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Hidden Brain

Author: NPR

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

The Halo Effect

2020-09-2155:4311

Judy, Lyn and Donna Ulrich were driving to a volleyball game when their Ford Pinto was hit from behind by a Chevy van. The Pinto caught fire, and the three teenagers were burned to death. This week on Hidden Brain, we talk to a former Ford insider who could have voted to recall the Pinto years before the Ulrich girls were killed — but didn't. And we ask, is it possible to fairly evaluate our past actions when we know how things turned out?
Why Nobody Feels Rich

Why Nobody Feels Rich

2020-09-1433:3527

If you've ever flown in economy class on a plane, you probably had to walk through the first class cabin to get to your seat. Maybe you noticed the extra leg room. The freshly-poured champagne. Maybe you were annoyed, or envious. Social psychologist Keith Payne says we tend to compare ourselves with those who have more than us, but rarely with those who have less. This week, we revisit our 2019 episode on the psychology of income inequality, and how perceptions of our own wealth shape our lives.
The United States spends trillions of dollars on healthcare every year, but our outcomes are worse than those of other countries that spend less money. Why? Physician and healthcare executive Vivian Lee explains the psychological and economic incentives embedded in the American model of medicine, and makes the case for a different way forward.
You 2.0: Empathy Gym

You 2.0: Empathy Gym

2020-08-3152:5523

Some people are good at putting themselves in another person's shoes. Others may struggle to relate. But psychologist Jamil Zaki argues that empathy isn't a fixed trait. This week, in our final installment of You 2.0, we revisit a favorite episode about how to exercise our empathy muscles.
You 2.0: WOOP, WOOP!

You 2.0: WOOP, WOOP!

2020-08-2420:3428

American culture is all about positive affirmations. Dream big! Shoot for the stars! But do positive fantasies actually help us achieve our goals? This week, as part of our You 2.0 summer series, we revisit a conversation with researcher Gabriele Oettingen about how we can make our goals more attainable.
You 2.0: Loss And Renewal

You 2.0: Loss And Renewal

2020-08-1726:0413

Maya Shankar was well on her way to a career as a violinist when an injury closed that door. This week, as part of our annual You 2.0 series on personal growth and reinvention, we revisit our 2015 conversation with Maya, in which she shares how she found a new path forward after losing an identity she loved.
You 2.0: The Mind's Eye

You 2.0: The Mind's Eye

2020-08-1047:3033

Some challenges feel insurmountable. But psychologist Emily Balcetis says the solutions are often right in front of our eyes. This week, as part of our annual series on personal growth and reinvention, Emily explains how we can harness our sight to affect our behavior.
Sometimes, life can feel like being stuck on a treadmill. No matter how hard you try to get happier, you end up back where you started. What's going on here? We kick off our annual You 2.0 summer series with happiness researcher Elizabeth Dunn, who explains how to fight the treadmill feeling.
Edge Effect

Edge Effect

2020-07-2737:5331

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. Researchers have found that people with deep connections to those from other countries and cultures often see benefits in terms of their creative output. This week, we revisit a favorite 2018 episode about 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.
In 2019, a novel by a new author, Gail Shepherd, arrived in bookstores. The True History of Lyndie B. Hawkins tells the story of a young white girl growing up in the South. The book has been well received, but it is not the book Shepherd intended to write. In her original drafts, Shepherd, a white author, created a Lyndie who was Vietnamese-American, and dealing with issues of race in the deep South. This week we look at what it means to be a storyteller in a time of caustic cultural debate and ask when, if ever, is it okay to tell a story that is not your own?
Romeo & Juliet In Rwanda

Romeo & Juliet In Rwanda

2020-07-1350:4515

How do you change someone's behavior? Most of us would point to education or persuasion. But what if the answer lies elsewhere? This week, we revisit a 2018 story about human nature and behavior change — a story that will take us on a journey from Budapest to the hills of Rwanda.
Not long after his sixteenth birthday, Fred Clay was arrested for the murder of a cab driver in Boston. Eventually, Fred was found guilty — but only after police and prosecutors used questionable psychological techniques to single him out as the killer. This week on Hidden Brain, we go back four decades to uncover the harm that arises when flawed ideas from psychology are used to determine that a teenager should spend the rest of his life behind bars.
"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. As we mark Independence Day this week, we return to a 2018 episode with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed. We explore the contradictions in Jefferson's life — and how those contradictions might resonate in our own lives.
Buy, Borrow, Steal

Buy, Borrow, Steal

2020-06-2250:3738

Policymakers have a tried-and-true game plan for jump-starting the economy in times of severe recession: Push stimulus packages and lower interest rates so Americans will borrow and spend. But economist Amir Sufi says the way we traditionally address a recession is deeply flawed. He argues that by encouraging "sugar-rush" solutions, the nation is putting poor and middle-class Americans and the entire economy at even greater risk. This week we look at the role of debt as a hidden driver of recessions, and how we might create a more stable system.
A Rap on Trial

