human behavior | WAMC

human behavior

*Originally aired as The Book Show #1668.

Joe Donahue: Amity Gaige's new novel “Sea Wife” is a swift and thrilling literary page turner about a young family who escaped suburbia for a year-long sailing trip that up ends all of their lives. "Sea Wife" is told in dual perspective. Juliet's first-person narration after the journey, as she struggles to come to terms with the life-changing events that unfolded at sea. And Michael's Captain's log which provides a slow motion account of these same inexorable events, a dialogue that reveals the fault lines created by personal history and political divisions. Amity Gaige is the author of three novels, "O My Darling", "The Folded World", and "Schroder", which was shortlisted for the Folio Prize in 2014.

Book cover for "Remember" by Lisa Genova
Harmony

Lisa Genova is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels "Still Alice," "Left Neglected," "Love Anthony," "Inside the O'Briens," and "Every Note Played." "Still Alice" was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Julianne Moore.

Genova graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in biopsychology and holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University. She travels worldwide speaking about the neurological diseases she writes about.

In her new book, "Remember," she delves into how memories are made and how we retrieve them.

Book cover for "Think Again"
Viking

Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in our rapidly changing world, there’s another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn.

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant is an expert on opening other people's minds--and our own. As Wharton's top-rated professor and the bestselling author of "Originals" and "Give and Take," he makes it one of his guiding principles to argue like he's right but listen like he's wrong.

His new book is "Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know."

Provided - Harper

John Kim is known as “The Angry Therapist.” His new book looks to how to prioritize your relationship with yourself and live a more meaningful life, whether you’re alone, dating, or even with a partner. 

In his own life, John experienced failed relationships and a bitter divorce. In order to end that cycle, he decided to lean into singlehood. In "Single. On Purpose." Kim guides, from being alone and lonely to alone and fulfilled. 

Book cover artwork for "Social Chemistry"
Dutton / Dutton

Human connection has become even more digital in 2020 due to social distancing measures and other pandemic precautions. Despite this major shift: personal and professional networks have arguably become more important than ever before. How can we reap their benefits?

In the new book, "Social Chemistry: Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection," Marissa King, a pioneer in the field of networks and social relationships, reveals how the quality and structure of your real-life network have the greatest power to transform your life and strengthen your relationships.

King has studied what people's social networks look like, how they evolve, and why that's significant for the last fifteen years. She demonstrates how you can apply her many years of cutting-edge research and insights to your own life.

Book cover for "Badass Habits"
Provided: Penguin Life

"Badass Habits" by best-selling author Jen Sincero, looks at how our habits make us who we are, from the measly moments that happen in private to the resolutions we loudly broadcast on social media.

Habit busting and building goes way beyond becoming a dedicated flosser or never showing up late again--our habits reveal our unmet desires, the gaps in our boundaries, our level of self-awareness, and our unconscious beliefs and fears.

Book Cover for "The Gratitude Diaries"
Yellow Kite / Yellow Kite

This should be the season for joy but with the pandemic and political turmoil, many of us are having a hard time feeling very grateful. Janice Kaplan is the author of the bestseller "The Gratitude Diaries" and host of “The Gratitude Diaries” hit podcast. 

In the podcast, which just launched this past June, Kaplan provides practical, down-to-earth tips in daily, 5-7 minute doses about how to close what she calls “the gratitude gap,” in order to make everything seem a little better. Episodes include “The No-Complaining Zone,” “One Word to get Happier” and “The Power of Vitamin G” and more. 

She joins us to share some ideas on how we can reflect on our gratitude in order to make ourselves happier this holiday season.

As the head of Open Learning at MIT, renowned professor Sanjay Sarma has a daunting job description: to fling open the doors of the MIT experience for the benefit of the wider world. But if you're going to undertake such an ambitious project, you first have to ask: How do we learn?  What are the most effective ways of educating? And how can the science of learning transform education to unlock our potential, as individuals and across society?

