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.

Episodes

May 23, 2022 48 min

Where do you stand on the income ladder? Do you think of yourself as rich, as poor, or as somewhere in between? Our perceptions of wealth — our own, and other people's — can affect us more profoundly than we realize. This week in our Money 2.0 series, we revisit two of our favorite conversations about wealth and inequality. Sociologist Brook Harrington takes us inside the lives of the über wealthy and the people who manage thei...

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What’s the point of money? The answer might seem obvious: we need it to get paid for our work and to buy the things we need. But there’s also a deeper way to look at the role of money in our lives. This week in our Money 2.0 series, we revisit a favorite 2020 episode for an anthropologist’s take on the origin story of money. What if the cash and coins we carry are not just tools for transactions, but manifestations of human relatio...

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Have you had a recent surprise expense? You're not alone. More than half of American households report facing an unplanned financial shock in the last year. This week, in the second part of our new "Money 2.0" series, psychologist Abigail Sussman points out our blindspots around money, and how we can be smarter about spending and saving.

If you like this show, be sure to listen to last week's episode on how our uncon...

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Money worries are one of the biggest sources of anxiety in the lives of Americans. This week, we kick off our new "Money 2.0" series with psychologist Brad Klontz. He says that while external economic forces often shape our financial well-being, our unconscious beliefs about money also contribute to how well we manage our money. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like t...

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April 25, 2022 49 min

Neuroscientist Doug Fields was on a trip to Europe when a pickpocket stole his wallet. Doug, normally mild-mannered, became enraged — and his fury turned him into a stranger to himself. This week, we revisit a favorite 2020 episode about the secret logic of irrational anger.

If you like this show, please 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.

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April 18, 2022 48 min

Have you ever been in a position where you had to choose between someone you care about and a value that you hold dear? Maybe you had to decide whether to report a friend who was cheating on an exam, or a co-worker who was stealing from the tip jar. This week, we tell the story of a Detroit police officer who found himself in this sort of dilemma, forced to choose between people he loved and the oath he swore to serve his community...

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April 14, 2022 56 min

We all self-censor at times. We keep quiet at dinner with our in-laws, or nod passively in a work meeting. But what happens when we take this deception a step further, and pretend we believe the opposite of what we really feel? In this favorite episode from 2020, economist and political scientist Timur Kuran explains how our personal, professional and political lives are shaped by the fear of what other people think.

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April 11, 2022 49 min

It’s not your imagination: rudeness appears to be on the rise. Witnessing rude behavior — whether it's coming from angry customers berating a store clerk or airline passengers getting into a fistfight — can have long-lasting effects on our minds. But behavioral scientist Christine Porath says there are ways to shield ourselves from the toxic effects of incivility. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsu...

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April 4, 2022 49 min

We’ve all heard about the five stages of grief. But what happens when your experience doesn’t follow that model at all? Resilience researcher Lucy Hone began to question how we think about grief after a devastating loss in her own life. She shares the techniques she learned to help her cope with tragedy.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so ...

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March 28, 2022 49 min

When disaster strikes — from the explosion of a space shuttle to the spread of a deadly virus — we want to know whether we could have avoided catastrophe. Did anyone speak up with concerns about the situation? And if so, why didn’t someone listen? This week, we revisit a favorite episode about the psychology of warnings, and how we can all become better at predicting the future.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcas...

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March 21, 2022 49 min

Does power truly flow from the barrel of a gun? Pop culture and conventional history often teach us that violence is the most effective way to produce change. But is that common assumption actually true? Political scientist Erica Chenoweth, who has studied more than 100 years of revolutions and insurrections, says the answer is counterintuitive. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'...

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March 17, 2022 49 min

Social media sites offer quick and easy ways to share ideas, crack jokes, find old friends. They can make us feel part of something big and wonderful and fast-moving. But the things we post don’t go away. And they can come back to haunt us. Today, we revisit a 2019 episode about one teenager’s social media posts, and how they destroyed an opportunity he’d worked for all his life.

If you like this show, please check out our new podca...

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March 14, 2022 51 min

We've all been in situations where we experience mixed emotions. Maybe you've felt both joy and sadness during a big life decision, such as whether to purchase a home or accept a job offer. Or maybe you've experienced mixed feelings about the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped your life. Psychologist Naomi Rothman says that while these feelings of ambivalence are uncomfortable, they can also serve us in important way...

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March 7, 2022 52 min

Do you ever stop to wonder if the way you see the world is how the world really is?  Economist Abhijit Banerjee has spent a lifetime asking himself this question. His answer: Our world views often don't reflect reality. The only way to get more accurate is to think like a scientist — even when you're not looking through a microscope. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you’d like ...

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Do you ever struggle to communicate with your mom? Or feel like you and your spouse sometimes speak different languages? In the final episode of our "Mind Reading 2.0" series, we bring back one of our favorite conversations, with linguist Deborah Tannen. She shows how our conversational styles can cause unintended conflicts, and what we can do to communicate more effectively with the people in our lives.

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February 21, 2022 44 min

Turn on the news, and you'll be bombarded with stories of people who lie, cheat, and kill. Most of our public and economic policies take aim at these sorts of people — the wrongdoers and the profiteers. But is there a hidden cost to the rest of us when we put bad actors at the center of our thinking? Do the measures we put in place to curtail the selfish inadvertently hurt our capacity to do right by others? In the latest in ou...

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February 14, 2022 48 min

It’s easy to spot bias in other people, especially those with whom we disagree.  But it’s not so easy to recognize our own biases.  In the latest in our "Mind Reading 2.0" series, we revisit a favorite conversation with psychologist Emily Pronin. We'll look at one of the most bewildering aspects of how we read minds — in this case, our own. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if ...

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February 7, 2022 50 min

It's not easy to know how we come across to others, especially when we're meeting people for the first time. Psychologist Erica Boothby says many of us underestimate how much other people actually like us. In the second installment of our Mind Reading 2.0 series, we look at how certain social illusions give us a distorted picture of ourselves. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if y...

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January 31, 2022 48 min

As we go through life, we’re constantly trying to figure out what other people are thinking and feeling. Psychologist Liane Young says this ability to assess other people's thoughts ​is an extraordinary feat of cognition. But this mental superpower can sometimes lead us astray. This week, we kick off a new series exploring how we understand — or fail to understand — the minds of other people.

If you like this show, please check ...

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January 28, 2022 6 min

Sanaa is on her train ride home when an angry man begins threatening her. Before he gets too close, a stranger intervenes. 

Please share the story of your unsung hero with us! To do so, record a voice memo on your phone and email us at myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

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