1834
When a newspaper shuts down, there are obvious costs to the community it serves: job losses, fewer local stories. But new research suggests there's another consequence that's harder to spot—one that comes with a hefty price tag for residents. This week on Hidden Brain we ask, who bears the cost when nobody wants to pay? For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2zSPraS.
Dec 10, 2018
Spoiler Alert!
1770
Why do we always fall for surprise endings? It turns out that our capacity to be easily fooled in books and movies is made possible by a handful of predictable mental shortcuts. We talk this week with Vera Tobin, one of the world's first cognitive scientists to study plot twists. She says storytellers have been exploiting narrative twists and turns for millennia — and that studying these sleights of hand can give us a better understanding of the contours of the mind.
Dec 03, 2018
A Founding Contradiction
2661
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." These words, penned by Thomas Jefferson more than 240 years ago, continue to inspire many Americans. And yet they were written by a man who owned hundreds of slaves, and fathered six children by an enslaved woman. This week, we talk with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed about the contradictions in Jefferson's life — and how those contradictions might resonate in our own lives.
Nov 26, 2018
Radio Replay: Bringing Up Baby
2986
This week we focus on the behavior of the youngest members of the human race. We try to translate the mysterious language of babies. And we ask, when should we step back and just let our children be? For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2TuxEz3.
Nov 23, 2018
The Edge of Gender
3171
Gender is one of the first things we notice about the people around us. But where do our ideas about gender come from? Can gender differences be explained by genes and chromosomes, or are they the result of upbringing, culture and the environment? In this encore episode from October 2017, we delve into debates over nature vs. nurture, and meet the first person in the United States to officially reject the labels of both male and female, and be recognized as "non-binary."
Nov 19, 2018
Zipcode Destiny
3123
There's a core belief embedded in the story of the United States: the American Dream. The possibility of climbing the economic ladder is central to that dream. This week we speak with Raj Chetty, one of the most influential economists alive today, about the state of economic mobility in the U.S. and whether the notion of the American Dream is still useful. For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2z8cvSs.
Nov 12, 2018
Sounds Like a Winner
1564
We're used to the idea that rhetoric sways voters. But what about another element of language: a candidate's voice? This week on Hidden Brain, what happens when our political system and ancient biological rules meet. For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2Pe1Fog.
Nov 05, 2018
The Lazarus Drug
2971
More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses last year — many of them from heroin and other opioids. One of the most widely-used tools to confront this crisis is a drug called naloxone. It can reverse an opioid overdose within seconds, and has been hailed by first responders and public health researchers. But earlier this year, two economists released a study that suggested naloxone might be leading some users to engage in riskier behavior — and causing more deaths than it saves. This week, we talk with researchers, drug users, and families about the mental calculus of opioid use, and why there's still so much we're struggling to understand about addiction. For more information about the research in this episode, visit https://n.pr/2OZfuGQ.
Oct 29, 2018
Radio Replay: Too Little, Too Much
2945
Have you ever noticed that when something important is missing in your life, your brain can only seem to focus on that missing thing? On this week's Radio Replay, we bring you a March 2017 story about the phenomenon of scarcity, and how it can blind us to the big picture. Then, we go to the opposite end of the spectrum to look at the perils of excess. We'll bring you an October 2016 conversation with Brooke Harrington, a sociologist who wanted to know what it's like to be one of the richest people on the planet. For more on these topics, visit us at https://n.pr/2O8DkdV.
Oct 26, 2018
Be The Change
3129
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." It's a popular quote that's made its way onto coffee mugs and bumper stickers — but it's not the easiest principle to live. On this week's Hidden Brain, we meet Royce and Jessica James, a couple who decided to raise their daughter in a gender-neutral way. It was far harder than they ever could have imagined. For further reading on children and gender norms, visit us at https://n.pr/2AmmiW1.
Oct 22, 2018
Voting With Your Middle Finger
2954
There is one truth that has endured through the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency: he has kept the support of the core voters who propelled him to the White House. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore two competing perspectives on the motivations of Trump supporters, and what they can tell us about the state of our union.
Oct 15, 2018
Red Brain, Blue Brain
1575
When most of us think about how we came to our political views, we often give a straightforward answer. We believe our stances on taxes, immigration or national security are shaped by those around us — our friends, parents, teachers. We assume our life experiences are the root of our political ideologies. But what if there is something deeper in us that drives the music we listen to, the food we eat — even the politicians that we elect? This week, we explore the role of biology in shaping our political identities.
Oct 08, 2018
"Man Up"
2550
You've certainly heard some variation of the phrase "be a man." But what does that even mean? This week, we question our existing definitions of masculinity. We'll meet a man who works in a field traditionally considered "women's work." And we'll hear from a researcher who says manhood is "hard to earn and easy to lose."
Oct 01, 2018
Why Now?
3122
Nearly a quarter century ago, a group of women accused a prominent playwright of sexual misconduct. For the most part, the allegations went nowhere. In 2017, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, more women came forward to accuse the same playwright of misconduct. This time, everyone listened. On this episode — originally broadcast in February 2018 — we explore the story through the lens of social science research and ask, "Why Now?" What has changed in our minds and in our culture so that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are being taken more seriously than they were in the past? A note: This story includes descriptions of sexual harassment and assault. It may not be suitable for all listeners.
Sep 24, 2018
Radio Replay: Eyes Wide Open
2998
When Randy Gardner was 17, he won a world record for going eleven days without sleeping. On this Radio Replay, Randy shares insights from that experience and warns others against copying his stunt. Later in the program, we speak with neuroscientist Matthew Walker about the mind and body benefits of eight full hours of sleep.
Sep 21, 2018
The Cassandra Curse
2117
After a disaster happens, we want to know whether something could have been done to avoid it. Did anyone see this coming? Many times, the answer is yes. So why didn't the warnings lead to action? This week, we explore the psychology of warnings with a visit to a smelly Alaskan tunnel, a gory (and fictional) murder plot, and even some ABBA.
Sep 17, 2018
Our Better Nature
1554
If you live in a big city, you may have noticed new buildings popping up — a high-rise here, a skyscraper there. The concrete jungles that we've built over the past century have allowed millions of us to live in close proximity, and modern economies to flourish. But what have we given up by moving away from the forest environments in which humans first evolved? This week, we discuss this topic with psychologist Ming Kuo, who has studied the effects of nature for more than 30 years.
Sep 11, 2018
Bullshit Jobs
2723
Have you ever had a job where you had to stop and ask yourself: what am I doing here? If I quit tomorrow, would anyone even notice? This week on Hidden Brain, we talk with anthropologist David Graeber about the rise of what he calls "bullshit jobs," and how these positions affect the people who hold them.
Sep 04, 2018
You 2.0: Check Yourself
3104
The simple "to-do" list may be one of humanity's oldest tools for getting organized. But checklists are also proving essential in many modern-day workplaces, from operating rooms to the cockpits of jumbo jets. As part of our summer You 2.0 series, we explore the power of the humble checklist to help us stay on track and focus on what's important, particularly when pressure is intense and the stakes are high.
Aug 28, 2018
You 2.0: Originals
1329
What does it mean to be an original? As part of our summer series, You 2.0, we talk with psychology professor Adam Grant about innovators and the challenges they face. Adam gives his take on what makes an original, how parents can nurture originality in their children, and the potential downsides of non-conformity.
Aug 21, 2018
You 2.0: When Did Marriage Become So Hard?
