WNPR

human behavior

An interview about South Korea's political upheaval became one of the most popular things on the Internet on Friday, when the children of professor Robert E. Kelly became the inadvertent stars of his spot on the BBC.

Vinoth Chandar / Creative Commons

I once took guitar lessons with a small group of people who met two nights a week in the basement of a local elementary school. We spent most of each lesson practicing in little nooks and crannies we each carved out in the old room. I enjoyed picking out tunes in my own little corner at my own pace. It was all going so smoothly until... the instructor mentioned the final "concert."

I lost sleep by night, fretted by day, and practiced a lot before forcing myself to show up on the scheduled night. But a funny thing happened: no one else showed up beside me and the instructor. I'm not sure what made me happier - that I showed up, that I got off the hook, or that I had an otherwise pleasant experience that was calm and not rushed.

Editor's note: This story contains language that may be offensive to some readers.

Harassment, threats and intimidation of minorities and immigrants spiked nationwide after President Trump's election in November. Comprehensive statistics are hard to come by, but officials and watch groups say hate-motivated incidents remain higher than usual more than three months after Election Day.

Massachusetts is among the many states that have seen such a spike.

The promise of automated cars is that they could eliminate human-error accidents and potentially enable more efficient use of roadways. That sounds, at first blush, like self-driving cars could also mean traffic reduction and lower commute times.

But researchers aren't so sure.

Hesham Rakha is an engineering professor at Virginia Tech who studies traffic's flow — or lack thereof.

WNPR/David DesRoches


The desks in Sarah Lane’s fifth grade class at Bear Path School are covered with handmade paper hearts with short phrases written on them like, “Help Someone,” and “Compliment a Teacher.” 

AMProSoft / Flickr

If there's one thing we've never been good at, it's limiting ourselves. We eat too much junk food, watch too much T.V., and engage in all manner of self-indulgence. So why then, do we continue to adhere to the limitations of monogamy? If love is so grand, why not celebrate a lifestyle which encourages loving multiple partners?

Donald Trump announced in a series of tweets Wednesday that he will be taking himself "completely out" of his business operations to avoid potential conflicts of interest as president. The president-elect did not offer details of the plan or say that he would divest financially from his businesses, but he did promise a news conference in the coming weeks that would address the issue.

Ryan Lackey / Flickr

As social creatures we know that isolation can be emotionally difficult, but research shows that it can be psychologically damaging as well. So why then, would anyone live this way by choice? This hour, we hear two such cases of isolated living.

Maureen McMurray / Creative Commons

The charged language used by President-elect Donald Trump this election season may have emboldened people with open hostility toward blacks, gay people, Muslims, Mexicans, Jews, and women.

How do we respond to incidents of hate and people who feel emboldened to hate? How do we teach our children to respond? How do we begin to see bigotry through a wider lens?

Democracy Chronicles / Flickr

Why do we vote the way we do? The easy answer, of course, is that we pick the politician whose values, beliefs and opinions most closely resemble our own. But while that does play a part, there are other, less obvious influences as well.

Photonesta / Flickr Creative Commons

Okay, this show comes with a trigger warning.

We talk about things people eat, and some of those things are not for the squeamish. This is a conversation about disgust, and specifically, how our reflexive response of disgust may get in the way of things we probably need to think about doing.

Leif Andersen / Flickr

Animal rights have come a long way over the last century, providing, of course, we're not talking about fish. While other vertebrates have slowly been recognized as social, feeling, even sentient beings, fish remain good for three things: owning, catching and eating.

jeroen_bennink / Creative Commons

Certain researchers are calling for greater scrutiny of how politics and technology intersect.

When Katlyn Burbidge's son was 6 years old, he was performing some silly antic typical of a first-grader. But after she snapped a photo and started using her phone, he asked her a serious question: "Are you going to post that to Facebook?"

She laughed and answered, "Yes, I think I will." What he said next stopped her.

"Can you not?"

That's when it dawned on her: She had been posting photos of him online without asking his permission.

Sounds, particularly those made by other humans, rank as the No. 1 distraction in the workplace. According to workplace design expert Alan Hedge at Cornell, 74 percent of workers say they face "many" instances of disturbances and distractions from noise.

"In general, if it's coming from another person, it's much more disturbing than when it's coming from a machine," he says, because, as social beings, humans are attuned to man-made sounds. He says overheard conversations, as well as high-pitched and intermittent noises, also draw attention away from tasks at hand.

Pages