Interviews with people from different professions about how understanding human psychology and behavior plays a role in their work. This podcast is hosted by Zachary Elwood, a former professional poker player and an author of books and videos on poker tells/behavior.
A talk with Sabrina Hoppe about a 2018 study that showed how eye movements are correlated with personality. That paper was named 'Eye movements during everyday behavior predict personality traits.' We talk about how the study was set up, what the results were, how strong the correlations found were, reasons for why such patterns might exist, possible applications, and more. Discovery MattersA collection of stories and insights on matters of discovery that advance life...Listen on: Apple Podcasts Spotify Fit, Healthy & Happy Podcast Welcome to the Fit, Healthy and Happy Podcast hosted by Josh and Kyle from Colossus...Listen on: Apple Podcasts SpotifySupport the show
A talk with communication researcher Tim Levine about nonverbal behavior and deception detection. Tim takes the stance that there's no evidence that nonverbal behavior is useful for detecting deception. He's the author of Duped: Truth-Default Theory and the Social Science of Lying and Deception. His work was featured in Malcom Gladwell's book Talking to Strangers.Topics discussed include: what the research says about nonverbal behaviors; why it's so hard to get reliable indicators of deception; common nonverbal behavior myths and bullshit; why we expect others to tell us the truth; why we tend to tell the truth; Paul Ekman's work, including micro-expressions and "truth wizards"; reading behavior in interrogations; the differences between analyzing verbal content and nonverbal behavior; the TV show Lie to Me; poker tells; and more. The Proffitt PodcastThe podcast that shows you tips & strategies to create content with confidence!Listen on: Apple Podcasts Spotify Healthy Lifestyle Solutions with Maya AcostaAre you ready to upgrade your health to a new level and do so by learning from experts...Listen on: Apple Podcasts SpotifySupport the show
A talk with Dr. Casey Grover, addiction specialist and host of the podcast Addiction in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care, about how doctors attempt to determine if a patient is trying to get a drug prescription under false pretenses (e.g., claiming to be in pain to get opioids). Topics discussed: why "drug-seeking behavior" is not a good phrase; what some classic drug-seeking behaviors are and also why they're not very reliable; steps doctors take if they think someone might have a use disorder; America's drug problems, and more.
This is a reshare of a 2020 talk with psychology researcher Neguine Rezaii. She and her research team used machine learning to find language patterns used by teenagers who were at risk of schizophrenia that were correlated with later schizophrenia diagnosis. The two language patterns found in the subjects' speech were 1) a low semantic density (i.e., low degree of meaning), and 2) speech related to sound or voices.
A reshare of a 2018 talk with jury specialist Christina Marinakis about how she makes use of human psychology and human behavior in her jury consultancy work. Topics discussed: jury selection procedures; what jury consultants do; the relative importance of jury selection compared to the strength of the case; clues to potential jurors' beliefs and future behaviors from their body language, verbal answers, clothes, and more.
A reshare of a 2019 talk with forensic linguistic researcher Olu Popoola where we discuss indicators that online reviews are fake or genuine. We talk about his work analyzing indicators of deception, and talk about some research he did on Amazon book reviews. If you've ever read an online review and wondered "This seems fake, but how do I really know?", I think you'd enjoy this one.
A talk with psychology researcher Matthew Hornsey about political polarization and the psychology behind it. Other topics discussed include: why people can believe such different (and unreasonable) ideas; persuasive tactics; the importance of people criticizing their own group; why groups mainly listen to in-group members and ignore the same ideas from out-group members.
A rebroadcast of one of my most popular episodes: a talk from 2018 with Mark McClish, who's an expert in analyzing spoken and written statements for hidden meaning, and who's been a US Marshal and law enforcement trainer. He's the author of the books I Know You Are Lying and Don't Be Deceived.
As part of an effort to share some of the best and most popular early episodes of my podcast, this is a rebroadcast of a 2019 episode where I interviewed psychology and relationship researcher Brandi Fink. We talk about behavioral patterns that indicate either healthy or unhealthy relationships, talk about analyzing video footage of interpersonal interactions, cultural differences in relationship dynamics, and more.
A talk with Bill Ottman, co-founder and CEO of the social media platform Minds, which is known for its minimal content moderation approach. Ottman and others (including Daryl Davis, a black man known for singlehandedly deradicalizing white supremacists) recently wrote a paper titled "The Censorship Effect," which examined how strict censorship/banning policies may actually increase antisocial, radicalized views. We talk about the psychology behind how increased censorship policies may increase grievances and anger, about Elon Musk buying Twitter and what it means, about the complexity of the problems we face, and about strategies they've used on the Minds platform.
