In this episode we are thrilled to be discussing our two favorite topics: human behavior and music. We learn that music, more than any other activity, can help lift our mood, during COVID. Our guests Pablo Ripollés PhD and Ernest Mas Herrero have spent years studying how the brain responds to rewards, learning and memory. Early in the pandemic, they decided to conduct research on a long list of activities that people were doing at home to manage their stress and increase the pleasure in their lives. While a number of the activities were found to help with mental health, the research overwhelmingly showed that engaging with music was the best way to lift your mood.

We have a really engaging conversation with Pablo and Ernest about their research findings on wellbeing and music. They believe that because listening to music is a passive activity and is so accessible, or “fun and free” as they call it, everyone can experience pleasure from it. And it’s not just listening to music; dancing, singing or playing music are all beneficial.  We also learn that the best type of music to engage with is whatever music you really enjoy: “It will be beneficial as long as it is pleasurable.”

The questionnaire Pablo and Ernest discuss in the podcast is the Barcelona Music Reward Questionnaire It will take you only a few minutes to find out about your individual sensitivity to musical reward. And you can also read Pablo and Ernest’s full research article: “Rock ’n’ Roll but not Sex or Drugs: Music is negatively correlated to depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic via reward-related mechanisms” 

Listen in to find out more from Pablo and Ernest about how music can benefit your mental wellbeing. And If you’d like to support the work we do at Behavioral Grooves bringing you interesting research insights, please consider becoming a Patreon member at

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


(0:06) Introduction

(5:20) Speed Round Questions

(8:44) Research Insights with Pablo and Ernest

(36:50) Grooving Session

(50:26) Bonus Track

Musical Links 

Dropkick Murphys 


Catalan music 


Depeche Mode 

Aretha Franklin “Think” 


“Rock ’n’ Roll but not Sex or Drugs: Music is negatively correlated to depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic via reward-related mechanisms” Herrero et al (2020): 

“Neural correlates of specific musical anhedonia” Martínez-Molina et al (2016):

Pablo Ripollés: 

Ernest Mas Herrero: 

Jamón ibérico 

Lionel Messi 

Michael Jordan 

Roger Federer 

“Goal Gradient Theory” Kivetz et al (2006): 

Robert Zatorre, PhD

Neomi Singer, PhD 

Laura Ferreri, University of Lyon 

Michael McPhee, NYU  

Hedonia and anhedonia 

Barcelona Music Reward Questionnaire 


The Ikea Effect,of%20furniture%20that%20require%20assembly

The Singing Revolution 

Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Baroque Music 

Agatha Christie 

Other Podcast Episodes

Dessa: The Attention Shepherd on the Curious Act of Being Deeply Human” 

The Counterintuitive Persuasion of The Catalyst with Jonah Berger 

Chris Matyszczyk: Listening to Music While You Work

Covid-19 Crisis: Emotional Impact of WFH with Liz Fosslien 

Jonah Berger episode: The Counterintuitive Persuasion of The Catalyst with Jonah Berger 

Our guest this week, Sandra Matz PhD exposes the truth behind our online presence. In our conversation, Sandra reveals that with simple analytics, the digital footprints we leave behind online (our Facebook Likes, our credit card transactions, our Google Map searches) add up to paint a very revealing picture of our personality and state of mind.

Sandra Matz PhD is an associate professor at Columbia Business School. She takes a Big Data approach to studying human behaviour. Her methodologies use psychology, computer science and data collection to explore the relationships between people’s psychological characteristics and their digital footprints. 

Sandra’s work has been published in top-tier journals such as Psychological Science and the American Psychologist, and has attracted worldwide media attention from outlets like the Independent, the BBC, CNBC, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the World Economic Forum.

Our discussion delves into Sandra’s experience around social media profiles, digital ethics, data privacy and our understanding of informed consent. As always we find out about our guest’s musical taste but this week we even find out what our musical preferences can reveal about our personality and social identities. 

We hope you enjoy our discussion with Sandra Matz PhD, and if you do, please leave us a quick review or join our Patreon team at



3:04 Welcome to Sandra Matz PhD and speed round questions

4:52 Discussion about Sandra Matz’s Research

52:32 Grooving Session

1:10:37 Bonus Track with Kurt



Sandra Matz 

Cambridge Analytica

Cass Sunstein 


Kate Crawford, NYU 

Helen Nissenbaum, Cornell 

Tory Higgins, Shared Reality: What Makes Us Strong and Tears Us Apart 


Brene Brown 

Steve Bannon 


Behavioral Grooves @behavioralgroov 

Kurt @motivationguru 

Tim @THoulihan 

Mary @BeSciMary


Musical Links

Taylor Swift 

Justin Bieber 

Bob Dylan 

Britney Spears 



Lady Gaga 


Research is showing that there are four broad groups of people who are the most vaccine hesitant:

  • African Americans
  • Latinos
  • Women between the ages of 20 and 36
  • Rural Americans and Republicans

Many of us have a family or friend who feels hesitant about the vaccination. In this episode, Kurt and Tim address how you can have a positive conversation with them, using proven behavioral science techniques. 

