Show cover of Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain

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

Tracks

When You Need It To Be True
When we want something very badly, it can be hard to see warning signs that might be obvious to other people. This week, we revisit a favorite episode from 2021, bringing you two stories about how easy it can be to believe in a false reality — even when the facts don’t back us up. If you missed it, make sure to listen to last week's episode on how to turn a "no" into a "yes." And if you enjoy the show and would like to help us make more episodes of Hidden Brain, please consider supporting our work. Thanks! 
49:07 30/01/2023
Persuasion: Part 2
Think back to the last time someone convinced you to do something you didn't want to do, or to spend money you didn't want to spend. What techniques did that person use to persuade you? This week, we continue our look at the science of influence with psychologist Robert Cialdini, and explore how these techniques can be used for both good and evil. Did you listen to the first part of our episodes on influence? Don't miss last week's episode on how to turn a "no" into a "yes." And if you enjoy the show and would like to help us make more episodes of Hidden Brain, please consider supporting our work. Thanks! 
50:21 23/01/2023
Persuasion: Part 1
We all exert pressure on each other in ways small and profound. We recommend movies or books to a friend. We convince a colleague to take a different tactic at work. We lobby a neighbor to vote for our favored political candidate. This week, we launch the first of a two-part mini-series on the science of influence, and talk with psychologist Robert Cialdini about how we can all improve our techniques for persuading others. Trying to make a  big decision or fulfill a personal goal in the year to come? Don't miss our recent episode about how to figure out what you want in life. And if you enjoy the show and would like to help us make more episodes of Hidden Brain, please consider supporting our work. Thanks! 
48:30 16/01/2023
Who's In Your Inner Circle?
If you think about the people in your life, it's likely that they share a lot in common with you. Maybe they like the same kinds of food, or enjoy the same hobbies. But, if you dig a little deeper, you may find that they share much more: they might make the same amount of money as you, or share the same race. This week, we talk with economists Luigi Pistaferri and Matthew Jackson about why we often surround ourselves with people who are just like us — and how we can transform our lives by pushing back against this phenomenon.  Did you catch last week's episode on the science of figuring out what you want? You can find it  here. And if you'd like to make a financial contribution to support our work, you can do so here. Thanks!
53:29 09/01/2023
Who Do You Want To Be?
We all have to make certain choices in life, such as where to live and how to earn a living.  Parents and peers influence our major life choices. But they can also steer us in directions that leave us deeply unsatisfied. Psychologist Ken Sheldon studies the science of figuring out what you want. He says there are things we can do to make sure our choices align with our deepest values.Did you catch last week's episode about how to develop healthy habits? You can find it  here. And if you'd like to make a financial contribution to support our work, you can do so here. Happy New Year from all of us at Hidden Brain!
51:58 02/01/2023
You, But Better
It's the time of year when many of us make resolutions for the year ahead. We pledge to quit smoking, eat better, or get more exercise. Then a few weeks go by, and we abandon our best-laid plans. That’s because change is hard. This week, we revisit a favorite 2021 conversation with behavioral scientist Katy Milkman, who shares how we can structure our lives to do what we know is good for us.Did you catch last week's episode about why we complain — and how we can complain more effectively? You can find it here. And if you'd like to make a financial contribution to support our work, you can do so here. Happy New Year from all of us at Hidden Brain! 
49:25 26/12/2022
How to Complain Productively
We often look down on people who complain a lot. Yet when something goes wrong in our own lives, many of us go straight to griping, grumbling and kvetching. This week. we talk with psychologist Robin Kowalski about how we can complain more effectively. We'll also hear from psychologist Mike Baer, who offers ways we can give better feedback to a friend or colleague who comes to us with complaints.  Did you catch our recent episode about the power of rituals? You can find it here.  And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one.  
52:03 19/12/2022
An Ancient Solution to Modern Problems
People in every country and culture mark important milestones, such as births, marriages and deaths, with intricately choreographed scripts. We even appeal to supernatural forces  to give our favorite sports teams an extra advantage. This week on the show, anthropologist Dimitris Xygalatas explains the psychological power behind the sacred and secular rituals that structure our lives. Did you catch our recent episode about the secret to good gift giving? You can find it here .   And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one. 
51:34 12/12/2022
The Secret to Gift Giving
With the holidays upon us, many of us are hunting for that special something for the special someones in our lives.  It's how we show we care about them.  So why is it so hard to find the right gift?  This week, we talk with researcher Jeff Galak about why the presents we give for holidays and birthdays often miss their mark, and how to become a better gift giver.  If you missed any of the episodes in our recent Relationships 2.0 series, you can find them all in this podcast feed, or on our website. And if you enjoyed this series, please consider supporting our work. 
