The Human Zoo

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Election Special2015040820150411 (R4)

Michael Blastland unravels how human psychology shapes the way we vote.

A month before the general election, Michael Blastland examines whether or not the way we vote can really be changed, and asks if political persuasion is pointless.

In a series of experiments run in the Human Zoo lab, the team gauges how opinions are formed in members of the public, and the extent to which psychological 'tricks' can provoke a shift in mindset.

How does a politician's physical appearance impact on how their policies are perceived? Can the temperature of our lab have an impact when our subjects debate evidence for man-made global warming? Can opinion on an issue such as crime be changed when the facts are presented?

At the heart of the matter are our biases and judgements - how we perceive the world and how rationally or irrationally we behave.

Michael is guided by Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, and resident reporter Timandra Harkness sets out to discover how other countries use behavioural science in an attempt to win elections.

Produced by Dom Byrne and Eve Streeter

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

01012013030520150302 (R4)

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? How do we perceive the world and what lies behind the quirks of human behaviour?

Michael Blastland presents a curious blend of intriguing experiments, with Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, on hand as guide and experimenter in chief.

Our thoughts, John Milton said, are a kingdom of infinite space and they might take us anywhere -whether our subject is writ large, like the behaviours of public figures or the contradictions of politics, or located in the minutiae of everyday life. We can show how what happens on the big stage is our own behaviour writ large - like the old Linda Smith joke about the Iraq-war coalition's failure to find chemical weapons: "I'm the same with the scissors".

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Michael Blastland presents a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, conversations, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, is on hand as guide and experimenter in chief.

The Human Zoo explores why it is that our judgements are so averse to ambiguity, how mental energy is linked to our legs, why we don't want to be in the dock when the judge is hungry - and other thoughts that have nothing to do with anything much beyond the ironing.

Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? How do we perceive the world and what lies behind the quirks of human behaviour? A curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, conversations, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

The presenter, Michael Blastland, will submit his own thoughts and behaviours to scrutiny and to some devious manipulations, and extend some of these experiments to the audience. We want to know what and how you think too.

We'll be guided by experts including Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, who will be on hand as guide and experimenter in chief. Together we'll explore and review some of the latest findings in a fast-growing subject in academia and the bookstores.

We'll explore: why it is that our judgements are so averse to ambiguity? How mental energy is linked to our legs. Why you don't want to be in the dock when the judge is hungry, or other thoughts that have nothing to do with anything much beyond the ironing.

01022013031220150309 (R4)

Can we explain a wide variety of human behaviour - from unwillingness to go for health screening, to opposition to a new railway - as different versions of what is called 'status quo bias'?

What does it mean to say that we are biased towards the status quo? We all think we have our reasons for our preferences. And we do. But is one of them a feeling of which we can be entirely unaware - a tendency to resist change and prefer things just the way they are, simply because that's the way they are now?

In the Human Zoo this week, we'll hear the experiments that seem to show people clinging on to what they've got - even when they are certain to gain from changing. In other words, a suggestion that we don't judge the merits of a choice in an even-handed way, but are biased in favour of where we start from, even when that bias clearly costs us.

So, does status quo bias also suggest that we are irrational? Possibly. Although some argue that it often makes sense. Even so, it has implications for everything from the businesses who go on taking ever bigger risks to attempt to avoid the horror of a loss, to people's scepticism of new building, technology, or change of any kind. It might even help to explain why you can't seem to stop yourself arriving habitually late.

The Human Zoo, where we see public decisions viewed through private thoughts, is presented by Michael Blastland, with the trusted guidance of Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School.

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? How do we perceive the world and what lies behind the quirks of human behaviour?

Michael Blastland presents a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, conversations, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, is on hand as guide and experimenter in chief.

