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Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain

Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.

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hidden-brain.simplecast.com

Episodes

You 2.0: The Mind's Eye

Some challenges can feel insurmountable. But psychologist Emily Balcetis says the solutions are often right in front of our eyes. This week, as part of our annual series on personal growth and reinvention, we revisit a favorite 2020 conversation about how we can harness our sight to achieve our goals.

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about how to make peace with your negative inner voice. Also, if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. Thanks! 

2022-08-15
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You 2.0: How To See Yourself Clearly

How well do we know ourselves? Maybe the better question to ask is how well can we truly know ourselves? Psychologist Tim Wilson says introspection only gets us so far, and that we often make important decisions in life and love for reasons we don't even realize. But he says there are some simple ways to improve our self-knowledge. 

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our two recent episodes on how our mindsets shape our lives in subtle but profound ways. Episode 1 looks at  how we respond to stress, and episode 2 examines how our beliefs about food and exercise affect our bodies

Also, if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. Thanks! 

2022-08-08
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You 2.0: Befriending Your Inner Voice

You know that negative voice that goes round and round in your head, keeping you up at night?  When that negative inner voice gets switched on, it's hard to think about anything else. Psychologist Ethan Kross has a name for it: chatter. He says it's part of the human condition, but there are ways to keep our negative emotions from morphing into chatter. 

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our two recent episodes on how our mindsets shape our lives in subtle but profound ways. Episode 1 looks at  how we respond to stress, and episode 2 examines how our beliefs about food and exercise affect our bodies

Also, if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. Thanks! 

2022-08-01
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Reframing Your Reality: Part 2

We often assume that we see ourselves and the world around us accurately. But psychologist Alia Crum says that our perceptions are always filtered through our mindsets ? and these mindsets shape our lives in subtle but profound ways. In the second of two episodes, Alia explains how our beliefs about food and exercise affect our bodies.

If you haven't yet listened to our first episode about mindsets, you can find it here. And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-07-25
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Reframing Your Reality: Part 1

We often assume that we see ourselves and the world around us accurately. But psychologist Alia Crum says that our perceptions are always filtered through our mindsets ? and these mindsets shape our lives in subtle but profound ways. In the first of two episodes, Alia explains how mindsets affect our response to stress.

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about how group identities can affect our behavior. And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-07-18
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Separating Yourself from the Pack

Have you ever gotten into a heated argument about politics? Maybe you?ve said something you're not proud of during game night with friends, or booed the opposing team at a sporting event. Psychologist Mina Cikara studies what happens in these moments ? when our mindset shifts from ?you and me? to ?us and them.? This week on the show, Mina shares the profound ways that becoming a part of a group shapes our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode exploring whether there's any merit to the idea that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-07-11
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What We Gain from Pain

We've all heard the saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." But is there any truth to this idea? This week, we explore the concept of post-traumatic growth with psychologist Eranda Jayawickreme. He finds that suffering can have benefits ? but not necessarily the ones we expect. 

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about how we define intelligence. 

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-07-04
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A Founding Contradiction

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Those words, penned by Thomas Jefferson 246 years ago, continue to inspire many Americans. And yet they were written by a man who owned hundreds of enslaved people, and fathered six children by an enslaved woman. This week, as we prepare to mark Independence Day in the United States, we revisit our 2018 conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed. We talk about the contradictions in Jefferson's life ? and how those contradictions resonate in our own lives. 

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about the power of subtraction.

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-06-27
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The Premonition

When Paul Burnham was a teenager, he received what felt like a premonition: he would die at the age of 54. Now, he's 54. This week, what his story of confronting death reveals about life.

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about the power of doing less.

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-06-21
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Why You're Smarter Than You Think

From the time we are schoolchildren, we are ranked and sorted based on how smart we are. But what if our assumptions about intelligence limit our potential? This week, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman proposes a more expansive notion of what it means to be "smart."

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about the power of subtraction.

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-06-14
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Do Less

The human drive to invent new things has led to pathbreaking achievements in medicine, science and society. But  our desire for innovation can keep us from seeing one of the most powerful paths to progress: subtraction. Engineer Leidy Klotz says sometimes the best way forward involves removing, streamlining  and simplifying things.

If you like this show, be sure to check out our other work, including our recent episode about the psychological traps we fall into when it comes to money. 

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-06-06
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Money 2.0: Let's Go Shopping!

What do the things you buy say about you? Many of us like to think of ourselves as immune to slick advertising and celebrity endorsements. But like it or not, we're communicating messages about ourselves every day with the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and the products we use. In the final installment of our Money 2.0 series, we revisit favorite conversations with Americus Reed and Neeru Paharia. We'll consider how companies create a worldview around the products they sell, and then get us to make those products a part of who we are.  

