human behavior | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

human behavior

OnCall team / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger or rush into traffic to save a stranger's life.

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about nursing and the nature of altruism.

The Legacy Of Covid-19

Apr 26, 2021
Alyssa L. Miller / Creative Commons

Yale University's Dr. Nicholas Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of pandemic. He looks at historical epidemics and current medical and social research to help us understand the potential long-term impact COVID-19 will have on people and culture. 

Greek mythology holds that the arrows of plague Apollo shot down upon the Greeks led to great death and suffering. The plague that has brought death and pain over this past year was not brought by an angry god, but an infinitesimal virus that has wreaked global havoc and exposed the best and worst of human behavior. 

We spend an informative and insightful hour with Nicholas Christakis. 

Denali National Park and Preserve / Creative Commons

We're not the same people today that we were before covid upended our lives last spring. We found ways to survive a deadly and invisible virus, even as it threatened our survival. We learned to work from home, sew masks, Zoom, and create new words to describe our unique situation. And scientists developed vaccines so we could adapt faster than the virus could mutate. 

Now, we're realizing that we don't want to leave behind all of our new "normal" as we prepare to return to the routines of our pre-pandemic "normal."

We talk about that and play some of your essays. 

Bruce Andersen / Wikimedia Commons

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote a column proclaiming that "America Is Not Made for People Who Pee." It hit a nerve. People responded with stories that all seemed to agree with him.

So, why don't we complain about locked doors, long lines (for women), or the lack of a public toilet where one should be? Lezlie Lowe might say that we don't like to talk about bodily functions that are perceived as kind of, well, gross.

AbdulBokeh

We'll be taking your calls during this hour -- and during more of our Monday shows moving forward. We'll still invite guests when we think it's important. Otherwise, we want to talk to you. Call us today at 888-720-9677 between 1 and 2 p.m. EDT.

I'm not sure what you want to talk about today, but consider this: Nicholas Kristof, opinion writer for The New York Times, complained that "America Is Not Made for People Who Pee." It's great that President Biden wants to rebuild highways, fix aging schools, and upgrade our electrical grid, but what about public toilets? Have you had to search for a public toilet, especially during the pandemic? If so, you're not alone.

The Allure Of Advice

Apr 1, 2021
Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff reporter / Library of Congress

John Dunton started the first advice column in 1690. He called it the Athenian Mercury. John, a bookseller, and his four "experts" wanted to answer "all the most Nice and Curious Questions proposed by the Ingenious of Either Sex." One person wondered why they would trouble themselves "and the world with answering so many silly questions." But it was a hit.

People have always been drawn to advice columns. They're a public forum for private thoughts; they're communal, yet anonymous; they reveal human strength, yet vulnerability. Despite their popularity, until recently, most readers in the recent decades have been white women. That's changing.

Erich Ferdinand / flickr creative commons

Did you get enough sleep last night? If you're like most Americans, probably not. You might feel pretty good after six hours of sleep and a strong cup of coffee, but the physical and mental toll of sleep deprivation is high.

We become more impulsive and less mentally agile, and we make more mistakes. Long term, lack of sleep (six hours or less per night) can mess with mood, hormones, and immune systems, and it can increase our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Douglas Fernandes / Creative Commons

After a year of pandemic, we're all itching to break from the restrictions of the pandemic. We want to travel and explore. It makes sense; we're hard-wired to explore. Our ancestors would not have survived absent the drive to seek food and safety from the dangers of the day. Safe and satiated, they later sought new lands to conquer and later still, to escape the constraints and cruelties of rapid industrialization.

If the recent pandemic left you yearning to explore, you might be inspired by this show we first aired in 2017. 

Marcela McGreal / Wikimedia Commons

Last week's violence at three spas in Georgia, followed a year of escalating violence against Asian Americans, some of it captured on videos that went viral. Despite visual evidence, New Yorker writer Hua Hsu, writes that this current moment stresses the "in-between space Asian Americans inhabit." It's hard to prove bias when we lack a historical understanding of what Asian American racism looks like. 

jseliger2 / Creative Commons

Writer and essayist Lauren Oyler, joins Colin to talk about Fake Accounts, her new novel on internet culture. They'll also talk about literary fiction, cultural criticism, ghostwriting, and her staunch defense of semicolons, among other things.

