All Episodes

On social power, the oppressed/oppressor framework, and empathy, with Elizaveta Friesem

Elizaveta Friesem writes about media, communication, and social power (i.e., the concept of power that characterizes people and their relationships). I first interviewed her about media and polarization in 2021; we talked about her book Media Is Us: Understanding Communication and Moving Beyond Blame. Topics we discuss here include: Michel Foucault’s ideas about power (often…

The news is polarizing us. Can Tangle News help?

A talk with journalist Isaac Saul, founder of Tangle News (readtangle.com), which shares takes on current events from across the political spectrum and which I think is great, from a depolarization perspective. Here’s what Isaac said about why he started Tangle: “I started Tangle because I recognized that the news industry was broken. My work…

The allure of deciphering behavior, with Rounders creator Brian Koppelman

A talk with screenwriter/producer Brian Koppelman, known for many movies and TV shows, including the poker movie Rounders, the show Billions, and the series Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber. He’s also the host of the podcast The Moment. We talk about: his initial interest in poker; how they got the idea for Rounders; poker…

How a pro poker player reads tells, with Dara O’Kearney

A talk with professional poker player Dara O’Kearney on the subject of poker tells (aka, behavioral patterns in poker). Dara is the co-host of The Chip Race, one of the most popular poker podcasts, and the author of several books, including GTO Poker Simplified. We talk about: the importance of poker tells compared to strategy; how Dara’s…

Tips on interrogating people for information and confessions, with David Zulawski

A talk with David Zulawski, who’s an expert in interrogation and interview techniques, the cofounder of Wicklander Zulawski and Associates, and the author of Practical Aspects of Interview and Interrogation. Topics discussed include: Why is the non-confrontational, rapport-focused technique he recommends the best one? Why is it important to downplay the significance of a crime?…

Analyzing behavior and motivations in the Robbi Jade Lew poker hand, with Yakov Hirsch

This is a talk with professional poker player Yakov Hirsch about the well known high-stakes poker incident where amateur Robbi Jade Lew was accused of cheating by professional player Garrett Adelstein. We give our takes on the hand, and the overall situation, and we talk about Robbi’s possible motivations and thought processes during this hand,…

“You want me to have cognitive empathy for Trump?!”: a talk with Yakov Hirsch

A talk about trying to understand Trump’s anger at the liberal-leaning news media and how that relates to American polarization. This is from a video talk I had with Yakov Hirsch (twitter.com/yakovhirsch) in November of 2023 (the first part of this talk is here). A transcript is below. Other topics discussed include: Trump-Russia media coverage;…

Studying pessimistic “need for chaos” views, with Kevin Arceneaux

A talk with Kevin Arceneaux, whose research found that a surprising number of people (around 40%) either agreed with or did not disagree with statements like “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn’?” In their paper, they called this a “need for chaos.” We…

Behavioral tells in football, baseball, and other sports, with Jon Hoefling

A talk with Jon Michael Hoefling, a sports analyst, about reading behavioral tells and indicators in football, baseball, tennis, and other sports. We focus on a 2021 story that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a tell: how he positioned his foot before a play was a strong indicator of whether he’d run or pass. We also…

Understanding and dealing with debilitating anxiety, with Scott Stossel

A reshare of a 2021 episode where I talked with Scott Stossel, author of “My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind.” (Scott is also national editor of The Atlantic.) Scott’s book is a history of the condition and treatment of anxiety, and also a personal history in which…

Electrodermal activity is what lie detectors measure: what is it?