3086
There are signs it's getting even harder. In this episode, we explore how long-term relationships have changed over time and whether we might be able to improve marriage by asking less of it.
Aug 14, 2018
You 2.0: The Ostrich Effect
1621
Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power...right? As part of our summer series, You 2.0, we try to understand why we stick our heads in the sand.
Aug 07, 2018
You 2.0: Dream Jobs
1397
Finding a new job may be the solution to your woes at work. But there may also be other ways to get more out of your daily grind. This week, we talk with psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski of Yale University about how we can find meaning and purpose in our jobs.
Jul 31, 2018
You 2.0: Rebel With A Cause
2845
Francesca Gino studies rebels — people who practice "positive deviance" and achieve incredible feats of imagination. They know how, and when, to break the rules that should be broken. So how can you activate your own inner non-conformist? We kick off this year's You 2.0 series by pondering this question.
Jul 24, 2018
Radio Replay: Watch Your Mouth
2990
If you're bilingual or multilingual, you may have noticed that different languages make you stretch in different ways. In this month's Radio Replay, we ask whether the structure of the languages we speak can change the way we see the world. We'll also look at how languages evolve, and why we're sometimes resistant to those changes.
Jul 20, 2018
Creating God
3206
If you've taken part in a religious service, have you ever stopped to think about how it all came to be? How did people become believers? Where did the rituals come from? And most of all, what purpose does it all serve? This week, we explore these questions with psychologist Azim Shariff, who argues that we can think of religion from a Darwinian perspective, as an innovation that helped human societies to survive and flourish.
Jul 17, 2018
Snooki and the Handbag
1505
Look down at what you're wearing. You picked out that blue shirt, right? And those sandals — you decided on those because they're comfortable, didn't you? Well, maybe not. Researcher Jonah Berger says we tend to be pretty good at recognizing how influences like product placement and peer pressure affect other people's choices...but we're not so good at recognizing those forces in our own decisions. We talked with him in December 2016.
Jul 10, 2018
The Edge Effect
2301
There is great comfort in the familiar. It's one reason humans often flock to other people who share the same interests, laugh at the same jokes, hold the same political views. But familiar ground may not be the best place to cultivate creativity. From science and business to music and the world of fashion, researchers have found that people with deep connections to people from other countries and cultures often see benefits in terms of their creative output. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the powerful connection between the ideas we dream up and the people who surround us, and what it really takes to think outside the box.
Jul 03, 2018
Fake News: An Origin Story
1639
Fake news may seem new, but in reality, it's as old as American journalism. This week, we look at a tension at the heart of news coverage: Should reporters think of the audience as consumers, or as citizens? Should the media give people what they want, or what they need?
Jun 26, 2018
Radio Replay: Looking Back
3002
Why are we so often pulled into memories of the past? In this month's Radio Replay, we'll find out why we all get stuck reliving the old days, ruminating on what we could have done differently, and what we wish we could do again.
Jun 22, 2018
Summer Melt
1553
As many as 40 percent of students who intend to go to college don't actually show up to their new campuses in the fall. Education researchers call this phenomenon "summer melt," and it has long been a puzzling problem. These kids have taken the SATs, written college essays, applied to and been accepted by a school of their choice. Often they've applied for and received financial aid. So why would they not show up at college? This week, we bring you a 2017 episode looking more closely about the problem — and one way to address it.
Jun 19, 2018
Hungry, Hungry Hippocampus
1719
Anyone who's tried (and failed) to follow a diet knows that food is more than fuel. This week, we dig into the psychology behind what we eat, what we spit out, and when we come back for more.
Jun 12, 2018
When Everything Clicks
3092
There can be a lot of psychological noise involved in teaching. But what if we replaced all that mental chit chat....with a click? This week, we explore an innovative idea about how we learn. It will take us from a dolphin exhibit in Hawaii to a top teaching hospital in New York. It's about a method to quiet the noise. The sort of clutter that can turn learning into a minefield of misery.
Jun 05, 2018
Kinder-Gardening
1761
Many parents think they can shape their child into a particular kind of adult. Psychologist Alison Gopnik says the science suggests otherwise. This week, we revisit our December 2017 conversation with Gopnik, who thinks we'd all be better off if we had a different understanding of the relationship between parents and kids.
May 29, 2018
Rewinding & Rewriting
1833
All of us are time travelers. We go back in history to turning points in our lives, and imagine how things could have turned out differently. Psychologists refer to this as "counterfactual thinking." This week on Hidden Brain, we look at why some events prompt these "What if?" questions, while others do not.
May 22, 2018
Radio Replay: This Is Your Brain On Ads
3075
How many ads have you encountered today? On this week's radio replay, we discuss the insidiousness of advertising in American media. We begin with new reporting about the effects cereal commercials have on children. Later in the program, we revisit one of our favorite episodes of 2018, Buying Attention.
May 18, 2018
Baby Talk
1829
Babies are speaking to us all the time, but most of us have no clue what they're saying. To researchers, though, the babbling of babies is knowable, predictable, and best of all, teachable to us non-experts. This week, we'll get a primer on how to decipher babbling — the unique dialect of tiny humans.
May 15, 2018
Rap on Trial
3316
Olutosin Oduwole was an aspiring rapper and college student when he was arrested in 2007. He was charged with "attempting to make a terrorist threat." Prosecutors used his writings — which he maintains were rap lyrics — to build their case against him. The week, we revisit our June 2017 story about Oduwole, and explore how public perceptions of rap music may have played a role in his prosecution.
May 08, 2018
The Fox and the Hedgehog
2258
The Greek poet Archilochus wrote that "the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." This week, we'll use the metaphor of the fox and the hedgehog as a way to understand the differences between tacticians and big-picture thinkers. We'll explore the story of a pioneering surgeon whose hedgehog tendencies led him to great triumphs, and a heartbreaking tragedy. This episode first aired in May 2017.
May 01, 2018
Emma, Carrie, Vivian
2501
In 1924, a 17-year-old girl was admitted to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded. The superintendent of the colony classified her as "feeble-minded of the lowest grade, moron class." With that designation, this girl, Carrie Buck, was set on a path she didn't choose. What happened next laid the foundation for the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of people. This week, the story of the eugenics movement and one of the most tragic social experiments in American history.
Apr 24, 2018
Radio Replay: The Weight of Our Words
2975
Political correctness. Free speech. Terrorism. On this week's Radio Replay, we look at the language we use around race and religion, and what that language says about the culture in which we live. This episode draws upon two of our favorite podcasts, "Is He Muslim?" and "Hiding Behind Free Speech."
Apr 20, 2018
Romeo and Juliet in Kigali
3114
How do you change someone's behavior? Most of us would point to education or persuasion. But what if the answer lies elsewhere? Today we explore a revolutionary insight about human nature, one that will take us on a journey from Budapest to the hills of Rwanda.
Apr 17, 2018
Liar, Liar
1747
We all lie. But what separates the average person from the infamous cheaters we see on the news? Dan Ariely says we like to think it's character — but in his research he's found it's more often opportunity. Dan Ariely is a professor at Duke University and the author of the book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves. We spoke to him in March 2017.
Apr 10, 2018
Tunnel Vision
2200
When you're hungry, it can be hard to think of anything other than food. When you're desperately poor, you may constantly worry about making ends meet. When you're lonely, you might obsess about making friends. This week, we bring you a March 2017 episode about the psychological phenomenon of scarcity. Researchers say this form of tunnel vision can affect our ability to see the big picture and cope with problems in our lives.