Our thoughts, John Milton said, are a kingdom of infinite space and they might take us anywhere -whether our subject is writ large, like the behaviours of public figures or the contradictions of politics, or located in the minutiae of everyday life. We can show how what happens on the big stage is our own behaviour writ large - like the old Linda Smith joke about the Iraq-war coalition's failure to find chemical weapons: "I'm the same with the scissors".

The Human Zoo explores why it is that our judgements are so averse to ambiguity, how mental energy is linked to our legs, why we don't want to be in the dock when the judge is hungry - and other thoughts that have nothing to do with anything much beyond the ironing.

01032013031920150316 (R4)

Life will be so much better when we move to Spain, buy a new car, elect a different government, acquire those new shoes - We can all succumb to the promise of the new - change will be all we need to live the perfect lives. But we also know the reality rarely lives up to the promise. Shoes are scuffed, endless sun becomes wearisome and new governments - well lets just say they rapidly tarnish.

Yet disappointment after disappointment never seems to banish the lurking conviction that the grass is always greener on the other side. It appears we have within us a bias towards change.

Much of this is about the pursuit of happiness, but our own judgement about what makes us happy is often flawed.

This bias can manifest in the most unlikeliest of ways. The elation of winning that nick-nack in an online auction rapidly diminishes when we realise we've overbid significantly.

In the Human Zoo this week, you'll hear this lust for change in action, illustrated by experiment and discussed by some of the greatest minds in the field. We hear from perhaps the world's leading psychologist, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman. You'll hear how our bias for change interacts with our fickle memories which has led to a radical approach to making that hospital stay not feel quite so bad after all.

The Human Zoo, where we see public decisions viewed through private thoughts, is presented by Michael Blastland, with the trusted guidance of Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School.

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

010420130326
010520130402
0106 LAST20130409

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate: ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? How do we perceive the world and what lies behind the quirks of human behaviour?

The programme is a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, conversations, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

The presenter, Michael Blastland, submits his own thoughts and behaviours to scrutiny and to some devious manipulations, and extends some of these experiments to the audience.

We're guided by experts like Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, who will be on hand as guide and experimenter in chief. Together we'll explore and review some of the latest findings in a fast-growing subject in academia and the bookstores.

Our thoughts, John Milton said, are a kingdom of infinite space, and they might take us anywhere -whether our subject is writ large, like the behaviours of public figures or the contradictions of politics, or located in the minutiae of everyday life. We can show how what happens on the big stage is our own behaviour writ large - like the old Linda Smith joke about the Iraq-war coalition's failure to find chemical weapons: "I'm the same with the scissors".

We'll explore why it is that our judgements are so averse to ambiguity, how mental energy is linked to our legs, why you don't want to be in the dock when the judge is hungry, and other thoughts that have nothing to do with anything much beyond the ironing.

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

02012013070220131015
02022013070920131022

None of us are really bad at heart are we? We may do the odd bad thing, but it's always for a good reason. We may have jumped a red light, but we needed to pick our children up from school - we're so very different from these vile public figures who end up mired in scandal, committing heinous crimes for their own nefarious ends, abusing the trust we place in them.

Look closely though, and you'll see that most public scandals start with a minor, apparently inconsequential misdeed - not unlike jumping that red light. One leads to another and another, then the cover ups begin and before they know it they are a figure of public hate embroiled in a very public scandal.

In this week's programme Michael Blastland, Professor Nick Chater and Timandra Harkness explore how our very human foibles can lead us into scandal. We hear from a disgraced, now reformed, public figure, and show through a devious experiment how we are all prone to that little bit of dishonesty that could lead us into deeper waters.

The Human Zoo, where we see public decisions viewed through private thoughts, is presented by Michael Blastland, with the trusted guidance of Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School.

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Michael Blastland explores how our very human foibles can lead us into scandal.

02032013071620131029

"Trust me, I tell the truth and I'll prove it to you". It's a simple idea that is the driving force behind the move for public bodies and private business to be open and transparent about their dealings.

