Shankar Vedantam

Shankar Vedantam is NPR's social science correspondent and the host of the Hidden Brain podcast. The focus of his reporting is on human behavior and the social sciences, and how research in those fields can get listeners to think about the news in unusual and interesting ways.

Before joining NPR in 2011, Vedantam spent 10 years as a reporter at The Washington Post. From 2007 to 2009, he was also a columnist, and wrote the Department of Human Behavior column for the Post. Vedantam writes an occasional column for Slate called "Hidden Brain."

Throughout his career, Vedantam has been recognized with many journalism honors including awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, the South Asian Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, and the American Public Health Association.

In 2009-2010, Vedantam served as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He participated in the 2005 Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship on Science and Religion, the 2003-2004 World Health Organization Journalism Fellowship, and the 2002-2003 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship.

Vedantam is the author of the non-fiction book, The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives. The book, published in 2010, described how unconscious biases influence people.

Outside of journalism, Vedantam has written fiction and plays. His short story-collection, The Ghosts of Kashmir, was published in 2005. The previous year, the Brick Playhouse in Philadelphia produced his full-length, comedy play, Tom, Dick and Harriet.

Vedantam has served as a lecturer at many academic institutions including Harvard University and Columbia University. In 2010, he completed a two year-term as a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Since 2006, he has served on the advisory board of the Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships in Science & Religion.

"Clean up this mess!" This is a command you've probably given or received in your life. Perhaps in the last day, or even the last hour. To many of us, the desire to bring order to chaos – to tidy up our kids' toys, organize an overstuffed closet, or rake the leaves covering the lawn – can be nearly irresistible. And it's a desire that extends to other aspects of our lives: Managers tell employees to get organized. Politicians are elected on promises to clean up Washington....

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Let's say you're at a party or walking down the street and suddenly out of a sea of passing faces one of them lights up. Someone is looking right at you, waving, saying hello, they're happy to see you and you have no idea who this person is. Some of us are really good at recognizing faces. Others of us are not. To explain why, here's our social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam from NPR's Hidden Brain podcast....

The election of Donald Trump came as a shock to many Americans, but perhaps most of all to those in the business of calling elections. The pollsters on both the left and the right had confidently predicted Hillary Clinton would walk away with the race. They got it wrong. But one man did not: Allan Lichtman. On Sept. 23, Lichtman, a historian at American University, declared that Trump would win, and he stuck by that call through the tumultuous final weeks of the campaign. Lichtman's...

What are the lives of the planet's wealthiest people really like? Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to find out. She knew she'd have a hard time gaining access to the world of the über wealthy, so she did something unusual: She took courses to become a wealth manager. In the course of this training, Harrington met other wealth managers, who agreed to be interviewed for her research. She discovered that, in order to manage money for the super-rich, these professionals...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: It's no secret that this presidential campaign season has been tense, with disagreement and rancor even louder than usual. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: You know, people are actually watching this at home. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president than... DONALD TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet... CLINTON: And... (SOUNDBITE...

Fewer than 1 in 5 members of Congress are women. At Fortune 500 companies, fewer than 1 in 20 CEOs are women. And if you look at all the presidents of the United States through Barack Obama, what are the odds of having 44 presidents who are all men? If men and women had an equal shot at the White House, the odds of this happening just by chance are about 1 in 18 trillion. What explains the dearth of women in top leadership positions? Is it bias, a lack of role models, the old boy's club? Sure...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: And you probably know this. Every time you sign up for something online - maybe you're updating your operating system on your mobile device, maybe you're buying a new app, maybe you're just getting a new loyalty card from the drugstore - you're often presented with this lengthy legal statement, and you're asked if you agree with the terms of service. Well, there is new social science research that looks into what...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: We know there is growing income inequality in the United States. Incomes for the wealthy are rising faster than incomes for the poor. There's also new social science research that suggests the rich might also be getting richer for another reason. And to talk about that, we're joined by NPR's social science correspondent, Shankar Vedantam. Shankar, hello as always. SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, David. GREENE: So...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST: There's an old saying that if you want to get something done, always ask a busy person. Researchers have scientifically tested that theory. And NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam joins us now to explain what they found. Hey ya. SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi Lulu. GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'm skeptical. (LAUGHTER) GARCIA-NAVARRO: Is it really true that busy people get more stuff done? VEDANTAM:...

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