Opinion Science

Opinion Science

A show about the psychology of opinions, where they come from, and how they change. Interviews with experts and deep dives into areas of research uncover the basic psychology of persuasion, communication, and public opinion. Hosted by social psychologist, Andy Luttrell.


March 27, 2023 49 min

Ben Rosenberg studies how people react to having their freedom threatened. He is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Dominican University of California. In addition to conducting his own studies on this question, he has exhaustively reviewed decades of research on something called "psychological reactance theory." In our conversation, we break down what reactance is, where it comes from, who it applies to, and what qu...

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Guy Itzchakov knows how to listen. He's an associate professor in the Department of Human Services at the University of Haifa. He studies the markers of high-quality listening. But it's not that he tries to figure out who listens well and who doesn't. Instead, he's focused on how receiving high-quality listening affects us as speakers. He finds, for example, that when someone really, deeply listens to what we ha...

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Tessa Charlesworth studies patterns in people’s beliefs and opinions over time, mapping out the minds of a society over decades. She’s currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University. In this episode, she shares her work charting changes in the public’s implicit biases over decades and other research looking at the evolution of language over a couple of centuries to track changes in common stereotypes.

Also, we mentio...

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Maureen Craig studies how we navigate a diverse social world. She's an associate professor of psychology at New York University. In our conversation, she shares her work looking at people's reactions to the ever-increasing diversity of their social environments. How do people react to the news that one day, less than half of the U.S. population will be White? She also shares her other work on who tends to advocate for who...

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Sander van der Linden studies the psychology of misinformation. He and his lab have conducted studies to understand why people believe false information, and they've also leveraged the psychology of "inoculation" to build tools that help people avoid falling prey to misinformation. He describes this work and more in his new book, Foolproof: Why Misinformation Infects Our Minds and How to Build Immunity.

You can play t...

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January 16, 2023 62 min

April Bailey is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of New Hampshire, and she studies the psychology of androcentrism—people’s tendency to think of men as a stand-in for all people and treating women’s experiences as the outlier. We talk about exactly what androcentrism is, the kinds of evidence we have for it, and what it means for the future of how we think about gender.

Things that come up in this episode:

  • T...
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January 9, 2023 75 min

Another year in the books! I don't think I ever really mastered writing the year as "2022," and now I have to write "2023." I'll figure it out one of these days.

But another year meant another year of Opinion Science! This year saw even more new listeners, amazing guests, and an ambitious series of episodes over the summer. Your support has meant a lot.

So even though I'm (again) a week or so behind...

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January 2, 2023 51 min

Geoff Durso studies what happens when we face mixed information. When people do good things and bad things. When a product has positive and negative qualities. Geoff's an assistant professor of marketing at DePaul University. He's also an old friend of mine. We met up at a conference and caught up, chatting about some of the cool work Geoff has done on the nature of ambivalence.

(As I mention in the intro, you can also che...

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Tony Barnhart is Associate Professor of Psychological Science at Carthage College. But just as notably, he's a magician. As a result of this dual identity, he has the unique distinction of being an expert in the psychology of magic. Magicians have long prided themselves on understanding and exploiting human psychology, but Tony actually brings a scientific perspective. He's on the committee for the Science of Magic Associ...

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Tenelle Porter is a new colleague of mine at Ball State University. She's an educational psychologist, and one of the things she studies is intellectual humility, which is people's awareness of the limits of their knowledge and the fallibility of their reasoning. Intellectual humility offers a variety of handy benefits even though there has been some disagreement about what it is, exactly. I was excited to sit down with T...

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Margo Monteith is a Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. She studies how we can reduce prejudice in the world by confronting those biases head-on. One way we can confront prejudice is to keep ourselves in check, paying attention to the ways in which we might say or do something biased. Another way we can confront prejudice is to call out other people when they say or do something biased. In our co...

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Efrén Pérez is a professor is a professor of Political Science and Psychology at UCLA. He studies political attitudes and behaviors among various racial and ethnic groups in the United States. With Margit Tavits, he recently co-wrote the book Voicing Politics: How Language Shapes Public Opinion. The book is a fascinating summary of research they have conducted testing how the unique characteristics of the language your speak can sh...

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This week, I'm out with COVID, so I'm re-sharing an early Opinion Science episode that has remained one of the most downloaded episodes of the show. I also took the opportunity to very slightly remaster it. See you in a couple weeks with a new episode!

Phia Salter takes a cultural psychology approach to studying racism. She’s an associate professor of Psychology at Davidson College, and in this episode she draws ...

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Tom Holtgraves studies how language helps us do things. We use words to inquire, to instruct, to command, and to persuade. Words are social. He's currently a Professor of Psychological Science at Ball State University (just down the hall from me!), and his lab studies how people use language and other symbols (e.g., emoji) to successfully or unsuccessfully communicate with one another.

He edited the Oxford Handbook o...

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September 26, 2022 66 min

Robb Willer studies social and political divides, and maybe more importantly, he tries to find ways to overcome them. In our conversation, he shares his personal background, unpacks persuasion strategies that cut across political lines, and reveals the results of a major new study in his lab that tested a bunch of strategies for reducing political animosity and encouraging people to value democracy over other political attitudes.

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John Sides is a political scientist at Vanderbilt University and co-founded The Monkey Cage, which is a popular political science blog now available at the Washington Post. The blog gives academic social scientists a platform to use their expertise to help the public understand political news. In our conversation, John talks about the origins of TMC, the kinds of articles that are successful, and how (and why!) to write well for a ...

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Steve Rathje has managed to rack up more than a million followers on TikTok (@stevepsychology) while pursuing a PhD in social psychology (and doing some very cool research). He shares quick videos about key insights from psychological science that are reaching an entirely new audience. In our conversation, he fills me in on the finer points of TikTok as a platform, why it's uniquely suited to science communication, and how Ste...

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Alie and Micah Caldwell produce the YouTube channel, Neuro Transmissions. Their videos present the basics of neuroscience and psychology in an accessible, engaging way. Alie is a neuroscientist and senior science writer at the University of Chicago Medicine. Micah is a licensed professional clinical counselor. In our conversation, we talk about the origins of Neuro Transmissions, their philosophy of science communication, and their...

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Tim Houlihan and Kurt Nelson are the hosts of Behavioral Grooves, which is a wonderful weekly podcast featuring interviews with behavioral scientists and practitioners. For #HotSciCommSummer, I wanted to learn more about how they started their podcast journey, what advice they have for budding podcasters, and what advice they have for academics who are going to be interviewed about their work.

This episode is part of a sp...

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Jesse Thorn hosts the show "Bullseye" on NPR where he interviews people in arts and culture. A few years ago, he interviewed a bunch of incredible interviewers for his podcast, "The Turnaround." He's just the guy to talk to about the craft of interviewing people of note, which is a skill that's called for in lots of science communication efforts. So I was excited to meet Jesse and get his take on inter...

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