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Hidden Brain

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The Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain's host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.More from Hidden Brain »

Most Recent Episodes

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Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook

Millions of people around the world use social media every day to stay in touch with friends and family. But ironically, studies have shown that people who spend more time on these sites feel more socially isolated than those who don't. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore the psychological effects that social media has on us, and how FOMO — or, the fear of missing out — can lead to actually missing out.

Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook

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Encore of Ep. 35: Creature Comforts

This week, Hidden Brain considers the power of touch. First, Alison MacAdam tells us the story of her security blanket, called Baba. Then, Shankar interviews writer Deborah Blum about groundbreaking experiments into the importance of affection for young children.

Encore of Ep. 35: Creature Comforts

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In the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) of Pelican Bay State Prison, inmates spend 23 hours a day alone in their cells. Mark Boster/LA Times /Getty Images hide caption

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Mark Boster/LA Times /Getty Images

Ep. 67: The Hole

Imagine a concrete room, not much bigger than a parking space. You're in there 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the reality of solitary confinement at prisons across the United States. Keramet Reiter, a criminology professor at UC Irvine, says that while some inmates in solitary are dangerous, others are there because they're difficult for prisons to manage, or because of bureaucratic inertia. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at what happens in solitary confinement, and the psychological effects of being alone for long periods of time.

Ep. 67: The Hole

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Dan Ariely has found that "what separates honest people from not-honest people is not necessarily character, it's opportunity." Paul Viant/Getty Images hide caption

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Paul Viant/Getty Images

Ep. 66: Liar, Liar

Everybody lies. This is not breaking news. But what separates the average person from the infamous cheaters we see on the news? Dan Ariely says we like to think it's character — but in his research he's found it's more often opportunity. Dan Ariely is a professor at Duke University and the author of the book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves.

Ep. 66: Liar, Liar

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Episode 65: Tunnel Vision

When you're hungry, it can be hard to think of anything other than food. When you're desperately poor, you may constantly worry about making ends meet. When you're lonely, you might obsess about making friends. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore the psychological phenomenon of scarcity and how it can affect our ability to see the big picture and cope with problems in our lives.

Episode 65: Tunnel Vision

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Renee Klahr

Ep. 64: I'm Right, You're Wrong

There are some topics about which it seems no amount of data will change people's minds: things like climate change, or restrictions on gun ownership. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot says that's actually for good reason. As a general rule, she says, it's better to stick to your beliefs and disregard new information that contradicts them. But this also means it's very difficult to change false beliefs. This week, we look at how we process information, and why it's so hard to change our views.

Ep. 64: I'm Right, You're Wrong

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Empathizing with the enemy is not only difficult — it can also be dangerous. Joel Carillet/iStock hide caption

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Joel Carillet/iStock

Encore of Ep. 24: Tribes and Traitors

Nearly a year ago, we ran an episode about one of the world's most intractable divides: the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Since that story aired, a solution seems even more out of reach. We wanted to play this episode again, because it offers something we don't often hear in the news: empathy for the other side.

Encore of Ep. 24: Tribes and Traitors

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Ep. 63: "I'm Not A Terrorist..."

Making jokes about politics is a tradition as old as America itself. These days, of course, comedians have a new target: President Donald Trump. We talk with Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani about finding humor in the midst of deep political divides, and how he uses an understanding of human nature to craft a successful punchline.

Ep. 63: "I'm Not A Terrorist..."

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Episode 62: On The Knife's Edge

What would drive someone to take another person's life? When researchers at the University of Chicago asked that question, the answer was a laundry list of slights: a stolen jacket, or a carelessly lobbed insult. It made them wonder whether crime rates could be driven down by teaching young men to pause, take a deep breath, and think before they act. We'll go inside a program that teaches Chicago teens to do just that, and explore the research on whether this approach actually works.

Episode 62: On The Knife's Edge

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Mark Peterson /Corbis via Getty Images

Episode 61: Just Sex

We all know casual sex isn't about love. But what if it's not even about lust? Sociologist Lisa Wade believes the pervasive hookup culture on campuses today is different from that faced by previous generations. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore what this culture means for those who choose to participate, and for those who opt out.

Episode 61: Just Sex

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