DiscoverPeople Who Read People: A Behavior and Psychology Podcast
People Who Read People: A Behavior and Psychology Podcast
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People Who Read People: A Behavior and Psychology Podcast

Author: Zachary Elwood

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A podcast about understanding human behavior, hosted by Zachary Elwood (twitter: @apokerplayer). Interviews with people from a wide range of fields about how understanding people aids them in their endeavors, with an occasional focus on the psychology of political polarization.
59 Episodes
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Host Zachary Elwood examines liberal reactions about the Rittenhouse verdict and how some of the more extreme and pessimistic reactions may be seen as being caused by political us-vs-them polarization. 
A talk with social scientist Saul Albert (saulalbert.net) about conversation analysis — the scientific analysis of talking — and the wider field of ethnomethodology. Topics discussed: what conversation analysis (CA) is and how it's done; some of the interesting findings in CA; Saul's own research; the complexity and difficulty of communication; the role of silence in conversation; transcription/notation methods used; and more.   
An interview of Rob Speiden, an expert in sign cutting, which is the tracking of humans or animals over the ground using clues of physical disturbance. Rob's site is at www.trackingschool.com. Topics discussed include: common methods of tracking; how tracking is used in search and rescue scenarios; debunking some misconceptions about what's possible with tracking; the importance of being fully aware and open to all sensory input; and interesting stories from his career. 
A talk with Emily Kubin, who recently, with her co-researcher Christian Von Sikorski, did a comprehensive review of 121 studies on social media effects on political polarization. We talk about her research, why polarization is a problem, the different types of polarization (affective vs ideological), our psychology tendency to become us-versus-them in our thinking, her own opinions on what social media is doing to us, and the mechanisms by which social media may be amplifying polarization. 
An interview with Ben Tyler, a professional musician and musical educator based in Portland, Oregon, about reading and understanding people in the musical world. Topics include: reading fellow band members' gestures and eye contact in jazz and other musical performances; being able to tell when audiences are having a good time or not; how practicing improvisation can make us more flexible; and the social aspects of the musical world. Ben's personal musical project is called Small Skies. 
A talk with Jannine Lasaleta, who has researched the psychological effects of nostalgia, including how nostalgic feelings make people more loose and uncaring with money.  We talk about the connection between our desire for nostalgia and our desire to engage in old-fashioned or ancient or "authentic" activities . We talk about how our attraction for these things might be connected to our search for meaning, our desire to have a consistent and stable sense of self, and our attempt to fend off existential anxieties related to meaninglessness and isolation. 
If you're someone who pays a lot of attention to politics, but feels that doing so makes you miserable, this may be an important listen. What if someone were to tell you that paying attention to politics is not a morally correct way to spend your time and energy? Political philosopher Chris Freiman is the author of Why It's OK to Ignore Politics. He makes a case that paying a lot of attention to politics is often a waste of time, and may even be immoral compared to other ways you could be spending your time and energy. We talk about how our collective focus on and anger about politics may be contributing to society's us-versus-them animosity and polarization (which may be the root cause of our dysfunction). 
Jennifer Cohn is an attorney and election integrity advocate. Since 2016 she has been drawing attention to problems with U.S. election security and was frustrated during the Trump admin years to see the GOP block efforts to improve security. Now that GOP has become the party of "the election is illegitimate", things have swung the other way and it is Democrats who seem unwilling to acknowledge flaws that many on that side were willing to talk about up until recently. We talk about how politics and polarization can impact attempts to solve election security problems, and she gives insights on the problems she sees with elections. 
Elizaveta Friesem thinks and writes about media and how we relate to it. Her recent book is called "Media Is Us" and it examines the idea that media is not something "out there" but more something that is part of us, something that happens internally, similar to any other human communication. And perhaps this means that acting as if "media" of various sorts is to blame for various problems is a simplistic way to view the world. We talk about the need for personal responsibility for how we consume media, power dynamics in society, the power of empathy and understanding others, and more. 