Apr 03, 2018
Crickets and Cannibals
1991
Imagine seeing a cockroach skitter across your kitchen counter. Does that thought gross you out? This week, we take an unflinching look at the things that make us say "ewww." Plus, why disgust isn't as instinctive as we might assume.
Mar 27, 2018
The Lonely American Man
2887
Boys get the message at a young age: don't show your feelings. Don't rely on anyone. This week, we take a close look at misguided notions of masculinity in the United States. We explore how those notions create stressed-out romantic relationships, physical health problems, and a growing epidemic of loneliness. Plus, we consider how we might begin to tell a different story about what it means to be a man.
Mar 20, 2018
Radio Replay: The Mind of the Village
2978
A culture of racism can infect us all. On this week's Radio Replay, we discuss the implicit biases we carry that have been forged by the society around us.
Mar 16, 2018
Think Fast with Daniel Kahneman
2930
Do humans act rationally? Economic theory has long told us the answer is "yes." But a half century ago, two psychologists — Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky — began to challenge this notion. Their work laid the foundation for behavioral economics and influenced many scholars who've followed in their footsteps. This week, we mark our 100th episode by talking with Daniel Kahneman about his collaboration with Tversky, and how their work transformed our thinking about judgment, memory, and the mind itself.
Mar 13, 2018
Men: 45, Women: 0
1330
More women are running for political office than ever before in American history. But in politics and many other fields, women still struggle to attain positions of power. Researchers say they're often trapped in a "double bind" — a series of unconscious, interlocking stereotypes we have about men, women and the nature of leadership. This week, we take a closer look at the double bind as we revisit a favorite episode from October 2016.
Mar 06, 2018
Counting Other People's Blessings
3113
Envy is one of the most unpleasant of all human emotions. It also turns out to be one of the most difficult for researchers to study. And yet, there's mounting evidence that envy is a powerful motivator. This week, we explore an emotion that can inspire us to become better people — or to commit unspeakable acts.
Feb 27, 2018
Filthy Rich
1325
Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to explore the secret lives of billionaires. As she told us in this favorite episode from 2016, what she found shocked her.
Feb 20, 2018
When Did Marriage Become So Hard?
3073
Marriage is hard — and there are signs it's becoming even harder. This week on Hidden Brain, we examine how long-term relationships have changed over time, and whether we might be able to improve marriage by asking less of it.
Feb 13, 2018
Why Now?
3120
Nearly a quarter century ago, a group of women accused a prominent playwright of sexual misconduct. For the most part, the allegations went nowhere. In 2017, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, more women came forward to accuse the same playwright of misconduct. This time, everyone listened. On this episode, we explore the story through the lens of social science research and ask, "Why Now?" What has changed in our minds and in our culture so that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are being taken so much more seriously than they were in the past? A note: This story includes descriptions of sexual harassment and assault. It may not be suitable for all listeners.
Feb 06, 2018
Lost in Translation
2125
Learning new languages can help us understand other cultures and countries. Cognitive science professor Lera Boroditsky says the languages we speak can do more than that—they can shape how we see the world in profound ways.
Jan 30, 2018
Radio Replay: The Power Hour
2988
Call it adulation, adoration, idolization: we humans are fascinated by glamour and power. But this turns out to be only one side of our psychology — we also feel envious and resentful of the rich and powerful. In this Radio Replay, we explore the evolutionary history behind this ambivalence. Plus, we look at how we gain influence, and what happens to us once we have it.
Jan 26, 2018
Alan Alda Wants Us To Have Better Conversations
2552
We've all experienced miscommunications. Their consequences can range from hilarious... to disastrous. The actor Alan Alda — yes, THAT Alan Alda — wants to help us avoid them. You might know him from his roles on television shows like M*A*S*H, The West Wing and 30 Rock, but in recent years Alda has also focused on helping scientists, and the rest of us, communicate better. His new book is If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating.
Jan 23, 2018
Give Me Your Tired...
1277
Our airwaves are filled with debates about immigrants and refugees. Who should be allowed in the United States, who shouldn't, and who should decide? In the wake of President Trump's vulgar remarks about some immigrants — remarks that he has since denied — we're going to revisit a favorite episode from 2016 that explores the patterns and paradoxes of immigration in the U.S. Historian Maria Cristina Garcia joins us.
Jan 16, 2018
Radio Replay: I, Robot
2986
Do you ever catch yourself yelling at your Alexa? Or typing questions into Google that you wouldn't dare ask aloud? On this episode, our changing relationship with technology and what big data knows about our deepest, darkest secrets.
Jan 12, 2018
E Pluribus Unum?
2274
The tone of American politics can be...nasty. But is this nastiness really worse than in previous eras, and if so, what does that mean for our democracy? Historian David Moss takes the long view — arguing that American democracy is much more resilient than we realize. This week on Hidden Brain, we turn to history for insight about our current moment in American politics.
Jan 09, 2018
Buying Attention
2305
Have you ever opened your computer with the intention of sending one email — only to spend an hour scrolling through social media? Maybe two hours? In this episode, we examine the strategies media companies use to hijack our attention so they can sell it to advertisers.
Jan 02, 2018
Radio Replay: Fresh Starts
3113
Unpredictable things happen to us all the time. In the process of getting back on your feet, you may realize that something's different. On this Radio Replay, we mark the new year with two of our favorite stories of loss and the change it brings.
Dec 30, 2017
I'm Right, You're Wrong
1471
There are some topics about which it seems no amount of data will change people's minds: things like climate change, or restrictions on gun ownership. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot says that's actually for good reason. As a general rule, she says, it's better to stick to your beliefs and disregard new information that contradicts them. But this also means it's very difficult to change false beliefs. In this favorite episode from earlier this year, we look at how we process information, and why it's so hard to change our views.
Dec 26, 2017
Radio Replay: Don't Panic!
3066
Chaos is a part of all of our lives. Sometimes we try to control it. And other times, we just have to live with it. On this week's Radio Replay, we explore different strategies for coping with chaos.
Dec 22, 2017
Never Go To Vegas
3036
All social classes have unspoken rules. From A-list celebrities to teachers, doctors, lawyers, and journalists — there are social norms that govern our decisions, whether we realize it or not. This week on Hidden Brain, the invisible qualities that all celebrities have in common, and how our interest in them builds because of cues we get from one another. Later in the episode, we look at another elite group: the yoga-loving, Whole Foods-shopping, highly-educated group that researcher Elizabeth Currid-Halkett calls the "aspirational class."
Dec 19, 2017
Kinder-Gardening
1762
Many parents think they can shape their child into a particular kind of adult. Psychologist Alison Gopnik says the science suggests otherwise. She thinks we'd all be better off if we had a different understanding of the relationship between parents and kids.
Dec 12, 2017
Radio Replay: Loving the Lie
2996
In this week's Radio Replay, we bring you stories of fakes, phonies, and con men — and the people who fall for the false worlds they create. First, the tale of a middle-aged man who impersonates a series of women and gets thousands of men to fall in love with his creations. Then, we'll hear about a painter who tricks the world's greatest art experts into believing they're looking at masterpieces.
Dec 08, 2017
The Sorting Hat
3096
The desire to find our tribe is universal. We like to know who we are and where we belong. This fascination has led to a thriving industry built on the marketing and sale of personality tests. These tests offer individuals — and, increasingly, employers — quick and easy insights that can be used to make some of life's biggest decisions. But most fail to stand up to scientific scrutiny. This week, we delve into the world of personality testing, and explore the many different ways we assess personality and potential — from the Chinese zodiac to Harry Potter houses to the Myers-Briggs test.