A talk with political scientist Leonie Huddy on the topic of research on American racism and prejudice. I was interested in discussing framings like this one from a 2012 USA Today article: "U.S. majority have prejudice against blacks" and ask her if such confident framings were justified based on the research, or if they were over-stated and irresponsible. Topics discussed: the ambiguity that can be present when attempting to study prejudice, especially for studies that seek to measure it rather indirectly; how worst-case and pessimistic framings and interpretations of studies and surveys can add to us-versus-them political animosity.
A talk with psychology and addiction behavior researcher Paul Delfabbro about cryptocurrency, problem gambling, and addiction. Delfabbro has worked on several papers related to cryptocurrency, including a paper titled "The psychology of cryptocurrency trading: Risk and protective factors" and one titled "Cryptocurrency trading, gambling, and problem gambling." Also discussed: the role of social media in amplifying addictions, day trading, and video game addiction.
An examination of the reasons why people believe the 2020 election was "rigged," stolen, or otherwise illegitimate. This includes a talk with Peter Wood, a sociologist and political thinker and writer, who strongly believes that the 2020 election was stolen. Other topics discussed: election distrust by liberals (in 2016, for example), and how election distrust and chaos is a common endpoint for very polarized democratic nations.
A talk with Dino Levy about his research team's research, which used monitoring of facial muscles and machine learning to detect lies at an impressive 73% success rate. Their paper was titled "Lie to my face: An electromyography approach to the study of deceptive behavior." We talk about the results, the possible explanations, comparisons to polygraph lie detection, and applications of this research and lie detection technology in general.
A talk with political scientist Thomas Zeitzoff, who has studied political conflicts. We talk about survey results that show an increase in Americans' willingness to support political violence, and how that relates to our fears over future violent conflicts and "civil war" scenarios in America. Other topics discussed include: the psychology of polarization; the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the role of social media in that; the effects of social media on society in general.
Brandon Sheils is a professional poker player who recently did a scientific study of poker tells as part of getting a Masters degree in Psychology. Topics discussed: the challenges of studying poker behavior; how he structured his study; what the results were; AI and machine learning potential for studying behavior; some times he's used behavior to make a poker decision.
Abe Rutchick talks about his psychology research that showed that killing is easier at a distance, how the experiment was designed, and about antisocial behavior in general being more likely when at a distance. We talk about his research related to how people attribute moral responsibility when it comes to harm inflicted by autonomous self-driving vehicles. And we talk about some studies he worked on that involved poker.
John Wood Jr. is a leader and ambassador of the depolarization group Braver Angels. He ran for Congress in 2014 as a Republican against Maxine Waters. Topics discussed include: the history of American polarization; us-vs-them behaviors of leaders on both political sides; what drew him to conservative politics; how traditional conservatism differs from the Trump brand of conservatism; what it's like being black and conservative; black American political thought; GOP efforts to make voting harder.
A talk with Kirk Schneider, an existential-humanistic psychologist and therapist, and the author of many books, including Existential-Humanistic Therapy, Awakening to Awe, The Polarized Mind, and more. We talk about: how existential psychology is about facing the givens of life (e.g., fear of death, isolation, meaninglessness, freedom) and why that can be so helpful to people; how our society tends to avoid talking about these deep questions and stresses; the psychology that drives extreme polarization and narcissism; and more.
A talk with Liz Stokoe, a conversation analysis (CA) researcher and the author of "Talk: The Science of Conversation." This is my second episode focused on CA. Topics discussed include: What are some of the most useful learnings from CA, in Liz's view? Does the common perception that men and women talk differently have much scientific support? How do the "turns we take" help define us in others' eyes? Why is the "most communication is non-verbal" concept wrong and yet so popular? What do people get wrong with their focus on "rapport"? What can CA teach us about political polarization dynamics and how to persuade others or avoid angering others?
A talk with political scientist Thomas Pepinsky, who wrote a piece entitled "Life in authoritarian states is mostly boring and tolerable," which examined what the end of democracy might look like in America. Topics discussed include: What can we deduce from U.S. surveys that show high distrust in elections? How much do people really believe that elections were rigged? If Trump had succeeded in overturning the 2020 election, what would life in the U.S. be like?
This is a piece that I, Zach Elwood, wrote about the ways in which social media (and internet communication more broadly) may be amplifying us-versus-them polarization and extreme thinking. Much of the mainstream coverage of how social media may be amplifying divides and making people unhappy is on product-specific features and algorithms. But what if there are inherent aspects of internet communication that amplify animosity and bad thinking, no matter the format or structure of the tool? What if "the medium is the message" in some way? This piece examines the psychological processes by which social media may be deranging us and talks about strategies for reducing unhelpful group-versus-group animosity.
A talk with roboticist and artificial intelligence researcher Hod Lipson. Topics include: how close we are to self-aware machines; research strategies that will likely yield self-aware machines; what it takes for something to be self-aware; the risks of AI; how such research can help us better understand human minds and behavior.
