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No Stupid Questions

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Research psychologist Angela Duckworth (author of "Grit") and tech and sports executive Mike Maughan really like to ask people questions, and they believe there’s no such thing as a stupid one. So they have a podcast where they can ask each other as many “stupid questions” as they want. New episodes each week. "No Stupid Questions" is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network. Join the Freakonomics Radio Plus membership program for weekly member-only episodes of Freakonomics Radio. You’ll also get every show in our network without ads. To sign up, visit our show page on Apple Podcasts or go to


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Research psychologist Angela Duckworth (author of "Grit") and tech and sports executive Mike Maughan really like to ask people questions, and they believe there’s no such thing as a stupid one. So they have a podcast where they can ask each other as many “stupid questions” as they want. New episodes each week. "No Stupid Questions" is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network. Join the Freakonomics Radio Plus membership program for weekly member-only episodes of Freakonomics Radio. You’ll also get every show in our network without ads. To sign up, visit our show page on Apple Podcasts or go to




173. How Important Is Your Choice of Words?

What happens when three psychologists walk into a magic show? What’s Angela’s problem with the word “talent”? And why does LeBron James refer to himself in the third person? SOURCES: John BarghDerren BrownCarol DweckDaniel KahnemanEthan KrossBarbara MellersDaniel SouthwickLior SuchardRESOURCES: 4 Ways to Get Into the Magic CastleTimeOut, The Trouble With Talent: Semantic Ambiguity in the WorkplaceOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, A Decade of Power Posing: Where Do We Stand?The Psychologist, Influencing Choices With Conversational Primes: How a Magic Trick Unconsciously Influences Card ChoicesPNAS, If You Want Your Marketing Campaign To Succeed, Choose Your Words CarefullyForbes, What's Next for Psychology's Embattled Field of Social PrimingNature, Silent Third Person Self-Talk Facilitates Emotion RegulationPsychology Today, Disputed Results a Fresh Blow for Social PsychologyScientific American, A Proposal to Deal With Questions About Priming EffectsBehavioral Priming: It's All in the Mind, but Whose Mind?PLoS One, Thinking, Fast and Slow, EXTRAS: Is Pride the Worst Sin?No Stupid Questions Do You Mind if I Borrow Your Personality?No Stupid Questions Joshua Jay: 'Humans Are So, So Easy to FoolPeople I (Mostly) Admire


149. Is It Harder to Make Friends as an Adult? (Replay)

How do friendships change as we get older? Should you join a bowling league? And also: how does a cook become a chef? RESOURCES: Social Support From Weak Ties: Insight From the Literature on Minimal Social InteractionsSocial and Personality Psychology CompassJoin or Die, I Tried Bumble BFF for 30 Days — Here’s What HappenedThe Everygirl, Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make — and Keep — Friends, Grocery Store Opens ‘Chat Registers’ for Lonely CustomersVice, The State of American Friendship: Change, Challenges, and LossNumber of Close Friends Had by Adults in the United States in 1990 and 2021You’re Not Uncool. Making Friends as an Adult Is Just HardWBUR, My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore?The New York Times Magazine, Why You Miss Those Casual Friends So MuchHarvard Business Review, The Bros Who Met Their BFFs on BumbleGQ, Sex Differences in Social Focus Across the Life Cycle in HumansRoyal Society Open Science, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic ReviewPLoS Medicine, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community, Character LabEXTRAS: How Much Are the Right Friends Worth?People I (Mostly) Admire Is It Weird for Adults to Have Imaginary Friends?No Stupid Questions How Much Do Your Friends Affect Your Future?No Stupid Questions Is There Really a ‘Loneliness Epidemic’?Freakonomics Radio Tell Me Something I Don’t KnowSOURCES: Daniel BouludPete DavisWylie DufresneMarisa FrancoBeth GilletteCosmopolitan.Gabrielle HamiltonDaniel HummRay OldenburgRobert PutnamRené RedzepiGillian SandstromDieter UchtdorfLyle Ungar


