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
NPR

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

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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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Angela Hsieh/NPR

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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Renee Klahr/NPR

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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A recent study found that black doctors were more effective than non-black doctors at convincing black men to use preventative health services. Angela Hsieh hide caption

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Angela Hsieh

People Like Us: How Our Identities Shape Health And Educational Success

Generations of Americans have struggled against segregation. Most of us believe in the ideal of a colorblind society. But what happens when that ideal come up against research that finds colorblindness sometimes leads to worse outcomes?

People Like Us: How Our Identities Shape Health And Educational Success

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More Divided Than Ever? Excavating the Roots Of Our Political Landscape

Many of us intuitively feel that the bitter partisanship of American politics is bad for our nation. So should we be concerned about the health of our democracy? This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit two of our favorite conversations about U.S. politics. We start by talking with political scientist John Hibbing about the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. Then, we explore the role of conflict in democracy with historian David Moss.

More Divided Than Ever? Excavating the Roots Of Our Political Landscape

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Some People Are Great At Recognizing Faces. Others...Not So Much

It happens to all of us: someone recognizes you on the street, calls you by name, and says hello. You, meanwhile, have no idea who that person is. Researchers say this struggle to read other faces is common. This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit a favorite 2016 episode about "super-recognizers" and the rest of us.

Some People Are Great At Recognizing Faces. Others...Not So Much

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New research suggests that early investments in children's education can have benefits that last for more than one generation. Angela Hsieh hide caption

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Angela Hsieh

What's Not On The Test: The Overlooked Factors That Determine Success

Smarts matter. But other factors may play an even bigger role in whether someone succeeds. This week, we speak with Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman about the skills that predict how you'll fare in life. We'll also look at programs that build these skills in the neediest of children – and new research that suggests the benefits of investing in kids and families can last for generations.

What's Not On The Test: The Overlooked Factors That Determine Success

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Muslim women praying together in Istiqlal mosque, Jakarta, Indonesia. Afriadi Hikmal/Getty Images hide caption

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Afriadi Hikmal/Getty Images

Where Does Religion Come From? One Researcher Points To 'Cultural' Evolution

If you've taken part in a religious service, have you ever stopped to think about how it all came to be? How did people become believers? Where did the rituals come from? And what purpose does it all serve? This week, we bring you a July 2018 episode with social psychologist Azim Shariff. He argues that we should consider religion from a Darwinian perspective, as an innovation that helped human societies to thrive and flourish.

Where Does Religion Come From? One Researcher Points To 'Cultural' Evolution

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Angela Hsieh/NPR

All The World's A Stage—Including The Doctor's Office

Placebos belong in clinical trials, not in the doctor's office. At least, that's been the conventional wisdom for decades. This week, we ask whether placebos have more to offer than we've realized, and what they might teach us about healing. For research related to this episode, please visit: https://n.pr/2B9v2B0

All The World's A Stage—Including The Doctor's Office

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Social psychologist Keith Payne says we have a bias toward comparing ourselves to people who have more than us, rather than those who have less. Marcus Butt/Getty Images/Ikon Images hide caption

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Marcus Butt/Getty Images/Ikon Images

Why No One Feels Rich: The Psychology Of Inequality

If you've ever flown in economy class on a plane, you probably had to walk through the first class cabin to get to your seat. Maybe you noticed the extra leg room. The freshly-poured champagne. Maybe you were annoyed, or envious. Social psychologist Keith Payne says we tend to compare ourselves with those who have more than us, but rarely with those who have less. This week, we explore the psychology of income inequality, and how perceptions of our own wealth shape our lives.

Why No One Feels Rich: The Psychology Of Inequality

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