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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

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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Illustration of Dr. J. Marion Sims with Anarcha by Robert Thom. Anarcha was subjected to 30 experimental surgeries. Pearson Museum, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine hide caption

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Pearson Museum, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

Encore of Episode 20: Remembering Anarcha

A recent paper found that black patients receive less pain medication for broken bones and cancer. Black children receive less pain medication than white children for appendicitis. The research is new, but the phenomenon is not. This week, we revisit an episode from our archive that looked at the intersection of race, pain, and medicine. It might not be suitable for young children.

Encore of Episode 20: Remembering Anarcha

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A protester carries a sign in front of the Supreme Court during a protest about President Donald Trump's recent executive orders, Monday, Jan. 30, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

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Alex Brandon/AP

Episode 60: Fortress America

Barely a week after assuming office, President Donald Trump set off a worldwide firestorm when he decided to temporarily ban entry to migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from all over the world. In response, many people are looking to the past, to see what history can teach us. But this process can fraught with psychological peril. On today's Hidden Brain, we revisit a specific incident from World War II – the American decision to refuse entry to Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis – and explore how it speaks to the current mood in the United States.

Episode 60: Fortress America

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Episode 59: The Deep Story

In the months since the presidential election, many have noted that lots of Americans live in bubbles — echo chambers filled with the voices of people who mostly agree with us. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild felt this long before the rise of Donald Trump, and five years ago she went on a mission to understand the other side. She left her own liberal bubble in Berkeley, California for a conservative one, deep in the Louisiana bayou.

Episode 59: The Deep Story

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Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump exemplify our contradictory feelings about the rich and famous. As Hidden Brain explores this week, we idolize the powerful, but also relish their downfall. D Dipasupil/WireImage hide caption

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D Dipasupil/WireImage

Episode 58: Pedestals and Guillotines

It's inauguration season, which means balls, parades, and celebrations. We may love the pomp and circumstance, but there's another, darker side to our psychology, too. Whether we like the new president or not, human beings have a strange and contradictory relationship with power and celebrity. We idolize the rich and famous, but also enjoy seeing them fall from their pedestals. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore this paradox: from Hollywood, to the White House, to the forests of Tanzania.

Episode 58: Pedestals and Guillotines

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Young people have always used language in new and different ways, and it has pretty much always driven older people crazy. Renee Klahr hide caption

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Renee Klahr

Episode 57: Slanguage

Young people have always used language in new and different ways, and it has pretty much always driven older people crazy. But the linguist John McWhorter says all the "likes" and LOLs are part of a natural – and inevitable –evolution of language. This week on Hidden Brain, why language can't "sit still."

Episode 57: Slanguage

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Episode 56: Getting Unstuck

At one time or another, many of us feel stuck: in the wrong job, the wrong relationship, the wrong city – the wrong life. Psychologists and self-help gurus have all kinds of advice for us when we feel rudderless. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore a new idea, from an unlikely source: Silicon Valley.

Episode 56: Getting Unstuck

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A young Maya. Courtesy of Maya Shankar hide caption

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Courtesy of Maya Shankar

Encore of Episode 15: Loss and Renewal

Maya Shankar was well on her way to an extraordinary career as a violinist when an injury closed that door. This week, we look at how she wound up at the top of another field: the social sciences.

Encore of Episode 15: Loss and Renewal

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Hidden Brain takes a look at the 'Replication Crisis' in psychology. Daniel Fishel for NPR hide caption

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Daniel Fishel for NPR

Encore of Episode 32: The Scientific Process

There is a replication "crisis" in psychology: many findings simply do not replicate. Some critics take this as an indictment of the entire field — perhaps the best journals are only interested in publishing the "sexiest" findings, or universities are pressuring their faculty to publish more. But this week on Hidden Brain, we take a closer look at the so-called crisis. While there certainly have been cases of bad science, and even fraudulent data, there are also lots of other reasons why perfectly good studies might not replicate. We'll look at a seminal study about stereotypes, Asian women, and math tests.

Encore of Episode 32: The Scientific Process

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