Lauren Oyler will be at the Mark Twain House & Museum, Tuesday, March 23, 7-8 pm. The event is free. You can register at marktwainhouse.org

Tom / Creative Commons

A 2019 YouGov survey says that 20 percent of American adults "definitely" believe in ghosts; another twenty-five percent believe they "probably exist."

And, while no data yet proves it, there's a good chance that quarantining at home during the pandemic has led more people to wonder where those nighttime creaks and groans are coming from.  

Some skeptics say that seeing ghosts is part of the human experience and far too common an occurrence for everyone who thinks they see a ghost to be crazy. But there are a lot of reasons to explain why we sincerely believe we're seeing a ghost. Yet, it's hard to convince people otherwise - even when confronted with evidence to the contrary.

In the end, psychologists can offer explanations but no one can definitively prove ghosts don't exist. 

Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash / Illustration by Chion Wolf

You know how you can, for the most part, remember what happened to you yesterday? Well what if you were able to remember almost EVERY day that clearly? All the way back to when you were very young?

How would your day-to-day choices be affected, knowing that you’ll remember what you did forever? Do we all have our memories stored inside our brains like they do, but we don’t have a way to access them? Or something else?

Meet two of around 60 people in the world who are known to have Highly Superior Autobiographical Memories, or HSAM.

Plus, hear from an expert studying the people with this ultra-rare condition, and what we can learn about our brains, our memories, and ourselves.

Olgierd Rudak / Creative Commons

We produced our first show on masks in the spring of 2020. It was when most of us were isolated at home to sidestep the life-threatening illness we've come to call "COVID." The show was about how rapidly masks had become a statement of political identity.

The intensity of the mask battles has begun to calm as we've acclimated to the pervasiveness of masks in our lives. Like them or not, they're here to stay, and they've begun to leave a lasting imprint on our culture.

Clemson / Creative Commons

The Senate voted to aquit Donald Trump Saturday after falling shy of the two-thirds majority required to convict him. Fifty-seven senators, including seven Republicans, voted to convict him for "incitement of insurrection" and 43 Republicans voted to acquit Trump for a variety of reasons. 

Reliving the January 6 insurrection during last week's Senate impeachment trial has left many of us sorting through a gamut of emotions along with a lack of closure on the last four years.

Harli Marten - Unsplash


Fill in the blank: Love is… Patient. Kind. Love is Work. Hard to find.

But if you wanna put your finger on what makes up “long-lasting love”, you’re gonna need some wisdom to fill in those blanks.

So today, meet three couples who’ve been together for over 50 years.

We, The Dog

Jan 29, 2021
Photos: Quino Al (background), Niclas Moser (dog),  ActionVance (human) via Unsplash. Illustration by Chion Wolf.


What do the ways we train our dogs say about us?

You’ll hear about how dogs are trained to search and rescue, dating back to some of our earliest wars. How they’ve been trained by authority figures for hundreds of years to bite - and hold - and sometimes kill. And how the street dogs of Moscow were trained to fly into space - even though it meant their certain doom.

Stewart Black / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger. 

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about the nature of altruism.

The Legacy Of COVID-19

Jan 19, 2021
Alyssa L. Miller / Creative Commons

Yale University's Dr. Nicholas Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of pandemic. He looks at historical epidemics and current medical and social research to help us understand the potential long-term impact COVID-19 will have on people and culture. 

Greek mythology holds that the arrows of plague Apollo shot down upon the Greeks led to great death and suffering. The plague that has brought death and pain over this past year was not brought by an angry god, but an infinitesimal virus that has wreaked global havoc and exposed the best and worst of human behavior. 

We spend an informative and insightful hour with Nicholas Christakis. 

Kate Hartman / Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Do you talk to yourself? Is it a silent inter-narrative or do you talk aloud? What form of address to you use to yourself?

When I'm mad at myself I sometimes address myself as Colin. But, I sense that when LeBron speaks to himself as LeBron, it's more affirming. 

I talk aloud quite a bit. A hangover, I think, from growing up as an only child.

The Battle For Butter

Dec 27, 2020
Creative Commons

We tend not to think much about that pat of butter we put on our morning toast, including how the store-bought sweet cream butter we're eating likely pales in comparison to the rich, nutty flavor of  the cultured butter not found in many stores.

