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Do you want to understand people better? The things they do, the things they say? People-reading skills can help us in our work, our personal lives, and in many everyday situations.

I’m Zach Elwood. On this podcast I talk to people from a wide range of fields about how they read behavior and use psychology in their work. Popular episodes include: interrogation techniques, poker tells, relationship tells, spotting fake online reviews, and analyzing statements for hidden meaning, to name a few. There are more than 80 episodes.

I also sometimes tackle political polarization-related topics, with a focus on the psychology behind that. See all my politics-related episodes.

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Episode deep Dives

This section displays episode summaries. To see some popular episodes or see all episodes in a single list, keep scrolling down.

Is the entire world growing more polarized?, with Andrew O’Donohue

A talk with Andrew O’Donohue, co-author of Democracies Divided: The Global Challenge of Political Polarization. Andrew has studied how societal conflicts play out in many countries, and the harm resulting from those conflicts. Topics discussed include: common objections people have to thinking about polarization or considering it a problem; what American polarization has in common…

Are eye movement patterns related to personality traits?, with Sabrina Hoppe

A talk with research Sabrina Hoppe, who specializes in machine learning and cognitive science. Hoppe was part of a team who worked on a 2018 paper titled Eye movements during everyday behavior predict personality traits. Transcript of this talk is below. We talk about that research and what was found. Topics include: how that study…

Questioning if body language is useful for detecting lies, with Tim Levine

A talk with communication researcher Tim Levine about nonverbal behavior and deception detection. Tim Levine is 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. Transcript is at bottom of this post. Topics discussed include: what the research tells…

How do doctors read “drug-seeking” behaviors?, with Dr. Casey Grover

A talk with addiction specialist Dr. Casey Grover about behavioral indicators of so-called “drug-seeking behavior,” which is when people try to deceptively convince doctors to prescribe them drugs. Grover hosts the podcast Addiction in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. We talk about: why Casey thinks “drug-seeking” is a bad, unhelpful term; what behavioral clues doctors…

Predicting schizophrenia with language, with Neguine Rezaii

This is a reshare of a 2020 talk I did with psychology researcher Neguine Rezaii. We talk about her research using machine learning to find patterns in language 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)…

Reading and predicting jury behavior, with Christina Marinakis

This is a reshare of a 2018 talk with Christina Marinakis about reading and understanding jury behavior. Marinakis works for the firm Litigation Insights; you can see her bio here. There’s a transcript of the talk below. Episode links: iTunes (embedded below) Spotify Google Play TRANSCRIPT Zach Elwood: Hello, and welcome to the People Who…

How to spot fake online reviews, with Olu Popoola

This is a rebroadcast of a 2019 episode where I interviewed Olu Popoola about indicators of fake online reviews. Popoola is a forensic linguistic researcher who specializes in finding indicators of deception, or other hidden clues about traits of the writer. His website is at www.outliar.blog. Episode links: iTunes (embedded below) Spotify Google Play Youtube

Group psychology, polarization, and persuasion, with Matthew Hornsey

A talk with psychology researcher Matthew Hornsey about group psychology. Hornsey has published over 170 papers, with many related to group psychology topics. (Transcript below.) Topics discussed in our talk include: why people can believe such different (and sometimes such unreasonable) ideas; persuasive tactics for changing minds; tactics for reducing us-vs-them animosity; why groups mainly…

Analyzing speech for hidden meanings, with Mark McClish

This is a rebroadcast of a 2018 episode where I interviewed Mark McClish about statement analysis: analyzing written and spoken speech for hidden meaning. McClish is the author of the books I Know You Are Lying and Don’t Be Deceived. He’s a law enforcement trainer and a former US Marshal. Episode links: iTunes (embedded below)…