Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain

United States

A conversation about life's unseen patterns.

Episodes

Ep. 66: Liar, Liar  

Everybody lies. This is not breaking news. 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.

Episode 65: 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 on Hidden Brain, we explore the psychological phenomenon of scarcity and how it can affect our ability to see the big picture and cope with problems in our lives.

Ep. 64: I'm Right, You're Wrong  

There are some topics about which it seems no amount of data will change people's minds: things like climate change, or restrictions on gun ownership. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot says that's actually for good reason. As a general rule, she says, it's better to stick to your beliefs and disregard new information that contradicts them. But this also means it's very difficult to change false beliefs. This week, we look at how we process information, and why it's so hard to change our views.

Encore of Ep. 24: Tribes and Traitors  

Nearly a year ago, we ran an episode about one of the world's most intractable divides: the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Since that story aired, a solution seems even more out of reach. We wanted to play this episode again, because it offers something we don't often hear in the news: empathy for the other side.

Ep. 63: "I'm Not A Terrorist..."  

Making jokes about politics is a tradition as old as America itself. These days, of course, comedians have a new target: President Donald Trump. We talk with Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani about finding humor in the midst of deep political divides, and how he uses an understanding of human nature to craft a successful punchline.

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 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.

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.

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 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 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 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 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.

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 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.

Episode 55: Snooki and the Handbag  

Look down at what you're wearing. You picked out that blue shirt, right? And those boots — you decided on those because they're warm, didn't you? Well, maybe not. Researcher Jonah Berger says, we tend to be pretty good at recognizing how influences like product placement and peer pressure affect other people's choices... but we're not so good at recognizing those forces in our own decision-making.

Episode 54: Panic in the Streets  

It sounds like the plot of a movie: police discover the body of a young man who's been murdered. The body tests positive for a deadly infectious disease. Authorities trace the killing to a gang. They race to find gang members linked to the murder... who may also be incubating the virus. This week on Hidden Brain... disease, panic, and how a public health team used psychology to confront an epidemic.

Episode 53: Embrace the Chaos  

Many of us spend lots of time and energy trying to get organized. We KonMari our closets, we strive for inbox zero, we tell our kids to clean their rooms, and our politicians to clean up Washington. But Economist Tim Harford says, maybe we should embrace the chaos. His new book is Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.

Episode 52: Losing Face  

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

Episode 51: What Happened?  

On the morning after election day, pundits, pollsters, politicians, and citizens woke up feeling stunned. All signs, all year, had been pointing towards a victory for Democrat Hillary Clinton. So, what happened? We ask one of the few people who didn't get it wrong: the historian Allan Lichtman.

0:00/0:00
Video player is in betaClose