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

August 15, 2022 49 min

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 i...

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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 ...

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August 1, 2022 52 min

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 o...

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July 25, 2022 50 min

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 ...

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July 18, 2022 48 min

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 identitie...

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July 11, 2022 54 min

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...

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July 4, 2022 50 min

We've all heard the saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." But is there any truth to this idea? This week, we explore the concept of post-traumatic growth with psychologist Eranda Jayawickreme. He finds that suffering can have benefits — but not necessarily the ones we expect. 

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about how we define intelligence. 

Also,...

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June 27, 2022 49 min

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Those words, penned by Thomas Jefferson 246 years ago, continue to inspire many Americans. And yet they were written by a man who owned hundreds of enslaved people, and fathered six children by an enslaved woman. This week, as we prepare to mark Independence Day in the United States, we revisit our 2018 conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning histor...

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June 20, 2022 49 min

When Paul Burnham was a teenager, he received what felt like a premonition: he would die at the age of 54. Now, he's 54. This week, what his story of confronting death reveals about life.

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about the power of doing less.

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbr...

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June 13, 2022 48 min

From the time we are schoolchildren, we are ranked and sorted based on how smart we are. But what if our assumptions about intelligence limit our potential? This week, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman proposes a more expansive notion of what it means to be "smart."

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about the power of subtraction.

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung...

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June 6, 2022 53 min

The human drive to invent new things has led to pathbreaking achievements in medicine, science and society. But  our desire for innovation can keep us from seeing one of the most powerful paths to progress: subtraction. Engineer Leidy Klotz says sometimes the best way forward involves removing, streamlining  and simplifying things.

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about the psy...

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May 30, 2022 48 min

What do the things you buy say about you? Many of us like to think of ourselves as immune to slick advertising and celebrity endorsements. But like it or not, we're communicating messages about ourselves every day with the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and the products we use. In the final installment of our Money 2.0 series, we revisit favorite conversations with Americus Reed and Neeru Paharia. We'll consider how co...

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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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May 16, 2022 35 min

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.

If you like thi...

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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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