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Hidden Brain

NPR

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

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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.

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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.

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Buying Attention

Jan 2nd38:25

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.

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You 2.0: Deep Work

Jul 25th, 201736:34

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.

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The Edge of Gender

Oct 10th, 201751:22

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."

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Why Now?

Feb 6th52:00

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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You 2.0: Dream Jobs

Aug 1st, 201723:07

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.

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Why Now?

Sep 24th52:02

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.

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Liar, Liar

Apr 10th29:07

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.

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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.

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Men: 45, Women: 0

Mar 6th22:10

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.

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Lost in Translation

Jan 30th35:25

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.

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Radio Replay: Don't Panic!

Dec 22nd, 201751:06

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.

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The Sorting Hat

Dec 5th, 201751:36

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.

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Money Talks

Nov 28th, 201725:46

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.

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An American Secret

Nov 21st, 201722:55

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.

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Eyes Wide Open: Part 2

Nov 14th, 201735:59

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.

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Just Sex

Sep 26th, 201725:09

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.

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You 2.0: Decide Already!

Aug 22nd, 201725:35

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.

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Summer Melt

Jul 18th, 201725:38

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.

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In The Air We Breathe

Jun 6th, 201738:10

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.

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Broken Windows

May 30th, 201730:47

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.

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Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook

Apr 18th, 201727:09

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.

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Episode 61: Just Sex

Feb 14th, 201724:47

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.

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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.

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Episode 53: Embrace the Chaos

Nov 29th, 201624:49

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.

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Episode 38: Me, Me, Me

Jul 12th, 201624:58

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.

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Episode 35: Creature Comforts

Jun 21st, 201629:02

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.

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Episode 21: Stroke of Genius

Feb 23rd, 201624:43

Derek Amato wasn't born a musical savant. He became one—almost instantly—after hitting his head on the bottom of a swimming pool.

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Zipcode Destiny

Nov 12th52:03

There's a core belief embedded in the story of the United States: the American Dream. This week we discuss the state of that dream with economist Raj Chetty.

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Sounds Like a Winner

Nov 5th26:04

We're used to the idea that rhetoric sways voters. But what about another element of language: a candidate's voice?

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The Lazarus Drug

Oct 29th49:31

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.

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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.

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Be The Change

Oct 22nd52:09

"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.

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Red Brain, Blue Brain

Oct 8th26:15

When we think about how we came to our political views, we often assume our life experiences are the root of our political ideologies. But what if there is something deeper at play?

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"Man Up"

Oct 1st42:30

You've certainly heard some variation of the phrase "be a man." But what does that even mean? On this episode of Hidden Brain, we discuss masculinity.

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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.

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The Cassandra Curse

Sep 17th35:17

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.

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Our Better Nature

Sep 11th25:54

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.

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Bullshit Jobs

Sep 4th45:23

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.

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You 2.0: Check Yourself

Aug 28th51:44

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.

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You 2.0: Originals

Aug 21st22:09

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.

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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.

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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.

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You 2.0: Dream Jobs

Jul 31st23:17

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.

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You 2.0: Rebel With A Cause

Jul 24th47:25

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.

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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.

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Creating God

Jul 17th53:26

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.

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Snooki and the Handbag

Jul 10th25:05

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.

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The Edge Effect

Jul 3rd38:21

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.

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Fake News: An Origin Story

Jun 26th27:19

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?

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Radio Replay: Looking Back

Jun 22nd50:02

Why are we so often pulled into memories of the past? This week, two emotions we just can't shake: regret and nostalgia.

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Summer Melt

Jun 19th25:53

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.

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Hungry, Hungry Hippocampus

Jun 12th28:39

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.

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When Everything Clicks

Jun 5th51:32

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.

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Kinder-Gardening

May 29th29:21

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.

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Rewinding & Rewriting

May 22nd30:33

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.

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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.

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Baby Talk

May 15th30:29

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.

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Rap on Trial

May 8th55:16

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.

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The Fox and the Hedgehog

May 1st37:38

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.

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Emma, Carrie, Vivian

Apr 24th41:41

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.

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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."

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Romeo and Juliet in Kigali

Apr 17th51:54

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.

