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

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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

Dan Ariely has found that "what separates honest people from not-honest people is not necessarily character, it's opportunity." Gary Waters /Getty Images/Ikon Images hide caption

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Gary Waters /Getty Images/Ikon Images

Liar, Liar, Liar

We all lie. But what separates the average person from the infamous cheaters we see on the news? Dan Ariely says we like to think it's character — but in his research he's found it's more often opportunity. Dan Ariely is a professor at Duke University and the author of the book, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves. We spoke to him in March 2017.

Liar, Liar, Liar

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Passion Isn't Enough: The Rise Of 'Political Hobbyism' in the United States

Many Americans feel an obligation to keep up with political news. But maybe we should be focusing our energies elsewhere. Political scientist Eitan Hersh says there's been a rise in "political hobbyism" in the United States. We treat politics like entertainment, following the latest updates like we follow our favorite sports teams. Instead, he says, we should think of politics as a way to acquire power and persuade our neighbors to back the issues we support.

Passion Isn't Enough: The Rise Of 'Political Hobbyism' in the United States

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The clicker became a popular tool for dog training in the 1980s. Today, it has also caught on with humans — helping people to become better dancers, fishermen, golfers, and now, surgeons. Angela Hsieh hide caption

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Angela Hsieh

When Things Click: The Power Of Judgment-Free Learning

There can be a lot of psychological noise involved in teaching. But what if we replaced all that mental clutter...with a click? This week, we bring you a 2018 episode exploring an innovative idea about how we learn. It will take us from a dolphin exhibit in Hawaii to a top teaching hospital in New York. It's about a method to quiet the noise that can turn learning into a minefield of misery.

When Things Click: The Power Of Judgment-Free Learning

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Secret Friends: Tapping Into The Power Of Imagination

Where is the line between what is real and what is imaginary? It seems like an easy question to answer: if you can see it, hear it, or touch it, then it's real, right? But what if this way of thinking is limiting one of the greatest gifts of the mind? This week, we meet people who experience the invisible as real, and learn how they hone their imaginations to see the world with new eyes.

Secret Friends: Tapping Into The Power Of Imagination

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Why are some warnings heard, while others are ignored? Angela Hsieh hide caption

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Angela Hsieh

Warnings, Warnings Everywhere: Why We Sometimes Ignore Looming Disasters

After a disaster happens, we want to know whether something could have been done to avoid it. Did anyone see this coming? Many times, the answer is yes. So why didn't the warnings lead to action? This week, we revisit a favorite 2018 episode about the psychology of warnings. We visit a smelly Alaskan tunnel, hear about a gory (and fictional) murder plot, and even listen to some ABBA.

Warnings, Warnings Everywhere: Why We Sometimes Ignore Looming Disasters

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Emotional Currency: How Money Shapes Human Relationships

What's the point of money? The answer might seem obvious: we need it to get paid for our work, and to buy the things we need. But there's also a deeper way to look at the role of money in our lives. This week we explore an anthropologist's take on the origin story of money. What if the cash and coins we carry are not just tools for transactions, but manifestations of human relationships?

Emotional Currency: How Money Shapes Human Relationships

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On The Knife's Edge: Using Therapy To Address Violence Among Teens

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. In this 2017 episode, we go inside a program that teaches Chicago teens to do just that. We also explore what research has found about whether this approach actually works.

On The Knife's Edge: Using Therapy To Address Violence Among Teens

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Creatures Of Habit: How Habits Shape Who We Are — And Who We Become

At the beginning of the year, many of us make resolutions for the months to come. We resolve to work out more, procrastinate less, or save more money. Though some people stick with these aspirations, many of us fall short. This week, psychologist Wendy Wood shares what researchers have found about how to build good habits — and break bad ones.

Creatures Of Habit: How Habits Shape Who We Are — And Who We Become

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Angela Hsieh

Why We Love Surprises: The Psychology Of Plot Twists

Why do we fall for surprise endings? It turns out that our capacity to be easily fooled in books and movies is made possible by a handful of predictable mental shortcuts. In this 2018 conversation, we talk with Vera Tobin, one of the world's first cognitive scientists to study plot twists. She says storytellers have been exploiting narrative twists and turns for millennia — and that studying these sleights of hand can give us a better understanding of the contours of the mind.

Why We Love Surprises: The Psychology Of Plot Twists

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Did That Really Happen? How Our Memories Betray Us

Our memories are easily contaminated. We can be made to believe we rode in a hot air balloon or kissed a magnifying glass — even if those things never happened. So how do we know which of our memories are most accurate? This week, psychologist Ayanna Thomas explains how memory works, how it fails, and ways to make it better.

Did That Really Happen? How Our Memories Betray Us

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