The argument goes that, by showing their workings, they can engender trust. However, psychology suggests it might not be that straightforward. An obvious response to publication of the data on surgeon's success rates has been headlines labelling some as "the worst in the UK".

So how can we engender trust, both on a personal and public level. Should we demand that our partners tell us every lecherous thought that goes through their heads? Do we really want to know that the surgeon about to apply their blade to our skin has a lower than average success rate? The answer, like so many about complex human beings, is not simple. Openness and trust are not always linked in the way we might assume. The Human Zoo shows us why.

The Human Zoo, where we see public decisions viewed through private thoughts, is presented by Michael Blastland, with the trusted guidance of Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School.

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? How do we perceive the world and what lies behind the quirks of human behaviour?

Michael Blastland presents a curious blend of intriguing experiments, with Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, on hand as guide and experimenter in chief.

Our thoughts, John Milton said, are a kingdom of infinite space and they might take us anywhere -whether our subject is writ large, like the behaviours of public figures or the contradictions of politics, or located in the minutiae of everyday life. We can show how what happens on the big stage is our own behaviour writ large - like the old Linda Smith joke about the Iraq-war coalition's failure to find chemical weapons: "I'm the same with the scissors".

0204 LAST2013072320131105

Present someone with something they find disgusting and they will invariably draw back in horror. This "yuk!" response is universal - as far as we know, all humans have it.

But, perhaps more surprisingly, what people consider disgusting varies considerably across cultures. Jellyfish, sheep eyes or live grubs can induce disgust or delight depending on what we're used to eating.

And there's another, even more intriguing side to disgust: it can influence our moral judgements about the person or object we see as disgusting. The Liverpool football player Luis Suarez was called disgusting for biting an opponent and received a major penalty, a ten match ban, as a result. Yet he did little damage and other footballers routinely get away with causing far more harm with little, if any, moral outrage. Suarez bit and the disgust his action induced in others arguably made him a moral deviant, potentially influencing the severe punishment.

The surprising psychology of disgust is the subject of this episode of The Human Zoo. It's presented by Michael Blastland, with the trusted guidance of Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School.

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate: ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? How do we perceive the world and what lies behind the quirks of human behaviour? A curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, conversations, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

The programme will enjoy itself but the content will be rigorous too - avoiding the psychobabble to concentrate on what can be genuinely known about us. Hence the emphasis on human experiments and the evidence we can assemble. The presenter, Michael Blastland, will submit his own thoughts and behaviours to scrutiny and to some devious manipulations, and extend some of these experiments to the audience. We want to know what and how you think too.

We'll be guided by the best experts we can find, like Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, who will be on hand as guide and experimenter in chief. Together we'll explore and review some of the latest findings in a fast-growing subject in academia and the bookstores.

Our thoughts, John Milton said, are a kingdom of infinite space, and they might take us anywhere -whether our subject is writ large, like the behaviours of public figures or the contradictions of politics, or located in the minutiae of everyday life. We can show how what happens on the big stage is our own behaviour writ large, like the old Linda Smith joke about the Iraq-war coalition's failure to find chemical weapons: "I'm the same with the scissors".

Presenter: Michael Blastland

0301Can We Control Our Behaviour?2014011420140526

The days have just started to lengthen, it's the time for vague notions of New Year, New Me. All it takes is a bit of willpower - setting us up perfectly for failure a few days or weeks down the road.

Exercising willpower is enormously difficult - not because we are weak, but because the effort required to change our habits is big. There's also a myriad of subtle environmental influences that can knock our good intentions off course.

While it might feel as if we have failed when we let our gym membership lapse and hit the chocolate, there are some very good reasons why this might be so. And knowing about them might just give us the edge and allow us to make real change.

Michael Blastland returns with The Human Zoo, exploring and exposing what makes us tick.

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people are led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? and how do we perceive the world?

It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Michael Blastland is joined by Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, who is on hand as guide and experimenter in chief.