172. Is Marriage Worth It?

Can long-term relationships do more harm than good? Where is the line between intimacy and codependence? And should we all try to be more like Mike’s parents? RESOURCES: A Record-High Share of 40-Year-Olds in the U.S. Have Never Been MarriedPew Research Center, Divorce Skyrocketing Among Aging BoomersAARP, Don’t Let Love Take Over Your LifeThe Atlantic, Marriage Provides Health Benefits – and Here’s WhyThe Conversation, The Benefits of Diversifying Your Social PortfolioPsychology Today, Satisfying Singlehood as a Function of Age and Cohort: Satisfaction With Being Single Increases With Age After MidlifePsychology and Aging, Pathology in RelationshipsAnnual Review of Clinical Psychology, Behind 'the Collateral Heartbreak' and Intense Devotion of the Reagans' Decades-Long RomancePeople, U.S. Marriage Rate Plunges to Lowest Level on RecordThe Wall Street Journal, The Suffocation Model: Why Marriage in America Is Becoming an All-or-Nothing InstitutionCurrent Directions in Psychological Science, EXTRAS: Are We Getting Lonelier?No Stupid Questions The Facts Are In: Two Parents Are Better Than OneFreakonomics Radio Why Did You Marry That Person? (Replay)Freakonomics Radio The Fracking Boom, a Baby Boom, and the Retreat From MarriageFreakonomics Radio SOURCES: Eli FinkelKatie GenadekFaith HillThe AtlanticAbraham MaslowKatherine K. Merseth


171. Where Is the Line Between Exaggeration and Lying?

Why do we use “literally” figuratively? Does conveying an "emotional truth" justify making things up? And are Angela’s kids really starving or just hungry? RESOURCES: My Response to The New Yorker ArticleHasan Minhaj’s 'Emotional TruthsThe New Yorker, Lying to Spice up LifeSociety for Personality and Social Psychology, Words on the Move: Why English Won't - and Can't - Sit Still (Like, Literally), Literally,Urban Dictionary, Does Living in California Make People Happy? A Focusing Illusion in Judgments of Life SatisfactionPsychological Science, The Giver, EXTRAS: Swearing Is More Important Than You ThinkFreakonomics Radio The Ugly Truth of Fast FashionPatriot Act with Hasan Minhaj SOURCES: Holly ColeDaniel KahnemanMark LibermanLois LowryJohn McWhorterHasan Minhaj


170. Are We Getting Lonelier?

How can you be lonely when so many people showed up at your birthday party? Can you fight loneliness by managing expectations? And where can you find company while enjoying the best garlic cheeseburger in the greater Salt Lake City metro area? RESOURCES: Surgeon General: We Have Become a Lonely Nation. It’s Time to Fix ThatThe New York Times, Home Alone: More Than A Quarter of All Households Have One PersonLoneliness Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review With Meta-AnalysisAmerican Psychologist, Loneliness Across Time and SpaceNature Reviews Psychology, Will, Loneliness and Social Isolation in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan: An International SurveyWork and the Loneliness EpidemicHarvard Business Review, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being AloneThe Marginalian, EXTRAS: Is It Harder to Make Friends as an Adult?No Stupid Questions The Side Effects of Social DistancingFreakonomics Radio Is There Really a 'Loneliness Epidemic'?Freakonomics Radio SOURCES: Wendell BerryTy BurrellWilliam JamesVivek MurthyMaria PopovaWill Smith


169. Can We Disagree Better?

Do you suffer from the sin of certainty? How did Angela react when a grad student challenged her research? And can a Heineken commercial strengthen our democracy? RESOURCES: Disagree BetterCooling Heated Discourse: Conversational Receptiveness Boosts Interpersonal Evaluations and Willingness to TalkMegastudy Identifying Effective Interventions to Strengthen Americans’ Democratic AttitudesConflicted: Why Arguments Are Tearing Us Apart and How They Can Bring Us Together, How to Disagree Productively and Find Common GroundTED, From the Fundamental Attribution Error to the Truly Fundamental Attribution Error and Beyond: My Research JourneyPerspectives on Psychological Science, The Humanizing Voice: Speech Reveals, and Text Conceals, a More Thoughtful Mind in the Midst of DisagreementPsychological Science, Worlds ApartGritty EducationsVirginia Policy Review, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Experiences of Collaborative ResearchAmerican Psychologist, EXTRAS: TikTok with advice from Apple Store employeeCan You Change Your Mind Without Losing Face?No Stupid Questions 12 Angry Men, SOURCES: Spencer CoxJulia DharDavid HagmannDaniel KahnemanAnindya KunduIan LeslieKara LuoJulia MinsonPedro NogueraJared PolisLee RossJulia SchroederJared SmithAnne TreismanJan Voelkel