Compassionate curiosity

  • Listen with compassion
  • Understanding motivations
  • Be genuine with curiosity

Leverage the right messenger

  • Framing what you’re going to share
  • Think about their perspective
  • Find an authority figure who they respect
  • Trumpcine

The Message

  • Change the social norm
  • Being able to take our masks off “Take a shot, take off your mask”
  • Personalise the message


Morgan Freeman 

Kwame Christian 

Steve Martin & Joe Marks: BG episode 

Robb Willer, Stanford University 

Donald Trump 

Ivanka Trump 

Ted Cruz 


Frank Luntz 

Robert Cialdini 

The Petrified Forrest 

Katy Milkman 

Surfacing norms to increase vaccine acceptance



© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Dr. Melanie Green is a professor at the University of Buffalo. She joined us on the podcast to explain how the power of a compelling narrative, including the effects of fictional stories, can be used to change beliefs and attitudes. Her theory of "transportation into a narrative world" focuses on how immersive storytelling is a mechanism of narrative influence.

It was an in-depth conversation that explored concepts around how stories move us, the power of narrative to affect both cognitive and emotional feelings, and how restorative narratives can be used to help heal communities after disasters. We touch on the psychological response of reactance, the appeal of conspiracy theory stories and the elements needed to create a compelling story. 

We also introduce - in a slightly more proper fashion - our production and research assistant, Mary Kaliff. We are excited to introduce Mary to our listeners and hope you will welcome her with a happy greeting on social media!

Finally, no episode of Behavioral Grooves would be complete without understanding our guest’s musical tastes. Melanie’s upbringing in Gainesville, Florida influenced her lifelong love of music, in particular the hometown hero,  Tom Petty. She’s also a fan of James Taylor, which delighted Tim. More recently, Melanie’s house is often filled with the sound of the Hamilton soundtrack, thanks to her children’s love of the musical, which delighted Kurt. So, it was wins all around. 

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Melanie and if you like it, please jump down to the bottom of your listening app and share a quick rating or a short review with us. It goes a long way in helping others decide if they should listen to Behavioral Grooves. 


0:07 Introduction 

1:00 Hello from Mary Kaliff

3:46 Welcome and Speed Round with Melanie Green

7:44 Reactance and empathy

16:25 What makes a good story?

22:26 Storytelling in different mediums

27:12 Parasocial Interaction

33:10 Storytelling for social good

38:50 Conspiracy Theories

43:07 Melanie’s music and playlist

47:30 Grooving Session


(14:13) If you do have a story that's not representative, the danger of it kind of having an undue influence on people's thinking and decision making is, I think, a real one, especially with something consequential, like these medical decisions. 

(18:21) the way that stories can inform us and change our minds, is through this process of being immersed in them.

(31:17) And so a story can be a really nice kind of way of summarizing and illustrating the guiding principles maybe that people want the organization to follow

(33:37) restorative narratives tell those stories, you know, how people move from something bad to kind of come back to a better place.

Social Media

Tim @THoulihan

Kurt @motivationguru

Mary @BeSciMary

Other Content

To listen to more podcasts about narratives and messages why not delve into these episodes: 

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Melanie Green: 

The Game of Thrones: 

Story telling Mirrors in the Brain: 

Victoria Shaffer, PhD: 

The Bible: 

The Koran: 

The Bhagavad Ghita: 

Pamela Rutledge: 

Guy Schoenecker: 


Common Biases & Heuristics:  

Jon Levy: 

Mirror Neurons: Why good stories provoke empathy and connection (Kyle Pearce) 

Musical Links

Bruce Springsteen “Fire”: 

“Hamilton” soundtrack: 

James Taylor “Never Die Young”: 

Traveling Wilburys “End of the Line”: 

Tom Petty “Don’t Fade on Me”: 

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



Leidy Klotz, PhD:


Harry Potter Lego Set - Hogwarts 

Wildlife Bingo 

Michael Jordan 

Bruce Springsteen 

Mayan City of Coba 

Marie Kondo 

Tim Ferris 

Da Vinci 

Lao Tzu 


Allison Zelkowitz 

Chaning Jang 

Kurt Lewin 

Kate Orff, Lexington Waterway Project 

Dan Ariely “Predictably Irrational” 

Roger Dooley “Friction” 


Musical Links

Bruce Springsteen “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” 

Bruce Springsteen “Born In The USA” 

Bruce Springsteen “Western Stars” 

Bruce Springsteen “Letter to You” 



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” 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!