A talk with criminologist Eric Piza about how video has affected crime rates. Topics discussed include: what the research shows about video surveillance and crime reduction; what factors make camera presence more likely to be effective; the effectiveness of police body cams; some practical ideas for how one might discourage crime at one's property; and the role of America's huge number of guns on violence by police.
A talk with social scientist Saul Albert (saulalbert.net) about conversation analysis — the scientific analysis of talking — and the wider field of ethnomethodology. Topics discussed: what conversation analysis (CA) is and how it's done; some of the interesting findings in CA; Saul's own research; the complexity and difficulty of communication; the role of silence in conversation; transcription/notation methods used; and more.
An interview of Rob Speiden, an expert in sign cutting, which is the tracking of humans or animals over the ground using clues of physical disturbance. Rob's site is at www.trackingschool.com. Topics discussed include: common methods of tracking; how tracking is used in search and rescue scenarios; debunking some misconceptions about what's possible with tracking; the importance of being fully aware and open to all sensory input; and interesting stories from his career.
A talk with Emily Kubin, who recently, with her co-researcher Christian Von Sikorski, did a comprehensive review of 121 studies on social media effects on political polarization. We talk about her research, why polarization is a problem, the different types of polarization (affective vs ideological), our psychology tendency to become us-versus-them in our thinking, her own opinions on what social media is doing to us, and the mechanisms by which social media may be amplifying polarization.
An interview with Ben Tyler, a professional musician and musical educator based in Portland, Oregon, about reading and understanding people in the musical world. Topics include: reading fellow band members' gestures and eye contact in jazz and other musical performances; being able to tell when audiences are having a good time or not; how practicing improvisation can make us more flexible; and the social aspects of the musical world. Ben's personal musical project is called Small Skies.
A talk with Jannine Lasaleta, who has researched the psychological effects of nostalgia, including how nostalgic feelings make people more loose and uncaring with money. We talk about the connection between our desire for nostalgia and our desire to engage in old-fashioned or ancient or "authentic" activities . We talk about how our attraction for these things might be connected to our search for meaning, our desire to have a consistent and stable sense of self, and our attempt to fend off existential anxieties related to meaninglessness and isolation.
If you're someone who pays a lot of attention to politics, but feels that doing so makes you miserable, this may be an important listen. What if someone were to tell you that paying attention to politics is not a morally correct way to spend your time and energy? Political philosopher Chris Freiman is the author of Why It's OK to Ignore Politics. He makes a case that paying a lot of attention to politics is often a waste of time, and may even be immoral compared to other ways you could be spending your time and energy. We talk about how our collective focus on and anger about politics may be contributing to society's us-versus-them animosity and polarization (which may be the root cause of our dysfunction).
Jennifer Cohn is an attorney and election integrity advocate. Since 2016 she has been drawing attention to problems with U.S. election security and was frustrated during the Trump admin years to see the GOP block efforts to improve security. Now that GOP has become the party of "the election is illegitimate", things have swung the other way and it is Democrats who seem unwilling to acknowledge flaws that many on that side were willing to talk about up until recently. We talk about how politics and polarization can impact attempts to solve election security problems, and she gives insights on the problems she sees with elections.
Elizaveta Friesem thinks and writes about media and how we relate to it. Her recent book is called "Media Is Us" and it examines the idea that media is not something "out there" but more something that is part of us, something that happens internally, similar to any other human communication. And perhaps this means that acting as if "media" of various sorts is to blame for various problems is a simplistic way to view the world. We talk about the need for personal responsibility for how we consume media, power dynamics in society, the power of empathy and understanding others, and more.
An interview with professional poker player Dara O'Kearney about poker tells (behavioral patterns in poker). We talk about how useful tells are compared to strategy, what are some of the tells he's used, how his opinion about tells has changed over time. We also discuss poker more generally, including its complexity, game theory optimal topics, how running long distance may have helped him with poker, and more.
The second of two interviews with James Mitchell, a recently retired police captain who worked in Prince George's County, Maryland. We attempt to understand the factors behind the problem of American cops having a seemingly high rate of shootings and other forms of excessive force. Factors discussed include: the role of guns, racism, the fact that juries seldom convict cops, police unions, and cops living in the communities they police. (In the first interview, other factors, like mental health and approach/de-escalation strategies, were discussed.)
An interview with Kevin Arceneaux, a researcher on the “need for chaos” research project, which found that a surprising number of people, around 40% of those polled, seem to have antisocial views about society in that they either agreed with or did not disagree with statements like “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking 'just let them all burn'?” We talk about what the study entailed, and what the factors could be that help explain this surprising find.
