Most of us have fond memories of our childhood friends, but what about our friends that weren’t real? Imaginary friends come in many shapes and sizes, and they often provide handy scapegoats. Steve Scher talked with Marjorie Taylor, professor and head of psychology at the University of Oregon and author of "Imaginary Companions." He also talked to Stephanie Carlson, professor of child development at the University of Minnesota, about where our imaginary friends come from and why they leave.
At the end of 2009, legendary Gourmet Magazine printed its last issue. Steve Scher talked with then-editor and author Ruth Reichl just four days before the announcement of the magazine’s end about how and what Americans are eating.
Robert Olen Butler On Vietnamese Expat Communities
Robert Olen Butler is the author of “A Good Scent from a Stranger Mountain,” a collection of short stories about Vietnamese expats. In his book, Butler recalls many stories from Vietnamese expats around the world and the often, as he deems them, temperamental dynamics of these communities. Steve Scher talked with Butler back in 1992.
This hour on The Conversation we explore the strange and confusing behavior of humans. Why do we act the way we do? And can we change? Psychologists and science writers take us inside the brain to explain our peculiar actions.
Are you optimistic about the future of science? A recent Pew Survey found that 71 percent of Americans believe artificial arms and legs will perform better than natural ones by 2050, and 69 percent believe there will be a cure for most forms of cancer by then.
Will most Americans be springing for artificial limbs in 40 years? Maybe not. But we are certainly optimistic about the possibility of it all. Ross Reynolds talks with Tali Sharot, research fellow in the department of cognitive, perceptual and brain sciences at University College London and the author of “The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain.”
Maybe you are afraid of clowns or heights, spiders or public speaking. Fears are common, and from an evolutionary stand point fear can be very helpful. But what happens when you are so afraid of something that other find totally harmless, that it cripples you? How can you get over those fears?
Dr. Stacy Welch wants you to be afraid, but it isn’t what you think. Dr. Welch is an exposure therapist helping people work through fears, both rational and irrational. Ross Reynolds sits down with Dr. Welch and discusses where fears come from, how fear can help or hurt us and how to overcome fears.
Got a question? Ask Google. Can’t remember a name? Go to your smart phone. But are digital conveniences making us more forgetful? Tom Stafford psychologist at the University of Sheffield in the UK says no. He explains why our brains are just actually adapting.
Pepto-Bismol pink is a color sometimes used in prisons to calm inmates. People with names that start with K are more likely to donate to victims of Hurricane Katrina than Hurricane Rita. Professional cyclists pedal faster when people are watching.
A variety of external factors influence our thoughts, feelings, and decisions, says Adam Alter, a professor of psychology at NYU and the author of “Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave.”
He spoke about the degree to which our environment shapes who we are at Seattle’s Town Hall on April 2, 2013.
Our spring membership drive rolls along with two of our favorite interviews: two-time Grammy winning musician Taj Mahal joined us late last year to celebrate 40 years in music and a new retrospective album, "Maestro." Plus, we listen back to a conversation with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his book, "The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature."
It sounds shocking, but earworms are an epidemic that affect at least 90 percent of people as often as once a week. That’s according to a Goldsmiths University study. But before you go logging onto WebMD, fear not! These earworms are more commonly referred to as songs, regular old songs — often radio hits or catchy grooves that burrow deep within the human brain. For instance, maybe you've been visited by this hungry earworm:
What are our hidden biases or blind spots, and how can they divert us from doing what we think is right? Ross Reynolds interviews University of Washington psychology professor Anthony Greenwald, co-author of the new book "Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People."
"Psychopath" is a weighted, sometimes terrifying word. But psychologist Kevin Dutton makes the argument that not all psychopaths are violent. In fact, some of their qualities -- fearlessness, confidence, charisma -- set them up for success in today's society. Dutton spoke at Seattle's Town Hall on Oct. 30, 2012.
The psychopath Hannibal Lecter in the movie "Silence of the Lambs" is ruthless. But he’s also charming, persuasive and highly intelligent. Cambridge psychology professor Kevin Dutton says when psychopaths don’t turn violent they can become very successful as CEOs, surgeons, or in other professions. His latest book is "The Wisdom Of Psychopaths."