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”:

Nuala Walsh is a strategic adviser with MindEquity, working with organizations to create reputation, commercial and cultural change. She is a global leader, an award-winning marketeer, and a behavioral scientist. Nuala has nearly 3 decades of strategic, commercial, and governance experience in asset management, investment banking, and consulting. All her strategic solutions are informed by decision science & behavioral frameworks.

Nuala is also the Non-Executive Director of GAABS, the Vice-Chair of UN Women, and she has been the Chief Marketing Officer, Standard Life Aberdeen. In short, she’s a remarkable person whose insights are worth paying attention to as both a practitioner and a researcher.

We spoke with Nuala recently about some investigations she completed on two topics. The first was to understand the impact that fake news has on our ‘remembering’ self. What she discovered is that our memories don’t discriminate between true or false information – we tend to remember it all roughly the same way, when we believe it at the start.

The second area we discussed was about whistleblowers in modern corporations. Without the proper environment, whistleblowers don’t act or can be maltreated within an organization when they do raise their hands. Nuala’s got some ideas on how to change that. Here’s her list of tips for improving your corporate culture to support whistleblowers:

  1. Reframe. The word whistleblowing is a negative word, so reframing it as “speaking up” could be more positive. There's a shift in how companies can rewrite how they message to employees.
  2. Economic. Scandalized companies earn 4% less than firms that have not experienced major scandals. So by definition, a company could earn 4% more if it’s clean and could impact employees' wages should they go to another firm.
  3. Rewards. Rewarding employees with relevant incentives and she is quick to recommend against financial, such as appropriately recognizing people, sharing salient stories of courage, talking about people in the company, people outside the company as role models…all of these can contribute positively to better company culture.
  4. By taking bad behavior out of the shadows or removing the Social Norming effect of removing it from secrecy is a powerful tool. But you can't just point to somebody internally to highlight their courage, leaders need to appropriately highlight teams that have called out errors that prevented disasters. It’s best to not pinpoint an individual because of personal risk and a lot of potential threats.
  5. Make it Normal. Employees won’t speak up in a dangerous work environment. The more you make the environment open and communal and part of the cultural norm, the less fear that is induced on people and the greater likelihood they’ll point out bad behavior when it happens.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Nuala as much as we did. If you like it, please don’t hesitate to give Behavioral Grooves a quick rating on your listening app.


Nuala Walsh:

Anthony Hopkins:

Robert De Niro:

Dan Gilbert:

Daniel Kahneman:

Elizabeth Loftus:

Common Biases and Heuristics:

Merle van den Akker:

The Innocence Project:

Josef Mengele:

Ted Bundy:

Ann Rule:

OJ Simpson:

Bibb Latané:

John Darley:

Kitty Genovese and The Bystander Effect:

Robert Cialdini:

Cass Sunstein:




Predictably Irrational:

On False Creating False Memories:,recall%20or%20recognize%20these%20words.

“On the prediction of occurrence of particular verbal intrusions in immediate recall”


Musical Links

Tim Houlihan “Another Orion”:

Eurythmics “Here Comes the Rain Again”:

Tina Turner “Proud Mary”:


Michael Jackson “Billy Jean”:

Carmen Monarca “Habanera”:

U2 “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”:

Van Morrison “Into the Mystic”:

Elvis Presley “Heartbreak Hotel”:


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Chaning Jang is the CSO of the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics and has helped lead the organization since 2013. He is responsible for strategy, and a portfolio of projects, primarily focused on research. Prior to joining Busara, Chaning worked as an English teacher in the Czech Republic and an equities trader in Los Angeles. Chaning completed a Postdoc at Princeton University in Psychology and Public Affairs, holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Hawai'i with specialization in Behavioral Economics and Development, and a bachelor's in Managerial Economics from the University of California, Davis.  He is also a CFA level II holder.

We spoke to Chaning one night (for him) from his office in Nairobi, Kenya and we focused our discussion on context and how so much of psychological research has been focused in WEIRD countries (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic). Because of this focus and how behavior can be linked to cultural and social norms, countries that are not WEIRD are often unable to successfully apply the research that was executed in WEIRD cultures. Chaning is trying to change that.