A talk with psychologist Christopher Moyer about electrodermal activity (EDA), also known as galvanic skin response (GSR), which is what lie detectors measure. This is a reshare of a 2019 episode. A transcript is below. Topics discussed include: What are spikes in electrodermal activity actually telling us? We talk about its use in lie detectors.…

Reading dog and cat behavior, with Daniel Mills

Animal behavior researcher Daniel Mills talks about various aspects of the human-pet relationship, with a focus on his research. Transcript below. Topics include: dogs’ abilities to read human emotions and how they do that; the effects of pets on our mental health; animals’ ability to perceive images on a TV screen; the differences between the…

On the art of listening and the challenges of being an introvert, with Joel Berman

Joel Berman is a practitioner of Compassionate Listening (compassionatelistening.org). Joel has travelled to the Middle East and talked with Israelis and Palestinians about their experiences and grievances. Topics discussed: Joel’s experiences in the Middle East; what the Compassionate Listening methodology entails; the bravery required for conflict resolution work; and both of our experiences being introverts…

Door-to-door sales tricks and strategies

A talk with two people with door-to-door sales experience: Conrad Smith and Dave Mock. We talk about the tricks and strategies they used to close sales, and the psychological factors in why those strategies work. Topics discussed: verbal and physical sales scripts some companies use, and why they work; the use of ambiguous language in…

Why is criticism of Israel sometimes called antisemitic?, with Yakov Hirsch

A talk with Yakov Hirsch, who thinks that some Jewish people have exaggerated ideas about the amount of antisemitism in the world, and overly pessimistic ideas about the nature of antisemitism. This can make some Jewish people see disagreement, criticism, and conflict too often through the lens of antisemitism. Hirsch ties this into the Israel/Palestine…

Is our craving for certainty our biggest weakness?, with Maria Konnikova

Maria Konnikova is the best-selling author of the books The Biggest Bluff, The Confidence Game, and Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes. Topics we talk about include: the human desire for certainty and story/narrative, and our discomfort with ambiguity and uncertainty; how she decided to get into poker and write The Biggest Bluff; why…

Understanding an orchestra conductor’s gestures, with Ming Luke

A talk with orchestra conductor Ming Luke (mingluke.com). Topics discussed include: what a conductor’s body language and gestures can communicate to the orchestra; how small differences in gestures can sometimes result in significant musical differences; the difference in conducting styles that can exist between conductors; the role conductors play and the benefits they bring; the…

Bullshit behavior experts, with Dr. Jack Brown

This episode is about what I refer to as “behavior bullshit.” There are many self-proclaimed behavior experts spreading bad, misleading, and irresponsible concepts about human behavior, and some of these people are quite popular. This episode focuses on Jack Brown (Twitter: @drgjackbrown), one of the more egregious offenders amongst behavior bullshitters. Other topics discussed include:…

Understanding MAGA anger, with ex-Trump voter Rich Logis

For the purposes of depolarization, it’s important to understand the us-vs-them narratives that surround us. This is a talk with Rich Logis (perfectourunion.us), who describes his journey as going “from ultra-MAGA to Never-Trump.” Rich was a vocal pro-Trump activist, who’d written many political op-eds and had his own political podcast, and who switched to being…

Examining strategies of some common scams, with Martina Dove

A talk with Martina Dove (martinadove.com), author of the book The Psychology of Fraud, Persuasion and Scam Techniques, about some common scams you and people you know might encounter (phishing scams, “pig butchering” scams, romance scams, wrong-number-text scams, and more). We discuss how these scams work, and some strategies for avoiding them.  Episode links: Apple…

Resolving conflict in our relationships, with marriage counselor Bill Doherty

A talk with Bill Doherty, a relationship therapist (thedohertyapproach.com) and the co-founder of Braver Angels, a political depolarization-aimed group (braverangels.org). A transcript is below. Topics discussed include: Bill’s approach to couples counseling; thoughts on dealing with the common situation where one partner is much more interested in healing the relationship than the other; the importance…

Understanding the behavior of people under anesthesia, with Ashita Goel

A talk with anesthesiologist Ashita Goel about her work. Topics include: the sometimes strange behaviors of people under anesthesia; the hypnotic and “truth serum”-like effects of anesthesia; factors in determining drug dosage; the various states one can put people into; why anesthesiologists often seem outgoing and fun; the viral video of the man who woke…