48:54 05/12/2022
Relationships 2.0: What Makes Relationships Thrive
Everyone wants to be loved and appreciated. In the final episode of our Relationships 2.0 series, we revisit a conversation with psychologist Harry Reis, who says there’s another ingredient to successful relationships that’s every bit as important as love. If you missed any of the episodes in our Relationships 2.0 series, you can find them all in this podcast feed, or on our website. And if you enjoyed this series, please consider supporting our work. 
48:02 28/11/2022
Relationships 2.0: When Did Marriage Become So Hard?
No one will deny that marriage is hard. In fact, there's evidence it's getting even harder. This week on the show, we revisit a favorite episode from 2018 about the history of marriage and how it has evolved over time. We'll talk with historian Stephanie Coontz and psychologist Eli Finkel, and explore ways we can improve our love lives — including by asking less of our partners. For more of our Relationships 2.0 series, be sure to check out last week's episode, "An Antidote to Loneliness." And if you've found this series to be useful, please consider supporting our work! You can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 
52:20 21/11/2022
Relationships 2.0: An Antidote to Loneliness
When you go to a medical appointment, your doctor may ask you several questions. Do you smoke? Have you been getting exercise? Are you sleeping? But rarely do they ask: are you lonely? U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy believes we are suffering from an epidemic of loneliness. This week, we revisit our 2020 conversation with Murthy about the importance of human connection to our physical and mental health, and how we can all strengthen our social ties.A note that this week's episode includes a discussion of suicide. If you're experiencing suicidal crisis or emotional distress and are based in the U.S., you can reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling 988. Did you catch last week's episode in this series, about the power of tiny interactions? You can find it here. And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one. 
49:54 14/11/2022
Relationships 2.0: The Power of Tiny Interactions
As you're going about your day, you likely interact with family, friends and coworkers. These relationships can help you feel cared for and connected. But what if there's a whole category of people in your life whose impact is overlooked? In the second episode of our "Relationships 2.0" series, psychologist Gillian Sandstrom reveals some simple ways to make your life a little more joyful and maybe even a little less lonely. Did you catch the first episode in this series, about how to engage in conflict more productively? You can find it here. And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one. 
49:40 07/11/2022
Relationships 2.0: How To Keep Conflict From Spiraling
When it comes to conflict, most of us just want to shut it down. But psychological research is increasingly taking a different approach to discord, with profound implications for disputes big and small. This week, we kick off our Relationships 2.0 series by asking: what if we stop trying to eliminate conflict and instead ask, how can we do conflict better?Did you catch our recent episode about how to make anxiety work for you? You can find it  here.   And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one. 
53:58 31/10/2022
A Better Way to Worry
Anxiety is an uncomfortable emotion, which is why most of us try to avoid it.  But psychologist Tracy Dennis-Tiwary says our anxiety is also trying to tell us something. This week, we explore how we can interpret those messages and manage the intense discomfort these feelings can generate. Did you catch our recent episode about how to break free from either-or thinking? You can find it  here.  And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one. 
52:33 24/10/2022
Thriving in the Face of Contradiction
We all face tough decisions in life, whether we're juggling the demands of work and family or deciding whether to take a new job. These situations often feel like either/or choices.  But psychologist Wendy Smith says this binary way of confronting dilemmas contains a trap.  She offers a different way to think about difficult choices, one that opens up unexpected possibilities. Did you catch our recent episode about why we sometimes confess to  things we didn't do? You can find it  here. And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one. 
53:38 17/10/2022
Did I Really Do That?
Have you ever been falsely accused of something? Many of us think there’s only one way we’d act in such a situation: we’d defend ourselves. We’d do whatever it takes to clear our name — and above all else, we’d never, ever confess to something we didn’t do. But psychologist Saul Kassin says that’s a myth. This week, why we sometimes act against our own self-interest — even when the stakes are at their highest.Did you catch our recent episode about how we can make better use of our time? You can find it here. And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one. 
52:04 10/10/2022
Watch Your Mouth
If you're bilingual or multilingual, you may have noticed that different languages make you stretch in different ways. This week, we revisit a favorite 2018 conversation with cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky. She studies how the structure of the languages we speak can change the way we see the world. Then, a 2017 conversation with linguist and author John McWhorter, who shares how languages evolve, and why we're sometimes resistant to those changes.If you like today's show, be sure to check out our recent episode about how the culture we live in can shape the emotions we feel. And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one.  
49:45 03/10/2022
Taking Control of Your Time
Many of us feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. We struggle to make time for all the competing demands at work and at home, and inevitably feel like we're letting someone down. But what if there were a way to reclaim our time and, as a result, get more joy out of our lives?  This week, psychologist Cassie Mogilner Holmes explains how we've fallen victim to the illusion of time scarcity, and what we can do to spend our time more wisely. Did you catch last week's episode about how we can better understand what's going on inside another person's head?  You can find it here. And if you like our work, please consider a financial contribution to help us make many more episodes like this one.  
