Leidy Klotz is the Copenhaver Associate Professor of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Virginia. His research fills in underexplored overlaps between engineering and behavioral science, in pursuit of more sustainable environmental systems. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles in venues that include top academic journals in built environment engineering, engineering education, and design, as well as imprints of both Science and Nature.

We explored the rarity of subtraction from our lives and the fact that we tend to add things much more than we remove things. Granted, we’ve been builders of things since the dawn of civilization, but when is enough, enough? Leidy suggested we begin any initiative by subtracting before we start adding.  

We traced the concept from Lao Tzu through DaVinci through Kurt Lewin and right up into today’s literature with Marie Kondo and Tim Ferriss. But Leidy’s thoughts are truly fresh because he is adding to this historical narrative with scientific data. He offered us fresh ways to think about this uphill battle with our natural desires. 

We also discussed Leidy’s view of the Planetary Tipping Point: where our very fixed-resource planet gets maxed out by humans with an unlimited desire for more. And we were pleased to talk about Kurt Lewin and his force-field analysis and, as you might expect, we enthusiastically discussed Bruce Springsteen as a prolific and gifted writer. 

We hope you enjoy our discussion with Leidy Klotz, and if you do, please leave us a quick review or join our Patreon team at https://www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves



Leidy Klotz, PhD: https://engineering.virginia.edu/faculty/leidy-klotz

Lego https://www.lego.com/en-us 

Harry Potter Lego Set - Hogwarts https://www.lego.com/en-us/search?q=harry%20potter%20hogwarts 

Wildlife Bingo https://www.nature-watch.com/wildlife-bingo-game-p-176.html 

Michael Jordan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jordan 

Bruce Springsteen https://brucespringsteen.net/ 

Mayan City of Coba https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coba 

Marie Kondo https://konmari.com/ 

Tim Ferris https://tim.blog/ 

Da Vinci https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci 

Lao Tzu https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laozi 

Bowerbird https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowerbird 

Allison Zelkowitz https://www.linkedin.com/in/allison-zelkowitz-197431a/?originalSubdomain=lb 

Chaning Jang https://www.busaracenter.org/staff-bios/chaning-8f39x 

Kurt Lewin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Lewin 

Kate Orff, Lexington Waterway Project https://www.scapestudio.com/people/kate-orff/ 

Dan Ariely “Predictably Irrational” https://danariely.com/books/predictably-irrational/ 

Roger Dooley “Friction” https://www.rogerdooley.com/books/friction/ 


Musical Links

Bruce Springsteen “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg0ekQBmzKs 

Bruce Springsteen “Born In The USA”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPhWR4d3FJQ 

Bruce Springsteen “Western Stars” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IXzAAKrsFE 

Bruce Springsteen “Letter to You” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQyLEz0qy-g 



3:20 Leidy’s 6-year-old son answers a speed round question

4:34 Speed round with Leidy

7:14 Leidy’s book - Subtraction

13:00 “More-ality”

24:00 Planetary tipping points

26:15 Kurt Lewin force field theory

29:28 Kate Orff Lexington Waterways Project

33:40 Subtraction checklist

37:57 Springsteen

45:24 Grooving


Interview Quotes

(8:10) we're doing these mental searches for solutions, and our mind goes to additive solutions before it goes to subtractive ones. 

(12:01) as people are trying to change things from how they are to how they want them to be, we systematically think of adding first and then, only subsequently or with effort or with reminders, think of subtraction

(35:15) so often we kind of come to a problem and don't actually spend time defining what the what the problem is, right

(9:51)  My favorite is Lao Tzu, even farther back talking about, to gain wisdom, you have to subtract something every day.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to help everyone in the world become a non-obvious thinker. In this episode, he talks with us about how intentionality is the key to seeing the non-obvious and how he uses The Haystack Method to gather insights from the world. He also shared how he has become a speed-understander and the benefits that go with it.

In 2011, Rohit embarked on the annual task of documenting the digital trends of the year, which after a decade, culminated in his book on megatrends in 2021 #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of seven books including “Non-Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future” https://amzn.to/3mpkJgn. Rohit discusses with us how he analyses trends, not just on the superficial level, but digging deeper into the “why” question.