Dec 05, 2017
Radio Replay: Life, Interrupted
3047
What price do we pay for the constant interruptions we get from our phones and computers? And is there a better way to handle distraction? In this week's Radio Replay we bring you a favorite conversation with the computer scientist Cal Newport. Plus, Shankar gets electrodes strapped to his head to test a high-tech solution to interruptions.
Dec 01, 2017
Money Talks
1546
How do you spend your money? On shoes, cars, coffee, fancy restaurants? You might think you use money just to, you know, buy stuff. But as Neeru Paharia explains, the way we spend often says a lot about who we are, and what we want to project. We use money to express our values — by going to the local coffee shop instead of Starbucks, or by boycotting — or buycotting — Ivanka Trump shoes. In this April 2017 episode of Hidden Brain, we explore the way we use money to tell stories about ourselves, and to ourselves.
Nov 28, 2017
An American Secret
1375
All countries have national myths. The story of the first Thanksgiving, for example, evokes the warm glow of intercultural contact: European settlers, struggling to survive in the New World, and Native American tribes eager to help. As many of us learned in history class, this story leaves a lot out. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore a national secret: that from the time Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World until 1900, there were as many as five million Native American people enslaved. We'll learn about this history, and the psychological forces that kept it unexamined for so long.
Nov 21, 2017
Radio Replay: Crime As A Disease
2911
In moments of anger, it can be hard to take a deep breath or count to ten. But public health researcher Harold Pollack says five minutes of reflection can make all the difference between a regular life and one spent behind bars. This week, we visit a Chicago program that helps young men learn how to pause and reflect. Plus, we ask whether we should think of violence as a disease, similar to a blood-borne pathogen in its ability to spread from person to person.
Nov 17, 2017
Eyes Wide Open: Part 2
2159
What does the song "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones have in common with the periodic table of elements? Both are the products of dreams. The sleeping brain is far more active than we realize, argues neuroscientist Matthew Walker in this second part of our series on sleep.
Nov 14, 2017
Eyes Wide Open: Part 1
1491
Randy Gardner broke a world record in 1963, when he was only 17 years old. His feat? Going 11 days without sleeping. Randy, now 71, shares his wisdom about staying up past your bedtime — and why none of us should attempt to recreate his teenage stunt — on this week's Hidden Brain.
Nov 07, 2017
Radio Replay: Prisons of Our Own Making
2997
Discussions about healthy living usually revolve around diet and exercise. Social interaction is often left out of the conversation, even though research shows that it's critical to our well-being. On this week's radio replay, we'll explore research on the extremes of social interaction: from the consequences of constant connection, to the high cost of solitary confinement.
Nov 03, 2017
Check Yourself
3078
The simple "to-do" list may be one of humanity's oldest tools for keeping organized. But checklists are also proving essential in many modern-day workplaces, from operating rooms to the cockpits of jumbo jets. This week, we explore the power of the humble checklist to help us stay on track and focus on what's important, particularly when pressure is intense and the stakes are high.
Oct 31, 2017
Radio Replay: What's In It For Me?
3098
Coincidences can make the everyday feel extraordinary. But are they magical, or just mathematical? On this week's Radio Replay, we explore our deep fascination with these moments of serendipity. New research suggests they reveal important things about how our minds work, and have a far more powerful effect on our lives than any of us imagine. We'll also explore the phenomenon of "implicit egotism" — the idea that we're drawn to people and things that remind us of ourselves.
Oct 27, 2017
Misbehaving with Richard Thaler
1577
We don't always do what we're supposed to do. We don't save enough for retirement. We order dessert — even when we're supposed to be dieting. In other words, we misbehave. That's the title of Richard Thaler's most recent book: Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics. If you've read Thaler's previous book, Nudge, you know he's an economist who studies why people don't really act the way traditional economists say they will. Thaler recently won a Nobel Prize for his contributions to the field of behavioral economics — so we thought we'd celebrate by giving you this encore episode. It's still one of our favorites.
Oct 24, 2017
The Good Old Days
1668
Is nostalgia an emotion that's bitter, or sweet? Why are we so often pulled into memories of the past? This week on Hidden Brain, we talk about what prompts us to feel nostalgic, and the harms and benefits of this emotion. Plus, how Donald Trump employed nostalgia to win the 2016 presidential campaign.
Oct 17, 2017
The Edge of Gender
3082
Gender is one of the first things we notice about the people around us. But where do our ideas about gender come from? Can gender differences be explained by genes and chromosomes, or are they the result of upbringing, culture and the environment? This week, we delve into the debate over nature vs. nurture, and meet the first person in the United States to officially reject the labels of both male and female, and be recognized as "non-binary."
Oct 10, 2017
Be The Change
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"Be the change you wish to see in the world." It's a popular quote that's made its way onto coffee mugs and bumper stickers — but it's not the easiest principle to live. On this week's Hidden Brain, we meet Royce and Jessica James, a couple who decided to raise their daughter in a gender-neutral way. It was far harder than they ever could have imagined.
Oct 03, 2017
Just Sex
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We all know casual sex isn't about love. But what if it's not even about lust? Sociologist Lisa Wade believes the pervasive hookup culture on campuses today is different from that faced by previous generations. This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit a favorite episode exploring what this culture means for those who choose to participate, and for those who opt out.
Sep 26, 2017
The Ostrich Effect
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Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power...right? In this episode of Hidden Brain, we explore why we sometimes avoid information that's vital to our well-being.
Sep 19, 2017
Regrets, I Have A Few...
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We all have regrets. By some estimates, regret is one of the most common emotions experienced in our daily lives. This week we'll hear listeners' stories of regret, and talk with psychology professor Amy Summerville. She runs the Regret Lab at Miami University in Ohio. Summerville says regret doesn't always have to be a negative force in our lives. Sometimes, it can be a hopeful emotion.
Sep 12, 2017
Hiding Behind Free Speech
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Several weeks ago, white supremacists took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, in a demonstration that left many Americans asking a lot of questions. Who are we as a nation? What do we stand for, and what do we tolerate? The United States goes further than many other countries to protect speech — even hate-filled speech like that used in Charlottesville. In this episode, we look at how people use free speech arguments, and why the motivations behind these arguments may not be apparent — even to the people making them.
Sep 05, 2017
You 2.0: Getting Unstuck
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At one time or another, many of us feel stuck: in the wrong job, the wrong relationship, the wrong city – the wrong life. Psychologists and self-help gurus have all kinds of advice for us when we feel rudderless. This week on Hidden Brain, we conclude our You 2.0 series with a favorite episode exploring a new idea from an unlikely source: Silicon Valley.
Aug 29, 2017
You 2.0: Decide Already!
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In the latest in our You 2.0 series, we bring you a favorite conversation with Harvard researcher Dan Gilbert. He tells us why we're bad at predicting our future happiness, how that affects our decision making, and why we are actually happier after making a decision that feels irrevocable.
Aug 22, 2017
You 2.0: WOOP, There It Is
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Many of us have heard that we should think positively and visualize ourselves achieving our goals. But researcher Gabriele Oettingen finds this isn't actually the best advice. Instead, she says, we should use her strategy — which she calls WOOP.
Aug 15, 2017
You 2.0: Embrace the Chaos
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Many of us spend lots of time and energy trying to get organized. We tell our kids to clean their rooms, and our politicians to clean up Washington. But economist Tim Harford says maybe we should embrace the chaos. This week, as part of our You 2.0 series, we bring you our November 2016 conversation with Harford.