If you like this show, be sure to listen to the other episodes in this series, including our conversation about the mental scripts that shape our choices around money.

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-05-30
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Money 2.0: The Rich and the Rest of Us

Where do you stand on the income ladder? Do you think of yourself as rich, as poor, or as somewhere in between? Our perceptions of wealth ? our own, and other people's ? can affect us more profoundly than we realize. This week in our Money 2.0 series, we revisit two of our favorite conversations about wealth and inequality. Sociologist Brook Harrington takes us inside the lives of the über wealthy and the people who manage their fortunes. Then, psychologist Keith Payne shares surprising research about income inequality and how it shapes our minds. 

If you like this show, be sure to listen to the other episodes in this series, including our conversation about the mental scripts that shape our choices around money.

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

 

2022-05-23
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Money 2.0: Emotional Currency

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 in our Money 2.0 series, we revisit a favorite 2020 episode for 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?

If you like this show, be sure to listen to last week's episode on how we can be better both at spending and at saving money.

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-05-16
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Money 2.0: Why We Bust Our Budgets

Have you had a recent surprise expense? You're not alone. More than half of American households report facing an unplanned financial shock in the last year. This week, in the second part of our new "Money 2.0" series, psychologist Abigail Sussman points out our blindspots around money, and how we can be smarter about spending and saving.

If you like this show, be sure to listen to last week's episode on how our unconscious attitudes towards money influence how we manage our finances. 

Also, check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-05-09
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Money 2.0: Rewrite Your Money Story

Money worries are one of the biggest sources of anxiety in the lives of Americans. This week, we kick off our new "Money 2.0" series with psychologist Brad Klontz. He says that while external economic forces often shape our financial well-being, our unconscious beliefs about money also contribute to how well we manage our money. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-05-02
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The Logic of Rage

Neuroscientist Doug Fields was on a trip to Europe when a pickpocket stole his wallet. Doug, normally mild-mannered, became enraged ? and his fury turned him into a stranger to himself. This week, we revisit a favorite 2020 episode about the secret logic of irrational anger.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-04-25
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When Doing Right Feels Wrong

Have you ever been in a position where you had to choose between someone you care about and a value that you hold dear? Maybe you had to decide whether to report a friend who was cheating on an exam, or a co-worker who was stealing from the tip jar. This week, we tell the story of a Detroit police officer who found himself in this sort of dilemma, forced to choose between people he loved and the oath he swore to serve his community. What happens in our minds when we have to decide what is right and what is wrong?

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-04-18
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A Conspiracy of Silence

We all self-censor at times. We keep quiet at dinner with our in-laws, or nod passively in a work meeting. But what happens when we take this deception a step further, and pretend we believe the opposite of what we really feel? In this favorite episode from 2020, economist and political scientist Timur Kuran explains how our personal, professional and political lives are shaped by the fear of what other people think.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-04-14
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How Rude!

It?s not your imagination: rudeness appears to be on the rise. Witnessing rude behavior ? whether it's coming from angry customers berating a store clerk or airline passengers getting into a fistfight ? can have long-lasting effects on our minds. But behavioral scientist Christine Porath says there are ways to shield ourselves from the toxic effects of incivility. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-04-11
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Healing Your Heart

We?ve all heard about the five stages of grief. But what happens when your experience doesn?t follow that model at all? Resilience researcher Lucy Hone began to question how we think about grief after a devastating loss in her own life. She shares the techniques she learned to help her cope with tragedy.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-04-04
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You Don't Need a Crystal Ball

When disaster strikes ? from the explosion of a space shuttle to the spread of a deadly virus ? we want to know whether we could have avoided catastrophe. Did anyone speak up with concerns about the situation? And if so, why didn?t someone listen? This week, we revisit a favorite episode about the psychology of warnings, and how we can all become better at predicting the future.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-03-28
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How to Change the World

Does power truly flow from the barrel of a gun? Pop culture and conventional history often teach us that violence is the most effective way to produce change. But is that common assumption actually true? Political scientist Erica Chenoweth, who has studied more than 100 years of revolutions and insurrections, says the answer is counterintuitive. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-03-21
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You Can't Hit Unsend

Social media sites offer quick and easy ways to share ideas, crack jokes, find old friends. They can make us feel part of something big and wonderful and fast-moving. But the things we post don?t go away. And they can come back to haunt us. Today, we revisit a 2019 episode about one teenager?s social media posts, and how they destroyed an opportunity he?d worked for all his life.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-03-17
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The Benefits of Mixed Emotions

