Sure these personal tales of con-men, cave dwellers, and African hunters are captivating audio-dramas. But with meticulous research and knock-your-socks-off analysis, Andrew Webb (Stanford University Behavior Design Lab) explains how these stories of the past can help you apply modern behavioral science. In each episode, you walk away with a MicroBehavior—a small action that takes the best research out of the lab and into your life so you flourish at home, work, and relationships.

Click the links below to get more details on the episode, show notes, and primary source materials.

Season 1 – Episodes for 2021

Why We Judge Others: The Curious Case of Carl Akeley

He hunted African animals and tallied massive kill counts. So is Carl Akeley a murderer? Or something else entirely? His story forces us to explore one of our favorite pastimes: judging others. But more importantly, he’ll show us how to rise above it. (Fundamental Attribution Error, Lee Ross, Presentism)

Part 1: The Myths of Habits (Flying Blind)

Flying alone at 14,000 feet Jim suffers a stroke. And one man’s habits save an entire country from annihilation. You can’t make these stories up! But you can make up the myths we believe about habits. (Context, Maxwell Maltz, Automaticity)

Part 2: The Truth About Habits (Driving on the Right Side)

At exactly 4:50 AM the entire country changed the side of the road they drove on. Pandemonium? Or a perfect template for changing habits in our own lives? BJ Fogg would argue the latter.  (BJ Fogg, Behavior Design, Ego Depletion, Roy Baumeister)

The Bloodiest Match: How to Improve Your Stories

He couldn’t throw another punch because every bone in his hand was broken. Details like these are great for stories, but they impact a listener in ways far more than mere entertainment. Learning how means we can target our best anecdotes with Story Matching. (Story Science, Mirror Neurons, Neural Coupling)

I’m ‘Addicted’ to my Phone: Escaping the Digital Cave

He spent six months alone in a cave underground. Darkness. Bats. And a whole lot of guano! This caveman was also a product and victim of technology. Something we can all relate to.  (Mere Presence Effect, Digital Wellness, Amy Blankson, Habits)

Jane Austen was NOT Romantic

It was Jane Austin’s most romantic writing. But underneath there was a deeper desire than love. Something we all share. A desire for more information. (Information Inflation, Jane Austen, Overload, Social Media)

Overcoming Stress and Fear: The Courageous Actor

The most famous actor risked death to save a stranger. The Dangerous Sports Club introduces the world to bungee jumping. And the world’s worst interview. All of these teach us about fear and stress. They’ll also show us how to manage them in life. (Amygdala Myths, James Garrett, Neuroplasticity, Mindfulness)

Franklin’s Shocking Language: Intentional Metaphors

Ben Franklin was a wordsmith. And we are too. We just don’t realize that the words we use impact our everyday behaviors. (Metaphors We Live By, Neural Theory of Language, George Lakoff)

The Paradox of Wisdom: Gambling with the Mind

Sam hates gambling. So why does he grow up to invest with loan sharks and con-men? The answer is only obvious after we evaluate the mind’s journey from birth to death. Our brains change with every decision we make. And wisdom isn’t always about being right. (Attractors, Schemas, Elkhonon Goldberg, Neuroplasticity)

A Slave? No, a King

Nobody expected much from her, but Suzie King Taylor had grit. The irony is that every obstacle they threw her way actually helped her learn more. As it turns out, there are hidden gems for those who embrace the difficulty of learning. (Cognitive Disfluency, Reflection, Writing)

The President Knew it All Along

He was a ruthless dictator and everyone was sure the President would meet with him. Or were they? As it turns out, hindsight really isn’t 20/20. And this blindness can wreak havoc on our decisions in the future.
(Hindsight Bias, Decision Making)

Peer Pressure in Hollywood

One maverick wasn’t willing to conform to the most powerful man in Hollywood. According to conformity research, this is something far more difficult than we’re willing to admit. Thankfully, there’s a MicroBehavior that helps us conjure up bold creativity. (Conformity Experiments, Solomon Asche)