Anxiety in the workplace has always been present, even pre-pandemic but rates of anxiety, particularly among young employees, have worsened since 2020. So what obligation do organizations have to their employees' mental health? How can managers recognize the signs of anxiety, and how can we help our colleagues with those feelings?

Following our incredibly popular first episode with Chester Elton in July 2021, on showing gratitude (episode 238), we are thrilled to be talking with him again about anxiety in the workplace. As a best-selling author, speaker and executive coach, Chester, and his co-author Adrian have shown over and over again, that the key to really successful companies is really successful relationships with employees. And because of the pandemic, we wanted to talk with Chester about their most recent book; Anxiety at Work: 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty, and Get Stuff Done:

Thank you to all of you who have subscribed to our show, written a review or shared an episode with your friends. Please also consider donating a small amount each month to our work, through our Patreon site: 

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves 


(3:03) Speed round questions.

(5:30) Is anxiety in the workplace increasing or decreasing?

(10:11) How to manage with empathy, not just sympathy.

(14:59) Unleashing employees' potential.

(20:17) The number one cause of anxiety and how managers can recognize it.

(23:34) Showing vulnerability as a manager.

(29:12) Will people take advantage of mental health days off?

(32:07) How to deal with your own perfectionism and anxiety.

(36:57) The ways you can join Chester’s community.

(40:22) Chester’s anti-anxiety playlist.

(44:05) Chester’s kind promise to listeners.

(45:00) Grooving Session discussing how to apply Chester’s insight to our lives.

Books by Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick

Anxiety at Work: 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty, and Get Stuff Done:

Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results:

All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results:

The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance:

The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization:


Behavioral Grooves Patreon:

Chester Elton:

Chester Elton, Episode 238: Who Makes You Feel Grateful? Tell Them!

We Thrive Together: A safe community to talk about anxiety and stress with over 500 members.

Anxiety at Work with Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton:

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy: 

Nicole Malachowski: 

HR Leaders Podcast with Chris Rainey: 

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Episode 246: Are You More Honest with Google or Your Friends? 

The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism” by Hubert Joly: 

Garry Ridge at WD-40: 

Musical Links 

Pharrell Williams “Happy”:

Monty Python, Eric Idle “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”: 

The Beatles “Good Day Sunshine”: 

The Beatles “Fixing A Hole”: 

What life habits keep our brain healthy? How does our mind respond to trauma? And why does the way we talk about suicide and mental health make such a difference to those who are struggling? We discuss all these topics with neuroscience researcher Dr Daniel Almeida.

To mark World Mental Health Day on Sunday, Oct 10, 2021, we decided to delve into the science behind mental health. And who better to help us with this topic than Daniel who has been named as one of Forbes 30 under 30 in science. His incredible work as a neuroscience researcher in the Douglas Research Centre at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, involves psychological autopsies to understand the molecular impacts of severe childhood abuse on the brains of individuals who died by suicide.

As you can imagine, this episode is full of difficult yet important topics. But what struck us most about Daniel was how upbeat and positive he is about his work and the difference it’s making to people’s lives. Daniel kindly shares his top 5 healthy brain habits that we can all adopt to improve our mental wellbeing. 

If you, or someone you know needs help with their mental health, please use one of the resources in the links below. 

Mental Health Support

Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US):

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: National Helpline (US): 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 

The Canada Suicide Prevention Service:

Samaritans (UK): 

United for Global Mental Health (List of support networks around the world): 

For those looking for information on how to support others:
For the general public looking to be trained in mental health first aid and/or suicide prevention:
Living Works (US): 
Mental Health First Aid Canada:


(6:29) Speed round.

(10:14) Does talking about suicide help?

(14:15) Why it’s very important to talk about “dying by suicide” instead of “committing suicide”.

(16:17) About Daniel’s work as a neuroscientist.

(17:47) What are the links between childhood trauma and suicide?

(25:16) What age are children most sensitive to the effects of trauma?

(31:19) How the type of trauma experienced by a child matters.

(33:36) How resilience is more like a sword than a shield.

(35:29) What are the 5 best brain health habits?

(41:57) What is a brain bank and how are psychological autopsies used?

(44:30) What music isn’t noise pollution for Daniel?

(46:24) Music and the brain.

(48:13) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim; how to apply Daniel’s work to your life.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


World Mental Health Day: 

Leading Human™ Workbook and Playbook:

Leading Human™, Free Whitepaper Download:

Leading Human™ Workshop on Dec 14th, 2021 (more dates to be added soon):

Promo Code: GROOVERS to receive $20 off (limited time offer for listeners).

