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Welcome to Cognitive Revolution with Cody Kommers. In this show we'll explore the personal side of the intellectual journey. It's all too easy to see the successes of great scientists, creatives, and thinkers as unattainable. But that's because we only see the outcome, not the process. Cognitive Revolution is a show about the steps these great minds took to get to the top.
 
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Zoe Chance is an assistant professor of marketing at the Yale School of Management. Prior to Yale, she managed a $200 million segment of the Barbie brand at Mattel. In February, she's releasing her first book: Influence Is Your Superpower. In this episode, we talk about Zoe's winding road to becoming a business school professor, the class she teach…
 
Another year in the books! Sure, there was a lot of wild stuff in 2021--an insurrection, COVID vaccine rollouts, a new president, another installment in the Tiger King franchise...and my daughter was born! But through it all, we had Opinion Science. This year saw a bunch of new listeners, amazing guests, and some ambitious episodes. Your support ha…
 
Brian Ahearn specializes in applying the science of influence in everyday situations. He is one of only a dozen individuals in the world who currently holds the Cialdini Method Certified Trainer® (CMCT) designation, and he teaches the psychology of persuasion and influence as it applies to sales and other aspects of our lives. He's the author of In…
 
This is a rebroadcast of Episode 27: Giving and Getting Good Gifts (December 21, 2020). It’s that time of year when winter holidays send people on a buying spree as they collect gifts to give to every friend, family member, and acquaintance. And you’d think that after so many years of giving gifts for all sorts of holidays, we’d be pretty good at i…
 
I've been a fan of Susanna for a long time following her on her social media. She's one of my favorite personalities in science communication, and it's been impressive and inspiring to watch her grow her platform over the last few years. She just recently graduated with her PhD in microbiology from University of North Carolina. During her time in g…
 
Melina Palmer is founder and CEO of The Brainy Business, which provides behavioral economics consulting to businesses of all sizes from around the world. Her podcast, The Brainy Business, has downloads in over 160 countries and is used as a resource for teaching applied behavioral economics for many universities and businesses. In this episode, I t…
 
I've been following Nicole's work for a long time, and I'm a big fan. She's developed a platform for her writing as well as a presence on social media. It's been cool to watch her do it. Nicole has a PhD from Oakland University in psychology with a specialization in evolution and human development. Most of her recent work focuses that expertise on …
 
Tara Thiagarajan is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Sapien Labs. Based in Washington, DC, Sapien Labs is a non-profit organization whose mission is to take brain diversity seriously. Most research in psychology and neuroscience treats the brain as a kind of monolithic entity, as if every brain were the same. But we know that's not true: there ar…
 
This episode follows up on the previous episode of Opinion Science about IBM's Project Debater. If you haven't already, be sure to check out that episode. But this week we hear more from Harish Natarajan, Dan Zafrir, and Noa Ovadia--three accomplished debaters. They'll share how they got into debate, what debate means to them, and why the exercise …
 
Andy Luttrell is the kingpin of a content empire. His work spans from podcasts (Opinion Science) to YouTube (catchy summaries of key psych topics) to online courses (which have been taken tens of thousands of times on platforms such as Udemy) to all sorts of other stuff. He is also—and I suppose this is technically his day job—an Assistant Professo…
 
David Edmonds did his degrees in philosophy. Then he did something unexpected. He made money. I don't know how much. But, as far as I can tell, enough to reasonably call what has had so far a "career." He was a long-time broadcaster doing features at the BBC World Service. He also hosts and produces a number of popular podcasts, including Philosoph…
 
In 2019, IBM introduced the world to Project Debater: an AI system that could go up against humans to debate anything. In this episode, we trace Project Debater’s growth from just an idea to a fully fledged piece of technology and the public debates it’s engaged in. And it raises a bigger question: is persuasion a fundamentally human ability or is …
 
Salma Mousa is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale. She recently took that position after a post-doc in Stanford's Center for Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law, and the Immigration Policy Lab. She is a rising star in the field of political science and has published some of the field's highest profile papers in recent years. He…
 
Josh Compton studies how “inoculating” people against persuasion can make them more resistant to arguments they encounter later. Dr. Compton is an associate professor of speech at Dartmouth and has written a lot about “inoculation theory,” which began (as a theory) back in the 60s with the work of William McGuire. We talk about lots of inoculation …
 
Coltan Scrivner: you may not know the name, but you will. Coltan is a first-gen college student, and one of the most impressive PhD students I've come across. His family is from Slaughterville, Oklahoma, and did his undergrad and masters in Oklahoma before beginning his PhD at the University of Chicago's Department of Comparative Human Development.…
 
