Alix Spiegel

Alix Spiegel has worked on NPR's Science Desk for 10 years covering psychology and human behavior, and has reported on everything from what it's like to kill another person, to the psychology behind our use of function words like "and", "I", and "so." She began her career in 1995 as one of the founding producers of the public radio program This American Life. While there, Spiegel produced her first psychology story, which ultimately led to her focus on human behavior. It was a piece called 81 Words, and it examined the history behind the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

In January 2015, Spiegel joined NPR Science Reporter Lulu Miller to co-host Invisibilia, a series from NPR about the unseen forces that control human behavior – our ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and thoughts. Invisibilia interweaves personal stories with fascinating psychological and brain science, in a way that ultimately makes you see your own life differently. Excerpts of the show are featured on the NPR News programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. The program is also available as a podcast.

Over the course of her career in public radio, Spiegel has won many awards including a George Foster Peabody Award, a Livingston Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award, and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Spiegel graduated from Oberlin College. Her work on human behavior has also appeared in The New Yorker magazine and The New York Times.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWseEycdXS8 This week's Invisibilia podcast and show explore what happens when people flip the script, responding to situations in ways that are completely unexpected. We tend to respond to aggression with aggression, kindness with kindness. Usually that works just fine. But sometimes turning 180 degrees can change the world. Think Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. In this Invisibilia excerpt on NPR's Morning Edition, we tell the tale of a mellow...

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the latest episode of the Invisibilia podcast and program, which is broadcast on participating public radio stations. Until she was 54 years old, Kim was totally unaware that there were things in the world she couldn't see. "This was the whole problem," Kim says. "I had no clue what the problem was." All Kim knew was that over and over and over again the world didn't respond the way she expected. People would say things and do things that seemed...

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mWc1Y2dpmY Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the latest episode of the Invisibilia podcast and program, which is broadcast on participating public radio stations. This story contains language that some may find offensive. This is the story of a prisoner who committed a horrible crime and says he's no longer the same person who did it. It's also the story of why it's so hard for us to believe him. In the early 1960s, a young psychologist at Harvard...

Editor's note: This story first ran on Jan. 16, 2015 , as part of NPR's Invisibilia podcast. It's about a man who decided he no longer wanted to be ruled by fear. Without realizing it, he used a standard tool of psychotherapy to help him stop dreading rejection. And if you've been dreading a future without Invisibilia, fear not — we're hard at work on Season Two! We can't reveal what we're working on right now, but rest assured that this season won't include any snakes. Just a lion. The...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZnJJMoPE1w In this episode of Invisibilia, NPR's new show about human behavior, we wanted to explore entanglements: the invisible ways we're entangled with each other. So we called a comedian. I'm a fan of Maria Bamford, who has done impressions of her mother throughout her career: "My mom told me before I went to my first girl-boy party in the eighth grade: 'OK, remember what we talked about — gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, 1, 2. Watch the cold sores. Date rape...

Fear is one of the strongest and most basic of human emotions, and it's the focus of Fearless, the second episode of Invisibilia , NPR's new show on the invisible forces that shape human behavior. This segment of the show explores how a man decided to conquer his fear of rejection by getting rejected every day — on purpose. The evolution of Jason Comely, a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario, began one sad night several years ago. "That Friday evening that I was in my one-bedroom...

It's a tradition as old as New Year's: making resolutions. We will not smoke, or sojourn with the bucket of mint chocolate chip. In fact, we will resist sweets generally, including the bowl of M&M's that our co-worker has helpfully positioned on the aisle corner of his desk. There will be exercise, and the learning of a new language. It is resolved. So what does science know about translating our resolve into actual changes in behavior? The answer to this question brings us — strangely enough...

One Friday night, 30 men and 30 women gathered at a hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C. Their goal was love, or maybe sex, or maybe some combination of the two. They were there for speed dating. The women sat at separate numbered tables while the men moved down the line, and for two solid hours they did a rotation, making small talk with people they did not know, one after another, in three-minute increments. I had gone to record the night, which was put on by a company called Professionals...

The modern idea of stress began on a rooftop in Canada, with a handful of rats freezing in the winter wind. This was 1936 and by that point the owner of the rats, an endocrinologist named Hans Selye, had become expert at making rats suffer for science. "He would subject them to extreme temperatures, make them go hungry for long periods, or make them exercise a lot," the medical historian Mark Jackson says. "Then what he would do is kill the rats and look at their organs." What was interesting...

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