Episode 220: How Do You Become Influential? Jon Levy Reveals His Surprising Secrets:

Dr Brenda Mildner – Mother of Psychological worked on bilateral hypocantim removal:

Donald Hebb:,which%20was%20published%20in%201949. 

Molecular impacts of childhood abuse on the human brain”  Ibrahim, P.; Almeida, D.; Nagy, C.; Turecki, G. (2021): 

A Slice of the Suicidal Brain: What Have Postmortem Molecular Studies Taught Us?” Almeida, D. and Turecki, G. (2016): 

“What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing”, by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry: 

Brain structure of dancers and musicians

Support Behavioral Grooves by donating on Patreon:  

Musical Links 

Gladys Knight & The Pips “Midnight Train to Georgia”: 

Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You”: 

The Supremes “Where Did Our Love Go”: 

Stevie Wonder “As”: 

The clearest indicators of our financial solvency are based on the behaviors we exhibit with our investments. Dr. Daniel Crosby PhD is a psychologist, behavioral finance expert, asset manager and bestselling author of four books including “The Behavioral Investor”: We examine with him the question of whether financial success ultimately brings us happiness? Surprisingly it can, but not in the ways that we think it does. 

Having studied the growing list of 200 odd behavioral biases and heuristics, Daniel has whittled them down to what he describes as the four “Big Daddy” biases: ego, emotion, attention and conservatism. We learn about why these matter so much and interestingly what Coke Zero can teach us about our biases!

Daniel touches on his other bestselling book “You’re Not That Great”: which refreshingly embraces the fact that we are in fact all fairly average! That self esteem is built not by awarding prizes for participation, but by taking a risk, working hard and acknowledging that occasionally we will fall flat on our face along the way!

In our Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim, following our interview with Daniel we talk about the ways that we can apply Daniel’s insights to improve our wellbeing and our relationships. [Tim quotes the infamous “Man in the Arena '' quote from Theodore Roosevelt but apologies, we incorrectly credited the quote to Eisenhower, not Roosevelt in the episode.] 

If you would like to invest in the work that Behavioral Grooves does to bring you interviews like Daniels every week, please support our Patreon page: thank you.


(3:09) Welcome and speed round.

(5:51) Why understanding people is vital to understanding markets.

(8:20) Daniel's journey into behavioral finance.

(11:02) What behavioral finance can help with beyond your bank balance.

(15:17) Can money really boost our happiness?

(20:05) The benefits of embracing our mediocrity. 

(24:30) How stress impacts performance.

(26:58) Meta-biases: ego, promotion, attention, conservatism.

(31:09) What Coke Zero can teach us about conservatism bias.

(36:51) Ethics and behavioral finance.

(41:09) What music does Daniel invest in?

(48:44) Grooving Session on how to apply Daniel’s work in our own lives.


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Books by Daniel Crosby

The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the secret to investing success:

The Behavioral Investor:

You're Not That Great:

Personal Benchmark: Integrating Behavioral Finance and Investment Management 


Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Honeycomb:

“Subjective Well-Being and Income: Is There Any Evidence Of Satiation?” Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers (2013): 

The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness” by Morgan Housel: 

Daniel Crosby TEDx:

Nudge: The Final Edition” by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein: 

Barry Ritholtz, Episode 47. How to Reduce Evolutionary Panic:

The Rocket City Trash Pandas:

Sludge: What Stops Us from Getting Things Done and What to Do about It” by Cass Sunstein: 

At Uber, a New C.E.O Shifts Gears, The New Yorker: 

Trevor Foulk episode (publishing at the end of Oct 2021)

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Episode 246.  Are You More Honest with Google or Your Friends?

Vanessa Bohns, Episode 253. Why You Don‘t Need to be Powerful to be Influential:

Ben Parr, Episode 237. Attention: How to Capture It and Keep It with Ben Parr:

Musical Links 

Phoebe Bridgers “Kyoto”:

Elliot Smith “Angeles”: 

Radiohead “Creep”: 

Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”: 

Father John Misty “Real Love Baby”: 

Vampire Weekend “This Life”: 

Run The Jewels “Legend Has It”:

To be influential you do not require power, but wielding your influence is powerful. Vanessa Bohns, social psychologist and professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University, joins us to discuss her enticing new book “You Have More Influence Than You Think”: She draws from her research to illustrate why underestimating our influence can lead us to miss opportunities or worse yet, to misuse our power.