168. Would You Be Happier if You Were More Creative?

Should you become an artist or an accountant? Did Sylvia Plath have to be depressed to write The Bell Jar? And what can Napoleon Dynamite teach us about the creative life? RESOURCES: The Science of Why You Have Great Ideas in the ShowerNational Geographic, So, You Think You’re Not Creative?Harvard Business Review, The Correlation Between Arts and Crafts and a Nobel PrizePriceonomics, Report: State of the American WorkplacePoverty Impedes Cognitive FunctionScience, Forks in the Road: The Many Paths of Arts AlumniA Meta-Analysis of 25 Years of Mood-Creativity Research: Hedonic Tone, Activation, or Regulatory Focus?Psychological Bulletin, The Relationship Between Creativity and Mood DisordersDialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive EmotionsPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Happiness and Creativity: Going With the FlowThe Futurist, EXTRAS: Why Are Rich Countries So Unhappy?No Stupid Questions Do You Really Need a Muse to Be Creative?No Stupid Questions Does All Creativity Come From Pain?No Stupid Questions How To Be CreativeFreakonomics Radio How to Be HappyFreakonomics Radio Napoleon Dynamite, The Bell Jar, ConnectionsThe New York Times. SOURCES: Stephen CoveyMihaly CsikszentmihalyiBarbara FredricksonSigmund FreudJared HessAbraham MaslowSylvia PlathMartin SeligmanDuncan Wardle


167. Is GPS Changing Your Brain?

Is it better to be an egocentric navigator or an allocentric navigator? Was the New York City Department of Education wrong to ban ChatGPT? And did Mike get ripped off by Michael Jackson’s cousin? RESOURCES Don’t Ban Chatbots in Classrooms — Use Them to Change How We TeachLos Angeles Times, How GPS Weakens Memory — and What We Can Do about ItScientific American, Habitual Use of GPS Negatively Impacts Spatial Memory During Self-Guided NavigationNature Scientific Reports,Navigational Strategy May Be More a Matter of Environment and Experience Than GenderLearning and Motivation, Acquiring 'the Knowledge' of London's Layout Drives Structural Brain ChangesCurrent Biology, Is Google Making Us Stupid?The Atlantic, EXTRAS Dunder Mifflin InfinityThe OfficeSOURCES: Véronique BohbotNicholas CarrWinston ChurchillLouisa DahmaniJason DuckworthOmar JohnsonEleanor MaguireMichael ScottThe OfficeSocratesHieronimo SquarciaficoLyle UngarKatherine Woollett


166. Are You Suffering From Burnout?

What’s the difference between being busy and being productive? Would you be better at your job if you cared a little less? And can somebody get Mike a cup of coffee? RESOURCES: State of the Global Workplace: 2023 ReportGallup, What’s Really So Wrong About Secretly Working Two Full-Time Jobs at Once?Slate, The Problem With VentingCharacter Lab, Conan O'Brien's Final Monologue: 'Nobody in Life Gets What They Thought They Were Going to Get,'Entertainment Weekly, Employee Burnout, Part 1: The 5 Main CausesGallup, Finding Solutions to the Problem of BurnoutConsulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, Maslach Burnout Inventory: Third EditionEvaluating Stress: A Book of Resources, Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement, Staff Burn-OutJournal of Social Issues, Dehumanization in Institutional SettingsEXTRAS: How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis?Freakonomics Radio Charlotte's Web, SOURCES: Christina MaslachHerbert FreudenbergerEthan KrossConan O'BrienE.B. WhitePhilip Zimbardo


