August 29, 2021

Can People Learn to be Better at Thinking? With Richard E. Nisbett

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: https://www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves. 

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: https://amzn.to/341F4A4 

Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count: https://amzn.to/3fALT0L 

The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why: https://amzn.to/3u728bj 

Culture Of Honor: The Psychology Of Violence In The South (New Directions in Social Psychology): https://amzn.to/3ub2FJu 

Thought and Feeling: Cognitive Alteration of Feeling States: https://amzn.to/2Rqgw1f 

Rules for Reasoning: https://amzn.to/3hDj6LJ 

The Person and the Situation: https://amzn.to/2S6tfGa 

Links from our Interview

Lee Ross “The Person and the Situation: Perspectives of Social Psychology”: https://amzn.to/3iYN3q5 

Stanley Schachter “The Psychology of Affiliation: Experimental Studies of the Sources of Gregariousness”: https://amzn.to/3sEQQw1 

Malcom Gladwell “Outliers: The Story of Success”: https://amzn.to/3xWZdnw 

Michael Lewis Book about Dnaiel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds”: https://amzn.to/3iYwIlg 

Richard Thaler “Nudge: The FInal Edition”: https://amzn.to/3srwyWs 

Stanley Milgram Experiment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment 

Cary Grant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cary_Grant

Timothy Wilson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Wilson

Russell Sage Foundation: https://www.russellsage.org/ 

University of Michigan: https://umich.edu/ 

Jean Piaget: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget 

Episode 155: John Bargh: Dante, Coffee and the Unconscious Mind: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/john-bargh-dante-coffee-and-the-unconscious-mind/

Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/news/author/peggy-noonan 

The Week: https://www.theweek.co.uk/

Episode 67: George Loewenstein: On a Functional Theory of Boredom: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/george-loewenstein-on-a-functional-theory-of-boredom/

Musical Links

Beethoven “The Emperor Concerto”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPx7P6YvHYw

Beethoven 7th symphony, 2nd Movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgHxmAsINDk

Schubert “Serenade”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biUv4VLW0fc

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