Rank #1: 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.
Rank #2: When Did Marriage Become So Hard?
Marriage is hard — and there are signs it's becoming even harder. This week on Hidden Brain, we examine how long-term relationships have changed over time, and whether we might be able to improve marriage by asking less of it.
Rank #3: 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.
Rank #4: The Edge Effect
There is great comfort in the familiar. It's one reason humans often flock to other people who share the same interests, laugh at the same jokes, hold the same political views. But familiar ground may not be the best place to cultivate creativity. From science and business to music and the world of fashion, researchers have found that people with deep connections to people from other countries and cultures often see benefits in terms of their creative output. This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the powerful connection between the ideas we dream up and the people who surround us, and what it really takes to think outside the box.
Rank #5: The Lonely American Man
Boys get the message at a young age: don't show your feelings. Don't rely on anyone. This week, we take a close look at misguided notions of masculinity in the United States. We explore how those notions create stressed-out romantic relationships, physical health problems, and a growing epidemic of loneliness. Plus, we consider how we might begin to tell a different story about what it means to be a man.
Rank #6: Episode 38: Me, Me, Me
It doesn't take a psychologist to see narcissism in our culture of selfies. But we decided to talk to one anyway. Jean Twenge is a researcher and author of the books The Narcissism Epidemic, and Generation Me.
Rank #7: You 2.0: When Did Marriage Become So Hard?
There are signs it's getting even harder. In this episode, we explore how long-term relationships have changed over time and whether we might be able to improve marriage by asking less of it.
Rank #8: Episode 19: Dating and Mating
It's almost Valentine's Day, but this week we're not talking about love. Instead, we explore the other forces that drive our romantic relationships.
Rank #9: You 2.0: Originals
What does it mean to be an original? As part of our summer series, You 2.0, we talk with psychology professor Adam Grant about innovators and the challenges they face. Adam gives his take on what makes an original, how parents can nurture originality in their children, and the potential downsides of non-conformity.
Rank #10: 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."
Rank #11: 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.
Rank #12: Never Go To Vegas
All social classes have unspoken rules. From A-list celebrities to teachers, doctors, lawyers, and journalists — there are social norms that govern our decisions, whether we realize it or not. This week on Hidden Brain, the invisible qualities that all celebrities have in common, and how our interest in them builds because of cues we get from one another. Later in the episode, we look at another elite group: the yoga-loving, Whole Foods-shopping, highly-educated group that researcher Elizabeth Currid-Halkett calls the "aspirational class."
Rank #13: Snooki and the Handbag
Look down at what you're wearing. You picked out that blue shirt, right? And those sandals — you decided on those because they're comfortable, 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 decisions. We talked with him in December 2016.
Rank #14: Kinder-Gardening
Many parents think they can shape their child into a particular kind of adult. Psychologist Alison Gopnik says the science suggests otherwise. This week, we revisit our December 2017 conversation with Gopnik, who thinks we'd all be better off if we had a different understanding of the relationship between parents and kids.
Rank #15: Episode 25: Dream Jobs
Why do you work? Are you just in it for the money, or do you do it for a greater purpose? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on what your job is. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale University finds it may have more to do with how we think about our work. Across secretaries and custodians and computer programmers, she finds we're about equally split in whether we say we have a job, a career, or a calling. This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam talks with Amy about how we find meaning and purpose at work.
Rank #16: Episode 3: Stereotype Threat
Annie Duke was often the only woman at the poker table, which influenced the way people saw her, and the way she saw herself. Feeling like an outsider can come at a cost, but also can be an advantage.
Rank #17: You 2.0: Dream Jobs
Why do you work? Are you mostly in it for the money, or do you have another purpose? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on the nature of your job. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski finds it may have more to do with how we think about our work. She finds we're about evenly split in whether we say we have a job, a career, or a calling. As part of our You 2.0 series, we bring you this March 2016 conversation with Amy about how we find meaning and purpose at work.
Rank #18: Counting Other People's Blessings
Envy is one of the most unpleasant of all human emotions. It also turns out to be one of the most difficult for researchers to study. And yet, there's mounting evidence that envy is a powerful motivator. This week, we explore an emotion that can inspire us to become better people — or to commit unspeakable acts.
Rank #19: You 2.0: Dream Jobs
Finding a new job may be the solution to your woes at work. But there may also be other ways to get more out of your daily grind. This week, we talk with psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski of Yale University about how we can find meaning and purpose in our jobs.
Rank #20: Buying Attention
Have you ever opened your computer with the intention of sending one email — only to spend an hour scrolling through social media? Maybe two hours? In this episode, we examine the strategies media companies use to hijack our attention so they can sell it to advertisers.