The work that the Busara Center is doing is important on many levels, the most significant is trying to eliminate poverty at the heart of where it is the worst on earth: Africa. Chaning’s work is fascinating, his ideas sparkle with intensity, and his comments are inspiring. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Chaning Jang.

We are grateful to Allison Zelkowitz from Save the Children for connecting us.



Chaning Jang, PhD:

Busara Center for Behavioral Economics:

Dan Ariely, PhD:


Johannes Haushofer, PhD:

Kahneman & Tversky:

The Linda Problem (Conjunction Fallacy):

Jeremy Shapiro, PhD:

Economic and psychological effects of health insurance and cash transfers: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Kenya:

Trier Social Stress Test:

Cold Pressor Test:

Kevin Parker:

Poverty Decreases IQ:


Musical Links

Tame Impala (Australian psych-rock):

John Lennon “Instant Karma”:

Daft Punk with Pharrell Williams “Get Lucky”:

Fleetwood Mac “The Chain”:

Joji “Your Man”:

Fleet Foxes “Can I Believe You”:

Freddie Mercury “I’m The Great Pretender”:


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Jonah Berger is a marketing professor in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the internationally best-selling author Contagious and Invisible Influence. He consults with some of the largest corporations in the world and derives great insights from his interactions with business leaders wrestling with strategic issues.

In this episode, we caught up with Jonah to discuss his most recent book called The Catalyst. His book takes a counter-intuitive view on persuasion by focusing on reducing barriers to change rather than learning just the right lines, information, or coercive measures to use. Jonah advocates for first understanding why people are doing what they’re doing before we try to get them to do something else.

He shared his REDUCE model with us - Reactance, Endowment, Distance, Uncertainty, and Corroborating Evidence – and we dove into Reactance as a major component of how we resist change. The harder you push on someone to change, the more likely they are to push back. It’s natural for us to push back and to illustrate, just try this little experiment with someone in your household (another adult).

Ask your adult counterpart to hold up their hand at shoulder level and have your palms meet. Tell them you’re going to push on their hand, then do it with some force. Do they push back to slow the advance of your hand or do they just go limp and let you push their hand as far as you can? It’s likely that they’ll push back. The same is true of any behavior change.

And that’s okay. Our natural tendencies serve us well in many situations, but not all. Jonah’s perspective on how catalysts change behavior will open your mind to new ideas. We hope you enjoy it and, this week, find your groove.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Jonah Berger, PhD:

Jonah Berger Additional Resources: 

Lee Ross, PhD:

Mark Lepper, PhD:

Kurt Lewin, PhD “Force Field Analysis”:


Musical Links

Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You”:

Queen “We Will Rock You”:

Tim Houlihan “Thinking About You”:

Dolly Parton “I Will Always Love You”:


Recently, NPR’s Planet Money penned an article about how much our time is worth based on some research that was sponsored by the rideshare company Lyft. According to the article, Lyft economists tried to determine how much people were willing to pay to save some time.

After crunching data from nine different cities, Lyft estimated the average value of time is $19.00 per hour.

In this episode, Kurt and Tim discussed Ashley Whillan’s new book, “Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life,” some of the fundamental errors humans experience with time such as temporal discounting, loads of stats you’ll probably never need.

We discover that better time management leads to greater happiness and combining habits and mindset is critical to wellbeing.  By the way, the US Department of Transportation’s official value of people’s time is $14.00 per hour. Go figure.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves




Planet Money (NPR): What Is Your Time Worth?:

Big Think – Life in Numbers:

Ashley Whillans, “Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life”:

Have you ever been caught in an avalanche or spoken to someone who survived? In this episode, you’ll hear what living through an avalanche is really like.

Audun Hetland (a psychologist) and Andrea Mannberg (an economist) are researchers at the White Heat Project in Tromsø, Norway. The project is a collaboration between The Arctic University of Norway, Montana State University, and Umeå University, in Sweden. Their international team also includes researchers in geography, snow science, and political science. They are focused on the effects of positional preferences and bounded rationality on risk-taking behavior, and more specifically, skiing in avalanche terrain.

As project leader, Andrea spoke about how this interdisciplinary team is helping backcountry skiers do a better job of managing their risk in avalanche terrain. To do so, they are studying decision-making under uncertainty and the curious way cold and hot states affect our choices.

