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Hidden Brain podcast

Hidden Brain

By Hidden Brain  

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

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

 

#328

The Fake Bride

Have you ever felt as if someone else was writing your personal narrative? Controlling what you do, shaping how you act? This week on Hidden Brain, we bring you a surreal tale about a woman who became a reluctant character in someone else’s love story. If you like our work, please consider supporting it! See how you can help at support.hiddenbrain.org. And to learn more about human behavior and ideas that can improve your life, subscribe to our newsletter at news.hiddenbrain.org. ... Read more

10 May 2021

53 MINS

53:35

10 May 2021


#327

Josh Gitelson: My Unsung Hero

At the end of every episode, we take a moment to thank an Unsung Hero: someone who’s not on the staff of the show, but who went above and beyond in helping us out. In recent weeks, we've been asking you to share your own examples of someone who's made an impact on your life. This time, Josh Gitelson of State College, Pa., recalls a small gesture of kindness from a stranger on a plane. Do you have a story of an unsung hero you want to share with our listeners? Tell us about it! Please email us at ideas@hiddenbrain.org, with the subject line "Unsung Hero." For some guidelines on what we're looking for, go to hiddenbrain.org/unsunghero. ... Read more

07 May 2021

03 MINS

03:13

07 May 2021


#326

One Head, Two Brains

Your brain is divided in two: a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere. In this 2019 episode of Hidden Brain, we dive into Iain McGilchrist's research on how the left and right hemispheres shape our perceptions. Iain argues that differences in the brain — and Western society's preference for what one hemisphere has to offer — have had enormous effects on our lives. If you like our work, please consider supporting it! See how you can help at support.hiddenbrain.org. To learn more about human behavior and ideas that can improve your life, subscribe to our newsletter at news.hiddenbrain.org ... Read more

03 May 2021

49 MINS

49:31

03 May 2021


#325

Deb Pierce: My Unsung Hero

In every episode of Hidden Brain, we thank an Unsung Hero — a colleague, a friend or a family member who has helped make our work possible from behind the scenes. Recently, we asked you to tell us about your own unsung heroes. This week, Deb Pierce of Newton, MA, remembers the woman who showed up at one of the hardest moments in her life. ... Read more

30 Apr 2021

04 MINS

04:34

30 Apr 2021


#324

Why Conversations Go Wrong

Do you ever struggle to communicate with your mom? Or feel like you and your spouse sometimes speak different languages? We talk with linguist Deborah Tannen about how our conversational styles can cause unintended conflicts, and what we can do to communicate more effectively with the people in our lives. If you like our work, please try to support us! See how you can help at support.hiddenbrain.org. To learn more about human behavior and ideas that can improve your life, subscribe to our newsletter at news.hiddenbrain.org ... Read more

26 Apr 2021

52 MINS

52:06

26 Apr 2021


#323

Unsung Hero: A Cold Nevada Night

In every episode of Hidden Brain, we thank an Unsung Hero. Many listeners have written to say they love this segment, even sharing their own Unsung Heroes. Today, we're sharing one of those stories with you. ... Read more

23 Apr 2021

04 MINS

04:21

23 Apr 2021


#322

Humor Us

Hahaha! The average four-year-old child laughs 300 times a day. By contrast, it takes more than two months for the average 40-year-old adult to laugh that many times. This week, we talk with behavioral scientist Jennifer Aaker of Stanford University about why so many of us fall off a “humor cliff” as we become adults. Plus, how we can inject more laughter into our lives, even during the most difficult of times. ... Read more

19 Apr 2021

52 MINS

52:03

19 Apr 2021


#321

An Unfinished Lesson

More than a century ago, millions of people around the world died in a massive influenza pandemic. The so-called "Spanish flu" outbreak of 1918 revealed a truth about viruses: they don't just infect us biologically. They also detect fissures in societies and fault lines between communities. Historian Nancy Bristow says this remains true today, as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.This week, we revisit our 2020 conversation with Bristow, and consider what history can tell us about human behavior during public health crises. ... Read more