Alexandra Chesterfield is co-author of the book Poles Apart: Why People Turn Against Each Other, and How to Bring Them Together. It's a look at political polarization in our society, how we've gotten to this point, and what we can do about it. Jonathan Haidt called it "A fascinating read, which will help anyone who wants to step out of the polariza…
 
Daniel Pink is a bestselling author who uses social science research to explore big questions about what it means to be human. He’s written six books, and a new one comes out in February—The Power of Regret. You can also check out his Masterclass on sales and persuasion. In our conversation, Dan gives a look into his writing process. How does he go…
 
I have been a big fan of Rebecca and her work for a long time. She is the John W. Jarve (1978) Professor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. She is a co-author on a handful of my all-time favorite papers in my own area of research interest, called "theory of mind" — the process by which we come to understand the minds of others. There's so much…
 
Gordon Allport was one of the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century. He was the progenitor of the modern forms of both social and personality psychology. His 1954 book, The Nature of Prejudice, is one of the most cited works in the whole field. He also happens to be one of my favorite thinkers of all time.Allport's core drive as a…
 
Jesse Graham studies human morality and what it means for our political opinions. He’s an Associate Professor of Management at the Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. As a graduate student with Jonathan Haidt, he helped develop Moral Foundations Theory (MFT), which has gone on to be a massively influential theory of morality and ho…
 
I really enjoyed this conversation with Elizabeth Ricker; it was one of those conversations where I felt as though I'd found a kindred spirit, someone who goes about life in approximately the same way as myself. Elizabeth did her undergraduate in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT and her master's in Mind, Brain, and Education at Harvard. She is a…
 
Azeem Azhar is a technologist and investor with a background in technology journalism. His newsletter, Exponential View, is enjoyed by ~200,000 readers per week. The occasion for our discussion was Azeem's new book: The Exponential Age; or in the UK: Exponential. It is about the discrepancy between the rate of technology's change—which is exponenti…
 
Dr. Ashley Amaya is a senior survey methodologist at Pew Research Center. She has a PhD in Survey Methodology and is an expert when it comes to polling the country’s opinions. Our conversation highlights how the simple polling numbers you see on the news are the results of months—sometimes years—of work. Dr. Amaya shares how Pew recruits and mainta…
 
Jay Van Bavel is the closest thing social psychology has to a rock star. His official title is Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University, and both he and his work are much beloved by young psychologists everywhere. His lab studies intergroup neuroscience, and I've found much of his research incredibly inspiring thr…
 
In a new occasional series on Opinion Science, Portraits gives a snapshot of insights in social science. This week, Dr. Vanessa Bohns shows us how we're more influential than we give ourselves credit for. Vanessa's new book is You Have More Influence Than You Think. It's available September 7th. To hear the full conversation I had with Vanessa, go …
 
Larisa Heiphetz studies how kids think about religion and morality. She’s an assistant professor of psychology at Columbia University where she runs the Columbia Social and Moral Cognition Lab. As a new dad, I’ve been thinking about how young kids form opinions—do they even form opinions at all? So I was curious to talk with Larisa about her work o…
 
How can we make the world less prejudiced? Research from the social sciences hints at a promising solution. This week, we do a deep dive on “The Contact Hypothesis”: what it is, how we know it works, and what its limits are. We hear from four experts in this area whose research sheds light on the question: Tom Pettigrew, emeritus professor of psych…
 
Greg Maio studies human values. He’s a professor of psychology at the University of Bath in Wales. He also co-wrote the popular textbook, The Psychology of Attitudes and Attitude Change, and in 2016, his own book came out called The Psychology of Human Values. In our conversation, he shares his work on what values are and why they’re so important. …
 
Richard E. Nisbett has spent his career studying how people think. He is an emeritus professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, and his research has influenced how psychologists think about reasoning, introspection, culture, and intelligence. He has written several important books over his career, including The Geography of Thought: How…
 
Neil Lewis Jr. doesn’t just study social questions—he studies them in the places where they matter. He’s an assistant professor of communication at Cornell University, and he’s interested in social inequities, how they work, and how we can address them. In addition to his own research, he also consults for organizations and contributes to FiveThirt…
 
Alie and Micah Caldwell produce the YouTube channel, Neuro Transmissions. Their videos present the basics of neuroscience and psychology in an accessible, engaging way. Alie is a neuroscientist and senior science writer at the University of Chicago Medicine. Micah is a licensed professional clinical counselor. In our conversation, we talk about the…
 
Ted Slingerland is a professor at the University of British Columbia, where his interests and affiliations include East Asian studies, psychology, philosophy, and religious history. He is also unconscionably good looking. His latest book is "Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization." It's a fun take on the functional role …
 