We've all been in situations where we experience mixed emotions. Maybe you've felt both joy and sadness during a big life decision, such as whether to purchase a home or accept a job offer. Or maybe you've experienced mixed feelings about the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped your life. Psychologist Naomi Rothman says that while these feelings of ambivalence are uncomfortable, they can also serve us in important ways. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-03-14
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Putting Our Assumptions to the Test

Do you ever stop to wonder if the way you see the world is how the world really is?  Economist Abhijit Banerjee has spent a lifetime asking himself this question. His answer: Our world views often don't reflect reality. The only way to get more accurate is to think like a scientist ? even when you're not looking through a microscope. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you?d like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-03-07
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Mind Reading 2.0: Why Conversations Go Wrong

Do you ever struggle to communicate with your mom? Or feel like you and your spouse sometimes speak different languages? In the final episode of our "Mind Reading 2.0" series, we bring back one of our favorite conversations, with linguist Deborah Tannen. She shows how our conversational styles can cause unintended conflicts, and what we can do to communicate more effectively with the people in our lives.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you?d like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-02-28
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Mind Reading 2.0: Our Better Angels

Turn on the news, and you'll be bombarded with stories of people who lie, cheat, and kill. Most of our public and economic policies take aim at these sorts of people ? the wrongdoers and the profiteers. But is there a hidden cost to the rest of us when we put bad actors at the center of our thinking? Do the measures we put in place to curtail the selfish inadvertently hurt our capacity to do right by others? In the latest in our "Mind Reading 2.0" series, we revisit a 2020 episode with behavioral economist Sam Bowles. He argues that laws written to govern the lawless end up changing the behavior of the lawful ? for the worse. 

If you like the show, don't forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Every week, we'll bring you interesting research on human behavior, along with a brain teaser and a moment of joy. 

2022-02-21
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Mind Reading 2.0: The Double Standard

It?s easy to spot bias in other people, especially those with whom we disagree.  But it?s not so easy to recognize our own biases.  In the latest in our "Mind Reading 2.0" series, we revisit a favorite conversation with psychologist Emily Pronin. We'll look at one of the most bewildering aspects of how we read minds ? in this case, our own. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you?d like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

 

2022-02-14
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Mind Reading 2.0: How others see you

It's not easy to know how we come across to others, especially when we're meeting people for the first time. Psychologist Erica Boothby says many of us underestimate how much other people actually like us. In the second installment of our Mind Reading 2.0 series, we look at how certain social illusions give us a distorted picture of ourselves. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you?d like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

 

2022-02-07
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Mind Reading 2.0: Why did you do that?

As we go through life, we?re constantly trying to figure out what other people are thinking and feeling. Psychologist Liane Young says this ability to assess other people's thoughts ?is an extraordinary feat of cognition. But this mental superpower can sometimes lead us astray. This week, we kick off a new series exploring how we understand ? or fail to understand ? the minds of other people.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you?d like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-01-31
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My Unsung Hero: Sanaa Kerroumi's Story

Sanaa is on her train ride home when an angry man begins threatening her. Before he gets too close, a stranger intervenes. 

Please share the story of your unsung hero with us! To do so, record a voice memo on your phone and email us at [email protected]

2022-01-28
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Minimizing Pain, Maximizing Joy

Life is often filled with hardships and tragedies. For thousands of years, philosophers have come up with strategies to help us cope with such hardship. This week, we revisit a 2020 conversation with philosopher William Irvine about ancient ideas ? backed by modern psychology ? that can help us manage disappointment and misfortune.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-01-25
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What Makes Relationships Thrive

Everyone wants to be loved and appreciated. But psychologist Harry Reis says there?s another ingredient to successful relationships that?s every bit as important as love.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org.

2022-01-17
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My Unsung Hero: Wendy McDowell's Story

It's 1979, and Wendy is eight years old, crying alone in an airport. Then she sees a woman in white walking towards her.

In a few weeks we'll be running these episodes exclusively on the My Unsung Hero feed. Please don?t miss any of these wonderful stories ?  subscribe now on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

2022-01-14
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Changing Behavior, Not Beliefs

The rift between police and Black Americans can feel impossible to bridge. But in his work with police departments across the U.S., Yale psychologist Phillip Atiba Goff has found novel ways to address the problem.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-01-10
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Choose Carefully

All of us make choices all the time, and we may think we're making those choices freely. But psychologist Eric Johnson says there's an architecture behind the way choices are presented to us, and this invisible architecture can influence decisions both large and small. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2022-01-03
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Creatures of Habit

At the beginning of the year, many of us make resolutions for the months to come. We resolve to work out more, to procrastinate less, or to save more money. Though some people stick with these aspirations, many of us fall short. This week, we revisit our 2019 conversation with psychologist Wendy Wood, who shares what researchers have found about how to build good habits ? and break bad ones.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org

2021-12-27
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My Unsung Hero: Justin Horner's Story

Justin is  sitting on the side of the freeway, hoping someone will help him fix his busted wheel. Right around the time he?s about to give up, a van pulls over.