The new book, "Grasp" takes readers across multiple frontiers, from fundamental neuroscience to cognitive psychology and beyond, as it explores the future of learning. 

Gardening As Self-Care

Jul 31, 2020

The garden is often seen as a refuge, a place to forget worldly cares, removed from the “real” life that lies outside. But when we get our hands in the earth we connect with the cycle of life in nature through which destruction and decay are followed by regrowth and renewal.

The new book, "The Well-Gardened Mind," provides a new perspective on the power of gardening to change people’s lives. Sue Stuart-Smith investigates the many ways in which mind and garden can interact and explores how the process of tending a plot can be a way of sustaining an innermost self.

Stuart-Smith’s own love of gardening developed as she studied to become a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.

The pandemic has brought an unprecedented crush of change and uncertainty; personal, professional, emotional, spiritual. Many Americans are losing jobs, losing loved ones, changing careers, rethinking where they live, whom they live with, what they believe.

How do we make sense of all this change? How do we process pivotal moments and convert them into periods of growth and renewal? In a timely and pioneering new book, "Life Is In The Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age," Bruce Feiler investigates how to navigate life’s biggest transitions with meaning, purpose, and skill.

Feiler, the New York Times bestselling author of "The Secrets of Happy Families" and "Council of Dads" and himself a cancer survivor, spent the last five years crisscrossing the country, collecting hundreds of life stories of Americans who’ve been through major life changes, or lifequakes as Bruce calls them. With a team of twelve, he coded these stories, identifying patterns and takeaways that can help all of us survive and thrive in times of change.

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology while teaching girls confidence and bravery through coding. A lifelong activist, Reshma was the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. She's been named a Fortune 40 under 40, a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year, and one of the Most Powerful Women Changing the World by Forbes.

In "Brave, Not Perfect," Reshma shares powerful insights and practices to help us let go of our need for perfection and make bravery a lifelong habit. By being brave, not perfect, we can all become the authors of our biggest, boldest, and most joyful life.

You might think that perfect harmony is the defining characteristic of healthy relationships, but the truth is that human interactions are messy, complicated, and confusing.

According to renowned psychologist Ed Tronick and pediatrician Claudia Gold, that is not only okay, it is actually crucial to our social and emotional development. In their new book "The Power of Discord," they show how working through the inevitable dissonance of human connection is the path to better relationships with romantic partners, family, friends, and colleagues.

They say, working through the volley of mismatch and repair in everyday life helps us form deep, lasting, trusting relationships, resilience in times of stress and trauma, and a solid sense of self in the world.

Jim Davies is a professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University. He is the director of the Science of Imagination Laboratory. His new book, “Imagination,” is the first-ever book on the science of imagination, which sheds light on both the complex inner-workings of our mind and the ways in which we can channel imagination for a better life.

Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. The author of forty-three books and more than six hundred scientific articles, he has served as president of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, and is one of the most cited psychologists in the world.

Dr. Hayes initiated the development of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and of Relational Frame Theory (RFT), the approach to cognition on which ACT is based.

His new book is "A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters."

Doreen Dodgen-Magee, PsyD, is a psychologist with over twenty-five years of experience working with individuals and groups in Portland, Oregon. Her main passion is engaging people about how the new digital landscape is shaping humanity.

In her new book, "Deviced!: Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World," Dodgen-Magee uses personal stories, cutting edge research, and anecdotes from youth, parents, and professionals to highlights the brain changes that result from excessive technology use and offers an approach to the digital world that enables more informed and lasting change and a healthier long-term perspective.

Dr. James Gordon is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, former researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health and, Chair of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, and a clinical professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School.

From the refugee crisis to public shootings, we are bombarded with news daily, events large and small, that cause trauma, both on an interpersonal and an international landscape.

In his latest book, "The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma," renowned expert, Dr. Gordon helps us understand that trauma is a human experience, not a pathological anomaly.

Patricia S. Churchland is the author of "Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition" and "Touching a Nerve: Our Brains, Our Selves." She is professor emerita of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.