Our conversation with Rohit is full of compelling insights about the human condition, unique analysis of the world around us, and actionable tips on how to train yourself to observe with intention. You’ll also get a quick education in contemporary Latin music and some head-scratching about why He-Man ever became a superhero in the first place.

Two of Rohit’s books are currently being republished into new editions; 

If you’re a regular Behavioral Grooves listener, please consider supporting us through Patreon. Thank you! https://www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Rohit Bhargava: https://www.rohitbhargava.com/ 

Isaac Asimov: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov  

Ali Pittampalli “Persuadable”: https://www.alpitt.com/ 

Henry Coutinho-Mason “The Future Normal”: https://henrycoutinho-mason.com/ 

Maysoon Zayid: https://maysoon.com/ 

Telemundo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telemundo 

Dan Simons Invisible Gorilla video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGQmdoK_ZfY 

Tom Cruise “Cocktail”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YbjzztYbUo 

He-Man: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/He-Man 

Telemachus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telemachus 

Meave Leakey: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meave_Leakey 

Dan Hill - Episode 151: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/dan-hill-phd-on-the-facial-coding-of-trump-hendrix-prince-gretzky-and-the-beatles/ 

Hedgefox: https://www.russellsage.org/sites/default/files/Vohs_intro_0.pdf 


The Non-Obvious Guide to Virtual Meetings and Remote Work (Non-Obvious Guides):


The Non-Obvious Guide to Marketing & Branding (Without a Big Budget) (Non-Obvious Guides): https://amzn.to/3moIllg 

Non Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future (Non-Obvious Trends Series): https://amzn.to/3mpkJgn  

Musical Links

Neil Peart (Rush): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Peart 

Fanny Lu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A1grimas_C%C3%A1lidas 

Maná “Rayando del Sol”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY3O_Fbfjjs 

Carlos Vives “Cumbiana”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baUk9YcCxBQ 

Carlos Vives & Shakira “”La Bibcicleta”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UV0QGLmYys 

Juaness “Es Por Ti | One World: Together” At Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pgvjxtHBOg

Coffitivity: https://soundcloud.com/coffitivity 


6:37 Trends vs Fads

11:10 Haystack Method

13:18 Trends

19:15 Brave Enough to Change Your Mind

28:00 Non Obvious Brand

30:28 Spare Time

35:30 Rohit’s Inspiration

40:45 The Yellow Balloon Light Bulb

45:04 Naming

47:14 He-Man


(6:37) ...trend is something that implicates behavior, which is very topical for us. And whereas a fad is just usually a thing or a platform, but doesn't always correlate to behavior.

(7:55) ...a speed understander is someone who thinks about what to pay attention to as an end is intentional about what they choose not to pay attention to.

(10:55) ...if you spend enough time gathering interesting, fascinating stories, instead of obsessing about why they're interesting or fascinating in the moment, then later on, you can start to spot the patterns that you would never have otherwise seen.

(16:37) ...being observant is not a skill you're born with, or not born with. Being observant is a choice.

(19:45)...being persuadable requires You to rethink those things, those assumptions, those points of view that you have. And I think the only way that anyone can do that is by not letting themselves be defined by the stands that they have taken. Because the more you see a stand that you've taken, or a belief or something that you've put out in the world as core to your identity, the less likely you are to change.

(20:07) ...the more you see a stand that you've taken, or a belief or something that you've put out in the world as core to your identity, the less likely you are to change


Tim Ash is a very interesting guy. He is both an authority on evolutionary psychology and digital marketing, which puts him in pretty rarified air. He is the bestselling author of Unleash Your Primal Brain and Landing Page Optimization (with over 50,000 copies sold worldwide and translated into six languages). He has been identified by Forbes as a Top-10 Online Marketing Expert, and by Entrepreneur Magazine as an Online Marketing Influencer To Watch.

Our conversation with Tim focused on his most recent book, Unleash Your Primal Brain, and addressed a question very central to behavioral science today: What is rational? This led to addressing how biases and heuristics are grounded in important evolutionary foundations. Tim likens the way we talk about biases today as glitches in the matrix when we should be acknowledging them for what they are: important evolutionary tools to help us survive our environments and thrive in our tribes.

