7 Podcasts About Human Psychology
In a sense, every podcast is a podcast about psychology and the human condition. Podcasts like This American Life and the TED Radio Hour tell extraordinary stories by everyday people and experts alike. S-Town, in part, looks at where we’re from and how that does (and doesn’t) shape who we are. Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History digs into the very “human” part of human history, and Serial explores the very human impact of the criminal justice system. In other words, if you’re looking for podcasts about human psychology, you wouldn’t be lack for choice.
We humans, as you might imagine, are obsessed with ourselves. We have enough personality tests to last us the rest of forever, sorting us into some amalgamation of Myers-Briggs letters and enneagram numbers and Sex and the City characters. Understanding what makes us us is inherently part of the human condition.
Per Scientific American, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a neuroscientist at the Institute of Biomedical Science in Rio de Janeiro, debunked the idea that the human brain is special solely because we have more neurons or use more brain energy. Herculano-Houzel found that “the number of neurons relative to brain size to be consistent with other primates, and that the cerebral cortex.” As Diana Kwon writes for Scientific American, “Herculano-Houzel] argues that the human brain is actually just a linearly scaled-up primate brain that grew in size as we started to consume more calories, thanks to the advent of cooked food.” Rats demonstrate altruism and monkeys favor fairness. So, perhaps the primary leg-up we’ve got with our big, big galaxy brains is its size.
If your brain is seeking more information on itself, you’ve come to the right place. Here are seven podcasts about human psychology to help you learn more about yourself and humans as a whole.
1. Hidden Brain
NPR’s Hidden Brain hosted by Shankar Vedantam is science plus storytelling plus human behavior. Vedantam looks at everything from the monkey’s behavior to American masculinity to answer bigger questions about humans as a whole.
Episode to start with: “Baby Talk: Decoding The Secret Language Of Babies” because googoo gaga babies!!!
2. Sincerely, Hueman
Sincerely, Hueman tells stories of human kindness from people doing good in the world, from advocates to philanthropists to people making a change in their own communities. They’ve has guests including Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown, Linda and Ashley Graham, and Meredith Walker from Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. It will make you feel good and inspired to use that human noggin to do good.
Episode to start with: Jillian Mercado on “Force of Inclusive Fashion.”
In its own words, NPR’s Invisibilia looks at the “unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions.” The hosts, Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin or Lulu Miller depending on the season you’re listening to, explore everything from Implicit bias to grief to empathy. It will make you smile and cry and cr-ile, which is smiling when you cry.
Episode to start with: If you want a short taste of the show, check out this excerpt titled “A Man Finds An Explosive Emotion Locked In A Word.”
4. On Being With Krista Tippett
If you’ve dipped a toe into podcasts on the human condition, you’ve likely heard of On Being. Each episode features conversations about meaning and what makes life fulfilling. If you’re still wondering about whether you should jump on board, perhaps their Peabody Award will convince you.
Episode to start with: "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" which won the show its Peabody.
5. The Happiness Lab
If you’re heard tale of the Yale’s “Happiness 101” course, this is the podcast version of that course. Hosted by Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos, known for her popular course on happiness, The Happiness Lab looks into the things that make us, as the name suggests, happy.
Episode to start with: Since there’s only one six-episode season available, it’d be best to start with Episode 1: You Can Change.
Hosted by comedian and self-described “energy expert,” Mike Kelton explores the supernatural and talks to guests about their beliefs in the podcast Beyond. If you like hearing people talk about their experience with religion and how that’s shaped them, this is the podcast for you.
Episode to start with: “What Does Megan Stalter B?” with comedian Megan Stalter
7. Psychology from the Yale School of Medicine
Want to feel like your commutes are a classroom? Yale School of Medicine’s Psychology is quite literally that. The 20-episode podcast from 2009 is essentially you auditing Professor Paul Bloom’s psychology course. Take notes if you’d like. There will be no formal exam.
Episode to start with: Since this is a college course, start with the introductory episode.