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 90 episodes.

I also sometimes tackle political polarization-related topics. See all my politics-related episodes.

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About me

I’m most well known for my work on poker tells (aka, poker behavior). My first poker tells book, Reading Poker Tells, has been translated into eight languages and is regarded by many as the best book on the subject. I’ve also done research on deceptive online activity that’s 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.

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: 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