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.

What do we owe to our fellow citizens (even when we think they’re very wrong)?, with Robert Talisse

A talk with political theorist Robert Talisse, (Twitter: @RobertTalisse) author of the book Sustaining Democracy: What We Owe To The Other Side. His book is one of the best I’ve read about both American polarization and about the challenges of democracy: I highly recommend it. A transcript of this talk is included below. Topics we…

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…

Reading poker tells in a hand from the WSOP Ladies Event, with Lara Eisenberg

A talk with poker player Lara Eisenberg, who won the 2021 World Series of Poker Ladies Event, and who got 2nd place in a 2022 World Poker Tour event for $481,000. Topics we talk about include: how her thoughts about poker tells have changed over time; some specific behaviors from a poker hand from the…

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:

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…