Aug 08, 2017
You 2.0: Dream Jobs
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Why do you work? Are you mostly in it for the money, or do you have another purpose? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on the nature of your job. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski finds it may have more to do with how we think about our work. She finds we're about evenly split in whether we say we have a job, a career, or a calling. As part of our You 2.0 series, we bring you this March 2016 conversation with Amy about how we find meaning and purpose at work.
Aug 01, 2017
You 2.0: Deep Work
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When your phone buzzes or a notification pops up your screen, do you stop what you're doing to look and respond? That's what many of us are doing. Even though we think we should be less distracted by technology, we haven't admitted the true cost of these interruptions. This week on Hidden Brain, we talk with the computer scientist Cal Newport about how to cultivate our attention, and what we gain by immersing ourselves in meaningful work. It's part of our series You 2.0, in which we'll explore how we can all make better decisions and cope with the messiness of daily life.
Jul 25, 2017
Summer Melt
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According to research from Harvard, as many as 40% of kids who intend to go to college at the time of high school graduation don't actually show up in the fall. Education researchers call this phenomenon "summer melt," and it has long been a puzzling problem. These kids have taken the SATs, written college essays, applied to and been accepted by a school of their choice. Often they've even applied for and received financial aid. Why would they not show up at college? This week on Hidden Brain, we look more closely at the problem — and talk about ways that some universities are trying to fix it.
Jul 18, 2017
Could You Kill A Robot?
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Will we one day create machines that are essentially just like us? People have been wrestling with that question since the advent of robotics. But maybe we're missing another, even more intriguing question: what can robots teach us about ourselves? We ponder that question with Kate Darling of the MIT Media Lab in a special taping at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Jul 11, 2017
Losing Face
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It happens to all of us: someone recognizes you on the street, calls you by name, and says hello... and you have no idea who that person is. Researchers say this struggle to read other faces is common. This week on Hidden Brain, super-recognizers, and the rest of us.
Jul 04, 2017
Guessing Games
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Pundits and prognosticators make predictions all the time: about everything from elections, to sports, to global affairs. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore why they're often wrong, and how we can all do it better.
Jun 27, 2017
"Is he Muslim?"
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In a five year period from 2011 to 2016, just twelve percent of terrorist attacks in the United States were perpetrated by Muslims. More than fifty percent, on the other hand, were carried out by Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, or other far right groups. So why do Americans spend so much time worrying about "radical Islamic terrorism?" This week on Hidden Brain, we look at how the media over-covers some acts of terrorism — and quickly forgets others. We also look at some of the psychological reasons we have a hard time putting the threat of terrorism in perspective.
Jun 20, 2017
Rap on Trial
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Olutosin Oduwole was an aspiring rapper and college student when he was arrested in 2007. He was given an unusual charge: "attempting to make a terrorist threat." Prosecutors used his writings — which he maintains were rap lyrics — to build their case against him. This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit Oduwole's story, and how public perceptions of rap music may have played a role.
Jun 13, 2017
In The Air We Breathe
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After a police-involved shooting, there's often a familiar blame game: Maybe the cop was racist. Maybe the person who was shot really was threatening. Or maybe, the bias that leads cops to shoot affects us all. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore how unconscious bias can infect a culture — and how a police shooting may say as much about a community as it does about individuals.
Jun 06, 2017
Broken Windows
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In the early 1980s, a couple of researchers wrote an article in The Atlantic that would have far-reaching consequences. The article introduced a new idea about crime and policing. It was called Broken Windows. The idea was simple: A broken window is a sign of a neglected community, and a neglected community is a place where crime can thrive. The researchers said, if police fixed the small problems that created visible signs of disorder, the big ones would disappear. Today, we explore how ideas sometimes get away from those who invented them... and then are taken to places that were never intended.
May 30, 2017
Me, Myself, and IKEA
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It's normal to feel drawn to people you share something with — whether that's a name, or a birthday, or a common background. But did you know that women named Georgia also gravitate toward the state of Georgia? And Virginias are slightly more likely to move to Virginia? Or that people with the last name Carpenter are actually more likely to be carpenters? This week on Hidden Brain, we talk about all the subtle ways we prefer things that have something to do with us, and why that means, for example, we prefer that IKEA furniture we built ourselves. This phenomenon — which we're calling the Narcissus Effect — can have much bigger implications than we might at first think.
May 23, 2017
Ep. 71: The Fox and the Hedgehog
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The Greek poet Archilochus is known for the phrase, "The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing." This week, we'll use this metaphor as a way to understand two different cognitive styles. The first is that of a tactician who is comfortable with nuance and contradiction (the fox), the second is that of a big thinker, motivated by one organizing idea (the hedgehog). We'll explore this idea through the story of a pioneering surgeon whose hedgehog tendencies led him to great triumphs, and a heartbreaking tragedy.
May 16, 2017
Encore of Ep. 45: What Are The Odds?
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This week on Hidden Brain: coincidences. Why they're not quite as magical as they seem, and the reasons we can't help but search for meaning in them anyway.
May 09, 2017
Ep. 70: Who We Are At 2 A.M.
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Have you ever googled something that you would never dream of saying out loud to another human being? Many of us turn to Google when we have a deeply personal or embarrassing question. And we're often more honest when we type our questions into search engines than when we answer surveys or talk to friends. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a former data scientist at Google, says our online searches provide unprecedented insight into what we truly think, want, and do. This week on Hidden Brain, what big data knows about our deepest thoughts and secrets.
May 02, 2017
Episode 69: Money Talks
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How do you spend your money? On food, transportation, or housing? On shoes, cars, coffee, fancy restaurants? You might think you use money just to, you know, buy stuff. But as Neeru Paharia explains, the way we spend often says a lot about who we are, and what we want to project. We use money to express our values — by going to the local coffee shop instead of Starbucks, or by boycotting — or buycotting — Ivanka Trump shoes. We delete Uber; we refuse to fly United. We seek out or avoid Chick-fil-A. This week on Hidden Brain, the ways we use our money to tell stories about ourselves, and to ourselves.
Apr 25, 2017
Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook
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Millions of people around the world use social media every day to stay in touch with friends and family. But ironically, studies have shown that people who spend more time on these sites feel more socially isolated than those who don't. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore the psychological effects that social media has on us, and how FOMO — or, the fear of missing out — can lead to actually missing out.
Apr 18, 2017
Encore of Ep. 35: Creature Comforts
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This week, Hidden Brain considers the power of touch. First, Alison MacAdam tells us the story of her security blanket, called Baba. Then, Shankar interviews writer Deborah Blum about groundbreaking experiments into the importance of affection for young children.
Apr 11, 2017
Ep. 67: The Hole
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Imagine a concrete room, not much bigger than a parking space. You're in there 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the reality of solitary confinement at prisons across the United States. Keramet Reiter, a criminology professor at UC Irvine, says that while some inmates in solitary are dangerous, others are there because they're difficult for prisons to manage, or because of bureaucratic inertia. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at what happens in solitary confinement, and the psychological effects of being alone for long periods of time.
Apr 04, 2017
Ep. 66: Liar, Liar
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Everybody lies. This is not breaking news. But what separates the average person from the infamous cheaters we see on the news? Dan Ariely says we like to think it's character — but in his research he's found it's more often opportunity. Dan Ariely is a professor at Duke University and the author of the book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves.
