Shankar Vedantam

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump has talked an awful lot about fake news this past year, and it's not just the president. Other Republicans use this term. Democrats use it. It has become an increasingly partisan phrase. Don't like something? Call it fake news. Social science research explores how our minds actually push away information that gets in the way of our feelings and desires. NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam talked with our own David Greene about this.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, David.

All social classes have unspoken rules.

From A-list celebrities to teachers, doctors, lawyers, and journalists — there are social norms that govern our decisions, whether we realize it or not.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We begin this next item with the question, what is it that makes you you? A person's personality and potential can be tricky things to pinpoint and measure. On today's Morning Edition, NPR's Shankar Vedantam looked at the world of personality testing and what these tests can and cannot tell us about ourselves. And now he explores new research that asks another question - can the ways we categorize people affect not just who they are now, but who they'll become in the future?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If anybody with Internet access eventually sees the offer click here and take an online personality test, they're not very scientific. But they can be fun. BuzzFeed had a quiz called Which "Star Wars" Villain are You? Well, some employers are using more rigorous personality tests. So what can they really reveal about the people who take them? Here's NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

In one of the most famous scenes from the Harry Potter series, a group of kids, new to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, line up before an old and crumpled wizard's hat. It is the sorting hat. The hat will tell them which house they'll belong to during their Hogwarts education.

There is something deeply appealing about the sorting hat. It is wise. It seems to know people better than they know themselves.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

So new research suggests that you can tell a lot about people by the way they talk. In particular, there's a difference between people who ask questions and people who do not. Our own Rachel Martin asked some questions of NPR's Shankar Vedantam.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Have you ever had a bad day at school or work or an awful commute home and then taken out your bad mood on a colleague or even your spouse? I'm going to bet you have. How's that?

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, inevitably everyone turns to the question of why - why would someone do something so horrific? President Trump was asked this very question right before he boarded Marine One. And here's what he said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He was a sick man, a demented man, a lot of problems, I guess. And we're looking into him very, very seriously, but we're dealing with a very, very sick individual.

Many companies are investing money in social media to advertise new products. But they could be paying a hidden price for those ads.

Read more:

Wang, Shuting and Greenwood, Brad N. and Pavlou, Paul A., Tempting Fate: Social Media Posts by Firms, Customer Purchases, and the Loss of Followers (July 10, 2017). Fox School of Business Research Paper No. 17-022.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

For the past four weeks, we have watched a number of natural disasters unfold on the news.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Harvey hit Texas with Old Testament wrath.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Every year, many students who have overcome daunting obstacles in high school receive good news — they've been accepted to college.

These kids represent a success story: through hard work and determination, they've made into college, and perhaps even on to a better life.

Except it doesn't always work out that way.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Here's a question - have you ever done a really big workout at the gym, then gone home and gorged yourself on the first unhealthy thing you can find? New research explores why you chose to do that. NPR's social science correspondent, Shankar Vedantam, is here to explain. Shankar, I know none of this.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: (Laughter).

MARTIN: I've never ever done this - worked out and then pigged out. I mean, this is - I do this constantly. And I feel like I've just worked out, and so why can't I have a double cheeseburger?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

So many studies have found that early childhood education makes a big difference in the lives of youngsters, we collectively consider it so important. Given that, you might expect that child care providers would be actively looking for teachers who are highly qualified. But new research shows something different. And Shankar Vedantam, NPR's social science correspondent, is here to tell us about it.

Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: What do you mean child care providers don't want the best teachers?

Turn on the TV, and you'll find no shortage of people who claim to know what's going to happen: who's going to get picked for the NBA draft, who will win the next election, which stocks will go up or down.

These pundits and prognosticators all have an air of certainty. And why shouldn't they? We, as the audience, like to hear the world's complexity distilled into simple, pithy accounts. It doesn't help that these commentators rarely pay a serious price when their predictions don't pan out.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Police in London have identified the driver of the van that drove into a group of Muslims outside a mosque yesterday. He is Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old white male. And that profile may be significant in how the media covered the attack. New social science research in the U.S. suggests that in incidents like this, the identity of the attacker has an impact on coverage. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam explains.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

So when you recycle paper or an empty bottle, do you get that warm little feeling because maybe you think, hey, I've done something right for the world? Well, maybe you shouldn't get that feeling because there's some new social science research out there that suggests recycling can have a downside. Why are you always bringing negative news?

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: (Laughter).

MARTIN: Shankar Vedantam, NPR social science correspondent, here to rain on our recycling parade. Hi, Shankar.

VEDANTAM: Hi, Rachel.

In 1969, Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist from Stanford University, ran an interesting field study. He abandoned two cars in two very different places: one in a mostly poor, crime-ridden section of New York City, and the other in a fairly affluent neighborhood of Palo Alto, Calif. Both cars were left without license plates and parked with their hoods up.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

There are many ways to show off. You can do it on social media. Post pictures on Facebook about a fancy dinner or your new sports car or some bling or even that fabulous vacation you're taking that nobody else is taking. Well, there's a new status symbol. And to understand what it is, we're joined by NPR's social science correspondent. Shankar Vedantam is here once again. Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, what's this status symbol?

VEDANTAM: The latest status symbol is time, or rather the lack of time.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It is the season for college admissions letters to go out, which means students from across the country are frantically checking their mailboxes or inboxes in their email. If this year, though, is anything like years past, we'll continue to see a dearth of low-income students admitted to the most selective colleges. New social science research suggests a possible solution, and to explain, we're joined by NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam. Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

Pages