YAPClassic: Dr. Maya Shankar on Influence and The Science of Decision-Making
As a child, Dr. Maya Shankar was on track to become a violin prodigy. She studied under one of the world's top violinists. However, her dreams were shattered when she tore several tendons in her hand at 15 years old. She was told she'd never be able to play the violin ever again, so she was forced to learn who she is beyond her identity as a musician. A few years later, she stumbled across a book on human behavior, which sparked a lifelong interest in the human mind. After college, she went on to build a behavioral science team at the White House and serve as the first Behavioral Science Advisor to the United Nations under Ba Ki-moon. In this episode of YAPClassic, you’ll learn about the science of decision-making, how to develop a more malleable identity, and how to subtly influence other people through the words you use.
Dr. Maya Shankar is a behavioral scientist and podcast host. Her podcast, A Slight Change of Plans, was named Apple’s Best Show of the Year in 2021. She has worked as a behavioral scientist for highly-influential organizations like the White House and the United Nations. She received a Ph.D. from Oxford and a B.A. from Yale in cognitive science. She's been profiled by The New Yorker and has been featured in the New York Times, Scientific American, Forbes, and NPR.
In this episode, Hala and Maya will discuss:
- How a traumatic injury crushed Maya’s childhood dreams
- How Maya created her dream job at the White House
- The problem with having a firm, unshakable identity
- Naivety and uninformed optimism can be superpowers
- How subtle changes in language can influence behavior
- How Maya used behavioral science to rebuild public trust in Flint, Michigan
- Why it’s hard for us to change our minds and beliefs
- The power of temptation bundling and social norms
- How to avoid emotional and social biases in your decision making
- The IKEA effect
- And other topics…
Dr. Maya Shankar is a cognitive scientist and the creator, executive producer, and host of the podcast, A Slight Change of Plans, which Apple recently awarded as the Best Show of the Year 2021. Maya was a Senior Advisor in the Obama White House, where she founded and served as Chair of the White House Behavioral Science Team. She also served as the first Behavioral Science Advisor to the United Nations under Ban Ki-moon, and as a core member of Pete Buttigieg’s debate preparation team during his 2020 presidential run.
Maya has a postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroscience from Stanford, a Ph.D. from Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, and a B.A. from Yale. She's been profiled by The New Yorker and been the featured guest on NPR's “All Things Considered,” “Freakonomics,” and “Hidden Brain.” She's a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music's pre-college program, where she was a private violin student of Itzhak Perlman.
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Dr. Shankar’s Podcast, A Slight Change of Plans: https://www.pushkin.fm/podcasts/a-slight-change-of-plans
Dr. Shankar’s Website: https://mayashankar.com/
Dr. Shankar’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maya-shankar-8b380350
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