Vanessa challenges us to examine our powers of persuasion and to recognize that we have more influence than we even realize. We learn exactly why it’s so hard for us to say no, even when we’re uncomfortable with saying yes. And why we should focus on communicating more with people face-to-face.

As with all of our episodes, we leave you with a Grooving Session discussion focusing on how we can use Vanessa’s research to improve our lives, our relationships and our workplaces. Maybe this episode will influence you more than you realize? If it does, please support our ongoing work by contributing to our Patreon page at (just imagine, if we asked you in person, would you say yes?).


(3:19) Welcome to Vanessa Bohns.

(5:46) How your enjoyment of chocolate is influenced by others.

(8:15) The spotlight effect; is everyone really looking at me?

(12:34) How can we influence people more than we think?

(17:20) How Vanessa discovered people are likely to help, if you ask.

(23:34) Why it’s so much harder to say no than we think.

(26:50) How power amplifies your influence.

(29:22) Why we need to recognize white privilege as a position of power.

(32:47) Communication: why our choice of words matter.

(34:13) Robert Cialdini’s Influence.

(36:30) What are the most common misconceptions about influence?

(41:07) What are the 2 biggest takeaways from the book?

(43:52) How music has influenced Vanessa.

(49:13) Grooving Session discussing how to apply Vanessa’s research.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion, and Why It Matters” Book by Vanessa Bohns: 

John Bargh, Episode 248: Do We Control Situations or Do Situations Control Us? With John Bargh:

Shankar Vedantam, Episode 222: How Delusions Can Actually Be Useful: Shankar Vedantam Reveals How:

Cristina Bicchieri, Episode 102: Social Norms are Bundles of Expectations:

“Shared Experiences Are Amplified”  Erica J. Boothby, Margaret S. Clark, John A. Bargh (2014): 

Good Lamps Are the Best Police: Darkness Increases Dishonesty and Self-Interested Behavior” Chen-Bo Zhong, Vanessa K. Bohns, Francesca Gino (2010): 

Robert Frank on the Power of Peer Pressure in Fighting Climate Change: 

Robert Cialdini, Episode 226: The Power Of Unity: Robert Cialdini Expands His Best Selling Book Influence:

How to Start a Movement | Dan Sivers: 

Musical Links 

Bronksi Beats “Smalltown Boy”: 

Sleigh Bells “Locust Laced”: 

The National “Light Years”: 

Vampire Weekend “This Life”: 

David Bowie “Ashes to Ashes”: 

Harry Styles “Watermelon Sugar”: 

Billie Ellish “Everything I Wanted”: 

Taylor Swift “Willow”: 

Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”: 

Employee burnout, The Great Resignation, Office Covid Regulations; these are all major concerns for leaders in the workplace right now. But how can managers successfully navigate these stresses, while still maintaining productivity among staff?

At the start of the pandemic, Behavioral Grooves began a series of podcasts with researchers and practitioners to understand the organizational shifts we were seeing. Over the course of our interviews, we discovered big changes in the way business was being conducted and that managers, specifically, were really caught off guard. They didn’t have a coach or a guide to help them through all the changes. We decided to change that. And so, we created Leading Human™.

In this Grooving Session with Kurt Nelson PhD and Tim Houlihan, they sit down to discuss the following topics about Leading Human™:

  • What is Leading Human™?
  • Who is Leading Human™ going to benefit? 
  • Why did the Behavioral Grooves team feel inspired to write Leading Human™?

While Leading Human™ was initiated by the pandemic, it goes well beyond the current workplace dynamics and delves into the core of how work will happen in the future. 

Ultimately Leading Human™ focuses on four key areas: 

  • Creating Psychological Safety; 
  • Building a Team Charter;
  • Implementing Human-Centered Routines;
  • Charting a Clear Path Forward.

Together, these can make a significant difference in employees' emotional connection to the company and successful re-entry to the workplace. Leading Human™ is full of practical tips and exercises to implement.

Where to Get More Info on Leading Human™:

Leading Human™ Workbook and Playbook:

Leading Human™, Free Whitepaper Download:

Leading Human™ Workshop on Nov 2nd, 2021 (more dates to be added soon):

Promo Code: GROOVERS to receive $20 off (limited time offer for listeners).

[NOTE: This episode is republished from #178 in October 2020.]