We also discussed the importance of culture and its central focus on the way humans learn to be human. A paradox we discussed is that culture is dependent on tribe members passing down the cultural (social) norms to the next generation without interruption, and yet cross-tribal collaboration is what has given us an evolutionary edge. Tim notes, that what we need to do today is to “stretch beyond our current tribes needs to go and make the effort to contact other people that are very different from us.” And the consequences of not doing that, according to Tim, “ …are going to be the ones that are going to bring down the larger society.” Fascinating stuff.

We hope you’ll find this conversation with this insightful researcher and speaker as exciting as we did. And if you do like it, please give us a quick 5-star rating or a two-sentence review. And thank you for listening to Behavioral Grooves.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



Tim Ash: https://timash.com/

“Primal Brain”: https://timash.com/books-and-media-mentions/

Latin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin

Robert Sapolsky: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Sapolsky

Aristotle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle

Hopper: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopper_(particulate_collection_container)

Carl Sagan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan

Neil deGrasse Tyson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_deGrasse_Tyson

Robert Cialdini: https://www.influenceatwork.com/

Robert Heinlein: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Heinlein

Antonio Damasio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Damasio

Carlos Castaneda “Journey to Ixtlan”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_to_Ixtlan

“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_and_the_Art_of_Motorcycle_Maintenance

Sabre fencing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre_(fencing)

Tai Chi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi

Kung Fu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_martial_arts

Don Miguel Ruiz “The Four Agreements”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Agreements

Bhagavad Gita: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita

Coleman’s Boat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGaz0xKG060


Musical Links

Pat Metheny Group “Last Train Home”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goXJTv_U-PM

Chet Baker “Almost Blue”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4IridL_2XU

Elvis Costello “Almost Blue”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt8f1Sda8_4

Miles Davis “So What”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqNTltOGh5c

Salsa “Al Monte”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2JnyCuAQMg

Michael F. Schein is a hype specialist and the author of The Hype Handbook: 12 Indispensable Secrets from the World’s Greatest Propagandists, Self-Promoters, Cult Leaders, Mischief Makers, and Boundary Breakers. He is also the founder and president of MicroFame Media, a marketing agency that specializes in making idea-based companies famous in their industries. 

We caught up with Michael recently to talk about his book about how hype can be a very good thing. In and of itself, hype can be a powerful tool of promotion and its bad reputation may be well deserved, but it’s not carved in stone. Hype has a place in a world abundant with choice and Michael has some ideas on how to use hype to cut through a crowded field. 

Michael offers some tips on how to manage your way – ethically – through the world of hype to help you and your ideas breakthrough. 

We also talked about Tim Ferriss’s claim on the world kickboxing championship, and we discussed which world would be a better world to live in: a world that was imagined in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, or Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World. Buckle up, Buttercups! 


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



Michael Schein: https://michaelfschein.com/ 

You can download Michael’s recommendations on hype ideas at www.hypereads.com/list 

Access to Anyone podcast: https://www.accesstoanyonepodcast.com/ 

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four 

Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_New_World 

Tim Ferriss: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Ferriss 

Anarchist Cookbook: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Anarchist_Cookbook 

Shep Gordon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shep_Gordon 

“Wall Street” movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_Street_(1987_film) 

Wembley Stadium: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wembley_Stadium 

Frans de Waal Capuchin Monkey Experiments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg


Behavioral Grooves Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves 


Musical Links

Black Flag “Nervous Breakdown”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=302oEzSPCqE 

Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE-dqW4uBEE 

David Bowie “Modern Love”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLMUZahN7NU 

Alice Kooper “No More Mister Nice Guy”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN6ngThqMEs 

Ministry “Jesus Built My Hotrod”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpPOX6-sP7g 

Dead Milkmen “Punk Rock Girl”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF7fgEMrk0k 

Sonic Youth “Superstar”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y21VecIIdBI 

California Raisins “Heard it Through the Grapevine”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UShiwymsX0w 