Psychological factors in conspiracy theory beliefs, with Mikey Biddlestone

A talk with psychology researcher Mikey Biddlestone (Twitter: @biddlepsych), who specializes in studying conspiracy theory beliefs, about some psychological factors that can make beliefs in conspiracy theories more likely. We talk about “just world” beliefs (beliefs that the world is largely just and fair) and how those might relate to conspiracy-minded thinking. Other topics discussed:…

Understanding the behavior of autistic people, with Barry Prizant

A talk with Barry Prizant (barryprizant.com), author of the influential book Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, and co-host of the Uniquely Human podcast (www.uniquelyhuman.com). The focus of our talk is on understanding the experiences and behaviors of autistic people. Topics discussed include: understanding the underlying causes behind the sometimes seemingly inexplicable behaviors…

How does anxious body language affect a job interview?, with Simonne Mastrella

A talk with Simonne Mastrella, author of the research paper Acting Anxious: The Impact of Candidates’ Anxious Nonverbal Behavior on Interview Performance Ratings. Topics discussed include: the design of the study; her findings; whether results differed by gender or by the nature of the job; how perceptions of anxiety and “warmth” are related; and the…

Analyzing behaviors in aviation security, with Philip Baum

Aviation security professional Philip Baum (www.avsec.com) talks about analyzing behavior for aviation security and risk assessment purposes, and for security purposes in general. Transcript below. Topics discussed include: looking for deviations from the baseline behaviors normal in an environment; successes of behavioral analysis for security purposes; what can make some of this work controversial; thoughts…

The illusions of memory and self, with Anne Wilson

A talk with social psychologist Anne Wilson (annewilsonpsychlab.com) about memory and how we define who we are. Topics discussed include: the nature of self; the nature of memory; the fallibility of our memories; the theory of temporal self appraisal (which is about how we experience ourselves as being close to or far away in time…

My book Defusing American Anger is out

A short update about my book Defusing American Anger being released, and a few other small notes. You can get the book at www.american-anger.com. Episode links: Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Podcasts

The fear and loneliness of leaving one’s cult, with Calvin Wayman

A talk with Calvin Wayman (Twitter: @calwayman), who was raised in a fundamentalist Mormon cult, with four mothers and 44 siblings. This world was everything and everyone he’d known. At the age of 30, he left that world, and was as a result suddenly isolated from everything that had previously given his life meaning. We…

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

Credit Casey Martin, Ithaca Voice 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…

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…

About this podcast: why I do it and why I think it’s important

This is all about the People Who Read People podcast. Topics discussed include: what led to me starting this podcast; what my goals with it were and how they’ve changed over time; my approach to who I interview and the questions I ask; why I focus on polarization-related topics and why I think that’s important;…

Examining American antisemitism, with James Kirchick

A talk with journalist and author James Kirchick (jameskirchick.com) about antisemitism. Topics discussed include: the origins of various varieties of American antisemitism, controversial statements about Jewish people from Kanye West and Whoopi Goldberg; Donald Trump; Israel; George Soros; Louis Farrakhan; Black Hebrew Israelites; the term “globalist”, and more. For a follow-up episode about antisemitism, see…

Is liberal bias impeding U.S. depolarization and conflict resolution efforts?, with Guy Burgess

A talk with conflict resolution specialist Guy Burgess, who, along with his wife Heidi Burgess, run the project www.beyondintractability.org. Guy and Heidi wrote a paper in 2022 titled “Applying conflict resolution insights to the hyper‐polarized, society‐wide conflicts threatening liberal democracies.” A transcript of this talk is below. I talk with Guy about: how conflict resolution…

The art of recruiting, with Blake Mobley

A talk with Blake Mobley about the business of recruiting: matching job seekers with companies that are hiring. Blake is the co-founder and managing director of recruiting company Keeper Recruiting (keeperrecruiting.com), which specializes in biotech. Topics discussed include: what the process of recruiting is like; how Keeper Recruiting learns pertinent details about job seekers; the…

Dealing with anxiety and mental health issues as a college student

I was interviewed on Mahima Samraik’s podcast Breaking The Facts about my struggles with anxiety and mental issues as a young man, which led to me dropping out of college in the middle of my second year of college. We talk about what that experience was like; recommendations for people dealing with similar problems; and…