48:58 26/09/2022
How to Really Know Another Person
So often, we think we know what other people are thinking. But researchers have found that our attempts at reading other people go wrong more often than we realize.  This week, we talk with psychologist Tessa West about what we can all do to read people more accurately.If you like today's show, be sure to check out last week's conversation about emotions, and how they're shaped by where we live. And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 
55:05 19/09/2022
Decoding Emotions
We like to think that all humans are born with the same core emotions: anger, fear, joy, sadness and disgust.  But what if that's not true? This week, psychologist Batja Mesquita offers a different model of emotions — one that can help us to better understand our own feelings and those of the people around us. If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode on how technology and psychology can be used to radically transform our approach to crime. And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 
52:22 12/09/2022
Making the World a Safer Place
All of us want to feel safe in our daily lives. Yet when we think about crime, our first response is often a blanket approach: find the bad guys, and punish them. But what if there were another way? This week on the show, researchers Sara Heller and Chris Blattman explore how technology and psychology can be used to radically transform our approach to crime. Don't forget to check out the episodes in this year's You 2.0 series, including last week's conversation with Adam Grant about how to open your mind and question your own assumptions. And if you like our work, please consider supporting it! See how you can help at support.hiddenbrain.org.  
49:04 05/09/2022
You 2.0: How to Open Your Mind
In the United States, we often praise people with strong convictions, and look down on those who express doubt or hesitation.  In this favorite 2021 episode, psychologist Adam Grant pushes back against the benefits of certainty, and describes the magic that unfolds when we challenge our own deeply-held beliefs.Don't forget to check out the other episodes in our You 2.0 series, including last week's show on how to overcome stage fright. Also, if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. Thanks! 
52:21 29/08/2022
You 2.0: Overcoming Stage Fright
The pressure. The expectations. The anxiety. If there’s one thing that many of us have in common, it’s the stress that can come from performing in front of others. In this week’s episode, we revisit our 2021 conversation with cognitive scientist Sian Beilock about why so many of us crumble under pressure — and what we can do about it. Don't forget to check out the other episodes in our You 2.0 series, including last week's show about how we can harness our sight to achieve our goals. Also, if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. Thanks! 
56:45 22/08/2022
You 2.0: The Mind's Eye
Some challenges can 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, we revisit a favorite 2020 conversation about how we can harness our sight to achieve our goals.If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about how to make peace with your negative inner voice. Also, if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. Thanks! 
49:54 15/08/2022
You 2.0: How To See Yourself Clearly
How well do we know ourselves? Maybe the better question to ask is how well can we truly know ourselves? Psychologist Tim Wilson says introspection only gets us so far, and that we often make important decisions in life and love for reasons we don't even realize. But he says there are some simple ways to improve our self-knowledge. If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our two recent episodes on how our mindsets shape our lives in subtle but profound ways. Episode 1 looks at  how we respond to stress, and episode 2 examines how our beliefs about food and exercise affect our bodies. Also, if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. Thanks! 
50:04 08/08/2022
You 2.0: Befriending Your Inner Voice
You know that negative voice that goes round and round in your head, keeping you up at night?  When that negative inner voice gets switched on, it's hard to think about anything else. Psychologist Ethan Kross has a name for it: chatter. He says it's part of the human condition, but there are ways to keep our negative emotions from morphing into chatter. If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our two recent episodes on how our mindsets shape our lives in subtle but profound ways. Episode 1 looks at  how we respond to stress, and episode 2 examines how our beliefs about food and exercise affect our bodies. Also, if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. Thanks! 
52:33 01/08/2022
Reframing Your Reality: Part 2
We often assume that we see ourselves and the world around us accurately. But psychologist Alia Crum says that our perceptions are always filtered through our mindsets — and these mindsets shape our lives in subtle but profound ways. In the second of two episodes, Alia explains how our beliefs about food and exercise affect our bodies.If you haven't yet listened to our first episode about mindsets, you can find it here. And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 
50:56 25/07/2022
Reframing Your Reality: Part 1
We often assume that we see ourselves and the world around us accurately. But psychologist Alia Crum says that our perceptions are always filtered through our mindsets — and these mindsets shape our lives in subtle but profound ways. In the first of two episodes, Alia explains how mindsets affect our response to stress.If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about how group identities can affect our behavior. And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 
48:37 18/07/2022
Separating Yourself from the Pack
Have you ever gotten into a heated argument about politics? Maybe you’ve said something you're not proud of during game night with friends, or booed the opposing team at a sporting event. Psychologist Mina Cikara studies what happens in these moments — when our mindset shifts from “you and me” to “us and them.” This week on the show, Mina shares the profound ways that becoming a part of a group shapes our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode exploring whether there's any merit to the idea that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 
54:56 11/07/2022