WWF “Land of A Thousand Dances”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHZCcu9ltcs 

Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK4hweZRU0k 

Boomtown Rats “I Don’t Like Mondays”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcZW0GFLSdw 

The Specials “Monkey Man”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49FbSq_JNeQ 

Sex Pistols “God Save The Queen”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02D2T3wGCYg 

The Clash “Rock the Casbah”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ9r8LMU9bQ 

Husker Du “Camden Palace”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsGw8DyWkik 

The Replacements “I Will Dare”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4ynSTN8bkc 

Depeche Mode “Personal Jesus”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1xrNaTO1bI 

The Dead Kennedy’s “In God We Trust”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bqIS0n64Ig 

Joy Division “She’s Lost Control”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD2SfQJOK08 

AJ Jacobs is an author, journalist, lecturer, and human guinea pig. He has written four New York Times bestsellers, including The Year of Living Biblically, that combine memoir, science, and humor with a dash of self-help. AJ has said that he sees his life as a series of experiments in which he immerses himself in a project or lifestyle, for better or worse, then writes about what he learned.

His most recent book, Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, starts with wanting to thank the people who brought him his cup of coffee. It starts with the barista and ends up in South America on a mountainside coffee plantation. The book is based on some simple ideas that gratitude can be the catalyst for a journey around the world, and how experimentation keeps our brains flexible in ways that enhance our lives.

We loved our conversation with AJ because he made a passionate case for learning to pay more attention to things. To immerse ourselves in the moment where we can appreciate that moment for what it is. He encourages us to see the details, and in those details, to see the connections. He challenges us to be grateful for the life we are given. If we can slow down, savor these moments for what they are, we can curate a better life for ourselves.

You’ll find lots about AJ that is fun and informative – but above it all, you’ll find him inspiring.  If AJ can do these things on such a grand scale, we ought to be able to experiment with our lives – even if it is just not making your bed in the morning.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



AJ Jacobs: https://ajjacobs.com/

“Thanks A Thousand”: https://thanksathousandbook.com/

AJ’s TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/a_j_jacobs_my_journey_to_thank_all_the_people_responsible_for_my_morning_coffee

George Clooney: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Clooney

The Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/

Windshield Wiper: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscreen_wiper

The New York Times Crossword Puzzle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_crossword_puzzle

Alex Trebek: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Trebek

George Loewenstein: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/people/faculty/george-loewenstein.html

Ambient Noise: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_noise

Coffitivity (ambient noise generator): https://coffitivity.com/

Melanie Brucks: https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/cbs-directory/detail/mb4598

Michael Phelps: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Phelps

French Horn: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_horn

Electronic Dance Music: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_dance_music

MDMA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MDMA

Jonathan Mann, Episode 207: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/jonathan-mann-is-it-possible-to-design-an-experience/

Mark Landau: https://www.mindful.org/how-mindfulness-shifts-our-perception-of-time/

Neil Gaiman: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Gaiman

Masterclass: https://www.masterclass.com/

Gratitude / Gratia / Grace: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gratitude

Robert Emmons: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/in-praise-of-gratitude

Francesca Gino, Episode 60: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/francesca-gino-curiosity-and-rebellion-makes-your-career/

Tony Robbins: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Robbins


Behavioral Grooves Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves


Musical Links

ZZ Top “La Grange”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vppbdf-qtGU

Lil’ Wayne “2 Diamonds”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrLSro5XNzY

Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02D2T3wGCYg

Linda Thunstrom, PhD is a Swedish economist working as an assistant professor of economics at the University of Wyoming. (That’s in Laramie, Wyoming, not Wyoming, Sweden.) Her research interests include behavioral, experimental, public, and health economics. Her interests merged after Hurricane Florence when she became curious about the effect that offering thoughts and prayers might have on potential donors to natural disasters.

She set up a study to see if potential donors might feel like they don’t need to make a monetary donation to the victims if they’ve already offered up some thoughts and prayers. Her results may surprise you.

And she didn’t stop there. She also looked at this question from the recipient’s end. As an economist, she framed the study in monetary terms and wondered if disaster victims might take less money in a donation if they knew someone was praying for them – especially if it were a Christian stranger or a priest. Again: fascinating results!

