Hidden Brain Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.
Hidden Brain
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Hidden Brain

From NPR

Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.

Most Recent Episodes

Researchers say there's growing evidence that nature has a powerful effect on us, improving both our physical and psychological health. Angela Hsieh hide caption

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Angela Hsieh

You 2.0: Our Better Nature

If you live in a big city, you may have noticed new buildings popping up — a high-rise here, a skyscraper there. The concrete jungles that we've built over the past century have allowed millions of us to live in close proximity, and modern economies to flourish. But what have we given up by moving away from the forest environments in which humans first evolved? This week, we revisit our 2018 conversation about the healing power of nature with psychologist Ming Kuo.

You 2.0: Our Better Nature

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Scarcity can make it difficult for us to focus on anything other than the problem right in front of us. Gary Waters /Getty Images/Ikon Images hide caption

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Gary Waters /Getty Images/Ikon Images

You 2.0: 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, as part of our You 2.0 series, we bring you a favorite 2017 episode about the psychological phenomenon of scarcity. Researchers say this form of tunnel vision can affect our ability to see the big picture and cope with problems in our lives.

You 2.0: Tunnel Vision

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You 2.0: The Empathy Gym

Some people are good at putting themselves in another person's shoes. Others may struggle to relate. But psychologist Jamil Zaki argues that empathy isn't a fixed trait. This week: how to exercise our empathetic muscles. It's the first episode in our You 2.0 summer series.

You 2.0: The Empathy Gym

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The belief that vaccines cause autism has persisted, even though the facts paint an entirely different story. Renee Klahr hide caption

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Renee Klahr

Facts Aren't Enough: The Psychology Of False Beliefs

Sometimes when we believe something, we resist data that can change our minds. This week, we look at how we rely on the people we trust to shape what we believe, and why emotions can be more powerful than facts. This episode features new reporting and favorite conversations with neuroscientist Tali Sharot and philosopher of science Cailin O'Connor.

Facts Aren't Enough: The Psychology Of False Beliefs

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Our voices convey so much more than just information. They can tell other people something essential about who we are. Angela Hsieh hide caption

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Angela Hsieh

Finding Your Voice: How The Way We Sound Shapes Our Identities

At some point in our lives, many of us realize that the way we hear our own voice isn't the way others hear us. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the relationship between our voices and our identities. Plus, we hear how advances in technology might help people with vocal impairments, and consider the ethical quandaries that arise when we can create personalized, customized voices.

Finding Your Voice: How The Way We Sound Shapes Our Identities

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Psychologist Phil Tetlock thinks the parable of the fox and the hedgehog represents two different cognitive styles. "The hedgehogs are more the big idea people, more decisive," while the foxes are more accepting of nuance, more open to using different approaches with different problems. Renee Klahr hide caption

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Renee Klahr

The Fox And The Hedgehog: A Story of Triumphs and Tragedy

The Greek poet Archilochus wrote that "the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." This week, we'll use the metaphor of the fox and the hedgehog as a way to understand the differences between tacticians and big-picture thinkers. We'll explore the story of a pioneering surgeon whose hedgehog tendencies led him to great triumphs, and a heartbreaking tragedy. This episode first aired in May 2017.

The Fox And The Hedgehog: A Story of Triumphs and Tragedy

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STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images

I Buy, Therefore I Am: How Brands Become Part Of Who We Are

All of us are surrounded by brands. Designer brands. Bargain-shopper brands. Brands for seemingly every demographic slice among us. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself how brands influence you? This week, we look at how companies create a worldview around the products they sell, and then get us to make those products a part of who we are.

I Buy, Therefore I Am: How Brands Become Part Of Who We Are

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Patrick Semansky/AP

Life, Death And The Lazarus Drug: Confronting America's Opioid Crisis

More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017 — many of them from heroin and other opioids. One of the most widely-used tools to confront this crisis is a drug called naloxone. It can reverse an opioid overdose within seconds, and has been hailed by first responders and public health researchers. But in 2018, two economists released a study that suggested naloxone might be leading some users to engage in riskier behavior — and causing more deaths than it saves. This week, we talk with researchers, drug users, and families about the mental calculus of opioid use, and why there's still so much we're struggling to understand about addiction. This episode originally aired in October 2018.

Life, Death And The Lazarus Drug: Confronting America's Opioid Crisis

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Hal Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, says the more we attribute humanlike qualities to animals, the more ethically problematic it may be to keep them as pets. Angela Hsieh/NPR hide caption

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Pets, Pests And Food: Our Complex, Contradictory Attitudes Toward Animals

Does living with animals really make us healthier? Why do we eat some animals and keep others as pets? This week on Hidden Brain, we talk with psychology professor Hal Herzog about the contradictions embedded in our relationships with animals.

Pets, Pests And Food: Our Complex, Contradictory Attitudes Toward Animals

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Modern psychology shows that we all have a little bit of Narcissus in us. Most of us like people who remind us of ourselves — whether that is someone else with the same name or the same birthday. Renee Klahr/NPR hide caption

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Me, Myself, and IKEA: What Our Love For Swedish Furniture Says About Narcissism

Are women named Virginia more likely to move to Virginia? Are people with the last name of Carpenter more likely to be carpenters? This week on Hidden Brain, we bring you a favorite 2017 episode about our preference for things that remind us of ourselves, and why this tendency can have larger implications than we might at first imagine.

Me, Myself, and IKEA: What Our Love For Swedish Furniture Says About Narcissism

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