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.

Group psychology, polarization, and persuasion, with Matthew Hornsey

A talk with psychology researcher Matthew Hornsey about group psychology. Hornsey has published over 170 papers, with many related to group psychology topics. (Transcript below.) Topics discussed in our talk include: why people can believe such different (and sometimes such unreasonable) ideas; persuasive tactics for changing minds; tactics for reducing us-vs-them animosity; why groups mainly…

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: iTunes (embedded below)…

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…