We also talked about willful ignorance and the role it plays in our decision-making. Willful ignorance involves neglecting information about how your actions will affect others or yourself. It’s different from and less harmful than outright self-deception. Self-deception is commonly associated with lying to make yourself feel better. The big worry with self-deception is that you start believing your own lies.

Willful ignorance is like heading into the basement to get a Coke Zero and noticing a box of Oreo cookies and deciding that now is probably a pretty good time to have one, or two, of those chocolate calorie bombs. We are neglecting the facts that we already know about Oreo cookies: they’re not really good for. But we nab a couple anyway.

We’d like to thank you to Andrea Mannberg, a guest from Episode 199, for introducing us to Linda. Both of these economists are applying their training to fantastically interesting topics and we’re grateful for both of their work.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



Linda Thunstrom: https://lindathunstrom.com/

Linda Thunstrom, PhD: https://www.uwyo.edu/economics/faculty-staff/linda-thunstrom/

Shiri Noy, PhD: https://denison.edu/people/shiri-noy

“Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness” Dana, et. all (2007): https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00199-006-0153-z

George Loewenstein, PhD: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/people/faculty/george-loewenstein.html

Todd Cherry, PhD: http://www.uwyo.edu/economics/faculty-staff/todd-cherry/index.html

George Loewenstein, PhD: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/people/faculty/george-loewenstein.html

Dan Gilbert, PhD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Gilbert_(psychologist)

Contemporary Folk Music: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_folk_music

Americana Music: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americana_(music)

Hurricane Florence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Florence

“Temporal View of the Costs and Benefits of Self-Deception” Gino, Norton, Ariely: https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=39857

Eric Oliver, Episode 172: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/how-to-talk-to-your-friends-about-their-conspiracy-theories-with-eric-oliver/

Andrea Mannberg, Episode 199: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/how-decision-making-is-critical-for-back-country-skiers-and-sex/

Behavioral Grooves Patreon Site: https://www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves


Musical Links

Jay Shogren “Let’s Fall Behind”: http://www.jshogren.com/https/jshogrenshanghaidbandcampcom/track/lets-fall-behind

David Bowie “Under Pressure” with Annie Lennox and Queen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCP2-Bfhy04


GAABS is an organization that was recently founded to act as an accrediting body for applied behavioral scientists. GAABS is The Global Association of Applied Behavioral Scientists and is open for membership for those who demonstrate their ability to ethically apply behavioral science to their work.

In this episode, we spoke with co-founding members Nuala Walsh and Steve Martin. Nuala is a contributor to Harvard Business Review and is the founder of MindEquity – a behavioral science consultancy based in Dublin. And Steve Martin is the co-author, with Robert Cialdini and Noah Goldstein, of Yes! 50 secrets from the Science of Persuasion, which has sold more than a million copies and been translated into 27 languages. Nuala is a repeat guest that was featured in episode 203 about whistleblowers and fake memories, and Steve was featured in episode 110 with his co-author, Joe Marks. Together, they wrote “Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why.”

In our conversation, we discussed what GAABS is and what they’re hoping to do to help both practitioners of behavioral science as well as the professionals and institutions that hire those services. On a more philosophical note, we steered into what is lacking in applied behavioral science these days and agreed that there are many fields that could benefit from a behavioral science lens. And across the board, we agreed that education for all parties is critical for the field to be successful.

On an educational note, Steve wryly noted that students could use more psychology and less geography in the classroom, and teed up the novel concept of prac-ademics. And, later, Nuala introduced the idea of leveraging trends, like big data, and noted, “if we marry behavioral science with data science, we actually have an in.”