12 Apr 2021

49 MINS

49:26

12 Apr 2021


#320

Useful Delusions

Podcast hosts are used to being the ones asking the questions. This week, though, we’re going to flip that script, and put Shankar in the guest seat. We’ll hear a recent interview he did with Krys Boyd of the public radio show Think from KERA in Dallas. The discussion revolves around Shankar's latest book, Useful Delusions, and how self-deceptions can bind together marriages, communities, and even entire nations. ... Read more

05 Apr 2021

49 MINS

49:36

05 Apr 2021


#319

Made of Honor

Stories help us make sense of the world, and can even help us to heal from trauma. They also shape our cultural narratives, for better and for worse. This week on Hidden Brain, we conclude our three-part series on storytelling with a look at the phenomenon of "honor culture," and how it dictates the way we think and behave. ... Read more

29 Mar 2021

48 MINS

48:45

29 Mar 2021


#318

The Story of Your Life

We can’t go back and change the past. We can’t erase trauma and hardship. But what if there was a way to regain control of our personal narratives? In the second part of our series on storytelling, we look at how interpreting the stories of our lives — and rewriting them — can change us forever. Also, a note that this week's episode touches on themes of trauma and suicide. If you or someone you know may be having thoughts of suicide, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. ... Read more

22 Mar 2021

51 MINS

51:14

22 Mar 2021


#317

The Story of Stories

Why is my friend late? How does nuclear fission work? What occurs when I sneeze? We all need to understand why certain things happen. Some researchers think the drive to explain the world is a basic human impulse, similar to thirst or hunger. This week on Hidden Brain, we begin a three part series on why we tell stories. Psychologist Tania Lombrozo discusses how explanations can lead to discovery, delight, and disaster. ... Read more

15 Mar 2021

51 MINS

51:15

15 Mar 2021


#316

Radically Normal

For generations, it was difficult, even dangerous, to express a sexual orientation other than heterosexuality in the United States. But in recent years, much has changed. This week, we revisit our 2019 episode about one of the most striking transformations of public attitude ever recorded. And we consider whether the strategies used by the LGBTQ community hold lessons for other groups seeking change. ... Read more

09 Mar 2021

50 MINS

50:06

09 Mar 2021


#315

The Snowball Effect

Why do some companies become household names, while others flame out? How do certain memes go viral? And why do some social movements take off and spread, while others fizzle? Today on the show, we talk with sociologist Damon Centola about social contagion, and how it can be harnessed to build a better world. ... Read more

01 Mar 2021

54 MINS

54:36

01 Mar 2021


#314

The Match

We get messages all the time from listeners who say Hidden Brain has helped them to think differently about the world, and about themselves. As producers, nothing is more rewarding or gratifying. Today, we bring you a listener story that especially moved us. It’s a tale about two friends, and how our show played a small role in their dramatic story. ... Read more

26 Feb 2021

19 MINS

19:34

26 Feb 2021


#313

Creating God

If you've taken part in a religious service, have you ever stopped to think about how people become believers? Where do the rituals come from? And what purpose does it all serve? This week, we bring you a 2018 episode with social psychologist Azim Shariff. He argues that we should consider religion from a Darwinian perspective, as an innovation that helped human societies to grow and flourish. ... Read more

22 Feb 2021

51 MINS

51:56

22 Feb 2021


#312

Is It Better to Know?

