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Hidden Brain
Saturdays from 9 to 10 a.m. & Sundays from 10 to 11 a.m.

Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, the show reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, and the biases that shape our choices. Host Shankar Vedantam links research from psychology and neurobiology with findings from economics, anthropology, and sociology, among other fields.

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  • We typically divide the country into two distinct groups: Democrats and Republicans. But what if the real political divide in our country isn’t between “left” and “right”? What if it’s between those who care intensely about politics, and those who don’t? This week, we bring you a favorite 2020 conversation with political scientist Yanna Krupnikov, who offers an alternative way to understand Americans’ political views.For more of our reporting on the intersection between politics and psychology, check out our episode about political hobbyism. You might also like this classic episode about how we come to our political values and beliefs. Thanks for listening!
  • Conflicts are inevitable — both at a global scale and in our personal lives. This week, in the latest in our US 2.0 series, psychologist Peter Coleman explains how minor disagreements turn into major rifts, and how we can defuse even the most salient of disputes in our lives.Interested in learning more?For additional ideas about how to keep conflict from spiraling, check out our conversation with researcher Julia Minson. And for a look at how violence shapes political outcomes on a global scale, be sure to listen to our interview with political scientist Erica Chenoweth.
  • There's a saying that's attributed to the Dalai Lama: in the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher. It's a nice idea, but in reality, when people don't share our values, it's hard for us to tolerate theirs. This week, we talk with sociologist Robb Willer about the common mistakes we make in trying to persuade others of our point of view — and how we can break out of our echo chambers.Did you catch last week's kick-off to our US 2.0 series? You can find it in this podcast feed, and here.
  • The United States, we’re told, is increasingly a house divided. Conservatives and progressives are so alienated from each other that conversation is virtually impossible. But are we really as divided as we’re led to believe? As we begin what promises to be a pivotal election season, we're kicking off a new series about how we form our political beliefs. We're calling it "US 2.0." We begin with psychologist Kurt Gray, who studies how we think about our political allies and opponents — and how these insights can help us to chart a new path forward. Have you tried to talk with someone who disagrees with you about politics? Have you found effective ways to get through? If you’d be willing to share your stories with the Hidden Brain audience, along with any questions you have for Kurt Gray, please record a voice memo and email it to us at ideas@hiddenbrain.org. Use the subject line “politics.” And thanks!
  • We rely on our memory to understand the world. But what if our memories aren't true? This week, we talk to psychologist Elizabeth Loftus about the malleability of memory — what we remember, and what we think we remember.For more on the science of memory, including how you can strengthen your own ability to recall information, check out our episodes Remember More, Forget Less and Did That Really Happen?
  • We spend more and more of our lives staring at screens. Our cellphones, smartwatches and laptops allow us to communicate instantly with people across the globe, and quickly look up obscure facts. But our digital devices are also altering our brains in profound ways. This week, psychologist Gloria Mark explores how our ability to focus is shrinking, and offers ways to protect our minds in a world filled with endless distractions.Want more suggestions on how to stay focused in a distracting world? Here are a few additional episodes to check out:You 2.0: Deep WorkTaking Control of Your TimeAnd if you love Hidden Brain, please consider joining Hidden Brain+, our podcast subscription! You can find it on Apple Podcasts, or by clicking here.
  • Most of us feel that our emotions are reactions to those outside of us. Someone cuts us off in traffic, and we say that the other driver made us upset. A friend brings over food when we're sick, and we say the friend offered us comfort. But psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett argues that our feelings are not, in fact, responses to the world — they're really predictions about the world. And she says we can exercise more control over those predictions than we realize.Did you know that Hidden Brain now has an app? You can download it and try out our first game — designed to help you sharpen your facial recognition skills — here.
  • When we're learning, or trying new things, mistakes are inevitable. Some of these mistakes provide us with valuable information, while others are just harmful. This week, we kick off the new year with researcher Amy Edmondson, who explains the difference between constructive failures and those we should try to avoid. If you know someone who would enjoy this episode, please share it with them. And thanks for listening! We look forward to bringing you many new Hidden Brain episodes in 2024.
  • Humans have wrestled with questions about identity and purpose for millennia. So it’s no surprise that the insights of people who lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago have stood the test of time. This week, philosopher Tamar Gendler explores how three great thinkers from ancient Greece understood the human psyche, and what we can still learn from their wisdom today.If you know someone who would enjoy this episode, please share it with them. And thanks for listening! We look forward to bringing you many new Hidden Brain episodes in 2024.
  • When was the last time you set a goal and struggled to reach it? Perhaps you're trying to write a novel but can't seem to get started. Or maybe you want to master a sport, but you keep making the same mistakes over and over again. This week, organizational psychologist Adam Grant guides us through the science of human potential, and teaches us how to uncover our own abilities.If you love Hidden Brain, please consider joining Hidden Brain+, our podcast subscription! You can find it on Apple Podcasts, or by clicking here.