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Nuala and Steve and that you’ll check out the Behavioral Grooves Patreon site at www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves. Now go out this week and find YOUR groove.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Nuala Walsh: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nualagwalsh/?originalSubdomain=uk

Steve Martin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-martin-13832b5/

GAABS: https://gaabs.org/

Oxbow Lake: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/oxbow-lake/

Annie Duke Alliance for Decision Education: https://alliancefordecisioneducation.org/learn/about-the-alliance/team/board/annie-duke

Mya Shankar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_Shankar

Robert Cialdini: https://www.influenceatwork.com/robert-cialdini-phd/biography/

Jennifer Lerner: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/jennifer-lerner

Nuala Walsh – Episode 203: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/on-fake-memories-and-whistleblowers-with-nuala-walsh/

Steve Martin – Episode 110: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/steve-martin-and-joe-marks-the-messenger-is-the-message/

Steve Martin and Joe Marks “Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why”: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/43522604-messengers

Harlow Gale, PhD: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/203619125_Harlow_Gale_and_the_Origins_of_the_Psychology_of_Advertising



Musical Links

Sinead O’Connor “Nothing Compares 2 U” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-EF60neguk :

Electric Light Orchestra “Don’t Bring Me Down”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATuX7V4XOlk

The Cranberries “Linger”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_5B14-VytM

Van Morrison “Into the Mystic”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0gvodQgu-Y

Fleetwood Mac “The Chain”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBYHwH1Vb-c

Rod Stewart “Maggie May”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2CQ0FvAZuw

Carly Simon “Nobody Does it Better”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaV-6qerkqI

Joan Baez “Diamonds & Rust”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGMHSbcd_qI

Mike + The Mechanics “The Living Years”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hr64MxYpgk

The Who “Eminence Front”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx6Zgz0TZuA


Dessa is a singer, rapper, writer, speaker, science and philosophy connoisseur, podcast host, and ice cream flavor inventor. (Her flavor is Dessa’s Existential Crunch which consists of crème fraîche, brown sugar ice cream, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Disaronno Amaretto Liqueur, and a cashew and praline pecan brittle crunch).

Dessa has made a career of bucking genres and defying expectations — her résumé as a musician includes being part of the Doomtree collective, a solo artist with performances at Lollapalooza and Glastonbury, co-composer of pieces for 100-voice choir, performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, and top-200 entries on the Billboard charts. She also contributed to the #1 album The Hamilton Mixtape.

As a writer, she published a memoir-in-essays called My Own Devices which was released in 2018 in addition to two literary collections along with many articles in journals such as The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler.

And now she is the host of a new podcast that explores “why we do the things we do” called Deeply Human. The podcast is a fun exploration of a number of topics and brings in experts to help explain why we behave the way we do.

We wanted to talk to Dessa before we knew about her podcast. Here is part of the e-mail that we sent to her publicist to ask for an interview:

“While it may seem a bit off-brand for us to ask for an interview with Dessa, we think that it would be fascinating, and we’d love to talk to her about the intersection of music and emotion.   While we typically interview behavioral science researchers and practitioners, we often interview what we call “accidental behavioral scientists.”  These are people who are applying the aspects of behavioral science to their work without really knowing that they are doing it. Dessa captures a lot of our human experience in her lyrics and discussing that would be a wonderful way of exploring this concept. We would also love to talk to her about her experience with the scientific fMRI research that she talks about in her essay, “Call of your ghost.”

Our conversation with Dessa examined a wide range of topics – moving from her podcast, to music’s ability to create synchronicity between people, to how we can’t compare subjective experiences, to how emotional connection comes from dropping veils and getting out of our “practiced mirror face.” 

This is an episode that you definitely don’t want to miss.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



Dessa: www.dessawander.com or www.doomtree.com

Deeply Human: wherever you get your podcasts from

Lute: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lute

The Diary of Ann Frank: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diary_of_a_Young_Girl

Alan Alda: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Alda

Helen Fisher: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Fisher_(anthropologist)

Barry Schwartz: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Schwartz_(psychologist)

Oxytocin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin_receptor

EEG: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroencephalography

QEEG: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantitative_electroencephalography

Autism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism

Epilepsy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epilepsy

Penijean Gracefire: https://penijean.com/home

Cheryl Olman: http://www.neuroscience.umn.edu/people/cheryl-olman-phd

fMRI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_magnetic_resonance_imaging

Neurofeedback: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurofeedback

Harry Haslow – Wire Monkey experiments: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Harlow