Chris Bail is a computational social scientist. He wrangles the data that our social interactions leave behind to better understand how ideas spread. He is Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University, where he directs the Polarization Lab. A Guggenheim and Carnegie Fellow, he studies political extremism on social media using tools f…
 
Wow. Scott Atran. What a guy. What a career. I'd be willing to bet that Scott has had the highest density of near-death encounters during his research than anyone else in the history of the social sciences. He details a number of them over the course of this conversation. He holds various academic appointments in Paris, Michigan, and Oxford. Scott …
 
Wade Davis makes his living being interesting. He is a cultural anthropologist and ethnobotanist by trade, and holds a position as the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. In August 2020, he wrote an essay that became the most viral piece ever published on Rolling Stone's website (link below)…
 
Nazita Lajevardi studies public opinion relating to Muslim Americans. She’s a political scientist and attorney at Michigan State University. In 2020, she published Outsiders at Home: The Politics of American Islamophobia. The book is an extension of her research on public opinion about Muslims in the United States, discrimination faced by Muslim Am…
 
Chris Bail is a professor of sociology and public policy at Duke and directs the Polarization Lab. He's done a lot of great research in the last half decade or so on how social media affects political polarization in our society. He's written a great book summarizing this research, called Breaking the Social Media Prism. It's out now, and it's a cr…
 
Jeff Hawkins is one of my favorite neuroscientists ever. He does the kind of big, ambitious projects I love to see people going after. The driving question of his research is no less than "How does the neocortex work?" He wants to solve intelligence, and he wants to do it the way the brain does. Jeff is an innovative in mobile computing and is wide…
 
Dr. Robert Cialdini is an internationally recognized expert on the science of influence. His book Influence is one of the most influential business and psychology books of all time, selling over five-million copies worldwide. As a social psychologist, Cialdini has conducted foundational research on compliance, social norms, and helping behavior. Bu…
 
Nancy Kanwisher is a much beloved cognitive neuroscientist at MIT. She has published some of the most influential papers in her field (for example, the discovery of the Fusiform Face Area). And it often seems that most other influential findings in cognitive neuroscience which were not made directly by Nancy herself were made by one of her students…
 
Louis Menand is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English at Harvard University. He has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1995. He is also my favorite non-fiction writer. His latest book, The Free World, is perfect. His book, The Metaphysical Club, won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for history. They are two of the greatest things I've…
 
Kwame Christian is an attorney and negotiation expert. He's the director of the American Negotiation Institute where he and his team offer training and consultation for a variety of negotiation needs. He serves as a professor for Otterbein University's MBA program and Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law. In his podcast, Negotiate Anything…
 
Brian Christian probably has a better handle of the human aspects of artificial intelligence than any other writer today. He recently published The Alignment Problem, his third book on this theme. His first was The Most Human Human, an exploration of what AI can tell us about what makes us human, and his second was Algorithms to Live By (co-authore…
 
I first became familiar with Pedro's work through his 2015 book, The Master Algorithm. But as it turns out, his existence extends prior to my familiarity with him—which is what the bulk of what we explore in this conversation. Pedro is a professor at the University of Washington and a venerable AI researcher. He has a great quote about how as field…
 
Dr. Iris Schneider studies the psychology of "ambivalence," which is when we can see both the pros and cons of something. Oftentimes research shows that ambivalence can be problematic, getting in the way of people being able to form a coherent view on something. However, Dr. Schneider suggests that there can be benefits to ambivalence if we're able…
 
Liz is a world-renown science communicator. She is founder and CEO of Liminal, a very exciting project which we get into in this conversation. We also talk about Liz's experience leaving graduate school to pursue a non-academic path, choosing uncertainty over the linear path, what it means to tell good stories about science, creating new webs of me…
 
Ben Moser is the pulitzer prize winning author of the recent biography of Susan Sontag, innovatively entitled "Sontag." This is one of the most fun and wide ranging conversation I'd had on the show. I stewed over whether or not to release the whole two hour conversation. But I loved how so many of the themes that we began early in the conversation—…
 
Ken DeMarree studies how opinion science applies how we see ourselves. He’s an associate professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo. In our conversation, we talk about how opinion science can be used to understand things like self-esteem, how people sometimes desire opinions they currently disagree with, and how some people just tend to b…
 
Damon Centola is a professor in the Annenberg School for Communication, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Director of the Network Dynamics Group and Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. His latest book is Change: How to Make…
 
Ethan Kross is a Professor of Psychology and Management at the University of Michigan. His new book is "Chatter: the voice in our head, why it matters, and how to harness it." In this episode, we talk about Ethan's early connection with meditation and other forms of inspecting inner life, his personal mantra, the influence of his father, how he got…
 
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