Kwame Christian, Esq. is the author of “Nobody Will Play With Me: How to Use Compassionate Curiosity to Find Confidence in Conflict.” He is the host of two podcasts, “Negotiate Anything” and “Ask With Confidence.” He is a professor at The Ohio State University Law School and is the director of the American Negotiation Institute. Kwame’s educational background combines an undergraduate degree in psychology, a masters in public policy, and a juris doctor. Yup – a classic underachiever. (NOT)

Kurt and Tim got to talk to Kwame about the behavioral science hidden in his practical techniques. For instance, we discussed how to be more effective in negotiations by managing our emotions and how to reframe our negotiations as opportunities. He went on to say that negotiations are really “the art of discovery.” We also discussed the decades-old myth of the win-win negotiation – you guessed right: it’s a myth!

Kwame also dropped more sound-bite bombs in our conversation than any other guest. There are tons and tons of takeaways from this conversation that you can put to use in your work or home life right away.

And if that’s not enough, he’s got the most eclectic musical tastes of any guest on Behavioral Grooves so far. Check it out.

We are grateful to our friend Brian Ahearn who introduced us to Kwame in May 2020.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Kwame Christian on LinkedIn:

Kwame on Negotiations:

Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life: 

Kwame’s Podcast Negotiate Anything:

Kwame’s TED talk:

Kwame as Ohio State Law Professor:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

Matthew Walker, “Why We Sleep”: 


Behavioral Grooves Patreon page: 

Musical Links

Bob Marley “Wait in Vain”:


Soca (Soul Calypso):


Dub Step:




Smooth Jazz:


“Under the Graveyard” by Ozzie Osbourne:

Major Lazer:

The Clash “Should I Stay or Should I Go”:

The Police:

George Benson “Breezin”:

Grover Washington “Just the Two of Us”:

David Benoit “Lucy and Linus”:

Earl Klugh & Bob James:

Lee Ritenour:

The Rippingtons:

How can behavioral science aid the mammoth task of vaccination the world against Covid? What common barriers cause vaccine hesitancy in populations around the globe? And how can behavioral design overcome them? 

Born out of frustration, while trying to eliminate Polio from Pakistan, the global behavioral design agency Common Thread ( was born. They use findings from psychology, anthropology, economics and sociology, to identify and analyze behavioral insights. Bringing a people-centered approach to the world's toughest public health problems.

We are delighted to be joined on this podcast episode with the co-founder, director and lead storyteller of Common Thread, Michael Coleman. He talks with us about his new publication, “The Little Jab Book: 18 Behavioral Science Strategies for Increasing Vaccination Uptake” ( and the global projects that he is currently collaborating on.


(6:24) Speed round questions.

(8:55) Applying behavioral science to global health concerns.

(9:47) How Common Thread was started and why it focuses on putting people at the center of public health problems.

(11:30) The complexities Mike faced with the Polio Eradication Plan in Pakistan.

(14:02) What is the mission of Common Thread?

(15:52) What tools does Common Thread use to change behavior?

(18:59) How can removing friction from decisions make a big difference in people’s responses?

(23:00) About The Little Jab Book: 18 Behavioral Science Strategies for Increasing Vaccination Uptake.

(25:33) Who The Little Jab Book is intended for?

(27:01) What are the barriers to vaccinating the world against Covid?

(31:50) How vaccine hesitant conversations can impact public health responses.

(34:28) Work with UNICEF to create individual country responses to vaccination barriers.

(39:16) What music would Mike take to a desert island? 

(41:43) How Common Thread uses music to foster an inclusive work culture.

(43:35) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim summarizing the application of Mike’s insights.

Behavioral Grooves has a Patreon page to help fund our work, please consider donating a small amount to our podcast at We also love reading your reviews, tweets and comments about the podcast; these help others find out about us too. But most of all, thanks for listening!

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Common Thread: 

Michael Coleman: 

Common Thread newsletter “The Stitch”: 

The Little Jab Book: 18 Behavioral Science Strategies for Increasing Vaccination Uptake:

Behavioral Insights lab set up with Gavi for immunization oriented to the global south: “From Idea to Immunization”: 

Barry’s tea:

Sherine Guirguis: 

Harvard School of Public Health: 


The Global Vaccine Allowance:

The Gates Foundation:




The New York Times Global Vaccination Tracker: 

Rob Burnet, Well Told Story: 

Episode 202: How Chaning Jang Works Around Not Being WEIRD:

Episode 223: How Behavioral Science Can Impact Nonprofits: The Inspiring Story at Save The Children:

Musical Links

 Nina Simone “Stars” (Montreux Festival in 1976): 

Jeff Buckley “Grace”: 

Jeff Buckley (Live in Frankfurt, 1995): 

The Tragically Hip “Ahead By a Century”: 

Common Thread Spotify Playlist: 

Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou, a 93 year old Ethiopian jazz pianist:

Few psychologists in the world have contributed more to scientific discovery than our guest Richard E. Nisbett. He joins us to discuss his latest book, the title of which embodies one of his favorite activities: Thinking: A Memoir. Thinking weaves Richard’s personal story through his research journey, painting a richer sense of the thought process behind his discoveries. 