Would you like to share the story of an unsung hero who helped you in a moment of need? If so, please record a voice memo and send it to [email protected] 

2021-12-24
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Bringing Up Baby

Bababa, dadada, ahgaga. Got that? Babies are speaking to us all the time, but most of us have no clue what they're saying. To us non-babies, it all sounds like charming, mysterious gobbledegook. To researchers, though, babbling conveys important information about a baby's readiness to learn. This week, we'll revisit a favorite episode exploring the language and behavior of the newest members of the human family.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org

2021-12-20
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The Psychology of Self-Doubt

We all have times when we feel like a fraud. Psychologist Kevin Cokley studies the corrosive effects of self-doubt, and how we can turn that negative voice in our heads into an ally.  

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2021-12-13
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My Unsung Hero: Leah Bartell's Story

It's 1994, and two men corner Leah on a dark street as she's walking home. Then she sees a car, and a glimmer of hope.

To hear more stories like this, subscribe to our new podcast, My Unsung Hero. And we'd love to hear your own story: send a voice memo to [email protected]

2021-12-10
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Both Things Can Be True

It?s psychologically simpler to see the world in black and white. But reality often comes in shades of gray. This week, how our minds grapple with contradictions, especially those we see in other people. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2021-12-06
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Work 2.0: The One-Room Commute

If you?re working from home, you might be reveling in your daily commute to the dining room table. Or you might be saying, ?Get me out of here.? In the final episode of our Work 2.0 series, economist Nicholas Bloom joins us from his spare bedroom to ponder whether working from home is actually working. 

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2021-11-29
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My Unsung Hero: Tony Ludlow's Story

Tony is angry at his English teacher, Mrs. Holman, for making him stay after class. But on the last day of school, she takes his hand, and tells him something he'll never forget.

To hear more stories like this, subscribe, and enjoy!

2021-11-24
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Work 2.0: Rebel with a Cause

Francesca Gino studies rebels - people who practice "positive deviance" and achieve incredible feats of imagination. They know how and when to break rules that should be broken. So how can you activate your own inner non-conformist? This week, we ponder the traits of successful rebels as we revisit our 2018 conversation with Francesca.  

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And if you'd like to support our work, you can do so at support.hiddenbrain.org. 

2021-11-22
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Work 2.0: Life, Interrupted

Many of us spend our workdays responding to a never-ending stream of emails and texts. We feel stressed out and perpetually behind on our to-do list. But what if there was a better way to work? This week, we revisit a favorite conversation about "deep work" with computer scientist Cal Newport. And we'll visit a lab that's studying whether brain stimulation can improve our ability to handle multitasking and interruptions.

If you like this show, please check out our new podcast, My Unsung Hero! And to learn more about human behavior and ideas that can improve your life, subscribe to our newsletter at news.hiddenbrain.org.

2021-11-15
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My Unsung Hero: Terri Powers' Story

Today we're sharing another episode of our new podcast, My Unsung Hero. To hear more stories like this, subscribe, and enjoy!

It's a few days after her mother's death, and Terri Powers is at the checkout line in a grocery store. As she turns to leave, the bagger stops her, and asks a question.

2021-11-12
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Work 2.0: Game On!

The world of play and the world of work are often seen as opposites. But they may have more in common than we think. In the second installment of our new Work 2.0 series, Ethan Mollick makes the case that we can make our jobs more engaging by incorporating elements of games.

If you like our work, please consider supporting it! See how you can help at support.hiddenbrain.org. And to learn more about human behavior and ideas that can improve your life, subscribe to our newsletter at news.hiddenbrain.org.

2021-11-08
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Work 2.0: The Obstacles You Don't See

Introducing new ideas is hard. Most of us think the best way to win people over is to push harder. But organizational psychologist Loran Nordgren says a more effective approach is to focus on the invisible obstacles to new ideas.

If you like our work, please consider supporting it! See how you can help at support.hiddenbrain.org. And to learn more about human behavior and ideas that can improve your life, subscribe to our newsletter at news.hiddenbrain.org.

2021-11-01
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