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.

Facial expressions and their connection to personality, with Herman Ilgen

A talk with Herman Ilgen, who’s been a negotiator for more than 30 years and who is the founder of the Institute for Nonverbal Strategy Analysis (INSA). Ilgen has researched how facial expression patterns may be connected to personality traits. His paper was titled “Personal Nonverbal Repertoires in facial displays and their relation to individual…

Us-vs-them anger in a small town, with Rebecca Schillenback

In the small town of Caroline in central New York state, there seems to be a war going on. A large sign in the town reads, “There’s a war in the valley, time to pick a side.” The divide is over proposed zoning laws. Rebecca Schillenback is a resident who wrote a letter to the…

Improving sexual satisfaction in long-term relationships, with Jessica Maxwell

A talk with psychologist Jessica Maxwell (www.jessmaxwell.com) about her research on sexual relationships. We talk about “growth” versus “destiny” views about sex: in other words, whether someone sees sexual satisfaction as something one must work on, or if one sees it as largely an issue of destiny–something that’s either present or it’s not. Other topics…

The role of nonverbal behavior in competitive situations, with Philip Furley

A talk with Philip Furley, who has done a lot of research on behavior and psychology in sports. A transcript is below. Topics discussed include: how an athlete’s body language can influence teammates, opponents, and even judges; behaviors and strategies of penalty kickers and goalkeepers in soccer; some specific behaviors from the recent World Cup;…

Why are we so gullible?, with Brian Dunning

A talk with Brian Dunning, who you might call a professional skeptic. He has been doing the Skeptoid podcast since 2006, and is the creator of multiple books and video projects aimed at promoting critical thinking and skepticism. We talk about the reasons why we’re so often drawn to pseudoscience, bullshit, and no/low-evidence ideas in…

How big a problem are hate crimes in the U.S.?, with Wilfred Reilly

Wilfred Reilly is a political scientist, Kentucky State University professor, and author of the 2019 book Hate Crime Hoax. I wanted to talk to Reilly about the nature of hate crimes in America. One reason I wanted to discuss this is because our perceptions of hate crimes, and racism more generally, are a factor in…

About this podcast: why I do it and why I think it’s important

This is all about the People Who Read People podcast. Topics discussed include: what led to me starting this podcast; what my goals with it were and how they’ve changed over time; my approach to who I interview and the questions I ask; why I focus on polarization-related topics and why I think that’s important;…

Examining American antisemitism, with James Kirchick

A talk with journalist and author James Kirchick (jameskirchick.com) about antisemitism. Topics discussed include: the origins of various varieties of American antisemitism, controversial statements about Jewish people from Kanye West and Whoopi Goldberg; Donald Trump; Israel; George Soros; Louis Farrakhan; Black Hebrew Israelites; the term “globalist”, and more. Transcript is below. Episode links: Resources that…

Is liberal bias impeding U.S. depolarization and conflict resolution efforts?, with Guy Burgess

A talk with conflict resolution specialist Guy Burgess, who, along with his wife Heidi Burgess, run the project www.beyondintractability.org. Guy and Heidi wrote a paper in 2022 titled “Applying conflict resolution insights to the hyper‐polarized, society‐wide conflicts threatening liberal democracies.“ A transcript of this talk is below. I talk with Guy about: how conflict resolution…