An interview with professional poker player Dara O'Kearney about poker tells (behavioral patterns in poker). We talk about how useful tells are compared to strategy, what are some of the tells he's used, how his opinion about tells has changed over time. We also discuss poker more generally, including its complexity, game theory optimal topics, how running long distance may have helped him with poker, and more. 
The second of two interviews with James Mitchell, a recently retired police captain who worked in Prince George's County, Maryland. We attempt to understand the factors behind the problem of American cops having a high rate of shootings and other forms of excessive force. Factors discussed include: the role of guns, racism, the fact that juries seldom convict cops, police unions, and cops living in the communities they police.  (In the first interview, other factors, like mental health and approach/de-escalation strategies, were discussed.)
An interview with Kevin Arceneaux, a researcher on the “need for chaos” research project, which found that a surprising number of people, around 40% of those polled, seem to have antisocial views about society in that they either agreed with or did not disagree with statements like “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking 'just let them all burn'?” We talk about what the study entailed, and what the factors could be that help explain this surprising find. 
A talk with sports analyst and broadcaster Jon Michael Hoefling, who writes for Deadspin. We discuss a recent story about Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger and an apparent tell he has, where his foot position indicates whether he'll run or pass. We also discuss some other tells in football and sports in general, including the story about Andre Agassi having a read on Boris Becker, and some tells in baseball. 
An interview with Carey Callahan, a therapist who writes about gender dysphoria and transgender issues, with a focus on medical and healthcare aspects. Topics include: why well meaning attempts at discussing transgender topics can inspire so much anger; how polarization on this topic relates to polarization in other areas; controversy around how many obstacles there should be for someone who wants to transition; criticisms of gender identity theory; the idea that gender identity theory itself may be amplifying dysphoric symptoms; the role of environmental factors in gender dysphoria.
How might we connect better with each other? An interview with Ashley Pallathra and Edward Brodkin, co-authors of Missing Each Other: How to Cultivate Meaningful Connections. We talk about the obstacles we face in our attempts to form better connection with others.  
An interview with professional gamer Nocturnal (OhNocturnal on Twitch), about reading opponent behavior in Apex Legends. We also talk about the financial aspects of being a pro video gamer. 
An interview about the role of psychology and understanding behavior in tennis, with experienced tennis player and coach Carlos Goffi. Goffi has coached tennis for more than 30 years, has coached John McEnroe, and is the author of the well known tennis book Tournament Tough.  We talk about reading opponents' physical tells and their mood, about psychological strategizing, and about the impact of personal life factors on a player's ability to compete. We also talk about Andre Agassi's claim that he had a very reliable tell on Boris Becker. 
First of two interviews with James Mitchell, a retired police captain who worked in Prince George's County, Maryland. We talk about the U.S. problem of excessive police violence, with the goal of understanding some of the factors that can lead to unjustified and too aggressive police responses. Issues include: George Floyd's death and how the cops handled that; how mental health issues relate to police response issues; how cops can escalate a situation whether they mean to or not, and more.  In the second interview, other factors are discussed, such as the role of guns, and racism. 
I interview Scott Stossel, who is the national editor of the magazine The Atlantic, and the author of the book My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. That book is a history of humanity's understanding and treatment of anxiety, and also a personal history in which Scott recounts honestly and openly his own struggles with extreme, debilitating anxiety. I talk to Scott about what he's learned in his research and personal life about the factors behind anxiety and how we might, as much as we are able to, overcome it. I (host Zach Elwood) also talk about my own struggles with anxiety, which have taken a different form from Scott's. 
An interview with Nathan Filer, author of the non-fiction book 'The Heartland: Finding and Losing Schizophrenia' and the fiction book 'The Shock of the Fall'. We talk about environmental, experiential factors in schizophrenia, about the understandable pushback there can be to examining these areas, about the uncertainty around these topics, and about the power of language and the namings we give things. I also talk about the mental issues I struggled with as a young man.  
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