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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.

Behavioral indicators of healthy or unhealthy relationships, with Brandi Fink

This is a rebroadcast of a 2019 episode where I interviewed Dr. Brandi Fink, psychology and relationship researcher, about the behavioral indicators 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. Episode links: iTunes (embedded below) Spotify Google…

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…

Are a majority of Americans actually prejudiced against black people?, with Leonie Huddy

A talk with political scientist Leonie Huddy about research into American racism and prejudice. Transcript is below. I wanted to talk with Huddy about headlines like this 2012 one from USA Today: “U.S. majority have prejudice against blacks.” I wanted to ask her if such framings were justified based on the research, or if they…

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…

An interview with someone who believes 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…