Richard E. Nisbett is the Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Michigan. Many of his previous books have been co-authored with his collaborator and friend, the late Lee Ross. The two first met in graduate school when they studied under the ground-breaking researcher Stanley Schachter at Columbia University. 

Later in his career, alongside Tim Wilson, the two made the ground-breaking observation: they noted that we can only identify "what people think about how they think," but not "how they really think." Join our podcast conversation with Richard to explore how we can improve our thinking, reasoning and decision making.

If you are a regular listener to Behavioral Grooves, please consider donating to our work through Patreon: 

Topics we Discuss with Richard E. Nisbett

(3:20) Welcome and speed round.

(7:25) What motivated Richard to write his memoir? 

(12:12) Why do we so readily disregard base rates?

(15:56) Why do we disconnect ourselves from the behavior in Stanley Milgram’s experiment? 

(17:21) Richard’s work on Attribution Theory.

(20:25) How does our unconscious mind affect our behaviors and decision making?

(23:27) Richard’s insight on why we rationalize our decision making.

(27:13) Working in a vacuum in academia.

(30:03) Interdisciplinary work at Michigan University.

(32:23) Can we teach people to become better at reasoning?

(39:15) The problems with replicating social psychology studies.

(46:28) What is Richard thinking about these days?

(51:32) What music would Richard take a desert island?

(57:13) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim discussing their interview with Richard.


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Books by Richard E. Nisbett

Thinking: A Memoir: 

Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count: 

The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why: 

Culture Of Honor: The Psychology Of Violence In The South (New Directions in Social Psychology): 

Thought and Feeling: Cognitive Alteration of Feeling States: 

Rules for Reasoning: 

The Person and the Situation: 

Links from our Interview

Lee Ross “The Person and the Situation: Perspectives of Social Psychology”: 

Stanley Schachter “The Psychology of Affiliation: Experimental Studies of the Sources of Gregariousness”: 

Malcom Gladwell “Outliers: The Story of Success”: 

Michael Lewis Book about Dnaiel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds”: 

Richard Thaler “Nudge: The FInal Edition”: 

Stanley Milgram Experiment: 

Cary Grant:

Timothy Wilson:

Russell Sage Foundation: 

University of Michigan: 

Jean Piaget: 

Episode 155: John Bargh: Dante, Coffee and the Unconscious Mind:

Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal: 

The Week:

Episode 67: George Loewenstein: On a Functional Theory of Boredom:

Musical Links

Beethoven “The Emperor Concerto”:

Beethoven 7th symphony, 2nd Movement:

Schubert “Serenade”:

Can we control our unconscious behavior? How much does the situation we’re in control us? Can we prime people to behave a certain way? Is it even ethical to try? To what degree do cultural identity and stereotyping impact the automaticity of our actions?

Following on from our discussion with Dr Philip Zimbardo PhD, in our last episode (#247) about the Stanford Prison Experiment, we reached out to our friend and previous guest (episode #155), Dr John Bargh PhD, social psychologist at Yale University. As the world’s leading expert on the unconscious mind, John gave us fresh insight on how our behavior is primed by factors such as our cultural identity and even by who we are thinking about.

Interestingly our conversation shifted towards changing attitudes in society and in particular the inspiration stance that athletes such as Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka have taken recently to prioritize their mental health. John describes them as pioneers: “what pioneers and leaders do is they give an alternative example for the other people and say, “You know what, you don't have to do this, here's what I did.

In our last interview with John, he left us with some parting wisdom; to hug our children more. We couldn’t resist asking him for some more wise words, so listen to the end to find out John’s advice to all of us.

Word of mouth continues to be the best way for new listeners to find Behavioral Grooves. Please consider sharing your favorite episodes with your friends. And if you want to help more, your financial support goes a long way. You can donate via our Patreon page at And thank you to all of our loyal listeners who already donate to our podcast.

Topics we discuss with John Bargh

(3:58) Welcome to John Bargh and speed round questions.

(7:50) Nature vs nurture?

(11:51) A summary of John’s research on automaticity and priming.