An Ode To Yodeling

Dec 15, 2020
Creative Commons

What is yodeling, anyway? Some consider it singing, some say it's an ululation, and still others consider it merely a means to herd animals. Whatever yodeling is, one's thing clear: Yodeling has been around for thousands of years and shows no signs of disappearing.

Jeremy Gaunt / Creative Commons

Are we on the verge of societal collapse? We tend to worry about the big explosive stuff like nuclear war, asteroids, and solar flares when we consider end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios. The reality is that most "fallen" civilizations gradually decline over many decades with a banality that can barely register. 

We often remember the decline of civilizations as the fault of poor leaders or natural disasters but it's more like death from a thousand cuts from conditions like inequality, corruption, and political dysfunction. That's (partly) what happened to the Roman Empire

Roger Cohen, a former columnist and current Paris bureau chief for The New York Times, longs for a return to decency - a moral shift away from a Trump Presidency characterized by retreat, self-obsession, and a lack of respect for truth or decency.

He welcomes the tenor he anticipates President-elect Biden will bring to the White House, but cautions against a return to the status quo. Too much has changed that still threatens liberalism and the Western alliance. 

Mike Ensor / flickr creative commons

How we define what it means to be a hero depends a lot on the values shared by the group that's in power at any given time.

We're seeing it today in the push and pull over the statues of men whose values no longer reflect the values of a changing community. And time tends to wash away the nuance and complexity of heroes that stand as a symbol of a prior generation.

Yet, America loves its heroes, even if only for a time. But ​we have a way of using the language of "heroism" to sacrifice the very heroes we admire. Many of the essential workers we deemed heroes of the pandemic had to choose between their health and a paycheck. They didn't choose to be heroes. Some didn't want to be. Others were silenced or shamed for speaking out about unsafe conditions.

Mmmm Donuts

Dec 1, 2020
Gabriel Kronisch / Creative Commons

Almost everybody has a favorite donut - even if you don't eat a lot of donuts. It's not so much about the donut as it is about how donuts bring people together - to celebrate, to mourn, to share.

Donuts have been part of cultures around the world for more than a thousand years, first as a festival special-occasion food, later as an everyday treat.  Later still, as a "weapon" in World War I. They're in movies, music, and Twin Peaks.  In the words of Homer Simpson, "Mmmm donuts.

The Truth About Lies

Nov 10, 2020
Mike Roberts / Creative Commons

Laszlo Ratesic is a nineteen-year veteran of the Speculative Service. He lives in the Golden State, the only place left in what was once America. Laszlo's job is to bring the worst criminals to justice, those who tell lies. In his new novel, Ben Winters creates a world which might sound Eden-esque in our era of misinformation. 

Ruth Hartnup / flickr creative commons

We wake up to coffee from a pod, listen to music through our EarPods from our iPods, drive our Smart cars and Fiats and other increasingly pod-shaped vehicles, wash our clothes using Tide pods, and while we wait for the clothes to dry, we listen to our favorite podcast through our AirPods from our HomePod. Sound about right?

Alyssa L. Miller / Creative Commons

Our ancestors viewed sleep as a highly sensual and transcendent experience. Today, about a third of adults have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or feeling rested. We're becoming a nation of insomniacs.

Illustration by Chion Wolf

What does it mean to be a man? What is manliness? What is “toxic masculinity”? And what do - and don’t - specific body parts have to say about what it means to be male?

Hear from two journalists and authors about how the ideas of manhood physically and socially may be far more malleable than you think.

Tom / Creative Commons

A 2019 YouGov survey says that 20 percent of American adults "definitely" believe in ghosts; another twenty-five percent believe they "probably exist."

And, while no data yet proves it, there's a good chance that quarantining at home during the pandemic has led more people to wonder where those nighttime creaks and groans are coming from.  

Some skeptics say that seeing ghosts is part of the human experience and far too common an occurrence for everyone who thinks they see a ghost to be crazy. But there are a lot of reasons to explain why we sincerely believe we're seeing a ghost. Yet, it's hard to convince people otherwise - even when confronted with evidence to the contrary.

In the end, psychologists can offer explanations but no one can definitively prove ghosts don't exist. 

Pages