Shankar Vedantam

Shankar Vedantam is a science correspondent for NPR. 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.

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2:26am

Fri July 19, 2013
Code Switch

How To Fight Racial Bias When It's Silent And Subtle

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 7:00 pm

Researchers say it may be possible to temporarily reduce racial biases.
Images.com Corbis

In the popular imagination and in conventional discourse — especially in the context of highly charged news events such as the shooting of Trayvon Martin — prejudice is all about hatred and animosity.

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3:45am

Mon June 24, 2013
Shots - Health News

Gloomy Thinking Can Be Contagious

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 9:59 am

Katherine Streeter for NPR

When students show up at college in the fall, they'll have to deal with new classes, new friends and a new environment. In many cases, they will also have new roommates — and an intriguing new research study suggests this can have important mental health consequences.

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2:00am

Thu June 20, 2013
Research News

What Makes Rituals Special? Join Us For A Google+ Conversation

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 11:30 am

Click play on the video player above to watch my Google+ conversation with Harvard behavioral scientist Francesca Gino and Slate's Human Nature correspondent William Saletan about the role of ritual in human life.

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2:03am

Mon May 20, 2013
Health

Bans Of Same-Sex Marriage Can Take A Psychological Toll

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 8:25 am

Opponents of same-sex marriage participate in the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., on March 26, as the Supreme Court hears arguments on California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

As the country awaits two important Supreme Court decisions involving state laws on same-sex marriage, a small but consistent body of research suggests that laws that ban gay marriage — or approve it — can affect the mental health of gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans.

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4:04am

Fri May 10, 2013
Research News

What Does 'Sexual Coercion' Say About A Society?

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 10:46 am

One contemporary analysis links the increase in gender equality in a society with increased sexual empowerment of women and less sexual coercion. But there's more to it than that.
iStockphoto.com

Anthropologists, sociologists and biologists have explored over several decades many factors that shape the likelihood of sexual coercion of women by men.

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2:40am

Mon May 6, 2013
Shots - Health News

Young Girls May Get More 'Teaching Time' From Parents Than Boys Do

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 11:27 am

Of Blocks And Books: Parents may be more likely to take a young daughter to the library than a son, and to read to the girl for longer periods of time, a new analysis suggests.
Hulton Archive iStockphoto.com

For some years now, teachers and parents have noted something about boys and girls. Starting in elementary school, young girls often score better on reading and math tests than young boys do.

The differences are uneven on different tests and do not describe the experience of every child, but empirical studies do document a difference.

Now, two economists are proposing a partial explanation for the disparity that might give some parents heartburn.

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2:26am

Mon April 29, 2013
Shots - Health News

Shhh, The Kids Can Hear You Arguing (Even When They're Asleep)

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 7:17 pm

Even during sleep, babies' brains continue to take in and process angry voices.
iStockphoto.com

For years now, psychologists have been telling couples who yell at one another to stop for the sake of the kids. Such conflict in the home — even when no violence is involved — is associated with a host of negative behavioral and life outcomes for children.

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4:51pm

Mon April 22, 2013
Code Switch

What Does Modern Prejudice Look Like?

Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 9:08 am

iStockphoto.com

Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji was once approached by a reporter for an interview. When Banaji heard the name of the magazine the reporter was writing for, she declined the interview: She didn't think much of the magazine and believed it portrayed research in psychology inaccurately.

But then the reporter said something that made her reconsider, Banaji recalled: "She said, 'You know, I used to be a student at Yale when you were there, and even though I didn't take a course with you, I do remember hearing about your work.' "

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1:56am

Tue April 9, 2013
Research News

To Find Insider Trading, Follow The Kids' Money

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 8:14 am

iStockphoto.com

In New York and Washington, government regulators are cracking down on insider trading, the illegal practice in which people with internal information about important company events make stock market trades before ordinary investors find out what's happening.

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2:16am

Mon April 1, 2013
Research News

Why Not Apologizing Makes You Feel Better

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 7:50 am

Illustration by NPR

To err is human.

So is refusing to apologize for those errors.

From toddlers and talk show hosts to preteens and presidents, we all know people who have done stupid, silly and evil things, then squared their jaws and told the world they've done nothing wrong.

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2:14am

Mon March 25, 2013
Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court

Shift In Gay Marriage Support Mirrors A Changing America

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 7:42 am

Same-sex marriage advocates protest outside the county clerk's office in San Francisco on Feb. 14.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

When Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman recently reversed his stance on gay marriage after his son came out as gay, he joined a tidal wave of Americans who have altered their views on the subject.

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2:24am

Mon March 4, 2013
Shots - Health News

Your Child's Fat, Mine's Fine: Rose-Colored Glasses And The Obesity Epidemic

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 7:30 pm

Adam Cole NPR

About 69 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, and more than four in five people say they are worried about obesity as a public health problem.

But a recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health revealed a curious schism in our national attitudes toward obesity: Only one in five kids had a parent who feared the boy or girl would grow up to be overweight as an adult.

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1:55am

Wed February 6, 2013
Research News

Why You Love That Ikea Table, Even If It's Crooked

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 9:51 am

Building your own stuff boosts your feelings of pride and competence, and also signals to others that you are competent.
iStockphoto.com

Have you ever spent a couple of hours working on a craft project — or a presentation for work — and then fallen in love with what you've accomplished? Do the colors you've picked for your PowerPoint background pop so beautifully that you just have to sit back and admire your own genius?

If so, get in line: You're the latest person to fall victim to the Ikea Effect.

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11:33am

Fri February 1, 2013
The Salt

Pig Out In The Winter Or When Money's Tight? Blame Evolution

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 4:39 pm

When times are tough, that prehistoric urge to splurge on high-calorie treats like M&Ms still kicks in.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

Has the recession made you fat?

To the long and growing list of risk factors known to increase the risk of obesity, scientists recently added a new one: scarcity.

People given subtle cues that they may have to confront harsh conditions in the near future choose to eat higher-calorie food than they might do otherwise, a response that researchers believe is shaped by the long hand of evolution.

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