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Rohit Bhargava: 

Isaac Asimov:  

Ali Pittampalli “Persuadable”: 

Henry Coutinho-Mason “The Future Normal”: 

Maysoon Zayid: 


Dan Simons Invisible Gorilla video: 

Tom Cruise “Cocktail”: 



Meave Leakey: 

Dan Hill - Episode 151: 



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): 

Non Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future (Non-Obvious Trends Series):  

Musical Links

Neil Peart (Rush): 

Fanny Lu: 

Maná “Rayando del Sol”: 

Carlos Vives “Cumbiana”: 

Carlos Vives & Shakira “”La Bibcicleta”: 

Juaness “Es Por Ti | One World: Together” At Home:



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:

“Primal Brain”:


Robert Sapolsky:



Carl Sagan:

Neil deGrasse Tyson:

Robert Cialdini:

Robert Heinlein:

Antonio Damasio:

Carlos Castaneda “Journey to Ixtlan”:

“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”:

Sabre fencing:

Tai Chi:

Kung Fu:

Don Miguel Ruiz “The Four Agreements”:

Bhagavad Gita:

Coleman’s Boat:


Musical Links

Pat Metheny Group “Last Train Home”:

Chet Baker “Almost Blue”:

Elvis Costello “Almost Blue”:

Miles Davis “So What”:

Salsa “Al Monte”:

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: 

You can download Michael’s recommendations on hype ideas at 

Access to Anyone podcast: 

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: 

Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World: 

Tim Ferriss: 

Anarchist Cookbook: 

Shep Gordon: 

“Wall Street” movie: 

Wembley Stadium: 

Frans de Waal Capuchin Monkey Experiments:


Behavioral Grooves Patreon: 


Musical Links

Black Flag “Nervous Breakdown”: 

Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun”: 

David Bowie “Modern Love”: 

Alice Kooper “No More Mister Nice Guy”: 

Ministry “Jesus Built My Hotrod”: 

Dead Milkmen “Punk Rock Girl”: 

Sonic Youth “Superstar”: 

California Raisins “Heard it Through the Grapevine”: 

WWF “Land of A Thousand Dances”: 

Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You”: 

Boomtown Rats “I Don’t Like Mondays”: 

The Specials “Monkey Man”: 

Sex Pistols “God Save The Queen”: 

The Clash “Rock the Casbah”: 

Husker Du “Camden Palace”: 

The Replacements “I Will Dare”: 

Depeche Mode “Personal Jesus”: 

The Dead Kennedy’s “In God We Trust”: 

Joy Division “She’s Lost Control”: 

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:

“Thanks A Thousand”:

AJ’s TED Talk:

George Clooney:

The Encyclopedia Britannica:

Windshield Wiper:

The New York Times Crossword Puzzle:

Alex Trebek:

George Loewenstein:

Ambient Noise:

Coffitivity (ambient noise generator):

Melanie Brucks:

Michael Phelps:

French Horn:

Electronic Dance Music:


Jonathan Mann, Episode 207:

Mark Landau:

Neil Gaiman:


Gratitude / Gratia / Grace:

Robert Emmons:

Francesca Gino, Episode 60:

Tony Robbins:


Behavioral Grooves Patreon:


Musical Links

ZZ Top “La Grange”:

Lil’ Wayne “2 Diamonds”:

Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen”:

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:

Linda Thunstrom, PhD:

Shiri Noy, PhD:

“Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness” Dana, et. all (2007):

George Loewenstein, PhD:

Todd Cherry, PhD:

George Loewenstein, PhD:

Dan Gilbert, PhD:

Contemporary Folk Music:

Americana Music:

Hurricane Florence:

“Temporal View of the Costs and Benefits of Self-Deception” Gino, Norton, Ariely:

Eric Oliver, Episode 172:

Andrea Mannberg, Episode 199:

Behavioral Grooves Patreon Site:


Musical Links

Jay Shogren “Let’s Fall Behind”:

David Bowie “Under Pressure” with Annie Lennox and Queen:


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