Understanding madness, with Richard Bentall

A talk with psychologist Richard Bentall, author of the well known book “Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature,” which is an examination of the psychological causes of the symptoms associated with psychosis, schizophrenia, mania, and other mental issues. Richard Bentall is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Sheffield. A transcript of this…

Reading tells in football, with Larry Hart

A talk with Larry Hart (Twitter: @coachlarryhart), a football coach at the University of Houston, and the author of the book The Recruit’s Playbook. Topics discussed include: common behavioral patterns (tells) in American football that are used to get an edge on opponents and teams; reading signals that opponent coaches give to players; the importance…

Why studying nonverbal behavior is hard but worthwhile, with Alan Crawley

A talk with nonverbal behavior expert Alan Crawley, also known by his online handle Sin Verba (www.sinverba.com). Topics discussed include: why he initially became interested in behavior; the challenges of studying behavior; the practical benefits of studying behavior (including connecting better with others); and irresponsible “behavior experts” who share bad information and pseudo-science. A transcript…

How do we respond when our sense of meaning is threatened?, with Steven Heine

A talk with cultural psychologist Steven Heine (twitter: @StevenHeine4) about how we react to our sense of meaning being threatened. What happens when our mental framework of how the world works doesn’t hold up and things seem chaotic? What happens when our sense of what’s meaningful in our lives is threatened? A transcript is included…

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. Transcript is included below. Topics discussed include: common objections people have to thinking about polarization or considering it a problem; what American…

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: Apple Podcasts  Spotify Google Podcasts TRANSCRIPT Zach Elwood: Hello, and welcome to the People Who Read…

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: Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Podcasts Youtube

Group psychology, polarization, and persuasion, with Matthew Hornsey

A talk with psychology researcher Matthew Hornsey about group psychology, polarization, and persuasion. Hornsey has been a researcher on over 170 papers, with many of those related to group psychology topics. Want a transcript of this talk? See the transcript. Topics discussed in our talk include: why people can believe such different (and sometimes such…

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: YouTube Apple Podcasts…

Relationship “tells”, with Brandi Fink

A talk with relationship researcher Dr. Brandi Fink, about behavioral indicators (aka “tells”) of healthy and unhealthy relationships. We talk about her work, the work of scientifically analyzing behavior in general, behaviors that are unhelpful to relationships, and more. Brandi has done a lot of work analyzing the behavior of couples and families experiencing problems,…

Psychological effects of content media content moderation policies, with Bill Ottman

A talk with Bill Ottman, co-founder and CEO of the social media platform Minds (minds.com), which is known for its minimal content moderation, “free speech” approach. Ottman and other Minds contributors (including Daryl Davis, a black man known for deradicalizing white supremacists via conversations) recently wrote a paper titled The Censorship Effect, which examined how…

Cryptocurrency, problem gambling, and addiction, with Paul Delfabbro

A talk with psych researcher Paul Delfabbro about cryptocurrency, problem gambling, and addiction. Delfabbro has done a lot of research on problem gambling and on addiction. He’s worked on several papers related to cryptocurrency, including “The psychology of cryptocurrency trading: Risk and protective factors” and “Cryptocurrency trading, gambling and problem gambling.” Topics discussed include: How…

Interview with a Trump voter who thinks the 2020 election was rigged

An examination of reasons why some people believe the 2020 election was stolen, “rigged,” or otherwise illegitimate. This includes an interview of Peter Wood, a sociologist and political writer, who strongly believes that the 2020 election was stolen. Other topics discussed: election distrust by liberals, and how election distrust is a common endpoint for polarized…

Lie detection using facial muscle monitoring and machine learning, with Dino Levy

A talk with Dino Levy about his team’s lie detection research, which used monitoring of facial muscles and machine learning to detect lies at an impressively high 73% success rate. Their paper was titled “Lie to my face: An electromyography approach to the study of deceptive behavior.” Topics discussed include: The setup of the study,…