Mar 28, 2017
Episode 65: Tunnel Vision
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When you're hungry, it can be hard to think of anything other than food. When you're desperately poor, you may constantly worry about making ends meet. When you're lonely, you might obsess about making friends. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore the psychological phenomenon of scarcity and how it can affect our ability to see the big picture and cope with problems in our lives.
Mar 21, 2017
Ep. 64: I'm Right, You're Wrong
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There are some topics about which it seems no amount of data will change people's minds: things like climate change, or restrictions on gun ownership. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot says that's actually for good reason. As a general rule, she says, it's better to stick to your beliefs and disregard new information that contradicts them. But this also means it's very difficult to change false beliefs. This week, we look at how we process information, and why it's so hard to change our views.
Mar 14, 2017
Encore of Ep. 24: Tribes and Traitors
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Nearly a year ago, we ran an episode about one of the world's most intractable divides: the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Since that story aired, a solution seems even more out of reach. We wanted to play this episode again, because it offers something we don't often hear in the news: empathy for the other side.
Mar 07, 2017
Ep. 63: "I'm Not A Terrorist..."
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Making jokes about politics is a tradition as old as America itself. These days, of course, comedians have a new target: President Donald Trump. We talk with Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani about finding humor in the midst of deep political divides, and how he uses an understanding of human nature to craft a successful punchline.
Feb 28, 2017
Episode 62: On The Knife's Edge
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What would drive someone to take another person's life? When researchers at the University of Chicago asked that question, the answer was a laundry list of slights: a stolen jacket, or a carelessly lobbed insult. It made them wonder whether crime rates could be driven down by teaching young men to pause, take a deep breath, and think before they act. We'll go inside a program that teaches Chicago teens to do just that, and explore the research on whether this approach actually works.
Feb 21, 2017
Episode 61: Just Sex
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We all know casual sex isn't about love. But what if it's not even about lust? Sociologist Lisa Wade believes the pervasive hookup culture on campuses today is different from that faced by previous generations. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore what this culture means for those who choose to participate, and for those who opt out.
Feb 14, 2017
Encore of Episode 20: Remembering Anarcha
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A recent paper found that black patients receive less pain medication for broken bones and cancer. Black children receive less pain medication than white children for appendicitis. The research is new, but the phenomenon is not. This week, we revisit an episode from our archive that looked at the intersection of race, pain, and medicine. It might not be suitable for young children.
Feb 07, 2017
Episode 60: Fortress America
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Barely a week after assuming office, President Donald Trump set off a worldwide firestorm when he decided to temporarily ban entry to migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from all over the world. In response, many people are looking to the past, to see what history can teach us. But this process can fraught with psychological peril. On today's Hidden Brain, we revisit a specific incident from World War II – the American decision to refuse entry to Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis – and explore how it speaks to the current mood in the United States.
Jan 31, 2017
Episode 59: The Deep Story
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In the months since the presidential election, many have noted that lots of Americans live in bubbles — echo chambers filled with the voices of people who mostly agree with us. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild felt this long before the rise of Donald Trump, and five years ago she went on a mission to understand the other side. She left her own liberal bubble in Berkeley, California for a conservative one, deep in the Louisiana bayou.
Jan 24, 2017
Episode 58: Pedestals and Guillotines
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It's inauguration season, which means balls, parades, and celebrations. We may love the pomp and circumstance, but there's another, darker side to our psychology, too. Whether we like the new president or not, human beings have a strange and contradictory relationship with power and celebrity. We idolize the rich and famous, but also enjoy seeing them fall from their pedestals. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore this paradox: from Hollywood, to the White House, to the forests of Tanzania.
Jan 17, 2017
Episode 57: Slanguage
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Young people have always used language in new and different ways, and it has pretty much always driven older people crazy. But the linguist John McWhorter says all the "likes" and LOLs are part of a natural – and inevitable –evolution of language. This week on Hidden Brain, why language can't "sit still."
Jan 10, 2017
Episode 56: Getting Unstuck
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At one time or another, many of us feel stuck: in the wrong job, the wrong relationship, the wrong city – the wrong life. Psychologists and self-help gurus have all kinds of advice for us when we feel rudderless. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore a new idea, from an unlikely source: Silicon Valley.
Jan 03, 2017
Encore of Episode 15: Loss and Renewal
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Maya Shankar was well on her way to an extraordinary career as a violinist when an injury closed that door. This week, we look at how she wound up at the top of another field: the social sciences.
Dec 27, 2016
Encore of Episode 32: The Scientific Process
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There is a replication "crisis" in psychology: many findings simply do not replicate. Some critics take this as an indictment of the entire field — perhaps the best journals are only interested in publishing the "sexiest" findings, or universities are pressuring their faculty to publish more. But this week on Hidden Brain, we take a closer look at the so-called crisis. While there certainly have been cases of bad science, and even fraudulent data, there are also lots of other reasons why perfectly good studies might not replicate. We'll look at a seminal study about stereotypes, Asian women, and math tests.
Dec 20, 2016
Episode 55: Snooki and the Handbag
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Look down at what you're wearing. You picked out that blue shirt, right? And those boots — you decided on those because they're warm, didn't you? Well, maybe not. Researcher Jonah Berger says, we tend to be pretty good at recognizing how influences like product placement and peer pressure affect other people's choices... but we're not so good at recognizing those forces in our own decision-making.
Dec 13, 2016
Episode 54: Panic in the Streets
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It sounds like the plot of a movie: police discover the body of a young man who's been murdered. The body tests positive for a deadly infectious disease. Authorities trace the killing to a gang. They race to find gang members linked to the murder... who may also be incubating the virus. This week on Hidden Brain... disease, panic, and how a public health team used psychology to confront an epidemic.
Dec 06, 2016
Episode 53: Embrace the Chaos
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Many of us spend lots of time and energy trying to get organized. We KonMari our closets, we strive for inbox zero, we tell our kids to clean their rooms, and our politicians to clean up Washington. But Economist Tim Harford says, maybe we should embrace the chaos. His new book is Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.
Nov 29, 2016
Episode 52: Losing Face
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It happens to all of us: someone recognizes you on the street, calls you by name, and says hello... and you have no idea who that person is. Researchers say this struggle to read other faces is common. This week on Hidden Brain, super-recognizers, and the rest of us.
Nov 22, 2016
Episode 51: What Happened?
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On the morning after election day, pundits, pollsters, politicians, and citizens woke up feeling stunned. All signs, all year, had been pointing towards a victory for Democrat Hillary Clinton. So, what happened? We ask one of the few people who didn't get it wrong: the historian Allan Lichtman.
Nov 15, 2016
Encore of Episode 27: Losing Alaska
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We didn't hear very much about climate change during this election cycle — and social science research might give us some insight as to why not. This week, an encore of one of our favorite episodes about why it's so hard for us to wrap our heads around climate change.
Nov 08, 2016
Episode 50: Broken Windows
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In the early 1980s, a couple of researchers wrote an article in The Atlantic that would have far reaching consequences. The article introduced a new idea about crime and policing. It was called Broken Windows. The idea was simple: A broken window is a sign of a neglected community, and a neglected community is a place where crime can thrive. The researchers said, if police fixed the small problems that created visible signs of disorder, the big ones would disappear. Today, we explore how ideas sometimes get away from those who invented them.. And then are taken to places that were never intended.
Nov 01, 2016
Episode 49: Filthy Rich
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Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to explore the secret lives of billionaires. What she found, she said, shocked her.
