Season 1, Episode 5: Psychological Research – Will Bennis

Why do smart people sometimes make dumb decisions? Is it possible to truly understand other human beings? How much of a role does culture play in our behavior? These and other important questions about human behavior and the human mind continue to be pondered, puzzled over, and studied by psychologists, including Research Psychologist, University Professor, and Entrepreneur Will Bennis, our guest for this episode of Do This With Your Life.

Will Bennis didn’t always want to be a Research Psychologist, and in fact, Will had an uncertain future after making some poor decisions as a teenager. On the show today Will talks about his decision-making during his teenage years, his ‘late’ start in the study of psychology, his interest and background in cultural psychology, the fascinating world of decision-making, and other topics which Will, psychologists, and everyone else for that matter continue to grapple with.

If the subject of psychology interests you, you’ve ever wondered why people think the way they do, or why you sometimes make really dumb decisions even though you fancy yourself as a rational person, then you’ll really like this episode.

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Psychological Research – Will Bennis – Highlights:

– Will’s teenage years and his experience with the American Juvenile Justice System
– How Will got into Research Psychology and specifically, Cultural Psychology
– What is WEIRD and why is it a problem in Psychology research?
– Mental illness in the eyes of a Cultural Psychologist
– What if a 21st century American were transported into King Arthur’s court?
– Networked knowledge in the modern world
– Clinical Psychology and Research Psychology and their branches
– What is Rational Choice Theory?
– What is a heuristic?
– Would a rational decision-maker start nuclear war?
– What are heuristics in Psychology?
– Why do rational people make dumb decisions?
– The Hot Hand Fallacy
– What is ‘The Linda Problem’?
– To what extent are heuristics helpful or harmful when making a decision?
– Will studying biases make you a better decision-maker?
– How much would you sell your mother for?
– Will’s research on sacred values for  a group of Evangelical Christians, Menominee Native Americans, and White hunters and fishermen
– The wisdom found in cultural evolution
– Why we should all have a lot more humility
– How to get a real objective perspective and why Cultural Psychology is important

More Info:

– Cultural psychology
– Moral psychology
– Joseph Henrich and WEIRD
– A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
– Decision-making
– Herbert Simon
– Daniel Kahneman
– Amos Tversky
– Hot Hand Fallacy
– The Linda Problem
– Rick Shweder
– Thinking Fast, and Slow
– Predictably Irrational
– Nudge

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