In "Touching a Nerve," Churchland, the distinguished founder of neurophilosophy, drew from scientific research on the brain to understand its philosophical and ethical implications for identity, consciousness, free will, and memory. In "Conscience," she explores how moral systems arise from our physical selves in combination with environmental demands. All social groups have ideals for behavior, even though ethics vary among different cultures and among individuals within each culture.

Safi Bahcall received his BA summa cum laude in physics from Harvard and his PhD from Stanford. After working for three years as a consultant for McKinsey, he co-founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led its IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years. In 2008, he was named E&Y New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2011, he worked with President Obama's council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research.

In "Loonshots," Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs.

We live in a society where kids and parents are obsessed with early achievement, from getting perfect scores on SATs to getting into Ivy League colleges to landing an amazing job at Google or Facebook, or even better, creating a startup with the potential to be the next Google or Facebook or Uber.

But there is good news. A lot of us do not explode out of the gates in life. There is a scientific explanation for why so many of us bloom later in life. The executive function of our brains don’t mature until age 25, and even later for some. In fact, our brain’s capabilities peak at different ages. We actually enjoy multiple periods of blooming in our lives.

Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, write about this in his book "Late Bloomers."

Dr. W. Thomas Boyce is a pediatrician and Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Boyce's research addresses individual differences in children’s biological sensitivity to social contexts, such as the family, classroom and community.

In his new book, "The Orchid and the Dandelion," he explores the "dandelion" child (hardy, resilient, healthy), able to survive and flourish under most circumstances, and the "orchid" child (sensitive, susceptible, fragile), who, given the right support, can thrive as much as, if not more than, other children.

Boyce writes of his pathfinding research as a developmental pediatrician working with troubled children in child-development research for almost four decades, and explores his major discovery that reveals how genetic make-up and environment shape behavior.

“How can we ensure that our sons are well-prepared and well-launched to manhood?” In the new book, "How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Raise Good Men," Michael Reichert, uses this fundamental question as a foundation to what we know and what we are missing when it comes to raising our sons.

Dr. Reichert guides readers through decades of research and practical applications toward a new understanding of what boyhood should be and how we, as parents and educators, can prepare boys to be good men.

Parents and educators have a unique opportunity to shift the cultural conversation and create a new paradigm for what it means to raise a boy – one who is kind, respectful, and fundamentally good, rather than the models of abuse, violence, and havoc that seem to dominate the airwaves today.

Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt’s new book, “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do,” is a ground-breaking book that demonstrates how our unconscious biases powerfully shape our behavior.

Using scientific research and powerful personal stories, Dr. Eberhardt reveals that all people are vulnerable to racial bias, even if they are not racist. She presents her often shocking research and data, demonstrating how racial bias can contribute to stark disparities between social groups from the classroom to the courtroom to the boardroom.

But the potential for bias is present in all of us, and it is vital to understand how bias works in order to begin to correct its devastating effects in our society.

Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt is a professor of psychology at Stanford and a recipient of a 2014 MacArthur “genius” grant. She is co-founder and co-director of SPARQ (Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions), a Stanford Center that brings together researchers and practitioners to address significant social problems.

Gerard Stropnicky
Gordon Wendell

In our time, when 280-character insults and snarky memes pass for conversation, is Civic Empathy possible?

Writer, director, activist and instigator, USA Fellow Gerard Stropnicky offers a Field Report on community story applied to community healing and progress as part of Vassar College’s “Engaged Pluralism Initiative Semester of Storytelling.”

On March 27 at 6 p.m. Stropnicky will host the workshop, “Civic Empathy: A Field Report” in the Villard Room on the Vassar campus.

Director and actor Gerard Stropnicky is one of the founding members of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, one of the oldest resident ensemble theaters in the U.S.

Shoshana Zuboff is the Charles Edward Wilson Professor emerita, Harvard Business School. She is the author of In "The Age of the Smart Machine: the Future of Work and Power" and "The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism."

