Shankar Vedantam

Shankar Vedantam is a science correspondent for NPR. The focus of his reporting is on human behavior and the social sciences, and how research in those fields can get listeners to think about the news in unusual and interesting ways.

Before joining NPR in 2011, Vedantam spent 10 years as a reporter at The Washington Post. From 2007 to 2009, he was also a columnist, and wrote the Department of Human Behavior column for the Post. Vedantam writes an occasional column for Slate called "Hidden Brain."

Throughout his career, Vedantam has been recognized with many journalism honors including awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, the South Asian Journalists Association, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, and the American Public Health Association.

In 2009-2010, Vedantam served as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He participated in the 2005 Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship on Science and Religion, the 2003-2004 World Health Organization Journalism Fellowship, and the 2002-2003 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship.

Vedantam is the author of the non-fiction book, The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives. The book, published in 2010, described how unconscious biases influence people.

Outside of journalism, Vedantam has written fiction and plays. His short story-collection, The Ghosts of Kashmir, was published in 2005. The previous year, the Brick Playhouse in Philadelphia produced his full-length, comedy play, Tom, Dick and Harriet.

Vedantam has served as a lecturer at many academic institutions including Harvard University and Columbia University. In 2010, he completed a two year-term as a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Since 2006, he has served on the advisory board of the Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships in Science & Religion.

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7:58am

Thu May 8, 2014
Research News

Study: Time Away Can Hurt Surgeons' Job Performance

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This next story begins with an old saying among musicians: If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days, the critics notice it. If I miss three days of practice, the audience will notice. A study found evidence that saying applies to surgeons, and lives may be at stake.

NPR's Shankar Vedantam has been looking at the results of that study. He's in our studios. Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What was the research?

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6:20am

Thu April 17, 2014
Research News

Does Business Innovation Depend On A CEO's Age?

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 7:41 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

One of the keys to success for a company or even a country is the ability to innovate, to create new ideas and products that change how people work, live and behave. And there's now new research suggesting that innovation could depend on the age of the people in charge. Of course innovation is just one measure of success. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam has returned to join us. Shankar, good morning to you.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, David.

GREENE: So what's this new research about?

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6:40am

Wed April 9, 2014
Research News

Why Men Outnumber Women Attending Business Schools

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 8:02 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All this week we have been focusing on women and wealth. Look across the business world in fields with the biggest paychecks and you find executive ranks and company boards dominated by men. These disparities often begin back in business school where men outnumber women significantly. NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam came in to talk about research that might help explain this. It looked specifically at why some women opt out of a lucrative career path. Hey, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

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5:09am

Fri March 21, 2014
Research News

Does Diversity On Research Team Improve Quality Of Science?

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 7:45 am

As science becomes more diverse, scientific collaborators are growing more diverse, too. New research exploring the effect of this change suggests the diversity of the teams that produce scientific research play a big role in how successful the science turns out to be.

4:20pm

Wed February 26, 2014
Law

Minority Aspirants To Federal Bench Are Hindered By Underrating

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. When a president taps someone to become a federal judge, the American Bar Association reviews and rates the nominee. That rating shapes whether the president's pick is confirmed by the Senate. Now, new analysis claims that the ABA ratings are biased. NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam reports.

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6:43am

Wed February 26, 2014
Research News

Why We Miss Creative Ideas That Are Right Under Our Noses

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 7:43 am

In crowdsourcing, a big challenge is not with coming up with creative ideas, but identifying creative ideas. A bias makes us bad at spotting creative ideas when they come from those working around us.

5:21am

Tue February 4, 2014
Research News

Political Map: Does Geography Shape Your Ideology?

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 8:12 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The political map of America changes, but it doesn't change very quickly. Massachusetts was a reliably liberal state decades ago and still is. The South is still the South. This raises the question of why it is that certain areas come to be reliably liberal or conservative.

NPR Shankar Vedantam joins us to discuss some research that explores the question. Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: What's the research?

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5:04am

Fri January 31, 2014
Research News

What's The Problem With Feeling On Top Of The World?

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 7:58 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's turn to a thought experiment. Imagine you're riding one of those glass elevators that takes you to the top of a skyscraper. You go higher and higher. The view gets better. The cars on the ground, the people down there look puny like ants. Researchers say if you imagine this, it can make you feel unaccountably better about yourself. It briefly raises your self esteem. But researchers also say this feeling can be bad for you.

NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to explain why. Hi, Shankar.

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3:37am

Fri January 17, 2014
The Salt

Cash Or Credit? How Kids Pay For School Lunch Matters For Health

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 1:39 pm

Lunch at the West Salem School District in Wisconsin.
Michelle Kloser for NPR

American kids have a problem with obesity, according to the most recent studies. In fact, the closest thing we have to good news about childhood obesity is that kids are not gaining weight as rapidly as they were some years ago.

Researchers may have identified one surprising new factor in why kids are overeating.

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6:36am

Mon January 6, 2014
Research News

'Save To Win' Makes Saving As Much Fun As Gambling

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 8:03 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As far as New Year's resolutions go, saving more money is often a popular one. Actually being able to do that - well, we know how that story usually ends. But researchers may have come up with a winning method. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, we are all ears.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Carolann Broekhuizen is a retired life insurance claims examiner. She lives in Waterford, Michigan. Whenever she has a little extra money, there are some things she likes to do.

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