0302The Stories We Use2014012120140602

Cast an objective eye back over our lives, and, if we are brutally honest, it's a whole set of random events that brought us to where we are today. Yet if you ask someone, or even yourself, about that life we get a coherent story of cause and effect - the holiday that led to a career as a ski instructor, the missed train that got you talking to your future spouse or the serendipitous meeting outside a pub that kick started your career as a radio journalist.

We need to tell stories to survive, the argument goes, to make sense of the terrifying confusion that is our existence. So how deeply is this embedded in our psychology - can we design experiments to explore and explain our ability to make sense out of chaos?

In this week's Human Zoo, Michael Blastland delves into our storytelling brains - the story of our stories.

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people are led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? and how do we perceive the world?

It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Michael Blastland is joined by Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, who is on hand as guide and experimenter in chief.

0303What Is Fairness?2014012820140609

Fairness is, so one argument goes, ingrained from birth. And it's true that most parents have heard the refrain "it's not fair" more times than they can count. It seems we all have a strong notion of what is equitable and violating that can cause us great distress. Yet fairness itself seems to be a remarkably fluid notion.

Experiment after experiment shows that we value fairness, but what it means at any one time is dependent on our own feelings of self-worth, our environment and, above all, the society in which we live.

This week on The Human Zoo, Michael Blastland gives the notion of fairness a fair hearing.

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people are led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? and how do we perceive the world?

It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Michael Blastland is joined by Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, who is on hand as guide and experimenter in chief.

0304 LASTThe Psychology Of Negotiation2014020420140616

Our lives are full of tiny yet crucial negotiations. Do you let the other car pull out first from the junction? Who steps through the doorway first? Who takes the last biscuit?

Passing almost unnoticed, they are an essential social lubricant and are based on an unspoken, common understanding. It's when there are no shared expectations, or where there's a direct conflict, that negotiations take on a very different character. If it's personal, it's a relationship-threatening row. If it's political, then the result can be war.

In this week's Human Zoo, Michael Blastland explores the psychology of negotiation - from how to ask for a pay rise to the story of the Polish psychologists who helped engineer one of the most successful political handovers in modern history.

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people are led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? and how do we perceive the world?

It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Michael Blastland is joined by Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, who is on hand as guide and experimenter in chief.

04012014062420140915

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate: ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world?

It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, with explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, will be on hand as guide and experimenter in chief, together with the many other experts popularising a fast-growing subject in academia and the bookstores.

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

040220140701

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate: ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world?

It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, with explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, will be on hand as guide and experimenter in chief, together with the many other experts popularising a fast-growing subject in academia and the bookstores.

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

04032014070820140922

Our minds control our bodies, of course. If we're thirsty then we reach out to pick up a hot cup of tea or ice cold water. But what we think after we've picked up that drink can be influenced by what we're holding.

Experiments have shown that, under the right circumstances, we have nice warm thoughts about people when holding a hot drink, or chilly ones when grasping an icy one. You can hear this all the time in the language we use, we wind ourselves up or calm ourselves down. Politicians are on the left or the right, they're going forward or stepping back from the brink.

Psychologists call this embodiment, the idea that our thoughts are inseparable from our bodily circumstances. So, grab a nice hot cup of tea and come listen.

Presented by Michael Blastland

Producer: Toby Murcott

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate: ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world?

It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, with explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, will be on hand as guide and experimenter in chief, together with the many other experts popularising a fast-growing subject in academia and the bookstores.

Presenter: Michael Blastland

0404 LAST2014071520140929

Familiarity breeds contempt, as the saying goes. But psychologists say that repetition does something powerful to our appreciation of everything we hear - be it music, comedy or a political speech.

The first time you hear a piece of music you may like it, you may hate it, you may be indifferent. Listen again and then again, and the chances are it will grow on you. It becomes familiar, enjoyable and may even enter your desert island discs.