Research on Emotion and Narrative - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325962169_Emotion_and_Narrative_Perspectives_in_Autobiographical_Storytelling

Drummer Boy (Military): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drummer_(military)

“Rock ’n’ Roll but not Sex or Drugs: Music is negatively correlated to depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic via reward-related mechanisms”: https://tinyurl.com/yw4v5avs

Pew Research (2016) The Joy and Urgency of Learning: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2016/03/22/the-joy-and-urgency-of-learning/

Common Biases and Heuristics: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XHpBr0VFcaT8wIUpr-9zMIb79dFMgOVFRxIZRybiftI/edit?usp=sharing 


Musical Links

Dessa “Fighting Fish”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9bwKI-fb7k

Dessa “The Chaconne” (Kurt’s favorite version of the song with Aby Wolf and Jeremy Messersmith): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8dt8mY2WiQ

London Bulgarian Choir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GEDbKe038o

Lady Midnight “Bloodsong”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRb6Uqsvq5w

Chopin’s Mazurkas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5D46aHhRDM

Erik Satie “Gymnopédie No. 1”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL0xzp4zzBE

“Hamilton” soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPSWZUExZ8M

“Hamilton Mix Tape”: https://www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Mixtape-Explicit-Various-artists/dp/B01M3XVPL4

Dessa Live - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5n1lsfZI3A

Mayada “Haydn Sonata in D”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpTfxMmBsLY

Chopin “Mazurka Op. 68 n. 2”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL4_uD0Vp5U

Yann Tiersen “La valse d'Amélie”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj9BihmugmI

Tim Houlihan “I Get Lonesome, Too”: http://www.timhoulihan.com/music


Can you design an experience for someone else? Jonathan Mann, the Vice President of User Experience at Renaissance Learning says, “Umm, not really.” Prior to joining Renaissance, Jonathan led user experience teams at Target Corporation and PayPal. And as a practitioner, he’s always valued good research to help him, and his teams, deliver better work.

Our discussion centered around the question, “is it possible to design an experience?” Jonathan’s research discovered that “an experience” is more than just what we think of as the element that happens in the moment we consider it an experience.

Jonathan reminded us that the totality of “an experience” combines three key elements: the anticipation of the experience, the experience itself, and the memory of the experience. A vacation is a great example of this: we plan and anticipate lots of experiences before we arrive at our destination. Then we are flooded with experiences in the moment, and afterward, we have photos to remind us and memories to interpret our experience after the fact. We know that the remembered self is one of the most important reasons we do anything: how we’ll remember it. So why shouldn’t we consider it identifying the experience in its broadest sense?

We talked about Jonathan’s meeting with Bob Cialdini and how Jonathan’s work with Bob’s crew brought incredible results to the initiatives they were working on at PayPal. We are always happy to see how nicely behavioral science and business results dovetail.

And maybe most importantly, this episode features a live fingerstyle guitar micro-concert by Jonathan. We asked him about playing and he instantly turned around, grabbed his guitar, and started playing for us. His fingerstyle abilities are very fine, and that part of the recording was nothing short of delightful – in every aspect of the word. Enjoy it!

We hope you enjoy our episode with Jonathan Mann and discover new ways that you can integrate his clever thinking on designing an experience into your own work.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



Jonathan Mann LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jdmann/

Jonathan Mann Album: http://jonathanmanndesign.com/music (with links to Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, etc)

Jonathan Mann YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVtiHkr4xdBzVZ6Oc3ybsUw

Jonathan Mann Woodworking: https://www.behance.net/fynedesign

Dan Gilbert, “Stumbling on Happiness”: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56627.Stumbling_on_Happiness

Robert Cialdini - Towel study: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/dont-throw-in-the-towel-use-social-influence-research

Common Biases and Heuristics: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XHpBr0VFcaT8wIUpr-9zMIb79dFMgOVFRxIZRybiftI/edit?usp=sharing

The Dakota: https://www.dakotacooks.com/

Fingerstyle Guitar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fingerstyle_guitar



Musical Links

Green Day “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Soa3gO7tL-c

Stone Temple Pilots “Interstate Love Song”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10MQY33cYCg

Leo Kottke “Last Steam Train”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E_s4vQJx-k

Tommy Emmanuel “Classical Gas”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S33tWZqXhnk

The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Voodoo Child”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFfnlYbFEiE


Bertram Malle, PhD teaches social cognitive science and social psychology at Brown University, he’s the author of dozens of articles and has focused his recent work on how humans feel about robots, and researches how the etiquette and facial abilities of robots impact how we perceive them.

