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

Courtesy of Pottermore.com

What Can A Personality Test Tell Us About Who We Are?

The desire to find our tribe is universal. We like to know who we are and where we belong. This fascination has led to a thriving industry built on the marketing and sale of personality tests. These tests offer individuals – and, increasingly, employers – quick and easy insights that can be used to make some of life's biggest decisions. But most fail to stand up to scientific scrutiny. This week, we revisit our 2017 episode about the world of personality testing, and explore the many different ways we assess personality and potential – from the Chinese zodiac to Harry Potter houses to the Myers-Briggs test.

What Can A Personality Test Tell Us About Who We Are?

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What are the reasons for the dramatic decline in anti-gay bias in the United States? Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Radically Normal: How Gay Rights Activists Changed The Minds Of Their Opponents

For generations, living openly as a gay person in the United States was difficult, and often dangerous. But there's been a dramatic change in public attitudes toward gay people. This week, we explore one of the most striking transformations of public attitude ever recorded. And we consider whether the strategies used by gay rights activists hold lessons for other groups seeking change.

Radically Normal: How Gay Rights Activists Changed The Minds Of Their Opponents

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After a long history of civil war and corruption, many Liberians didn't trust their government's attempts to control Ebola. John Moore/Getty Images hide caption

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John Moore/Getty Images

Don't Panic: Stories Of Coping Amidst Chaos

Chaos is a part of all of our lives. Sometimes we try to control it. And other times, we just have to live with it. On this week's Hidden Brain, we bring you two of our favorite stories about coping with chaos. They come from our 2016 episodes "Panic in the Streets" and "Embrace the Chaos."

Don't Panic: Stories Of Coping Amidst Chaos

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In March of 2017, the two sets of Bogotá twins, Jorge, William, Carlos and Wilber (left to right), gathered to celebrate Carlos's graduation. Diana Carolina/St. Martin's Press hide caption

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Diana Carolina/St. Martin's Press

What Twins Can Tell Us About Who We Are

In December 1988, two pairs of twin boys were born in Colombia. One twin from each pair was accidentally given to the wrong mother — a mistake that wasn't discovered for decades. The twins' story is a tragedy, a soap opera, and a science experiment, all rolled into one. It also gives us clues about the role that genes and the environment play in shaping our identities. We talk with psychologist Nancy Segal about her work with twins, and her encounters with these now-famous brothers. For research related to this episode, please visit https://n.pr/2uvpvPe

What Twins Can Tell Us About Who We Are

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Researcher Elizabeth Currid-Halkett says celebrity can be boiled down to a simple formula. Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images/Caiaimage hide caption

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Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images/Caiaimage

Never Go To Vegas

All social classes have unspoken rules. From A-list celebrities to teachers, doctors, lawyers, and journalists — there are social norms that govern us, whether we realize it or not. This week on Hidden Brain, we look celebrity culture, as well as another elite group: the yoga-loving, Whole Foods-shopping, highly-educated people whom one researcher calls the new "aspirational class." This episode is from December 2017.

Never Go To Vegas

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Kate Devlin, who studies human-computer interactions, says we're on the cusp of a sexual revolution driven by robotics and artificial intelligence. Angela Hsieh/NPR hide caption

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Angela Hsieh/NPR

Love, Sex, And Robots

From stone statues to silicone works of art, we have long sought solace and sex from inanimate objects. Time and technology have perfected the artificial lover: today we have life-size silicone love dolls so finely crafted they feel like works of art. Now, with the help of robotics and artificial intelligence, these dolls are becoming even more like humans. This week we talk with researcher Kate Devlin about the history of the artificial lover, and consider what love and sex look like in the age of robots.

Love, Sex, And Robots

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Ja_inter/Getty Images

For Sale, By Owner: The Psychology Of Repugnant Transactions

You own your body. So should you be able to sell parts of it? This week, we explore the concept of "repugnant transactions" with the man who coined the term, Nobel Prize- winning economist Al Roth. He says repugnant transactions can range from selling organs to poorly-planned gift exchanges — and what's repugnant in one place and time is often not repugnant in another.

For Sale, By Owner: The Psychology Of Repugnant Transactions

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Mitch Blunt/Getty Images/Ikon Images

Radio Replay: Playing The Gender Card

Annie Duke was about to win $2 million. It was 2004, and she was at the final hand of the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. But as a woman at a table full of men, she wasn't sure she deserved to be there. In this week's Radio Replay, we tell the stories of two people who grappled with gender stereotypes on the job. Annie Duke shares her experiencing at the World Series of Poker, and then we hear the story of Robert Vaughan, a former Navy sailor who decided to pursue a new career as a nurse.

Radio Replay: Playing The Gender Card

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Are awards a more effective motivator than a cash prize? Economist Bruno Frey says yes. Mint Images/Getty Images/Mint Images RF hide caption

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Mint Images/Getty Images/Mint Images RF

Better Than Cash: How Awards Can Shape Our Behavior

Our modern world is saturated with awards. From elementary school classrooms to Hollywood to the hallways of academia, there's no shortage of prizes — and people who covet them. Yet we rarely stop to ask, do they work? We pose that question to economist Bruno Frey, who argues that awards can have a powerful, positive effect on our behavior — but only if they're designed well.

Better Than Cash: How Awards Can Shape Our Behavior

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Carrie and Emma Buck in 1924, right before the Buck v. Bell trial, which provided the first court approval of a law allowing forced sterilization in Virginia. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University at Albany, SUNY hide caption

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M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University at Albany, SUNY

Emma, Carrie, Vivian: How A Family Became A Test Case For Forced Sterilizations

In 1924, a 17-year-old girl was admitted to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded. The superintendent of the colony classified her as "feeble-minded of the lowest grade, moron class." With that designation, this girl, Carrie Buck, was set on a path she didn't choose. What happened next laid the foundation for the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of people. This week, we revisit a 2018 episode about the eugenics movement and one of the most tragic social experiments in American history.

Emma, Carrie, Vivian: How A Family Became A Test Case For Forced Sterilizations

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