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 100 episodes.

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About me

I’m most known for my work on poker tells (aka, poker behavior). My first poker tells book, Reading Poker Tells, has been translated into eight languages.

I’m also known for my work in the political conflict resolution space. Towards that, I’ve written a book called Defusing American Anger.

My independent research on deceptive online activity has 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.

Reading online dating profiles/pics, with Scott

This is the second of two interviews I did about online dating. This is an interview with an acquaintance, Scott, about his experiences with online dating. We focus on the indicators/tells he relies on when looking at people’s online dating profiles/pics to determine if they might be a good match. Scott is a straight man…

Reading online dating profile indicators/tells, with Celia

First of two interviews I did about online dating. This is an interview with an acquaintance, Celia, about her experiences with online dating. We focus on the indicators/tells she uses when looking at online dating profiles/pics to determine if someone might be a good match for her. Episode links: iTunes (embedded below) Spotify Google Play…

How does not believing in free will affect one’s life?, with physicist Daniel Whiteson

A talk with Daniel Whiteson, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. He’s the co-author of “We Have No Idea,” about the unknown mysteries remaining in physics, and a co-host of the podcast Daniel and Jorge Explain The Universe. I talk to Whiteson about free will. We talk a little…

On aphantasia (the lack of mental imagery), with Zach Elwood

I learned a few years ago that I have aphantasia, which is, to quote from Wikipedia: “characterized by an inability to voluntarily visualize mental imagery.” Before learning about this, I’d never believed people had actual visual mental images when they imagined things. Honestly, it’s still hard for me to imagine such a thing being possible.…

The role of insults in political and cultural conflicts, with Dr. Karina Korostelina

A talk with Dr. Karina Korostelina, a social psychologist, about her work studying political insults. Korostelina is the author of Political Insults: How Offenses Escalate Conflicts. She’s a professor at George Mason University, and Director of the Program on Prevention of Mass Violence and the Program on History, Memory, and Conflict at the School for…

Examining causes of democracy breakdown and authoritarianism, with Thomas Carothers

A talk with Thomas Carothers, an expert on foreign policy and democracy building. I ask him about the root psychological and social causes of extreme polarization, democracy breakdown, and authoritarianism. Carothers is an expert on international democracy support, democratization, and U.S. foreign policy. He serves as senior vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment…

Questioning if social media plays a big role in political polarization, with Levi Boxell

A talk with Levi Boxell about his research into political polarization and the role social media plays in that. Boxell and colleagues did research showing that older Americans, who used the internet less than younger people, were more polarized and had more animosity towards the opposite political group than did younger people. While there could…

“Opinion cascades” show some political party stances may be due to chance and initial conditions, with Dr. Michael Macy

In this episode of the podcast, I interview Dr. Michael Macy of Cornell University, whose research on “opinion cascades” show how some political group stances on issues can be rather arbitrary and due to initial conditions (a good summary of the study). Similar to how in many complex systems, slightly different initial conditions can lead…

How does Facebook increase political animosity and polarization?, with Jaime Settle

In this episode of the People Who Read People podcast, I interview Jaime Settle, a political scientist and professor at William and Mary. She is the author of Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America. In that book, she summarizes thinking on American political polarization and describes the research she’s done, which shows that Facebook likely…