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Tunnel Vision

Apr 3rd36:40

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.

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Crickets and Cannibals

Mar 27th33:11

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.

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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.

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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.

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Filthy Rich

Feb 20th22:05

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.

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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.

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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.

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Give Me Your Tired...

Jan 16th21:17

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.

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Radio Replay: I, Robot

Jan 12th49:46

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.

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E Pluribus Unum?

Jan 9th37:54

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.

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Radio Replay: Fresh Starts

Dec 30th, 201751:53

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.

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I'm Right, You're Wrong

Dec 26th, 201724:31

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.

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Never Go To Vegas

Dec 19th, 201750:36

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."

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Kinder-Gardening

Dec 12th, 201729:22

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.

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Radio Replay: Loving the Lie

Dec 8th, 201749:56

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.

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Radio Replay: Crime As A Disease

Nov 17th, 201748:31

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.

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Eyes Wide Open: Part 1

Nov 7th, 201724:51

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.

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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.

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Check Yourself

Oct 31st, 201751:18

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.

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Radio Replay: What's In It For Me?

Oct 27th, 201751:38

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.

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Misbehaving with Richard Thaler

Oct 24th, 201726:17

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.

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The Good Old Days

Oct 17th, 201727:48

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.

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Be The Change

Oct 3rd, 201751:35

"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.

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The Ostrich Effect

Sep 19th, 201726:46

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.

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Regrets, I Have A Few...

Sep 12th, 201730:25

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.

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Hiding Behind Free Speech

Sep 5th, 201729:24

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.

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You 2.0: Getting Unstuck

Aug 29th, 201729:09

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.

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You 2.0: WOOP, There It Is

Aug 15th, 201720:59

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.

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You 2.0: Embrace the Chaos

Aug 8th, 201724:59

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.

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Could You Kill A Robot?

Jul 11th, 201733:55

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.

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Losing Face

Jul 4th, 201724:54

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.

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Guessing Games

Jun 27th, 201728:12

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.

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"Is he Muslim?"

Jun 20th, 201727:48

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.

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Rap on Trial

Jun 13th, 201755:08

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.

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Me, Myself, and IKEA

May 23rd, 201725:12

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.

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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.

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Ep. 70: Who We Are At 2 A.M.

May 2nd, 201728:20

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.

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Episode 69: Money Talks

Apr 25th, 201724:52

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.

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Encore of Ep. 35: Creature Comforts

Apr 11th, 201729:48

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.

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Ep. 67: The Hole

Apr 4th, 201726:26

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.

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Ep. 66: Liar, Liar

Mar 28th, 201729:46

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.

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Episode 65: Tunnel Vision

Mar 21st, 201736:40

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.

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Ep. 64: I'm Right, You're Wrong

Mar 14th, 201723:14

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.

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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.

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Ep. 63: "I'm Not A Terrorist..."

Feb 28th, 201723:58

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.

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Episode 62: On The Knife's Edge

Feb 21st, 201728:18

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.

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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.

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Episode 60: Fortress America

Jan 31st, 201722:47

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.

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Episode 59: The Deep Story

Jan 24th, 201722:46

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.

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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.

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Episode 57: Slanguage

Jan 10th, 201726:04

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."

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Episode 56: Getting Unstuck

Jan 3rd, 201728:24

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.

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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.

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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.

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Episode 54: Panic in the Streets

Dec 6th, 201625:25

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.

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Episode 52: Losing Face

Nov 22nd, 201624:03

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.

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Episode 51: What Happened?

Nov 15th, 201628:22

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.

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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.

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Episode 50: Broken Windows

Nov 1st, 201630:01

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.

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Episode 49: Filthy Rich

Oct 25th, 201621:34

Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to explore the secret lives of billionaires. What she found, she said, shocked her.

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Episode 48: Men: 44, Women: 0

Oct 18th, 201621:12

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.

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Episode 47: Give Me Your Tired...

Oct 11th, 201622:22

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.

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Episode 46: Blessings in Disguise?

Oct 4th, 201621:51

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.

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Episode 45: What Are The Odds?

Sep 27th, 201629:32

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.

