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:

Social Cognitive Science Research Lab (Brown University):

Bertram Malle, “Theory of Mind”:

Bertram Malle & Patty Bruininks “Distinguishing Hope from Optimism and Related Affective States”:

Bertram Malle Selected Publications:


MIT Lab on Automated Vehicles:

“Her” film:

“Ex Machina” film:


Isaac Asimov:

Jóhann Jóhannsson:

Hildur Guðnadóttir:

Fritz Heider, PhD & Marianne Simmel, PhD, “An experimental study of apparent behavior”:  

Common Biases and Heuristics:

Minnesota Timberwolves:


Musical Links

Radiohead “Hail to the Thief”:

Esbjörn Svensson Trio “Seven Days of Falling”:

Bill Dixon “Motorcycle ‘66”:

Tyshawn Sorey “Unfiltered”:

Sigur Ros “Brennisteinn”:

Hildur Gu∂nadottir “Unveiled”:

Anders Hillborg “Violin Concerto No. 1”:

Daniel Lanois with the Venetian Snares:

Daniel Lanois with Parachute Club:

The Bad Plus “Never Stop II”:

Iceland Symphony Orchestra, “Recurrence”:

David Chesky, “Jazz in the new harmonic”:

Kings of Leon, “Sex on Fire”:

“Annihilation” soundtrack:

“Tenet” soundtrack:

Logan Ury studied psychology at Harvard, was a TED Fellow, then became a behavioral scientist at Google, where she ran Google’s behavioral science team – which we now know as The Irrational Lab. She became a dating coach and is currently the Director of Relationship Science at the dating app Hinge, where she leads a research team dedicated to helping people find love. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and The Atlantic, among a variety of media outlets, including HBO and the BBC. And you should note that she’s a featured speaker at SXSW 2021.

Aside from those cool things, we wanted to talk to her because she is the author of How To Not Die Alone.

In our conversation with Logan, we talked about the challenges people face in getting prepared for dating, making the most of their dating experiences, and maintaining great relationships once they’ve landed in one. She shared her insights into how to overcome some of the common hurdles and to make the most out of each phase of the dating life.

We had an interesting discussion about why moving from ‘romanticizer’ or ‘maximizer’ to ‘satisficer’ can make a big difference in your relationships (and in life). We talked about the Monet Effect and how we need to work hard to overcome some of our biggest biases – like the fundamental attribution error and negativity bias.

She was also kind enough to share a little bit about her communal living conditions and her recommendation that we all need more significant others – OSO’s – in these turbulent times.

NOTE #1: The “F” word features prominently in our conversation since it’s in the title of one of her book’s chapters.

NOTE #2: Christina Gravert joined for our Grooving Session as our first-ever Grooving Partner, and you’ll hear her in the introduction, as well. We’re pleased that our good friend was named by Forbes magazine as one of the top behavioral scientists you ought to know. Christina teaches Economics at the University of Copenhagen, is a co-founder of Impactually, a behavioral consultancy, she has been a guest on Behavioral Grooves (episode 16 on creating a Nudge-A-Thon), and was a speaker at Nudge.It North 2021.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



Logan Ury:

“How to Not Die Alone”:

Ira Glass:

Dan Ariely:

Esther Perel:

John Gottman, The Gottman Institute:

Eli Finkel:

Daniel Gilbert:

Jane Ebert:

Alain De Botton “School of Life”:


“Algorithms to Live By”:

John Nash “A Beautiful Mind”:

Nicole Prause:

36 Questions That Lead to Love:

The School of Life books:

Shelley Archambeau – Episode 204:

Christina Gravert – Episode 16:

Christina Gravert, “Online Dating Like a Game Theorist”:

Christina Gravert – Impactually:

“10 Behavioral Scientists You Should Know”:


Musical Links

“Hamilton” soundtrack:

Chance the Rapper “Coloring Book”:

Bush “Glycerine”: 

Shellye Archambeau is the author of “Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers, and Create Success on Your Own Terms.” It’s part memoir, part inspiration, and career guidebook. While Shellye argues it’s for everyone, we reckon it’s really best suited for the most ambitious among us. In the book, Shellye shares how she went from being the only black girl in her high school to being the CEO of a Silicon Valley tech firm, MetricStream. And it’s an amazing tale of an amazing woman.

In our conversation with Shellye, she talked with us about the challenges she faced growing up. But what was more interesting to us was talking with her about the way she makes decisions. She has this ability to see how things fit – or don’t fit – into her personal and business goals. And then she acts on them with amazing conviction. She is one remarkable person.

We talked about how she has a strong inclination to set lofty goals – that we call BHAGS (big, hairy, audacious goals) – that never changes over the course of her career. These BHAGS gave her a North Star to navigate by. But the BRICKS (the steppingstones to needed to achieve long-term goals) she used along her journey were flexible and changed as her situation changed.

This flexibility is something we wanted to call out, because it wasn’t just being flexible that got her where she is today. Her incredible ability to create plans and execute those plans is what really set her apart from her peers. And we can imagine that all of her peers at IBM were talented, skilled, smart, and driven. Just not as much as Shellye.



If you’d like to pursue being a part-time intern with Behavioral Grooves, please contact Kurt or Tim directly.

Kurt Nelson, PhD:

Tim Houlihan:


“Transfiguration” by Jonathan Benson is used for the interstitial music in this episode.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



Shellye Archambeau on Twitter: @ShelArchambeau

Shellye’s web site:

“Unapologetically Ambitious”:

Carol Dweck – Growth Mindset:

George Bernard Shaw:

Stephen Curtis, Episode # 148:

Locke & Latham on Goals:

Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years”:


Musical Links

Steve Miller “Fly Like an Eagle”:

Spinners “I’ll Be Around”:

Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On”:

The O’ Jays, “Love Train”:

Teddy Pendergrass, “Turn Off the Lights”:

Alfie Pollitt, "Say It (Over and Over)":

Earl Klugh, “This Time”:

Dave Koz, “You Make Me Smile”:

Brian Culbertson, “Colors of Love”:

Praful, “Don't Fight with Life/Om Namah Shivaya”:

George Benson, “On Broadway”:

Elton John, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”:

Audrey Hepburn, “Moon River”:

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