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Hidden Brain

Author: Hidden Brain

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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.
335 Episodes
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The Power of Mercy

The Power of Mercy

2021-06-1452:193

Granting forgiveness for the wrongs done to us can be one of the hardest things we face in life. But forgiveness can also be transformative. In the first of a two-part series on apologies and mercy, we talk with psychologist Charlotte Witvliet about the benefits of forgiveness, for both the mind and the body.   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.
What are the Odds?

What are the Odds?

2021-06-1131:432

Coincidences can feel like magic. When we realize that a co-worker shares our birthday or run into a college roommate while on vacation, it can give us a surge of delight. Today, we revisit a favorite episode about these moments of serendipity. Mathematician Joseph Mazur explains why coincidences aren't as unlikely as we think they are, and psychologist Nicholas Epley tells us why we can't help but find meaning in them anyway.
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 favorite episode from our archives, we look at how media, tech, and entertainment companies hijack our attention. Plus, we consider how the commercials we saw as children continue to shape our behavior as adults.  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.
Why We Hold on to Things

Why We Hold on to Things

2021-05-3147:448

What do the things you own say about who you are? Psychologist Bruce Hood studies our relationship with our possessions – from beloved childhood objects to the everyday items we leave behind. 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.
Loss and Renewal

Loss and Renewal

2021-05-2428:4614

No matter how hard we work, we won’t always achieve the goals we set for ourselves. When cognitive scientist Maya Shankar was a girl, she wanted to be a concert violinist. Then an injury forced her to imagine her life anew. This week, we revisit a favorite episode from 2015 with Maya. She’s now the host of a new podcast, A Slight Change of Plans. 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.
Tribes and Traitors

Tribes and Traitors

2021-05-2135:249

In the past weeks, headlines around the world have focused on the violent conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. In this favorite episode from our archive, we hear from a former Israeli soldier and a Palestinian man who asked a radical question: what happens when you empathize with your enemy?  They found that showing such empathy can be powerful — but also carries risks.  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.
Our Noisy Minds

Our Noisy Minds

2021-05-1752:3727

Psychologist Daniel Kahneman says there are invisible factors that distort our judgment. He calls these factors “noise.” The consequences can be found in everything from marriage proposals to medical diagnoses and prison sentences. This week on Hidden Brain, we consider how to identify noise in the world, and in our own lives. 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.
The Fake Bride

The Fake Bride

2021-05-1055:529

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.
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.
One Head, Two Brains

One Head, Two Brains

2021-05-0352:1633

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
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.
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
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.
Humor Us

Humor Us

2021-04-1955:2114

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.
An Unfinished Lesson

An Unfinished Lesson

2021-04-1252:486

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.
Useful Delusions

Useful Delusions

2021-04-0552:2314

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.
Made of Honor

Made of Honor

2021-03-2952:1219

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.
The Story of Your Life

The Story of Your Life

2021-03-2253:5822

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.
The Story of Stories

The Story of Stories

2021-03-1553:3419

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.
Radically Normal

Radically Normal

2021-03-0952:2310

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.
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Comments (894)

Amin Farsea

hey guys, thank you for all the good work you do. love from Iran.

Jun 14th
Reply

Mohit Agarwal

it's so sad that at this time is pendamic where we are even more deprived of the connections I am listening it, and feel so deeply about the missing connections

Jun 10th
Reply

Helen L

This was wonderful, very thought provoking! I think it speaks volumes about her that Gail did that work, research and listening to others the introspection, the rewrite... And I kinda agree with her final point about the historical context. (reminded me of the similar issue of whitewashing and cis-washing in Hollywood. Until there are enough opportunities for POC, trans, disabled and gay actors to be able to play not just themselves (ie characters where that is a defining attribute) but also other parts (ie white by default), white cis ones shouldn't be taking those roles! But I do kinda hope that the editor/someone has a copy of the original draft, so that it might be seen some day - and, at the very least read by Camilla!

Jun 10th
Reply

Daku

good podcast if you can get past the horrible editing

Jun 9th
Reply

km

Use Brave Browser. Avoid ads.

Jun 8th
Reply (1)

Pam Orphanides

what an amazing podcast. so inspiring to hear of Mayer's journey and how she was able to evolve and adapt to her changing circumstances and take all her previous learnings

Jun 6th
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Laura Burns

wonder why no mention of Jill Bolte Taylor's inside perspective of having a stroke damaging her left? brain.

Jun 6th
Reply

New Jawn

About as deep and insightful as an 8th grade junior high school reporr.

May 31st
Reply

Gerry M.

It's difficult to track our biases. An understanding of noise can be a good starting point, but could be difficult to maintain because it requires a commitment to self-checking. The self-check mode is challenging to me even though I'm intentional about it. I'm of the opinion based on observation that some have not a modicum of self-checking their own b.s. , yet self-righteousness drives their proverbial bus. I wonder what this subject matter reveals about the Trump supporters that attacked the Capitol on 1/6/21. 🤔😁

May 31st
Reply

km

Again, Andrew Yang seems to have the best way forward. #UBI. Check out 'The War on Normal People'. #YangWasRight

May 30th
Reply

Irving Schmutz

What a pleasure it is to listen to Daniel Kahaneman. Shankar is clearly a fan and asks him great questions. Bring Kahanaman back on the show often.

May 25th
Reply

Irving Schmutz

I don't see any correlation of the so-called "nakba" to the Holocaust. In the Nakba, the Arabs lost their homes. In the Holocaust the Jews lost their lives. No. The Holocaust is a unique calamity in the history of the world. Moreover, the Arabs (to a large extent) initiated the Nakba on their own people. The Jews did not initiate the Holocaust, as some holocaust deniers would have us believe. And what about the Jews - like my in-laws - in Muslim nations that lost their homes and were expelled or left their host countries at the same time as the Nakba (and resettled in Israel)? No mention of that here, even though the number of people affected was similar to the Arabs displaced in their Nakba. A comparison of these two population exchanges would be a more appropriate comparison, and frankly would cancel each other out. The difference is the Jews built a fantastic country and got on with their lives, while the Arabs remain largely in squalor and thrive on the welfare of others and play the victim card, which is getting rather boring.

May 25th
Reply

arianny montero

this is a repeat,orignally from episode 15

May 25th
Reply

Pam Orphanides

what an amazing unsung hero

May 23rd
Reply

shakiba asadi

It is amazing and informative. Thanks😍

May 22nd
Reply

Mohit Agarwal

this is the problem we have all around, we don't want to accept that set of rules can be better than random judgements shaped by our biases and environment

May 20th
Reply

ezzie83

wow what a story...

May 20th
Reply

Laura D

such familiar feelings and lessons growing up. So sad. Thank God for therapy.

May 14th
Reply

Pam Orphanides

I loved this podcast. I qm curious as someone who is naturally serious how to you build the skill of being humorous

Apr 26th
Reply

Koiras Pazoki

The best podcast episode I've EVER heard 😍

Apr 17th
Reply
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