How many Americans actually support political violence?, with Thomas Zeitzoff

A talk with political scientist Thomas Zeitzoff (www.zeitzoff.com), who has studied political conflicts. We talk about survey results that seem to show an increase in Americans’ willingness to think political violence is justified, and how that relates to our fears about future violent conflicts and “civil war” scenarios in America. Other topics discussed include: the…

The scientific study of poker tells, with Brandon Sheils

Brandon Sheils (twitter: @brandonsheils) is a professional poker player and poker coach who recently did a scientific study of poker behavior (aka “poker tells) as part of his seeking a Masters degree in Psychology at the University of Nottingham. Brandon also has a poker-focused YouTube channel. Topics discussed in our talk include: the challenges of…

On how being distant/remote makes it easier to kill (and do other things), with Abe Rutchick

Abe Rutchick (rutchick.com, twitter: @aberutchick) talks about his psychology research that showed that killing is easier at a distance, how the experiment was designed, and about antisocial behavior in general being more likely when at a distance. A transcript is below. Other topics discussed: how his killing-at-a-distance research relates to our behaviors online; research he…

On U.S. polarization and being a black conservative, with John Wood Jr. (of Braver Angels)

A talk with John Wood Jr. (twitter: @johnrwoodjr), who’s an ambassador with the depolarization group Braver Angels (braverangels.org) and who ran for Congress as a Republican in 2014 against Maxine Waters. Topics discussed include: American polarization and how it’s increased since the 1950s; what drew John to conservative politics; what the labels “liberal” and “conservative”…

Conversation analysis and persuasive language, with Liz Stokoe

A talk with Elizabeth Stokoe (twitter: @lizstokoe), who researches and writes about conversation analysis (CA), and who is the author of the book ‘Talk: The Science of Conversation.’ This is my second talk about CA (see my talk with Saul Albert). Transcript included, below. Topics include: What are some of the most useful things Stokoe…

How many Trump supporters really believe the election was rigged?, with Tom Pepinsky

A talk with political scientist Thomas Pepinsky (tompepinsky.com) about how many Trump supporters really, actually believe the 2020 election was illegitimate or rigged, and what might America be like if Trump had succeeded in overturning the election. (Transcript included, below.) Other topics discussed include: What can we deduce from U.S. surveys that show high distrust…

Inherent aspects of social media that amplify divides and bad thinking

A reading of a piece I wrote called ‘How social media divides us.’ I recommend the written piece over the podcast version. Much of the mainstream focus on how social media may be amplifying our divides has been on product features (e.g., content recommendation algorithms, or reaction emoji choices). This piece examines the idea that…

Artificial intelligence & the nature of consciousness, with Hod Lipson

Hod Lipson (hodlipson.com) is a roboticist who works in the areas of artificial intelligence and digital manufacturing. I talk to Hod about the nature of self-awareness. Topics discussed include: how close we are to self-conscious machines; what he views as likely building strategies that will yield self-aware machines; what it takes for something to be…

Does video surveillance decrease crime?, with Eric Piza

A talk with crime researcher Eric Piza (site: ericpiza.net) about how the ability to record people’s actions (e.g., video surveillance, personal cameras) has affected people’s willingness to commit crimes. Topics discussed include: what research tells us about video surveillance and crime reduction; what factors make the presence of video surveillance more likely to be effective;…

Conversation analysis and ethnomethodology, with Saul Albert

In this episode of the People Who Read People podcast, I talk to sociology researcher Saul Albert (twitter @saul, website: saulalbert.net) about conversation analysis: the scientific analysis of how humans talk to each other. Topics discussed include: what conversation analysis (CA) is and how it’s done; some interesting CA findings described in Elizabeth Stokoe’s book…

Tracking humans and animals, aka “sign cutting,” with Rob Speiden

In this episode of the People Who Read People podcast, I talk to Rob Speiden (trackingschool.com), who’s an expert in “sign cutting,” which is the tracking of humans or animals over land using clues of physical disturbance. Rob teaches tracking and his site is at www.trackingschool.com. He wrote, along with Greg Fuller, a respected textbook…