165. Do "Generations" Mean Anything?

Do you get grittier as you age? What's worse for mental health: video games or social media? And do baby boomers make the best D.J.s? RESOURCES: Generations: The Real Differences Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Silents — and What They Mean for America's Future, 5 Things to Keep in Mind When You Hear About Gen Z, Millennials, Boomers and Other GenerationsPew Research Center, Lock ScreensCharacter Lab, The Blurred Lines Between Goldman C.E.O.’s Day Job and His D.J. GigThe New York Times, From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life, The Great Resistance: Getting Employees Back to the OfficeStanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Generations and Generational Differences: Debunking Myths in Organizational Science and Practice and Paving New Paths ForwardJournal of Business and Psychology, Patterns of Cumulative Continuity and Maturity in Personality and Well-Being: Evidence From a Large Longitudinal Sample of AdultsPersonality and Individual Differences, Global Prevalence of Gaming Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-AnalysisAustralian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, A Majority of Young Adults in the U.S. Live With Their Parents for the First Time Since the Great DepressionPew Research Center, Managing the Strategy Development Process: Deliberate vs. Emergent StrategyHarvard Business Review Case Study, Distinguishing Aging, Period and Cohort Effects in Longitudinal Studies of Elderly PopulationsSocio-Economic Planning Sciences, Gaming DisorderEXTRAS: Why Can’t Baby Boomers and Millennials Just Get Along?No Stupid Questions SOURCES: Arthur BrooksDavid CostanzaClayton ChristensenDavid SolomonJean Twenge


164. Do You Have Impostor Syndrome?

Does anyone really know what they’re doing? How do we reward the competent and not the confident? And what’s wrong with using TikTok for research? RESOURCES: Why Everyone Feels Like They’re Faking ItThe New Yorker,The Impostor Phenomenon Revisited: Examining the Relationship between Workplace Impostor Thoughts and Interpersonal Effectiveness at WorkAcademy of Management Journal,You’re Not an Imposter. You’re Actually Pretty AmazingHarvard Business Review,Workplace ‘Impostor Thoughts’ May Have a Genuine UpsideIdeas Made to Matter,The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times,Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Impostor Syndrome: a Systematic ReviewJournal of General Internal Medicine,What Is Imposter Syndrome and How Can You Combat It?TED-Ed,Is Resilience Only Skin Deep?: Rural African Americans' Socioeconomic Status-Related Risk and Competence in Preadolescence and Psychological Adjustment and Allostatic Load at Age 19Psychological Science,Emotion Generation and Emotion Regulation: One or Two Depends on Your Point of ViewEmotion Review,Good C.E.O.’s Are Insecure (and Know It)The New York Times,Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time,EXTRAS: Reading Dostoevsky Behind BarsPeople I (Mostly) AdmireCan a Moonshot Approach to Mental Health Work?People I (Mostly) AdmireWhy Do We Get Angry?No Stupid QuestionsSOURCES: Edith ChenPauline Rose ClanceKess EruteyaObi FeltenSuzanne Ament ImesErika JamesSteven LevittPeople I (Mostly) Admire,FreakonomicsGregory MillerMichelle ObamaHoward SchultzBasima TewfikEric Weiner


163. Does Your DNA Determine Your Weight?

How much control do you really have over your body? Could understanding genetics help combat fat-shaming? And why is Mike’s life coach so happy all the time?


162. How Can You Be Kinder to Yourself?

How do you practice self-care if you don’t have time for a break? Is it weird to talk to yourself? And does Mike need a bag of Doritos — or just a hug?


161. How Effective Are Ultimatums?

How final is a final offer, really? Does anonymity turn nice people into jerks? And should you tell your crush that you dreamed about marrying them?


160. How Do You Like Me Now?

Why would a successful person feel the need to stick it to the little guy? Is Angela a name-dropper? And why do rappers grab their crotches?


159. How Much Personal Space Do You Need?

How do you deal with a close talker? Is Angela drinking too much water? And why can’t Mike keep his phone out of his bedroom?


158. Bigger Fish, or Bigger Pond?

Is it better to be the best player on the worst team or the worst player on the best team? How did Angela cope with her extremely impressive freshman dorm mates? And why won’t Shaquille O'Neal let Charles Barkley have an onion ring?


157. How Can You Get Closer to the People You Care About?

How well do you know the people in your life, really? Are you stuck having surface-level conversations? And should we all be in couples therapy?


156. How Do You Connect With Someone You Just Met?

How vulnerable should you get with your coworkers? What’s the benefit of telling strangers about your relationship with your mother? And why did Mike’s childhood home burn down — twice?


155. How Do You Deal With Big Life Changes?

What’s more stressful, divorce or jail? Are you in the middle of a “lifequake”? And should we all be taking notes from Martha Stewart?