Being able to see what’s happening around us can help us make smart decisions. But knowledge — especially knowledge of how others perceive us — can also hold us back, mire us in needless worry, and keep us from achieving our potential. This week, we look at the paradox of knowledge. ... Read more

16 Feb 2021

52 MINS

52:28

16 Feb 2021


#311

Love is Blind

Why do some relationships last, while others falter? In this bonus episode, Shankar looks at one thing successful couples do well. ... Read more

13 Feb 2021

06 MINS

06:15

13 Feb 2021


#310

How They See Us

Stereotypes are all around us, shaping how we see the world – and how the world sees us. On the surface, the stereotypes that other people hold shouldn’t affect the way we think or act. But our concerns about other people’s perceptions have a way of burrowing deep into our minds. This week, social psychologist Claude Steele explains the psychology of “stereotype threat.” ... Read more

08 Feb 2021

50 MINS

50:27

08 Feb 2021


#309

The Easiest Person to Fool

Physicist Richard Feynman once said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” One way we fool ourselves is by imagining we know more than we do; we think we are experts. This week on Hidden Brain, psychologist Adam Grant describes the magic that unfolds when we challenge our own deeply-held beliefs. ... Read more

01 Feb 2021

53 MINS

53:51

01 Feb 2021


#308

Afraid of the Wrong Things

Around the world, people are grappling with the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. How do our minds process that risk, and why do some of us process it so differently? This week, we talk with psychologist Paul Slovic about the disconnect between our own assessments of risk and the dangers we face in our everyday lives. ... Read more

25 Jan 2021

50 MINS

50:15

25 Jan 2021


#307

Our Brands, Our Selves

All of us are surrounded by brands. Designer brands. Bargain-shopper brands. Brands for seemingly every demographic slice among us. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself how brands influence you? This week, we bring you our 2019 conversation with Americus Reed, who studies how companies create a worldview around the products they sell, and then get us to make those products a part of who we are. ... Read more

18 Jan 2021

34 MINS

34:19

18 Jan 2021


#306

The Secret Life of Secrets

It’s human nature to hide parts of ourselves that produce shame or anxiety. We tend to skip over details that could change how others perceive us. But no matter how big or small our secret, it will often weigh on our minds, and not for the reasons you might expect. This week on Hidden Brain, we talk with psychologist Michael Slepian about the costs of secret keeping. ... Read more

11 Jan 2021

47 MINS

47:59

11 Jan 2021


#305

The Double Standard

It's easy to spot bias in other people, especially those with whom we disagree.  But it’s not so easy to recognize our own biases.  Psychologist Emily Pronin says it’s partly because of our brain architecture. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore what Pronin calls the introspection illusion. ... Read more

04 Jan 2021

48 MINS

48:09

04 Jan 2021


#304

A Creature of Habit

At the beginning of the year, many of us make resolutions for the months to come. We resolve to work out more, to procrastinate less, or to save more money. Though some people stick with these aspirations, many of us fall short. This week, we revisit our 2019 conversation with psychologist Wendy Wood, who shares what researchers have found about how to build good habits — and break bad ones. ... Read more

28 Dec 2020

49 MINS

49:47

28 Dec 2020


#303

Waiting Games

For so many people across the globe, 2020 has been a year of waiting and uncertainty. Waiting to see friends and family in far-flung locales. Waiting to hear about unemployment aid, or job opportunities. Waiting to hear about loved ones in the hospital. And even though the end of 2020 does not mean the end of these hardships, many of us are letting out a sigh of relief as we say goodbye to this difficult year. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the psychology of relief and waiting, and how we can make periods of limbo less painful. ... Read more

22 Dec 2020

51 MINS

51:13

22 Dec 2020


#302

Minimizing Pain, Maximizing Joy

Life is filled with hardships and tragedies — a fact that 2020 has made all too clear for people across the globe. For thousands of years, philosophers have come up with strategies to help us cope with such hardship. This week on Hidden Brain, we talk with philosopher William Irvine about ancient ideas — backed by modern psychology — that can help us manage disappointment and misfortune. ... Read more

14 Dec 2020

52 MINS

52:25

14 Dec 2020


#301

Screaming into a Void

Turn on the news or look at Twitter, and it's likely you'll be bombarded by outrage. Many people have come to believe that the only way to spark change is to incite anger. This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit a favorite 2019 episode about how outrage is hijacking our conversations, our communities, and our minds. ... Read more

07 Dec 2020

40 MINS

40:30

07 Dec 2020