What does research say about social media effects on polarization?, with Emily Kubin

A talk with researcher Emily Kubin (twitter: @emily_kubin) about her work reviewing more than 100 studies on how social media may be affecting political polarization. Transcript is below. Their paper is called “The role of (social) media in political polarization: a systematic review.” We discuss her research, why polarization is a problem in the first…

Understanding behavior and psychology as a drummer, with Ben Tyler

A conversation with Ben Tyler, professional musician, about how understanding behavior and psychology have played a role in his musical career. Ben’s own music project is called Small Skies (Twitter: @smallskies), and he has worked and toured with many other bands. Specific topics include: what cues and signals from other musicians is he making use…

Why are we drawn to the past?, with Jannine Lasaleta

A talk with Jannine Lasaleta, who’s done research on the effects of nostalgia. Her research has shown how nostalgia makes us more loose and carefree with money. We talk about why nostalgia is such a positive and attractive feeling for humans: how it can be a way for us to build meaning, establish consistency of…

Does blaming “media” help us avoid responsibility?, with Elizaveta Friesem

Elizaveta Friesem (www.elizavetafriesem.com) thinks and writes about media and our relationship to it. Her recently published book is Media Is Us and it examines the idea that media is not something “out there” but more something that is part of us, something that happens internally, similar to any other human communication. And perhaps this means…

Reading poker tells, with poker pro Dara O’Kearney

An interview with professional poker player Dara O’Kearney (twitter @daraokearney) on the subject of poker tells (poker behavioral patterns). Dara is also the co-host of The Chip Race, a very popular poker podcast. We talk about how important poker tells are versus strategy, about how Dara’s thoughts on poker tells have changed over time, and…

Talking about police violence with a liberal police captain (part 2)

Second interview of recently retired police captain James Mitchell (first episode link), who happens to be politically liberal. We continue tackling the question: when we see an American cop doing something that seems clearly over-reactive and overly violent, what are the factors that influenced that cop to behave that way? In our first talk, our…

Why do so many people “want to watch the world burn”?, with Kevin Arceneaux

An interview with Kevin Arceneaux, a researcher on the “need for chaos” research project, which found that a surprising number of people (up to 40%) expressed antisocial views about society in either agreeing with or not rejecting statements like “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them…

What is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s tell?, with Jon Hoefling

In this episode, I interview Jon Michael Hoefling, a sports analyst and broadcaster, about a recent story that was making the rounds: a young man named Theo Ash, who has a popular TikTok where he analyzes football, had found a physical tell that Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had: how Roethlisberger positioned his foot before a…

How can we better connect with people?, with Ashley Pallathra & Ted Brodkin

In this episode of the podcast, I interview Ashley Pallathra (twitter) and Edward Brodkin (twitter), co-authors of Missing Each Other: How to Cultivate Meaningful Connections. Our modern world seems increasingly isolated, in how we separate ourselves from others, in how many of our communal activities and institutions have gone away, in how we are increasingly…

Reading behavior & tells in video games: a talk with Apex Legends pro Nocturnal

In this episode of the People Who Read People podcast, I interview Brandon Singer, aka Nocturnal (his Twitch, his Twitter) about reading opponent behavior in the video game Apex Legends. We discuss: getting reads of how experienced players are, how much predicting behavior plays a role, how much tilt and mental considerations play a role.…

Reading behavior in tennis, with Carlos Goffi

A talk with experienced tennis player and coach Carlos Goffi about the role that psychology and reading opponent behavior and mood can play in tennis. To learn more about Carlos, visit his site. He’s been coaching for more than 30 years, and has coached John McEnroe and John’s brother Patrick McEnroe, amongst many others. He’s…

Talking about police violence with a liberal police captain (part 1)

First of two talks with James Mitchell, a retired police captain who worked in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and who happens to be politically liberal. We talk about excessive force by police in the United States, with the goal of understanding some of the factors that can lead to unjustified and too-aggressive police responses. (Here’s…