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Shankar Vedantam

Shankar Vedantam is NPR's social science correspondent and the host of the Hidden Brain podcast. The focus of his reporting is on human behavior and the social sciences, and how research in those fields can get listeners to think about the news in unusual and interesting ways.

Before joining NPR in 2011, Vedantam spent 10 years as a reporter at The Washington Post. From 2007 to 2009, he was also a columnist, and wrote the Department of Human Behavior column for the Post. Vedantam writes an occasional column for Slate called "Hidden Brain."

Throughout his career, Vedantam has been recognized with many journalism honors including awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, the South Asian Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, and the American Public Health Association.

In 2009-2010, Vedantam served as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He participated in the 2005 Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship on Science and Religion, the 2003-2004 World Health Organization Journalism Fellowship, and the 2002-2003 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship.

Vedantam is the author of the non-fiction book, The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives. The book, published in 2010, described how unconscious biases influence people.

Outside of journalism, Vedantam has written fiction and plays. His short story-collection, The Ghosts of Kashmir, was published in 2005. The previous year, the Brick Playhouse in Philadelphia produced his full-length, comedy play, Tom, Dick and Harriet.

Vedantam has served as a lecturer at many academic institutions including Harvard University and Columbia University. In 2010, he completed a two year-term as a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Since 2006, he has served on the advisory board of the Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships in Science & Religion.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: We heard a lot during the presidential campaign about the wage gap, the fact that women often earn less than men for the same kinds of work. Hillary Clinton pushed that issue, and she lost. But it remains a reality in many people's lives. And we have new information about the wage gap in a field where many people might imagine that they favor gender equality. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Let's say you're at a party or walking down the street and suddenly out of a sea of passing faces one of them lights up. Someone is looking right at you, waving, saying hello, they're happy to see you and you have no idea who this person is. Some of us are really good at recognizing faces. Others of us are not. To explain why, here's our social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam from NPR's Hidden Brain podcast....

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Many years ago, Simon and Garfunkel interviewed senior citizens and put their voices on an album. One woman in that compilation says... (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: God forgive me, but an old person without money is pathetic. INSKEEP: Obviously, money makes for a more comfortable retirement. Now, we have research suggesting that money also makes for better functioning of the brain among...

As the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani was a proponent of a controversial policing philosophy known as "broken windows." It calls for police to go after small crimes, in hopes of preventing bigger problems. At first, it appeared as if violent crime dropped in the neighborhoods where "broken windows" policing was in force. The statistics, however, told a different story. But the idea remains popular, despite evidence it likely had only modest effects. Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more,...

The election of Donald Trump came as a shock to many Americans, but perhaps most of all to those in the business of calling elections. The pollsters on both the left and the right had confidently predicted Hillary Clinton would walk away with the race. They got it wrong. But one man did not: Allan Lichtman. On Sept. 23, Lichtman, a historian at American University, declared that Trump would win, and he stuck by that call through the tumultuous final weeks of the campaign. Lichtman's...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: It's no secret that this presidential campaign season has been tense, with disagreement and rancor even louder than usual. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: You know, people are actually watching this at home. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president than... DONALD TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet... CLINTON: And... (SOUNDBITE...

Fewer than 1 in 5 members of Congress are women. At Fortune 500 companies, fewer than 1 in 20 CEOs are women. And if you look at all the presidents of the United States through Barack Obama, what are the odds of having 44 presidents who are all men? If men and women had an equal shot at the White House, the odds of this happening just by chance are about 1 in 18 trillion. What explains the dearth of women in top leadership positions? Is it bias, a lack of role models, the old boy's club? Sure...

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When It Comes To Our Politics, Family Matters

Sep 12, 2016

It can happen anywhere: that moment when you gaze at the people around you and realize you simply can't understand their politics. How can these people – be they our friends, colleagues or, worst of all, our spouses – believe as they do, when facts and reason clearly point in the opposite direction? How can they support political candidates whose views are so antithetical to our definition of common sense? They're questions voters across the country have been asking a lot this election season...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: And you probably know this. Every time you sign up for something online - maybe you're updating your operating system on your mobile device, maybe you're buying a new app, maybe you're just getting a new loyalty card from the drugstore - you're often presented with this lengthy legal statement, and you're asked if you agree with the terms of service. Well, there is new social science research that looks into what...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: We know there is growing income inequality in the United States. Incomes for the wealthy are rising faster than incomes for the poor. There's also new social science research that suggests the rich might also be getting richer for another reason. And to talk about that, we're joined by NPR's social science correspondent, Shankar Vedantam. Shankar, hello as always. SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, David. GREENE: So...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST: There's an old saying that if you want to get something done, always ask a busy person. Researchers have scientifically tested that theory. And NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam joins us now to explain what they found. Hey ya. SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi Lulu. GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'm skeptical. (LAUGHTER) GARCIA-NAVARRO: Is it really true that busy people get more stuff done? VEDANTAM:...

Quirtina Crittenden was struggling to get a room on Airbnb. She would send a request to a host. Wait. And then get declined. "The hosts would always come up with excuses like, 'oh, someone actually just booked it' or 'oh, some of my regulars are coming in town, and they're going to stay there,'" Crittenden said. "But I got suspicious when I would check back like days later and see that those dates were still available." In many ways Crittenden, 23, is the target audience for AirBnb. She's...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: OK. We have reported a lot on this program about sexual violence on college campuses and there is some new research possibly connecting that violence to college football. We discussed this with NPR's Social Science Correspondent Shankar Vedantam. And, just a warning to listeners, this conversation does come cover some sensitive topics. Hey Shankar. SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi David. GREENE: So tell us...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Rest assured of this - we do not know who will win the presidential primary contest in either party. But we do know that every candidate will be spending time and money trying to figure out the best way to appeal to you. Campaigns draw heavily on research into what works and what doesn't. That's the moneyball version of politics, if you will. And a couple of economists recently came up with a finding...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: A handful of people won a lot of money last week in that monster Powerball, and now they might be thinking of giving some of it to charity. Our David Greene spoke with NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam about the generosity of the wealthy. DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that he plans to dedicate the vast majority of his Facebook wealth to philanthropy during...

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Let me ask you a question. How much money do you need to be a happy and productive worker? Now, there is a rational way to answer that question. You know, you could add up all your expenses, come up with some kind of number that you need to cover those expenses, think about what your value is the workplace. You could come up with some rational amount to be paid. But NPR social science correspondent...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: In this presidential debate season, we have research that may help you judge which politicians might be telling you the truth or not. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here. And Shankar, what's the research? SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Well, Steve, this is research by social scientists who are doing what social scientists do, which is they look for patterns in human behavior. Michael...

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