Oct 25, 2016
Episode 48: Men: 44, Women: 0
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A century after women won the vote in the US, we still see very few of them in leadership roles. Researchers say women are trapped in a catch-22 known as "the double bind." Note: an early version of this episode incorrectly stated that Carol Moseley Braun was the first African-American U.S. Senator. She was in fact the first female African-American Senator.
Oct 18, 2016
Episode 47: Give Me Your Tired...
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Our airwaves are filled with debates about migrants, refugees, and undocumented immigrants... Who should be in the United States, who shouldn't, and who should decide? Immigration is, without question, a flash point in this year's political debates. It's an issue that seems to get to the core of who we are, who we want to be, and where we're headed as a nation. Today we're going to take a fresh look at the issue by exploring what history can teach us about the patterns and paradoxes of immigration in a nation of immigrants. It's one of a series of shows in the next few weeks that will speak to issues that have bubbled to the surface in politics this year, that reveal something about us — and human nature. Historian Maria Cristina Garcia joins us.
Oct 11, 2016
Episode 46: Blessings in Disguise?
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We have lots of ways to describe the good that can come from bad: a blessing in disguise, a silver lining — but what if the bad thing was truly awful? This week on Hidden Brain, framing and re-framing a tragedy.
Oct 04, 2016
Episode 45: What Are The Odds?
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This week on Hidden Brain, coincidences. Why they're not quite as magical as they seem... and the reasons we can't help but search for meaning in them anyway.
Sep 27, 2016
Trailer: Hidden Brain 2.0
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We have an anniversary to celebrate. We've been bringing you Hidden Brain for a year now, and we are so glad and thankful you've come along with us. We've learned a lot about what you like, and what we like. Specifically, deep dives into stories or topics that reveal something true about human behavior. Now, it's time to double down on that with a string of ambitious new episodes. Here's a sneak peek.
Sep 22, 2016
Update: #AirbnbWhileBlack
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A few months ago, Hidden Brain investigated claims that Airbnb users were facing discrimination on the platform. Now, we bring you an update on the company's response.
Sep 20, 2016
Episode 44: Our Politics, Our Parenting
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In the midst of a rancorous election, we present a new theory to explain why the two sides of the aisle seem irreconcilable sometimes.
Sep 13, 2016
Episode 43: The Perils of Power
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We've all heard the old adage that "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," but psychologist Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley has found evidence to prove it. His book is The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence.
Sep 06, 2016
Encore of Episode 21: Stroke of Genius
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Derek Amato wasn't born a musical savant. He became one—almost instantly—after hitting his head on the bottom of a swimming pool.
Aug 30, 2016
Episode 42: Decide Already!
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This week, Harvard researcher Dan Gilbert tells us why we're bad at predicting our future happiness, how that affects our decision making, and why we are actually happier after making a decision that feels irrevocable.
Aug 23, 2016
Encore of Episode 11: Forgery
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This week on Hidden Brain, we explore real and fake, from fine art to fine wine. Shankar speaks with Noah Charney, author of The Art of Forgery, about why art forgers are compelled to spend their lives copying the great masters, and why so many of them want to get caught. Also this week: why we love studies that prove wine connoisseurs wrong.
Aug 16, 2016
Episode 41: Defeated
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While everyone is focused on the Olympic winners in Rio, we're zooming in on loss. We have the story of how a world-champion judo player reacted to a devastating defeat, plus a Stopwatch Science on how losing affects us all.
Aug 09, 2016
Episode 40: Silver and Gold
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The rush of victory or crush of defeat in the Olympics can flash by very quickly. But if you slow those moments down, there's a lot to learn about human behavior.
Aug 02, 2016
Encore of Episode 7: Lonely Hearts
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Jesse always wanted to fall in love. So when the perfect woman started writing him letters, it seemed too good to be true. Because it was. This week, a story about a con — with a twist. When the con was exposed, its victims defended the con artists. They still wanted to believe the lie
Jul 26, 2016
Episode 39: Vacations
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Summer vacations often take time, energy and money to plan. Expectations can run unreasonably high. This week in Stopwatch Science, we dive into what research says about how to have a better getaway.
Jul 19, 2016
Episode 38: Me, Me, Me
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It doesn't take a psychologist to see narcissism in our culture of selfies. But we decided to talk to one anyway. Jean Twenge is a researcher and author of the books The Narcissism Epidemic, and Generation Me.
Jul 12, 2016
Episode 37: Smoke & Mirrors
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Six months ago, Hidden Brain's Max Nesterak made a resolution to quit smoking. But as we all know... resolutions are made to be broken. This week, we check in with Max to find out how he's fared, and give you social science insight to help you quit your bad habits too.
Jul 05, 2016
Episode 36: Science of Deception
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This week on Hidden Brain, we find out what makes humans of all ages cheat. Plus in Stopwatch Science, Dan Pink comes armed with studies on how our social context influences our cheating habits.
Jun 28, 2016
Episode 35: Creature Comforts
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This week, Hidden Brain considers the power of touch. First, Alison MacAdam tells us the story of her security blanket, called Baba. Then, Shankar interviews writer Deborah Blum about groundbreaking experiments into the importance of affection for young children.
Jun 21, 2016
Encore of Episode 13: Terrorism
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In the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando, we explore how groups such as the Islamic State explicitly try to capitalize on the grievances and individual frustrations of potential "recruits."
Jun 14, 2016
Episode 34: Google at Work
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This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar talks to Google's Laszlo Bock for insider tips and insights about what works — and what doesn't work — in recruiting, motivating, and retaining a talented workforce.
Jun 07, 2016
Episode 33: Food for Thought
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What do large tables, large breakfasts, and large servers have in common? They all affect how much you eat. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the hidden forces that drive our diets.
May 31, 2016
Episode 32: The Scientific Process
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Lots of psychology studies fail to produce the same results when they are repeated. How do scientists know what's true?
May 24, 2016
Episode 31: Your Brain on Uber
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Uber is built on the scourge of surge. When demand is high, the company charges two, three, even NINE-POINT-NINE times as much as normal for a ride. Riders hate it . . . but not so much that they stop riding. Yep, "dynamic pricing" has helped the company to grow into one of the largest taxi services in the world. What's the psychology behind it? Shankar sits down with Uber's Head of Economic Research Keith Chen to talk about when we're most likely pay for surge, when we hate it the most, and why monkeys would probably act and feel the same way. That's right. Monkeys.
May 17, 2016
Episode 30: WOOP, There It Is
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Many of us have heard that we should think positive... Visualize ourselves achieving our goals. But researcher Gabriele Oettingen finds, this isn't actually the best advice. Instead, we should use her strategy — which she calls WOOP.
May 10, 2016
Episode 29: Traffic
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Traffic. You hate it, we hate it, the rest of the world hates it, and unfortunately, our best efforts to curb it usually only make it worse. This week on Hidden Brain, we visit a few of the world's most congested cities, and investigate a few options to make driving safer and less maddening.
May 03, 2016
Episode 28: #AirbnbWhileBlack
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The sharing economy is great. It gives us opportunities to connect with strangers... to pool resources... to get a cheap ride, or a weekend away. But this week on Hidden Brain, we'll look at how these new platforms can amplify some old biases.
Apr 26, 2016
Episode 27: Losing Alaska
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Human beings would be better at fighting climate change if we weren't so, well, human. In this episode, we explore the psychological barriers to addressing climate change.
Apr 19, 2016
Encore of Episode 16: Misbehaving
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From eating marshmallows to spending lottery winnings, Shankar Vedantam talks with behavioral economist Richard Thaler about Misbehaving.
