The Psychology Podcast

The Psychology Podcast


Welcome to The Psychology Podcast with Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, where we give you insights into the mind, brain, behavior and creativity. Each episode we’ll feature a guest who will stimulate your mind, and give you a greater understanding of your self, others, and the world we live in. Hopefully, we’ll also provide a glimpse into human possibility! Thanks for listening and enjoy the podcast.


Yes, And... The Psychology of Improv Comedy  

Today we welcome Anne Libera and Kelly Leonard on the show for an especially fun and playful look at the world of improv comedy! Anne and Kelly are world class improv instructors and ambassadors who have a long history at The Second City, the world’s first ever on-going improvisational theatre troupe. The Second City has turned out notable performers like Tina fey, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers. Topics revolve around improv as it relates to mindfulness, creativity, cognitive reframing, authenticity and more. We also learned a lot from this interview about how improv can be used in everyday life, and we still get a kick out of the story we improvised involving the destruction of Purple Popsicle Man! We thank those listeners who take a moment to leave an honest iTunes review – it helps us hone our craft!

The New Narcissism with Kristin Dombek  

In everyday conversation, we use the word “narcissist” to describe our ex-lovers and the jerks we encounter on the subway, but what does it really mean? On this episode of The Psychology Podcast, Scott has a fascinating discussion with Kristin Dombek about the "new narcissism”, in which everyone is a selfish narcissist-- except ourselves. In this episode, we take a close look at how the label narcissism is used in psychology and popular culture, and how its increasing use may be a product of our modern times. We also discuss the guilt and fear associated with being labeled a narcissist, we talk about the differences between narcissism and psychopathy, and we cover an assortment of other topics including science journalism, how often we act out of character in a day, and the possibility of a “selfie apocalypse!”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck with Mark Manson  

In this raw and uncut episode, Mark Manson imparts his wisdom on the art of not giving a fuck. According to Manson, the key to living a good life is “not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important”. In this interview, we learn about this unique art form, and all of the counterintuitive ways that giving less fucks in your life actually frees you up to get more of what you truly value. You’ll learn how the acceptance of one’s negative experience can itself be a positive experience, the benefits of suffering, the futility of searching for happiness, the ways that emotions are overrated, and how to distinguish between good values and unproductive values. You’ll also be inspired to learn that you are not as special as you think you are, and that you are wrong about everything. As if that wasn’t motivating enough, you’ll also learn to accept your mundane existence, and the inevitability of death. This was a fun, wise, and at times, rather profound, interview. Note: In the spirit of Mark’s message, this entire interview is uncensored and unedited, which means that Scott shows extreme vulnerability in a way that he hasn’t before in past episodes. Fuck it.

Minds and Morality with Dr. Kurt Gray  

Why are humanoid robots creepy? Why do ghosts always have unfinished business? Do all animals have a mind? Does our consciousness persist beyond our physical bodies? Might cryonics help us live forever?! These are some of the great mysteries of the human condition we address with Dr. Kurt Gray. It's a fun and interesting philosophical episode, where we consider a range of topics related to having a mind and moral responsibility. Fair warning - this episode contains some adult content as we engage in some quirky and interesting moral considerations. 

Getting Smarter, Faster & Better with Charles Duhigg  

On this episode of the Psychology Podcast, we interview Pulitzer prize winning author Charles Duhigg about his latest book Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. Charles has a real strength for communicating scientific research through fun/entertaining narratives, and elucidating how to be more effective in our everyday lives. We discuss research related to motivation, decision-making, teamwork, focus, prioritization and more – all via interesting anecdotes varying from championship poker, military training and airplane disasters. This interview features some very practical science and several harrowing stories. Enjoy and feel free to leave a review on iTunes - it lets us know what you enjoy and helps us refine our craft! 

Joy Lawson Davis on Reducing Racial Inequalities in Gifted Education  

Dr. Davis is a career educator with over 30 years of experience as a practitioner, scholar, author and consultant. Her current work, a topic that is near and dear to the show, involves increasing equity of access to gifted education programs. In this episode, we talk about the racial inequalities that plague our nation's gifted education programs, and we discuss work being done to create equal opportunity. Other topics include: the current evaluation criteria for “giftedness” and how it can be improved, the importance of bringing all of the shareholders to the table for these discussions, the anti-intellectualism of our modern era, and several alternative ways of identifying giftedness in school. It’s a personally meaningful episode as Scott and Joy recount their own experiences with our non-inclusive education protocols. We hope you enjoy the show!

