Do you want to understand people better? Understanding people better can help us be more effective in our work, our personal lives, and in many everyday situations. Seeing others more clearly can also help us connect better with them, reduce our anger, and lead happier lives.

I’m Zach Elwood. On this podcast I talk to people from a wide range of professions about how they read behavior and use psychology in their work. Popular episodes include: relationship tells, interrogation techniques, poker tells, and spotting fake online reviews, to name a few. There are more than 95 episodes.

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About me

I’m most well known for my work on poker tells (aka, poker behavior). My first poker tells book, Reading Poker Tells, has been translated into eight languages. My work on poker tells is regarded by many as the best on the subject. I’ve also done research on deceptive online activity that’s been featured in NY Times, Washington Post, and elsewhere. Here’s my Twitter.

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Episode deep Dives

Deep dives include summaries, transcripts, source and resource links, and listening options.

On psychopaths and ‘dark empaths’, with dark traits expert Nadja Heym

A talk with Nadja Heym, a psychology researcher who specializes in dark traits, like psychopathy, narcissism, and sadism, and who has researched so-called “dark empaths”: people with dark traits who have a good amount of empathy. We delve into some nuance in the area of psychopathy. Topics discussed include: How she defines psychopathic traits; The…

Does our anger at the “other side” help create the very things we’re angry about?

When trying to convince people of the problem of polarization and the necessity for depolarization endeavors, a common objection from politically passionate people goes, “But the other side is horrible, so polarization makes sense.” In this episode, I talk about what is probably the primary counterpoint to that objection: that us-vs-them anger, in a non-obvious…

Reading situations and opponents in racecar driving, with Andy Lally

A talk with racecar driver Andy Lally, who specializes in endurance GT (sportcar) racing. Topics we talk about include: What’s the breakdown in skill versus chance in an average race? What are the considerations when trying to pass other drivers, or trying to prevent drivers from passing? Where’s the boundary between acceptable behavior versus behavior…

Facial expressions and their connection to personality, with Herman Ilgen

A talk with Herman Ilgen, who’s been a negotiator for more than 30 years and who is the founder of the Institute for Nonverbal Strategy Analysis (INSA). Ilgen has researched how facial expression patterns may be connected to personality traits. His paper was titled “Personal Nonverbal Repertoires in facial displays and their relation to individual…

Us-vs-them anger in a small town, with Rebecca Schillenback

In the small town of Caroline in central New York state, there seems to be a war going on. A large sign in the town reads, “There’s a war in the valley, time to pick a side.” The divide is over proposed zoning laws. Rebecca Schillenback is a resident who wrote a letter to the…

Improving sexual satisfaction in long-term relationships, with Jessica Maxwell

A talk with psychologist Jessica Maxwell (www.jessmaxwell.com) about her research on sexual relationships. We talk about “growth” versus “destiny” views about sex: in other words, whether someone sees sexual satisfaction as something one must work on, or if one sees it as largely an issue of destiny–something that’s either present or it’s not. Other topics…

The role of nonverbal behavior in competitive situations, with Philip Furley

A talk with Philip Furley, who has done a lot of research on behavior and psychology in sports. A transcript is below. Topics discussed include: how an athlete’s body language can influence teammates, opponents, and even judges; behaviors and strategies of penalty kickers and goalkeepers in soccer; some specific behaviors from the recent World Cup;…

Why are we so gullible?, with Brian Dunning

A talk with Brian Dunning, who you might call a professional skeptic. He has been doing the Skeptoid podcast since 2006, and is the creator of multiple books and video projects aimed at promoting critical thinking and skepticism. We talk about the reasons why we’re so often drawn to pseudoscience, bullshit, and no/low-evidence ideas in…

How big a problem are hate crimes in the U.S.?, with Wilfred Reilly

Wilfred Reilly is a political scientist, Kentucky State University professor, and author of the 2019 book Hate Crime Hoax. I wanted to talk to Reilly about the nature of hate crimes in America. One reason I wanted to discuss this is because our perceptions of hate crimes, and racism more generally, are a factor in…