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Jennifer Schmidt

Stories

  • Woman using a laptop computer in darkness with her hands illuminated by the computer screen isolated on black background
    Hidden Brain

    Close Enough: The Lure of Living Through Others

    A silver lining of social distancing: you may have more time and space to pursue the projects you've bookmarked on your web browser. Whether your goal is to build a barn door or to update your makeup routine, online tutorials have made it easier than ever to bring the world into your living room or kitchen or bedroom. But a curious thing can happen when we watch experts doing expert things. This week, we explore the dangers and the delights of vicarious living, with a favorite episode from 2019.

  • John Moore/Getty Images
    Hidden Brain

    Panic In The Street: How Psychology Shaped The Response To An Epidemic

    It sounds like a movie plot: police discover the body of a young man who's been murdered. The body tests positive for a deadly infectious disease. Authorities trace the killing to a gang. They race to find the gang members, who may also be incubating the virus. This week on Hidden Brain, we revisit our 2016 story about disease, panic, and how a public health team used psychology to confront an epidemic.

  • caption: In the mid-1940s, Riley Shepard was a rising talent as a singer. But he bounced from one music label to another, and never achieved stardom.
    Hidden Brain

    The Cowboy Philosopher: A Tale Of Obsession, Scams, And Family

    In 2009, an old man died in a California nursing home. His obituary included not just his given name, but a long list of the pseudonyms he'd been known to use. In this episode, which we originally released in 2019, we trace the life of Riley Shepard, a hillbilly musician, writer, small-time con man and, perhaps, a genius.

  • caption: "Hang in there," Dr. Levy tells his new medical students. "This is going to work."
    Hidden Brain

    When Things Click: The Power Of Judgment-Free Learning

    There can be a lot of psychological noise involved in teaching. But what it we replaced all that mental clutter...with a click? This week, we bring you a 2018 episode exploring an innovative idea about how we learn. It will take us from a dolphin exhibit in Hawaii to a top teaching hospital in New York. It's about a method to quiet the noise that can turn learning into a minefield of misery.

  • Anthropologist Bill Maurer says the dollar bill remains one of the most ubiquitous forms of mass media in the United States.
    Hidden Brain

    Emotional Currency: How Money Shapes Human Relationships

    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 we explore 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?

  • CHICAGO, IL - JULY 06: A teenage boy grieves next to a makeshift memorial at the site where Ashley Hardmon was shot and killed on July 4, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
    Hidden Brain

    On The Knife's Edge: Using Therapy To Address Violence Among Teens

    What would drive someone to take another person's life? When researchers at the University of Chicago asked that question, the answer was a laundry list of slights: a stolen jacket, or a carelessly lobbed insult. It made them wonder whether crime rates could be driven down by teaching young men to pause, take a deep breath, and think before they act. In this 2017 episode, we go inside a program that teaches Chicago teens to do just that. We also explore what research has found about whether this approach actually works.

  • Conceptual illustration of a distorted girl's face depicting anxiety, rage, and fear.
    Hidden Brain

    In The Heat Of The Moment: How Intense Emotions Transform Us

    In a fit of anger or in the grip of fear, many of us make decisions that we never would have anticipated. This week, we look at situations that make us strangers to ourselves — and why it's so difficult to remember what these "hot states" feel like once the moment is over.

  • caption: Envy is a useful tool for social comparison. But sometimes, it can lead us to wicked places.
    Hidden Brain

    Feeding the Green-Eyed Monster: What Happens When Envy Turns Ugly

    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.

  • caption: Stephanie Rinka in her beach wheelchair at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, North Carolina.
    Hidden Brain

    The Ventilator: Life, Death And The Choices We Make At The End

    Many of us believe we know how we'd choose to die. We have a sense of how we'd respond to a diagnosis of an incurable illness. This week, we have the story of one family's decades-long conversation about dying. What they found is that the people we are when death is far in the distance may not be the people we become when death is near.