Developing Peak Performance with NFL Coach Sean Desai  

Sean Desai is the defensive quality control coach for the Chicago Bears and works with some of the world’s greatest athletic competitors. In this episode, we discuss his player development model, known as D.I.C.E., which emphasizes the importance of Direction, Instruction, Collaboration and Empowerment. We talk about what it’s like to work with the NFL, the nature of coach-player relationships, and Sean imparts some practical advice to individuals hoping to become high-level athletic coaches. Other topics include: evaluating potential, key characteristics of mental toughness, striving for greatness and more. Football fans, leaders, coaches and teachers will appreciate Sean's insight into developing peak performance. The audio quality is a bit rough toward the beginning (we’re sorry!), but smooths out, and we think the content is top notch!

Life Experimentation with A.J. Jacobs  

Four time bestselling author (and human guinea pig) A.J. Jacobs gets us laughing, and thinking, about the benefits of lifestyle experimentation. In this episode, we discuss A.J.’s courageous journey to learn everything about the world via reading the entire encyclopedia Britannica. A.J. talks about his book Drop Dead Healthy, where he spent months pursuing perfect physical health. We learn from his experiences following the bible (as literally as possible) for an entire year, and much more. Topics include: The importance of gratitude, what it’s like to win the lottery, the benefits of running electricity through the brain, and the differences between being psychotic, psychopathic and sociopathic. It’s an especially eclectic and playful episode that provides deep insight into what it means to live well. We hope you have as much fun listening to the episode as we had recording it. And feel free to leave a review on iTunes if you’re feeling compelled (it’s a big help to our cause and we thank you in advance)!

Unraveling the Mysteries of Personality and Well-Being with Dr. Brian Little  

Who am I? Am I just a product of nature and/or nurture? What does it mean to live a life of meaning and happiness? On this episode of the psychology podcast, Dr. Brian Little helps us explore these existentially significant questions. We discuss whether or not the self is an illusion. We shed light on the effects of genes, societal influences and personal projects on personality. The conversation includes Brian’s experiences with influential psychologists such as George Kelly. Other topics include: the Big Five Model of personality, authentic living, identity change, and the good life. Brian has been described as a mix between Robin Williams and Albert Einstein, and we can see why after our discussion – it’s a fun and philosophically poignant episode featuring one of the legends in the field. Enjoy the show!

The Ego is the Enemy, with Ryan Holiday  

On this episode of The Psychology Podcast, we interview bestselling author Ryan Holiday about the timeless life-advice he gleaned from researching his latest book: Ego Is The Enemy. Ryan shares insights from great individuals that eschewed the spotlight to put their higher goals above their desires for recognition. We talk about the importance of talking less and doing more. Our conversation covers the human drive to live a meaningful life and the dramatic shifts in worldview that takes place when astronauts view earth from outer space. We discuss the well-being benefits of integrating behavior with personal values and we commiserate over feeling existentially compelled to squeeze every last drop of productivity from each moment. It’s an interesting look at the foibles of egoism; anyone interested in contemplating what it means to live a good life would do well to give this episode a listen. Enjoy the show!

Dr. Cal Newport on Deep Work  

On this episode of The Psychology Podcast, we feature a particularly lively exchange, as Scott and Cal attempt to decode the patterns of success, sharing their perspectives on deep work, deliberate practice, grit, creativity, talent, mastery, IQ, and cultural misconceptions about passion and finding one's calling. The discussion has a fun and curious tone; it is a research-informed exploration of what it really takes to succeed in the 21st century. We had a great time recording this episode and we think you will really enjoy it.

Paul Tough on Helping Children Succeed in School and in Life  

We are happy  to welcome journalist and author Paul Tough on the show to discuss how we can help children from adverse backgrounds flourish. Paul began his deep dive into this topic 13 years ago for a New York Times piece, and he has been fascinated with the neuroscientific, psychological, political and sociological research ever since. This episode is a look at practical recommendations for how children can transcend difficult circumstances and cultivate well-being. We cover some of the challenges facing impoverished children and the effects of these environments on how children develop. We discuss constructs like grit, conscientiousness, character strengths, and "non-cognitive capacities". We ask important philosophical questions like “are the skills associated with doing well in school really the same as doing well in life?” We look at how pursuing well-being can actually fuel academic success, the importance of creativity and autonomy in school, and much more!

Reducing Anxiety Through Play with Charlie Hoehn  

On this episode of the Psychology Podcast, we welcome renaissance man and psychology enthusiast Charlie Hoehn. Charlie has carved a unique path through this world that has led him to work with best-selling authors like Tim Ferris, Tucker Max and Ramit Sethi, all while pursuing his own work as a writer. We talk about his drives toward creativity and autonomy that led him to create a life outside of the 9-5 grind. We also discuss Charlie’s personal experiences with anxiety and get advice on how to reduce anxiety through play. Other topics include our ability to change who we are and the importance of doing what you love. Please enjoy the show!