Their work has clear implications for corporate leaders who make decisions about budgets and human resources, and in many situations, the consequences can be quite high.

In case you’re not familiar with Tromsø, Norway, it is a 2-hour flight north of the Arctic Circle.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves



Andrea Mannberg, PhD and Audun Hetland, PhD:

White Heat Project:

Bridger Bowl:

George Loewenstein & Dan Ariely’s paper on hot states vs. cold states:

Seinfeld Morning Guy vs. Night Guy:

Max Bazerman “Better, Not Perfect” Episode 196:

Common Biases & Heuristics:


Musical Links

John Coltrane “Green Dolphin Street”:

Tom Waits “Tom Traubert’s Blues”:

White Stripes “Seven Nation Army”:



The Clash “London Calling”:

Folk og Røvere:


Andrea’s “dance song”:

Isolation Years (A band from Andrea’s home town):

The Knife:

First Aid Kit:


Joel Weinberger is a Professor of Psychology at the Derner Institute at Adelphi University with Postdoctoral training in motivation at Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and of the American Psychological Association. His research has focused on unconscious processes and worked closely during his post-doc with motivation guru David McClelland.

Joel is the founder of the consulting firm Implicit Strategies, where he helps political campaigns, non-profits, and businesses discover what consumers unconsciously think and feel about their candidate, product, or brand. In addition to roughly 100 peer-reviewed articles, his political and business commentaries have appeared in various outlets, including The Huffington Post, Anderson Cooper, and Good Morning America.

In addition to writing, teaching, and consulting, Joel is a practicing clinical psychologist. We are here to talk with him about his seminal book, The Unconscious, that we came to because of a generous recommendation from Yale scholar, John Bargh, PhD.

We spoke with Joel in late June 2020 and, regrettably, we failed to publish our conversation earlier. So, you’ll hear some references to the 2020 campaign that are asynchronous to where we are today; that said, Joel successfully predicted the outcome of the US Presidential election back in June!

Predictions aside, Joel’s encyclopedic knowledge of research on the unconscious is - dare I say - thrilling. We discussed Joel’s admiration for the work of Sigmund Freud, his collaborations with David McClelland, the interplay between the conscious and the unconscious, and research he’s done with his long-time partner, Drew Westen.

We covered political campaigns, deniers of the unconscious, and the liberating voice of Sam Cooke.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Joel and happy new year! (And good riddance to 2020!)

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves



Joel Weinberger, PhD:

“Unconscious: Theory, Research and Clinical Implications”:

Mickey Mantle:

David McClelland, PhD:

David McClelland and Joel Weinberger on Implicit vs. Self Attributed:

Sigmund Freud “The Interpretation of Dreams”:

Sigmund Freud “The Unconscious”:

Drew Westen, “The Political Brain”:

Weinberger & Westen “RATS, We Should Have Used Clinton: Subliminal Priming in Political Campaigns”:

Heddy Lamarr:

Blues music:

AJ Jacobs “The Year of Living Biblically”:

Kwame Christian on Compassionate Curiosity – Episode 178:


Musical Links

“Yesterday” by the Beatles:

Sam Cooke “Bring it on Home to Me” (Harlem Version):

Tedeschi Trucks Band - "Bring It On Home To Me":

Leadbelly “Goodnight, Irene”:

BB King “The Thrill is Gone”:

If you’re like the rest of us, your new year’s resolutions don’t last beyond St. Valentine’s Day. That’s okay – it’s normal. The trouble is it’s not what you want.

If you WANT success with your resolutions – to accomplish your goals – then listen to this podcast. We’ve broken down the best behavioral science advice into 4 easy-to-follow tips that will help you achieve what it is you’re passionately committed to at the start of the year.

We’ve incorporated research from some of the best work in the field is combined with the real-life experiences of our hosts, Kurt Nelson, PhD, and Tim Houlihan. Enjoy and please join us in saying “So long!” to 2020 with our last episode of the year.

If you like our work, please give us a super quick rating or take a luxurious minute while you’re waiting for the oven to heat up for your holiday bake and give us a short review. Thank you and we look forward to a better year ahead.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves


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