A talk with sports analyst and broadcaster Jon Michael Hoefling, who writes for Deadspin. We discuss a recent story about Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger and an apparent tell he has, where his foot position indicates whether he'll run or pass. We also discuss some other tells in football and sports in general, including the story about Andre Agassi having a read on Boris Becker, and some tells in baseball.
An interview with Carey Callahan, a therapist who writes about gender dysphoria and transgender issues, with a focus on medical and healthcare aspects. Topics include: why well meaning discussions about trans/gender topics can inspire so much anger; how polarization on this topic relates to polarization in other areas; controversy around how many obstacles there should be for someone who wants to transition; criticisms of gender identity theory; the idea that gender identity theory itself may be amplifying dysphoric symptoms; the role of environmental factors.
How might we connect better with each other? An interview with Ashley Pallathra and Edward Brodkin, co-authors of Missing Each Other: How to Cultivate Meaningful Connections. We talk about the obstacles we face in our attempts to form better connection with others.
An interview about the role of psychology and understanding behavior in tennis, with experienced tennis player and coach Carlos Goffi. Goffi has coached tennis for more than 30 years, has coached John McEnroe, and is the author of the well known tennis book Tournament Tough. We talk about reading opponents' physical tells and their mood, about psychological strategizing, and about the impact of personal life factors on a player's ability to compete. We also talk about Andre Agassi's claim that he had a very reliable tell on Boris Becker.
A talk with James Mitchell, a retired police captain who worked in Prince George's County, Maryland. We talk about the U.S. problem of excessive police violence, with the goal of understanding some of the factors that can lead to unjustified and too aggressive police responses. Issues include: George Floyd's death and how the cops handled that; how mental health issues relate to police response issues; how cops can escalate a situation whether they mean to or not, and more.
I interview Scott Stossel, who is the national editor of the magazine The Atlantic, and the author of the book My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. That book is a history of humanity's understanding and treatment of anxiety, and also a personal history in which Scott recounts honestly and openly his own struggles with extreme, debilitating anxiety. I talk to Scott about what he's learned in his research and personal life about the factors behind anxiety and how we might, as much as we are able to, overcome it. I (host Zach Elwood) also talk about my own struggles with anxiety, which have taken a different form from Scott's.
An interview with Nathan Filer, author of the non-fiction book 'The Heartland: Finding and Losing Schizophrenia' and the fiction book 'The Shock of the Fall'. We talk about environmental, experiential factors in schizophrenia, about the understandable pushback there can be to examining these areas, about the uncertainty around these topics, and about the power of language and the namings we give things. I also talk about the mental issues I struggled with as a young man.
In this episode, I interview an 8-year-old. We talk about such topics as: how she knows other kids want to be her friend, how she knows adults are upset with her, tricks she uses to watch more TV, the etiquette around Infection Tag (one of her favorite games), and her thoughts on various supernatural beings, including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.
An interview with Gina Assaf about her patient-led research on "long haul" Covid, which refers to long term Covid-19 effects. Assaf is not a professional medical researcher; she was motivated to initiate this research due to her own covid experiences and frustration with the lack of information about her, and other sufferers', experience. We talk about the benefits and challenges of such "patient led" research, and interesting findings her team has made. One topic discussed is the similarity between long haul covid and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS, ME) symptoms.
An interview with Jamie Heywood, who got into the medical research field when his brother was diagnosed with ALS and Jamie wanted to do everything he could do to save him. Jamie started an ALS research institute, and later was co-founder and CEO of PatientsLikeMe, an organization for collecting real-world medical data directly from patients. He discusses the strengths and challenges in collecting real-world patient-reported data, why such tactics haven't been as disruptive and revolutionary as their potential suggests, and thoughts on the problems we face in medical research and healthcare solutions in general.
Second of two episodes about online dating. This is a conversation about online dating with Scott, a straight man in his 30s who lives in Portland, Oregon. We talk about the reads/indicators he gets from online dating profiles and pictures that let him know if someone might be a good potential match.
A conversation about online dating with Celia, a woman in her 30s who lives in Portland, Oregon. We talk about the reads/indicators she gets from online dating profiles and pictures that let her know if a guy might be a good potential match.
The idea that humans don't have free will, that we don't have any control of our lives, can be a scary or depressing one for some people. This is a talk with Daniel Whiteson, physics professor of UC Irvine, about why he thinks free will is unlikely, and about the psychological and emotional impacts that can be associated with believing or not believing in free will.
An interview of host Zachary Elwood about his own aphantasia, which is defined as an inability to visualize images mentally. This is a rebroadcast of an interview from The Untypical Podcast, hosted by Visakan Pillai. Topics discuss include: aphantasia and what it's like, aphantasia effects on life and creativity, the nature of thought and memory, psychedelic drugs, visualizing in dreams, and more.