This is the power of repetition in action. Politicians attempt to harness it by repeating key phrases, though that can be a double edged sword - remember Norman Lamont's "green shoots of recovery"?

The way our brains deal with repetition reveals some of the extraordinary ability we have to identify speech in an otherwise meaningless jumble of noise. Listen as Michael Blastland explores the power of repetition, the power of repetition.

Produced by Toby Murcott

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate: ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world?

It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, with explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, will be on hand as guide and experimenter in chief, together with the many other experts popularising a fast-growing subject in academia and the bookstores.

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Producer: Toby Murcott

050120150113

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world?

There's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, and it's all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Michael Blastland presents. Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, is the experimenter-in-chief, ably assisted by resident reporter Timandra Harkness.

In this series, the team will be looking at:

- Decline. What's the psychology of thinking that things get worse?

- Risk. What drives our fear of disaster? The odds, or something deep in our psychology?

- Information. When and how do we resist the facts?

- Persuasion. Looking ahead to the general election, does persuasion work? What does it take for us to change the way we vote?

Producer: Eve Streeter

0502Hindsight Bias20150120

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world?

There's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, and it's all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Michael Blastland presents. Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, is the experimenter-in-chief, ably assisted by resident reporter Timandra Harkness.

In this series, the team will be looking at:

- Decline. What's the psychology of thinking that things get worse?

- Risk. What drives our fear of disaster? The odds, or something deep in our psychology?

- Information. When and how do we resist the facts?

- Persuasion. Looking ahead to the general election, does persuasion work? What does it take for us to change the way we vote?

Producer: Eve Streeter and Dom Byrne

0503Information20150127

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world?

There's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, and it's all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Michael Blastland presents. Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, is the experimenter-in-chief, and Timandra Harkness the resident reporter.

In this programme, information: when and how do we resist the facts?

Producer: Dom Byrne

0504 LASTChanging One's Mind20150203

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world?

There's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen, and it's all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Michael Blastland presents. Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, is the experimenter-in-chief, and Timandra Harkness the resident reporter.

In the last programme of the current series, the Zoo team look ahead to the general election: how do we change our minds? What does it take for us to jump allegiance?

Producer: Dom Byrne

060120150623

Michael Blastland presents the series that explores how humans think, behave and make decisions.

0602The Improvising Mind20150630

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world? It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgments, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news and what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

We're guided by Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, who is on hand as guide and experimenter in chief, while each week resident reporter Timandra Harkness sets out on a mission to unravel.

We like to say that all human behaviour could turn up in The Human Zoo, including yours.

In this series:

Under pressure: What can we learn about our everyday psychology from the highly competitive sports we play? We explore the limits of our concentration and how we behave under stressed conditions. Why do we sometimes crumble under the pressure?

The improvising mind: We visit the Cheltenham Science Festival to consider whether we often just make up what we think, on the spot.

Morals and norms: What are the hidden rules that govern our lives? We explore how and why we follow the intricate rules of social engagement - manners and etiquette - and the values they represent. How do we negotiate the expectation to conform?

Morals and laws: How do we navigate the more obvious rules that society dictates we follow? We explore the sometimes blurry line between right and wrong. When do we feel it is ok to cross the line?

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Producer: Eve Streeter and Dom Byrne

0603Under Pressure - Perfect People20150707

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world? It's a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news and what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

We're guided by Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, who is on hand as guide and experimenter in chief, while each week resident reporter Timandra Harkness sets out on a mission to unravel.

We like to say that all human behaviour could turn up in The Human Zoo, including yours.

In this series -

Morals and norms: What are the hidden rules that govern our lives? We explore how and why we follow the intricate rules of social engagement - manners and etiquette - and the values they represent. How do we negotiate the expectation to conform?

The improvising mind: We visit the Cheltenham Science Festival to consider whether we often just make up what we think, on the spot.

