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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

What do large tables, large breakfasts, and large servers have in common? They all affect how much you eat. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the hidden forces that drive our diets. Kai Schreiber/Flickr hide caption

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Episode 33: Food for Thought

What do large tables, large breakfasts, and large servers have in common? They all affect how much you eat. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the hidden forces that drive our diets.

Episode 33: Food for Thought
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Researchers are studying stereotypes about Asians, women and math. Daniel Fishel/NPR hide caption

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Episode 32: The Scientific Process

Lots of psychology studies fail to produce the same results when they are repeated. How do scientists know what's true?

Episode 32: The Scientific Process
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Episode 31: Your Brain on Uber

Uber is built on the scourge of surge. When demand is high, the company charges two, three, even NINE-POINT-NINE times as much as normal for a ride. Riders hate it . . . but not so much that they stop riding. Yep, "dynamic pricing" has helped the company to grow into one of the largest taxi services in the world. What's the psychology behind it? Shankar sits down with Uber's Head of Economic Research Keith Chen to talk about when we're most likely pay for surge, when we hate it the most, and why monkeys would probably act and feel the same way. That's right. Monkeys.

Episode 31: Your Brain on Uber
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Episode 30: WOOP, There It Is

Many of us have heard that we should think positive... Visualize ourselves achieving our goals. But researcher Gabriele Oettingen finds, this isn't actually the best advice. Instead, we should use her strategy — which she calls WOOP.

Episode 30: WOOP, There It Is
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Traffic. iStock hide caption

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Episode 29: Traffic

Traffic. You hate it, we hate it, the rest of the world hates it, and unfortunately, our best efforts to curb it usually only make it worse. This week on Hidden Brain, we visit a few of the world's most congested cities, and investigate a few options to make driving safer and less maddening.

Episode 29: Traffic
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Airbnb host Synta Keeling rents two bedrooms in her house in Washington, D.C.'s predominantly black Anacostia neighborhood. Maggie Penman hide caption

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Episode 28: #AirbnbWhileBlack

The sharing economy is great. It gives us opportunities to connect with strangers... to pool resources... to get a cheap ride, or a weekend away. But this week on Hidden Brain, we'll look at how these new platforms can amplify some old biases.

Episode 28: #AirbnbWhileBlack
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Glaciers in Alaska are retreating. Shankar Vedantam hide caption

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Episode 27: Losing Alaska

Human beings would be better at fighting climate change if we weren't so, well, human. In this episode, we explore the psychological barriers to addressing climate change.

Episode 27: Losing Alaska
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NPR's Weekend in Washington session at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 31, 2015. Allison Shelley/Allison Shelley for NPR hide caption

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Encore of Episode 16: Misbehaving

From eating marshmallows to spending lottery winnings, Shankar Vedantam talks with behavioral economist Richard Thaler about Misbehaving.

Encore of Episode 16: Misbehaving
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When Angela Duckworth was working as a grade school math teacher, she was astonished by how much the kids who worked hard improved. "Everybody knows that effort matters," Duckworth says. "What was revelatory to me was how much it mattered." Daniel Fishel for NPR hide caption

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Episode 26: Grit

Grit is a quality that parents strive to teach to their children, and teachers strive to teach their students. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore grit, and ask, does it also have a downside?

Episode 26: Grit
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Do you have a job, a career, or a calling? iStock hide caption

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Episode 25: Dream Jobs

Why do you work? Are you just in it for the money, or do you do it for a greater purpose? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on what your job is. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale University finds it may have more to do with how we think about our work. Across secretaries and custodians and computer programmers, she finds we're about equally split in whether we say we have a job, a career, or a calling. This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam talks with Amy about how we find meaning and purpose at work.

Episode 25: Dream Jobs
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