Legendary Psychologist Dr. Seymour Epstein on the Cognitive-Experiential Self-Theory of Personality  

An intellectual hero of the show, 91 year old Seymour Epstein is the creator of one of the most well-respected theories in personality psychology: the Cognitive-Experiential Self-Theory of Personality (CEST). In this episode, we discuss how Epstein discovered his calling, what the field of psychology was like in the 1940s, his experience taking a class with Abraham Maslow, his interaction with Gordon Allport, and how he came to create his dual-process theory of personality. We also talk about implications of the theory as it relates to religion, politics and clinical psychology. It was a pleasure speaking with this giant in the field. Enjoy the show!

Dr. Stuart Ritchie on Intelligence, IQ Testing and Genetics  

Dr. Stuart Richie is an expert in human intelligencedifferencesand their relations to the brain, genetics, andeducation. Thisepisode distills some of the most important andinteresting ideasin intelligence, IQ testing, genetics and theiraffects on societyat large. We discuss the false dichotomy betweennature vs.nurture. We illuminate popular media and institutionalpressures todeliver sensational findings. We cover the ethicalimplications ofthe quickly developing genetic science, withquestions like “shouldinsurance companies be able to raise yourrates depending on yourgenetics?”  Ultimately, this is acrash course on thepsychology of intelligence featuring two expertson the topic.Enjoy! And check out Stuart’s book Intelligence: All That Matters.

Dr. Glenn Geher on Human Mating Intelligence  

We welcome friend of the show Dr. Glenn Geher to discuss human mating intelligence. Glenn is an expert in the field of evolutionary psychology and has a wealth of fascinating research to share on the origins of species – if listeners have ever wanted a crash course in evolutionary thought, this is an excellent primer. Topics include: the attractiveness of creativity and humor from an evolutionary perspective, the many causes of human behavior, human universals vs. individual differences, how our evolutionary hard-wiring affects modern behavior and much more. Conversation really flows in this episode as we discuss what people find attractive in potential mates.. For more information, check out Glenn and Scott’s book Mating Intelligence Unleashed!

Dr. Susan Block on Releasing Your Inner Bonobo  

Dr. Susan Block is a world renowned sex therapist, radio talk show host and expert on the culture of the bonobo great ape. Needless to say, this is an especially interesting episode! We explore how pleasure can be a guiding principle in the good life, when it is tempered with kindness and a sense of meaning. We discuss the methods and positive outcomes of erotic theater therapy. We cover different cultural perspectives on sex, sexual identity, taboos and repression. We take a deep look into the culture of the Bonobo great ape, who is one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, to see how they might teach us about forming a more peaceful society – they have never been seen killing each other in the wild or in captivity! Other topics include female empowerment, asexuality, polygamy and politics. This episode contains material that may be graphic for some of our younger viewers, but it is an enlightening look into the psychology of sex and the good life. 

Dr. Ron Friedman on Extraordinary Workplaces  

Ron Friedman Ph.D. shares research from his latest book The Best Place to Work, about the art and science of creating an extraordinary workplace. Ron discusses how businesses can appeal to basic psychological needs like autonomy, competence and relatedness to design a work environment which optimizes engagement and creativity. It’s an especially practical episode, where we dive into science-backed recommendations to help companies improve the hiring process, boost motivation and enhance decision making. This episode features some very interesting research, like the persuasion techniques used by hostage negotiators, as well as didactic stories about figures like Monica Seles and president Obama on the importance of unconscious thinking and leading by example. 

The New Principles of Business Management with Dr. David Burkus  

On this episode of The Psychology Podcast, Dr. David Burkus discusses the latest research in organizational psychology to help business thrive in our post-industrial world. In particular, we talk about his latest book, Under New Management, which reveals the counter-intuitive leadership practices that actually enhance engagement and drive performance in companies. This is a great episode for anyone interested in what the science has to say about optimizing workplace performance. We discuss how and why top companies like Whole Foods and McDonalds are emphasizing employee satisfaction, engagement and well-being at work. We also cover topics such as perceptions of inequality, positive effects of income transparency, ditching performance appraisals, some barriers to productivity and some of the genius tactics of big companies like Zappos (who will pay you to quit you job?!).  We hope you enjoy!

Discussing the nature of childhood prodigies with Kimberly Stephens  

On this episode of the psychology podcast, we gain insight into the fascinating and mysterious psychology of prodigious children. Kimberly Stephens recently co-authored a book investigating the link between autism and extraordinary childhood talent called The Prodigy's Cousin, which had made her an excellent source of knowledge. We discuss the extraordinary working memory, attention to detail, passionate interest, talent development and parenting styles that tend to characterize incredible childhood skill. We also cover an interesting genetic component; research suggests that autism tends to be present in the families of prodigies. The conversation is a celebration of the high achievement, intense interest and quirky personalities expressed by prodigies like Jonathan Russell, who has been known to pass the time recreating music with household items like blenders and washing machines! It’s a fun discussion and we’re excited to share it with our listeners.

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