Under pressure: What can we learn about our everyday psychology from the highly competitive sports we play? We explore the limits of our concentration and how we behave under stressed conditions. Why do we sometimes crumble under the pressure?

Morals and laws: How do we navigate the more obvious rules that society dictates we follow? We explore the sometimes blurry line between right and wrong. When do we feel it is ok to cross the line?

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Producer: Eve Streeter and Dom Byrne

0604 LASTA Word Of Advice20150714

0720151208

The series that looks at current events through the lens of psychology. From scandals to markets, elections to traffic jams, discover the nuts and bolts of human behaviour that link public life to our most private thoughts and motivations.

Michael Blastland investigates, with resident Zoo psychologist Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, and roving reporter Timandra Harkness.

Producers: Dom Byrne and Eve Streeter

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

0720151222

The series that looks at current events through the lens of psychology. From scandals to markets, elections to traffic jams, discover the nuts and bolts of human behaviour that link public life to our most private thoughts and motivations.

Michael Blastland investigates, with resident Zoo psychologist Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, and roving reporter Timandra Harkness.

Producers: Dom Byrne and Eve Streeter

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

07The Lives Of Things20151215

Storms rage and floods take their toll - is this nature taking its revenge? Michael Blastland turns the lens of psychology on how we treat objects and other entities as if they are 'alive'.

Not just the weather - we rail against a crashed laptop, dote on our cars and have conversations with our pets. Why do we anthropomorphise the things around us?

In fact, we tend to exaggerate what psychologists call 'agency' in all kinds of ways - as if there's a mind behind what goes on in the world, with feelings and intentions. Does this mean we see conspiracy, blame, praise, and power where it doesn't belong?

Michael Blastland investigates with resident Zoo psychologist Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, and roving reporter Timandra Harkness.

Producer: Dom Byrne

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

07The Tide Is With Us20151201

The series that looks at current events through the lens of psychology. From scandals to markets, elections to traffic jams, discover the nuts and bolts of human behaviour that link public life to our most private thoughts and motivations.

Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? And how do we perceive the world? All human behaviour could turn up in The Human Zoo - including yours.

In this episode, Michael Blastland explores why so many people - be they the leaders of political parties, or people who drink too much - think other people share their beliefs and choices. All political parties tell us that the tide is going their way. But it's a strange tide that flows in all directions. Even extremists and revolutionaries, it seems, are likely to think that there are many other supporters eager to join them.

Why do we think so many more people are like us? Even when we're asked to describe the typical height of people we see around us, we're more likely to estimate too low if we're short and too high if we're tall.

How far does this tendency go, why do we do it, and what are its implications for politics, public health or extremists? Find out in The Human Zoo, recorded before an audience at Warwick University's Festival of the Imagination, featuring the latest psychological research, and the author AL Kennedy on how she goes about becoming someone else in fiction.

Michael Blastland is joined by resident Zoo psychologist Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, and roving reporter Timandra Harkness.

Producer: Dom Byrne

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

0801As A Matter Of Fact...20160614

The series that looks at current events through the lens of psychology - Michael Blastland explores the quirky ways in which we humans think, behave and make decisions.

In this first episode of a new series, we look at facts and the EU referendum. We are bombarded with statistics and projections about how the UK will benefit or suffer, depending on whether or not we are in or out of Europe. And we, the public, clamour for even more. How do we respond and use these facts, if at all, to formulate a reasoned opinion?

To what extent do we make a judgment first and then collect the evidence afterwards? Do we simply seek out facts that confirm our original belief - are we simply self-justification machines? As we near ballot time, the Human Zoo team investigate how emotions - such as fear and anger - may shape the way we think and act.

Michael Blastland is joined by resident psychologist Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, and roving reporter Timandra Harkness.

Contributors this week include Prof. Jennifer Lerner, Harvard University; Historian Lucy Robinson, University of Sussex; and Prof. Peter Johansson, Lund University, Sweden.

Producer: Dom Byrne

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.