In her new book, "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power," she brings to life the consequences of surveillance capitalism as it advances from Silicon Valley into every economic sector. Vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new "behavioral futures markets," where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new "means of behavioral modification."

Zuboff's analysis lays bare the threats to twenty-first century society: a controlled "hive" of total connection that seduces with promises of total certainty for maximum profit; at the expense of democracy, freedom, and our human future. 

Book Cover - The Human Network

Inequality, social immobility, and political polarization are only a few crucial phenomena driven by the inevitability of social structures. Social structures determine who has power and influence, account for why people fail to assimilate basic facts, and enlarge our understanding of patterns of contagion.

Despite their primary role in shaping our lives, human networks are often overlooked when we try to account for our most important political and economic practices. In "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs and Behaviors." Stanford Professor Matthew Jackson illuminates the complexity of the social networks in which we are (often unwittingly) positioned and aims to facilitate a deeper appreciation of why we are who we are.

John Leland is a reporter at The New York Times, where he wrote a yearlong series that became the basis for the book "Happiness Is a Choice You Make," and the author of two previous books, "Hip: The History" and "Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of “On the Road” (They’re Not What You Think)." Before joining the Times, he was a senior editor at Newsweek, editor in chief of Details, a reporter at Newsday, and a writer and editor at Spin magazine.

In 2015, when the award-winning journalist John Leland set out on behalf of The New York Times to meet members of America’s fastest-growing age group, he anticipated learning of challenges, of loneliness, and of the deterioration of body, mind, and quality of life. But the elders he met took him in an entirely different direction.

Despite disparate backgrounds and circumstances, they each lived with a surprising lightness and contentment. The reality Leland encountered upended contemporary notions of aging, revealing the late stages of life as unexpectedly rich and the elderly as incomparably wise.

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in forty-nine languages and fifty-one territories. Her thrillers are award-winning and have been adapted for television. Her poetry has been studied across the UK and has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Award.

"How to Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment ― The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life" is her first nonfiction book.

Secretly, we all hold grudges, but most of us probably think we shouldn’t, and many of us deny that we do. To bear a grudge is too negative, right? Shouldn’t we just forgive and move on? Wrong, says self-appointed grudge guru Sophie Hannah, in her groundbreaking and irreverent self-help guide. Yes, it’s essential to think positively if we want to live happy lives, but even more crucial is how we get to the positive. Denying our negative emotions and experiences is likely to lead only to more pain, conflict, and stress. What if our grudges are good for us?

We’re all aware that innovations like smartphones and social media can have a negative impact on our lives, but the thought of quitting these technologies can scare us into believing we’ll be left disconnected and left behind.

According to Georgetown Computer Science Professor Cal Newport, the solution isn’t relying on tips and hacks to use technology less, and it isn’t an outright rejection either -- it’s a clear, simple philosophy for our technology use.

In his new book, "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World," Newport suggests focusing your online time on a small number of carefully selected activities that strongly support things you value, allowing you to happily miss out on everything else.

Bias against women at work, bias against people of color in the criminal justice system, bias against the LGBT community at the marriage license desk, the news story about the many ways bias, unconscious or otherwise rears its head in American society keep piling up. It is easy to see the latest headlines shake our heads and feel like there is nothing we can do about it.

Enter NYU professor and social psychologist Dolly Chugh, who's new book "The Person You Mean To Be: How Good People Fight Bias" offers a message for anyone who wants to help build a more equal and just society for everyone, but does not know where to start. Dr. Dolly Chugh is a Harvard educated, award-winning social psychologist at the NYU Stern School Of Business. She Joins us Today.

Why are people more relaxed and at ease with each other in some countries than others? Why do we worry so much about what others think of us and often feel social life is a stressful performance? Why is mental illness three times as common in the USA as in Germany? Why is the American dream more of a reality in Denmark than the USA? What makes child well-being so much worse in some countries than others?

According to our next guests, the answer to all these is inequality. In the new book, "The Inner Level," Professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett explain how inequality affects us individually, altering how we think, feel and behave.

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