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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.
328 Episodes
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The Fake Bride

The Fake Bride

2021-05-1055:515

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

2021-05-0350:4818

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

2021-04-1956:528

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

2021-04-1249:585

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

2021-04-0552:5811

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

2021-03-2952:1512

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

2021-03-2255:1115

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

2021-03-1556:2912

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

2021-03-0954:388

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.
The Snowball Effect

The Snowball Effect

2021-03-0157:2010

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.
The Match

The Match

2021-02-2619:3810

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.
Creating God

Creating God

2021-02-2253:2732

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.
Is It Better to Know?

Is It Better to Know?

2021-02-1656:1116

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.
Love is Blind

Love is Blind

2021-02-1351:2216

Why do some relationships last, while others falter? In this bonus episode, Shankar looks at one thing successful couples do well.
How They See Us

How They See Us

2021-02-0854:2422

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.”
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.
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Comments (881)

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
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Koiras Pazoki

The best podcast episode I've EVER heard 😍

Apr 17th
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maurice

The best podcast ever... so well thought out.

Apr 13th
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Ravi

Excellent episode! This conflict between the individual's self-interest and society's interests was really interesting, and of course the personal stories were really touching.

Apr 13th
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Anita Arpadarehi

That was good perspective. Thank you

Apr 12th
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Rochak Sethi

Amazing episode! thank you for the thoughtfulness you put into every thing you do!

Apr 12th
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BillyG

I can't believe those workers tried to tow the rover instead of coming back for it later

Apr 8th
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Pam Orphanides

a great discussion. it is a very challenging topic especially when change has personal toll on people

Mar 31st
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Cody Buttron

Wow this episode really hits home, I grew up in a small Kansas town of about 200 people, and while I felt like the community was full of caring people who would have your back in time of need there was an underlying oppression of masculinity. One of my most vivid memories is my sister telling me as I went into highschool that I needed to be in football and shop class if I wanted to be cool/popular and it stuck with me because I did it and I hated it and my freshmen year was miserable. Thank God for my band of friends who didn't care what I was or wasn't a part of, if not for them I would have killed myself as I tried later in life when I was on my own at college in Omaha NE where there was a much different city culture that I was not used to in my small town life.

Mar 30th
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Zephan Schroeder

Wow. This is critical to understanding outrage and what it does (and does not) do to our community and society. To me Outrage is a psychological weapon - often like poison. Recognizing provides significant defense (and insight) into those using outrage.

Mar 30th
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Mohsen

Amazing! Go on Shankar 👍

Mar 23rd
Reply

Mozhgan.abbasi

very useful

Mar 22nd
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Andi-Roo Libecap

Great episode - definitely food for thought.

Mar 18th
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Terri Hunt

Being LGBT is not always obvious upon meeting someone, so you get to know the person before you put up a barrier to distance yourself from them. And most people know someone who is LGBT, even if they don't know that about them. It's easier to distance yourself from someone when you can see the difference before you get to know them. And once you know and love someone, it's harder to then impose a distance. The more people who came out, the more we collectively realized "gay people" are our sisters and uncles, friends and coworkers. I'm amazed and proud of our progress as a country, but there's so much more work to do!

Mar 11th
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Zahra usefi

c

Mar 10th
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Brandy E

Love!

Mar 9th
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Bu M

Such an insightful and entertaining episode, bringing such a clear expression of the origins of & apparent effectiveness of rituals and religions throughout. Thank you for sharing 🙏🏾

Feb 25th
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Madeleine Stedman

this great but misses the point of balancing childcare commitments and gender balancing in workloads, housework etc.

Feb 24th
Reply

snosaer

classic. one of my "all timers"

Feb 22nd
Reply (1)
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