A Rap on Trial

2020-06-1556:3618

In the past few weeks, the nation has been gripped by protests against police brutality toward black and brown Americans. The enormous number of demonstrators may be new, but the biases they're protesting are not. In 2017, we looked at research on an alleged form of bias in the justice system. This week, we revisit that story, and explore how public perceptions of rap music may have played a role in the prosecution of a man named Olutosin Oduwole.
The Air We Breathe

The Air We Breathe

2020-06-1237:3219

President Trump said this week that a few "bad apples" were to blame for police killings of black people. But research suggests that something more complicated is at play — a force that affects everyone in the culture, not just police officers. In this bonus episode, we revisit our 2017 look at implicit bias and how a culture of racism can infect us all.
Playing Favorites

Playing Favorites

2020-06-0854:3627

If we do a favor for someone we know, we think we've done a good deed. What we don't tend to ask is: Who have we harmed by treating this person with more kindness than we show toward others? This week, in the second of our two-part series on moral decision-making, we consider how actions that come from a place of love can lead to a more unjust world.
Justifying The Means

Justifying The Means

2020-06-0154:5537

When we are asked to make a moral choice, many of us imagine it involves listening to our hearts. To that, philosopher Peter Singer says, "nonsense." Singer believes there are no moral absolutes, and that logic and calculation are better guides to moral behavior than feelings and intuitions. This week, we talk with Singer about why this approach is so hard to put into practice, and look at the hard moral choices presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Time Machine

The Time Machine

2020-05-3035:4118

In recent months, many of us have looked back with longing at our lives before COVID-19. For many of us, that world was one of bustle and activity — marked by scenes of packed restaurants, crowded subway cars, and chaotic playgrounds. In this audio essay, Shankar discusses our wistfulness for the world before the pandemic, and why such nostalgia can actually help to orient us toward the future.
The People Like Us

The People Like Us

2020-05-2536:3320

Far from being "the great equalizer," COVID-19 has disproportionately sickened and killed African Americans and Latinos in the U.S. Many of the reasons for these inequalities reach back to before the pandemic began. This week, we return to a 2019 episode that investigates a specific source of racial disparities in medicine and beyond—and considers an uncomfortable solution.
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Comments (800)

Sourav Shama

great show

Sep 25th
Reply

Chanaka Hettige

Me non-stop taking notes to a day where I will have kids! Thanks guys. Brilliant epsiode as always.

Sep 22nd
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Joy Merten

this episode is so evil, lol. want to feel better about yourself? go mock some poor people for having less money than you

Sep 22nd
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Mae Lee Arant

this feels like a get out of jail free card for trump. sorry no. his choices of ignoring masks and need to have cohesive plan for shut down and reopening are not excused by this premise.

Sep 22nd
Reply

.

Why do you'll keep repeating the same episodes every now and then. Please stop it and add new ones. Thanks

Sep 20th
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Lee Abrahams

How moist is her mouth?

Sep 19th
Reply

zahra babaie

I could learn a lot from this episod

Sep 17th
Reply

Mehr Mehr

i loved it. group of 5 makes Canada lovelier

Sep 3rd
Reply

zahra babaie

That was a great story 🌸

Aug 30th
Reply

Ed

Great episode, thanks Elizabeth and Shankur

Aug 27th
Reply

maintain reason

Who, in turn, was so into writing... Daamn

Aug 27th
Reply

maintain reason

Damn, Derek sounds like C. Bukowski so much...

Aug 27th
Reply

Sepideh Bakht

I love your show very much. It's a part of my morning ritual. 😄

Aug 26th
Reply

Yoshua Day

Maybe I'm just being a Debbie downer, but all this just sounds like she re-named the concept of setting small incremental, achievable goals in progress toward a larger goal. This to me seems like common knowledge within the self improvement space. Her research is the same thing as having a vision board and not setting goals toward your vision board. A vision board is just the poster board with pictures on it won't get you anywhere unless you give it directing. I guess I'm just a cynic or maybe I'm jealous that she got paid to reframe a known concept as new research.

Aug 25th
Reply

Jordan Paris

Unsubscribing. I've listened to almost all episodes and the latest posts are just re-runs/re-uploads of older episodes. If there is no new content to listen to there is no reason to stay tuned in.

Aug 13th
Reply (1)

BC

I wonder why it seems like nobody comments on these

Aug 9th
Reply (1)

Victoria Muchiri

Great content. I'd really love to transcribe your podcast. Transcription helps to reach a wider audience. The deaf would also be able to consume and enjoy your content. My email is vickies2cents@gmail.com. Thank you.

Aug 6th
Reply

True

50:00

Aug 4th
Reply

Joni Berner

323ndu332333nd 3I

Aug 1st
Reply

ncooty

@21:17: Finally unsubscribing. Too tired of hearing bad "researchers" over-interpret outcomes of horribly designed studies. Previously in this episode, there was the moronic interpretation of heath outcomes for bosses versus subordinates. Now, we hear more over-interpretations of non-randomly assigned conditions. E.g., one could easily imagine that some people aren't very discerning and know which beer will suffice, while others who are less sure (or who dislike most beers) take longer to order. That alone would explain the observations. The fact that the guest interpreted the results in favor of her preferred hypothesis demonstrates what a terrible researcher she is. I can't keep listening to this crap. Hidden brain, indeed.

Jul 26th
Reply
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