Apr 12, 2016
Episode 26: Grit
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Grit is a quality that parents strive to teach to their children, and teachers strive to teach their students. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore grit, and ask, does it also have a downside?
Apr 05, 2016
Episode 25: Dream Jobs
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Why do you work? Are you just in it for the money, or do you do it for a greater purpose? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on what your job is. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale University finds it may have more to do with how we think about our work. Across secretaries and custodians and computer programmers, she finds we're about equally split in whether we say we have a job, a career, or a calling. This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam talks with Amy about how we find meaning and purpose at work.
Mar 29, 2016
Episode 24: Tribes and Traitors
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This week on Hidden Brain, two remarkable stories of empathy... And why showing empathy for another group can feel so threatening to our own tribes.
Mar 22, 2016
Episode 23: Boredom
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We've all been there: bored in class, bored at work, bored in standstill traffic. But why do we find boredom so unbearable? And, if we hate being bored so much, why do we still take boring jobs? This week on Hidden Brain, we try to answer these questions and more — hopefully, without boring you.
Mar 15, 2016
Encore of Episode 9: Aziz Ansari on Modern Love
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Hidden Brain host Shankar Vedantam talks to comedian Aziz Ansari — star of Master of None and coauthor of Modern Romance — about Tinder, texting and how dating is a bit like... buying jam.
Mar 08, 2016
Episode 22: Originals
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Adam Grant, author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, tells us what makes an original, how parents can nuture originality in their children, and its potential downside.
Mar 01, 2016
Episode 21: Stroke of Genius
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Derek Amato wasn't born a musical savant. He became one—almost instantly—after hitting his head on the bottom of a swimming pool.
Feb 23, 2016
Episode 20: Remembering Anarcha
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J. Marion Sims is remembered as the father of modern gynecology. Forgotten are the mothers—the enslaved women whose bodies were sacrificed for the advancement of his research.
Feb 16, 2016
Episode 19: Dating and Mating
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It's almost Valentine's Day, but this week we're not talking about love. Instead, we explore the other forces that drive our romantic relationships.
Feb 09, 2016
Encore of Episode 2: Near Victories
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Shankar Vedantam explores "almosts" and "not quites" on this episode of the Hidden Brain podcast, with the help of Monica Wadhwa, Dan Pink, and country music singer Kacey Musgraves.
Feb 02, 2016
Episode 18: The Paradox of Forgiveness
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After more than a decade of brutal civil war, perpetrators and victims attempted to find peace around bonfires across Sierra Leone. This week on Hidden Brain, a story about forgiving the unforgivable, and the cost of reconciliation.
Jan 26, 2016
Episode 17: Resolutions
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Today is the perfect day to (re)start your resolution. Here's how.
Jan 19, 2016
Episode 16: Misbehaving
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From eating marshmallows to spending lottery winnings, Shankar Vedantam talks with behavioral economist Richard Thaler about his book Misbehaving.
Jan 12, 2016
Encore of Episode 3: Stereotype Threat
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Annie Duke was often the only woman at the poker table, which influenced the way people saw her, and the way she saw herself. Feeling like an outsider can come at a cost, but also can be an advantage.
Jan 05, 2016
Episode 15: Loss and Renewal
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Maya Shankar was well on her way to an extraordinary career as a violinist when an injury closed that door. This week, we look at how she wound up at the top of another field: the social sciences.
Dec 29, 2015
Episode 14: Christmas
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This is the time of year for giving--whether that's a holiday gift for someone we love, or a charitable donation to a good cause. But why do we give? And how can we do it better? This week on Hidden Brain: how to be more generous, get your friends and family what they actually want, and why it's okay to regift.
Dec 22, 2015
Episode 13: Terrorism
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Why do young people join ISIS? Is it nihilism, or, as social scientists suggest, a perverse idealism? This week on Hidden Brain, we explore the psychology of terrorist groups, and why so many young people leave behind promising futures to join them.
Dec 15, 2015
Episode 12: Humor
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This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam looks at what we find funny and what, well, crosses the line. Comedian Bill Burr joins us to talk about why race, gender and Caitlin Jenner can be so funny.
Dec 08, 2015
Episode 11: Forgery
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This week on Hidden Brain, we explore real and fake, from fine art to fine wine. Shankar speaks with Noah Charney, author of The Art of Forgery, about why art forgers are compelled to spend their lives copying the great masters, and why so many of them want to get caught. Also this week: why we love studies that prove wine connoisseurs wrong.
Dec 01, 2015
Episode 10: Thanksgiving
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The holidays are all about generousity, gratitude, and spending time with the people we love. But we all know the whole "spending time with the people we love" part has its challenges. Hidden Brain is here to help — with science-based tips to give you a happier holiday.
Nov 24, 2015
Episode 9: Aziz Ansari on Modern Love
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Hidden Brain host Shankar Vedantam talks to comedian Aziz Ansari — star of a new Netflix show and coauthor of Modern Romance — about Tinder, texting and how dating is a bit like... buying jam.
Nov 17, 2015
Episode 8: Back Up Plans
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This week on Hidden Brain, researcher Katy Milkman explains why backup plans may make us less motivated, Dan Pink is back to discuss moral hazard, and NPR's Adam Cole ties it all together with a song.
Nov 10, 2015
Episode 7: Lonely Hearts
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Jesse always wanted to fall in love. So when the perfect woman started writing him letters, it seemed too good to be true. Because it was. This week, a story about a con — with a twist. When the con was exposed, its victims defended the con artists. They still wanted to believe the lie.
Nov 03, 2015
Episode 6: The Science of Fear
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This week, for Halloween, the Hidden Brain podcast gets spooky. We explore the science of fear — traveling to a haunted house curated by a scientist to investigate what scares us, and why some people enjoy this sensation more than others.
Oct 27, 2015
Episode 5: Compassion
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On this week's episode of Hidden Brain, we'll explore the science of compassion, and how being kind to others can make a real difference in your own life.
Oct 20, 2015
Episode 4: Students and Teachers
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In this episode of the Hidden Brain podcast, the connections between students and teachers, and how finding things in common between them might be a tool for closing the achievement gap.
Oct 13, 2015
Episode 3: Stereotype Threat
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Annie Duke was often the only woman at the poker table, which influenced the way people saw her, and the way she saw herself. Feeling like an outsider can come at a cost, but also can be an advantage.
Oct 06, 2015
Brain Bonus: Magic Brain
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In time for your Friday commute, we introduce you to a new segment called Magic Brain. Shankar explores the social science behind magic, and discovers that free choice is sometimes just an illusion.
Oct 02, 2015
Episode 2: Near Victories
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Shankar Vedantam explores "almosts" and "not quites" on this episode of the Hidden Brain podcast, with the help of Monica Wadhwa, Dan Pink, and country music singer Kacey Musgraves.
Sep 29, 2015
Episode 1: Switchtracking
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The first episode of Hidden Brain explores switchtracking: a common pattern in conversations you'll be accusing your partner of in no time! Plus speedy science, a cup of tea and a song from Adam Cole.
Sep 22, 2015
Hidden Brain: A Sneak Peek
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Check out a few minutes of the latest podcast from NPR: Hidden Brain. Shankar Vedantam explores what happens when two people think they are talking about the same thing, but in reality are speeding down separate tracks. It usually doesn't end well.
Sep 04, 2015
Welcome to the Hidden Brain Podcast
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A conversation about life's unseen patterns. Discover what's inside your Hidden Brain... subscribe now.
Aug 09, 2015