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Trailer: Hidden Brain 2.0

Sep 22nd, 20162:17

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.

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Update: #AirbnbWhileBlack

Sep 20th, 201625:06

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.

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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.

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Episode 43: The Perils of Power

Sep 6th, 201626:21

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.

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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.

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Episode 42: Decide Already!

Aug 23rd, 201624:11

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.

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Encore of Episode 11: Forgery

Aug 16th, 201624:57

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.

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Episode 41: Defeated

Aug 9th, 201621:03

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.

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Episode 40: Silver and Gold

Aug 2nd, 201622:24

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.

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Encore of Episode 7: Lonely Hearts

Jul 26th, 201633:00

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

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Episode 39: Vacations

Jul 19th, 201616:43

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.

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Episode 37: Smoke & Mirrors

Jul 5th, 201625:02

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.

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Episode 36: Science of Deception

Jun 28th, 201617:05

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.

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Encore of Episode 13: Terrorism

Jun 14th, 201626:43

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."

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Episode 34: Google at Work

Jun 7th, 201626:32

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.

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Episode 33: Food for Thought

May 31st, 201619:39

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.

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Episode 32: The Scientific Process

May 24th, 201628:17

Lots of psychology studies fail to produce the same results when they are repeated. How do scientists know what's true?

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Episode 31: Your Brain on Uber

May 17th, 201630:02

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.

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Episode 30: WOOP, There It Is

May 10th, 201621:34

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.

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Episode 29: Traffic

May 3rd, 201617:01

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.

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Episode 28: #AirbnbWhileBlack

Apr 26th, 201622:29

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.

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Episode 27: Losing Alaska

Apr 19th, 201624:56

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.

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Encore of Episode 16: Misbehaving

Apr 12th, 201624:24

From eating marshmallows to spending lottery winnings, Shankar Vedantam talks with behavioral economist Richard Thaler about Misbehaving.

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Episode 26: Grit

Apr 5th, 201629:27

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?

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Episode 25: Dream Jobs

Mar 29th, 201621:44

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.

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Episode 24: Tribes and Traitors

Mar 22nd, 201628:29

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.

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Episode 23: Boredom

Mar 15th, 201621:22

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.

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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.

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Episode 22: Originals

Mar 1st, 201621:21

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.

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Episode 20: Remembering Anarcha

Feb 16th, 201626:41

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.

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Episode 19: Dating and Mating

Feb 9th, 201623:30

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.

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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.

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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.

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Episode 17: Resolutions

Jan 19th, 201623:38

Today is the perfect day to (re)start your resolution. Here's how.

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Episode 16: Misbehaving

Jan 12th, 201623:34

From eating marshmallows to spending lottery winnings, Shankar Vedantam talks with behavioral economist Richard Thaler about his book Misbehaving.

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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.

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Episode 15: Loss and Renewal

Dec 29th, 201526:29

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.

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Episode 14: Christmas

Dec 22nd, 201522:40

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.

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Episode 13: Terrorism

Dec 15th, 201527:05

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.

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Episode 12: Humor

Dec 8th, 201520:39

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.

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Episode 11: Forgery

Dec 1st, 201524:21

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.

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Episode 10: Thanksgiving

Nov 24th, 201519:42

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.

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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.

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Episode 8: Back Up Plans

Nov 10th, 201525:35

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.

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Episode 7: Lonely Hearts

Nov 3rd, 201533:07

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.

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Episode 6: The Science of Fear

Oct 27th, 201521:35

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.

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Episode 5: Compassion

Oct 20th, 201520:05

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.

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Episode 4: Students and Teachers

Oct 13th, 201520:14

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.

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Episode 3: Stereotype Threat

Oct 6th, 201522:59

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.

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Brain Bonus: Magic Brain

Oct 2nd, 20154:46

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.

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Episode 2: Near Victories

Sep 29th, 201524:17

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.

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Episode 1: Switchtracking

Sep 22nd, 201530:45

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.

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Hidden Brain: A Sneak Peek

Sep 4th, 20155:32

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.

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A conversation about life's unseen patterns. Discover what's inside your Hidden Brain... subscribe now.

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