(15:04) How you activate a different cultural identity.

(19:42) How did the Stanford Prison Experiment impact social psychology research?

(25:09) Do we control situations or do situations control us?

(30:14) Can you prime someone to commit murder?

(35:17) How Simone Biles is an example of changing attitudes in society.

(37:14) Are employees starting to self-select which corporation they work for?

(44:29) What direction is the research on priming and automaticity heading in the future?

(47:33) What research is John engaged in right now?

(50:08) How can we prevent ourselves from being influenced by our context?

(52:46) John’s wise parting advice.

(56:28) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim discussing the interview.


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


John Bargh book “Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do”: 

Episode 155: John Bargh: Dante, Coffee and the Unconscious Mind:

William James: 

Rozin, Paul. (1976): “The evolution of intelligence and access to the cognitive unconscious.” Progress in Psychobiology and Physiological Psychology: 

Cushman, Fiery (2019): “Rationalization is Rational”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences: 

Episode 229: From Holding the Mic to Theory of Mind: Rob Leonard’s Love of Language:

Stanford Prison Experiment: 

Rosanna Summers: 

Vanessa Bohns: “You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion, and Why It Matters”: 

Lee Ross: 

Kerri Strug: 

Simone Biles: 

Naomi Osaka: 

Episode 147: Gary Latham, PhD: Goal Setting, Prompts, Priming, and Skepticism:

Support Behavioral Grooves Patreon:

Musical Links 

Jimi Hendrix “Somewhere”: 

Jimmy Page (Led Zepplin) “Stairway to Heaven”: 

The Stanford Prison Experiment has been the topic of movies, newspaper articles, textbooks and TV shows. Extensively published controversy has surrounded the social psychology experiment ever since it was conducted in 1971. Now on the 50th Anniversary, we invite you to listen to a very unique interview with the man who orchestrated it all; Dr Philip Zimbardo PhD. 

  • Was the Stanford Prison Experiment designed to measure the corruption of power?
  • Were participants influenced by the context of the experiment itself and pressured into performing a role?
  • How exactly did the environment influence the behavior of the participants, including Dr Philip Zimbardo himself? As he quotes; “a bad barrel can take a good apple, and make it bad”.

At Stanford University in 1971, influenced by the work of his friend Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo assembled a mock prison in the basement of the university and used male student volunteers to become the guards and prisoners. What unfolded in the coming days surprised even Philip Zimbardo.

What is less known about Philip Zimbardo is that he has since done extensive research on shyness, cult behavior, time perception, and more recently on heroism. According to him, we are all “heroes in waiting”, and he has founded the Heroic Imagination Project to help cultivate the heroes among us. 

Our discussion with Dr Z (as he asked us to call him!) weaves through an enlightening reflection on his upbringing, the influence of his family and peers, and his transition into academia. Kurt and Tim intercept the conversation throughout to provide explanation and insights. And we end with how Dr Z’s work can influence our behavior now. What can we really learn from the Stanford Prison Experiment? And how can we all become a hero in waiting?


(2:59) Introducing Dr. Philip Zimbardo.

(4:30) Dr Z’s upbringing in the Bronx.

(6:40) The significance of Dr Z’s classmates at James Monroe High School.

(11:06) How racism influenced Dr Z’s application to Yale.

(16:18) How Dr Z started the Stanford Prison Experiment.

(19:05) What Dr Z was trying to understand from the experiment.

(20:04) What went wrong.

(21:59) How abusive guard David Eshelman explained his behavior.

(23:10) Controversy around the experiment and why it ended early.

(27:07) Chip Frederick’s abusive behavior at Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraqi War.

(30:15) If you can cultivate evil behavior, can you also cultivate heroic behavior?

(33:36) The 4 steps to becoming a "Hero in Training".

(35:14) Dr Z’s offer to help with police brutality in the US.

(37:04) Takeaways: how to be aware and intentional with our behavior.

We look forward to welcoming you back next week for more about why context matters with esteemed Yale social psychologist, Dr John Bargh PhD. 

Please consider donating to our podcast work through Patreon (

We also love hearing from our listeners, please leave us a podcast review or reach out to us on Twitter:

Kurt Nelson @motivationguru

Tim Houlihan @THoulihan

Mary Kaliff @BeSciMary

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Stanley Milgram: 

Solomon Asch - Conformity Experiment: 

Charlie Parker “All The Things You Are”: 

Episode 76: Nurit Nobel: De-Biasing the Recruiting Process:

Chip Frederick: 

Heroic Imagination Project: 

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