His research indicates that the more human-looking a robot is – especially in its “face” – the more humans are likely to attribute emotions or moral codes to them. Bertram’s work reminds us that the context we experience robots in influences the relationships we build.

Maybe more importantly, Bertram reminded us that robots must be designed to exist in very specific contexts. The appearance and communication abilities of a robot that checks us into a doctor’s office needs to be very different from the robots we use to assist us with making an airline reservation.

While that may be intuitive on one level, it highlights the remarkable complexity required in the design and manufacturing of these robots. Each one needs to be built for a specific purpose – there is no one-size-fits-all with robots. Bertram reminded us that it’s difficult to imagine that robots will ever reach the complexity and flexibility of their human counterparts.

We also parsed out the differences between hope and optimism. This topic was particularly important to because we’re too often conflating the two. Hope, Bertram explained, is something we have when we lack confidence or influence in the outcome. And optimism exists where we might have some degree of influence over the outcome.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Bertram Malle.


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



Bertram Malle, PhD email:  bfmalle@brown.edu

Social Cognitive Science Research Lab (Brown University): http://research.clps.brown.edu/SocCogSci/index.html

Bertram Malle, “Theory of Mind”: https://nobaproject.com/modules/theory-of-mind

Bertram Malle & Patty Bruininks “Distinguishing Hope from Optimism and Related Affective States”: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226421327_Distinguishing_Hope_from_Optimism_and_Related_Affective_States

Bertram Malle Selected Publications: http://research.clps.brown.edu/SocCogSci/Publications/publications.html

ABOT: http://www.abotdatabase.info/

MIT Lab on Automated Vehicles: https://www.media.mit.edu/research/?filter=everything&tag=autonomous-vehicles

“Her” film: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Her_(film)

“Ex Machina” film: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex_Machina_(film)

TAY: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tay_(bot)

Isaac Asimov: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov

Jóhann Jóhannsson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3hann_J%C3%B3hannsson

Hildur Guðnadóttir: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hildur_Gu%C3%B0nad%C3%B3ttir

Fritz Heider, PhD & Marianne Simmel, PhD, “An experimental study of apparent behavior”: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1945-01435-001  

Common Biases and Heuristics: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XHpBr0VFcaT8wIUpr-9zMIb79dFMgOVFRxIZRybiftI/edit?usp=sharing

Minnesota Timberwolves: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Timberwolves


Musical Links

Radiohead “Hail to the Thief”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MdwaUtW_D4

Esbjörn Svensson Trio “Seven Days of Falling”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7KXq6RJ0PA

Bill Dixon “Motorcycle ‘66”: https://youtu.be/ZcO8zfp-FLg

Tyshawn Sorey “Unfiltered”: https://tyshawn-sorey.bandcamp.com/album/unfiltered

Sigur Ros “Brennisteinn”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc6zXSdYXm8

Hildur Gu∂nadottir “Unveiled”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzaxVFc9oIs

Anders Hillborg “Violin Concerto No. 1”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrJ7rhQDjsE

Daniel Lanois with the Venetian Snares: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9u93SDxNsk

Daniel Lanois with Parachute Club: https://www.discogs.com/The-Parachute-Club-Rise-Up/release/1209691

The Bad Plus “Never Stop II”: https://thebadplus.bandcamp.com/album/never-stop-ii

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, “Recurrence”: https://nationalsawdust.org/thelog/2017/02/16/playlist-9/

David Chesky, “Jazz in the new harmonic”: https://chesky.com/products/jazz-in-the-new-harmonic-david-chesky-download

Kings of Leon, “Sex on Fire”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF0HhrwIwp0

“Annihilation” soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9eidResq9g

“Tenet” soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVMkvCTT_yg

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