All in the Mind

BBC  |  Podcast , ±30 min episodes every 2 weeks, 1 day  | 
All in the Mind examines how we think and behave. It’s presented by psychologist Claudia Hammond. She investigates the latest techniques being used by mental health practitioners, speaks to people with psychological issues and uncovers all the most recent research from the world of the mind. Every year there are 2 series of 8 episodes of All in the Mind, in the spring and autumn. Each programme is 28 minutes long.

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Urban rewilding for wellbeing, oxytocin and kindness, false alarm crowd panic

What amount of biodiversity in our cities is enough to benefit our wellbeing? Good evidence can be hard to come by. Andrea Mechelli, professor of Early Intervention in Mental Health at Kings College London, together with landscape architect Joanna Gibbons discuss their pioneering Urban Mind citizen science project which adopts a smartphone app to work out how much trees, birdsong and access to water have a significant effect on an individual’s mood.

How does kindness breed kindness? Daniel Martins reveals his new research into the so called 'cuddle hormone' oxytocin which helps to uncover the biological mechanism into how well our brains learn the impact of a task when we’re doing it to benefit someone else.

Are crowd stampedes to a false alarm a genuine overreaction? Claudia hears from Dermot Barr whose team have been analysing the dynamics of crowd flights from around the world in the hope of preventing them from happening.

Claudia’s guest is Professor Catherine Loveday from University of Westminster.

Made in partnership with the Open University

Producer: Adrian Washbourne

The Psychology of Regret

Claudia Hammond explores the psychology of regret with an audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival. What role do rueful thoughts on "what might have been" play in our lives? Is regret a wasted emotion or does it have some hidden benefits?

Joining Claudia on stage : Teresa McCormack - Professor of Cognitive Development at the School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast who researches how regret in childhood can shape our decisions; novelist and essayist Sophie White - whose latest novel The Snag List examines the opportunity to go back in life and follow the road not taken; Fuschia Sirois - Professor of social and health psychology at Durham University whose research examines the impact of those "what if" thoughts on our health and wellbeing.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Made in partnership with the Open University

Breastfeeding Trauma and the Psychology of Awkwardness

When breastfeeding goes wrong some women feel guilty that they have failed to do what should come naturally. But Professor Amy Brown from Swansea University says those with the most severe physical and emotional impact could be experiencing trauma, similar to the effects of a traumatic birth. We hear from Linzi Blakey who had problems with breastfeeding when she gave birth to her daughter and son and had to give up before she wanted to. A specialist therapist has helped her to realise that she did the best she could - despite a lack of the right kind of support when she was feeling vulnerable.

Awkwardness can result when we do something embarrassing - and science writer Melissa Dahl set out to write a book on how to overcome those feelings of embarrassment. Cringeworthy: How To Make The Most Out of Uncomfortable Situations is the result of her discussions with scientists. She challenges herself to feats such as performing a stand-up routine, going to see a professional cuddler and reading out her teenage diaries to an audience at the Brooklyn show, Mortified. She now feels awkwardness is part of being human- and encourages us all to show more empathy to each other.

Claudia's studio guest Catherine Loveday, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Westminster shares her own cringeworthy stories plus news of a spat in the world of psychedelic drugs research and how hallucinations seem to be a lot more common than we thought.

Producer: Paula McGrath
Made in Partnership with The Open University

Post-pandemic mental health; navigation ability; conversations with strangers

Back in 2020 at height of pandemic lockdown the “ Social Study” a longitudinal study began looking at the psychological and social impact of the pandemic involving over 95,000 UK adults. What started as a 12 week study has now been running for 2 years. So now, as we’re emerging from restrictions of the pandemic, epidemiologist Daisy Fancourt of University College London discusses the post -pandemic’s impact on our mental health.

Do you find yourself keep getting lost? Many factors influence our ability to navigate but the environment we grow up in is often overlooked. Could living in the city compared to the countryside help or hinder our sense of direction? Claudia hears from Professor Hugo Spiers whose major new study across 40 countries reveals people who grew up in rural or suburban areas have better spatial navigation skills than those raised in cities, particularly cities with grid-pattern streets.

Good conversation can be one of life’s most enjoyable experiences, but we are surprisingly bad at judging how well conversations could go with a stranger. Mike Kardas of North Western university has attempted to examine the time course of enjoyment after getting 1000 participants to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Surprisingly we don’t run out of things to say. but how deep can a conversation go?

Claudia Hammond’s studio guest is Professor of health psychology Daryl O’Connor from the University of Leeds

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Manifestation; Overconfidence; Radio drama changing attitudes

Instagram is awash with people sharing dream homes, holidays, partners and jobs which they claim to have 'manifested' into being. Proponants of manifestation say that thinking positive thoughts attracts tangible positive things into your life. They believe that 'asking the universe' for what you want via journaling, mood boards, and mantras can have a powerful real-world impact. Hayley Sparkes is a successful TV presenter and model but when the pandemic started she found herself with no work or income and turned to manifestation to try to improve her situation. Now she credits manifestation with bringing her a dream partner, home, and job, and all in under a year. Claudia Hammond and her studio guest David Robson ask whether there is any research evidence that manifestation really can change your life.

Last week a passenger in Florida landed a place safely after the pilot become unresponsive. Do you think you could do the same thing in an emergency? Researchers in New Zealand found that people are surprisingly confident about their ability to fly a plane with no training. Claudia talks to one of the researchers, Kayla Jordan from the University of Waikato.

Finally, new research showing a radio soap opera in Burkina Faso changed attitudes towards violent insurgency. Psychologist Rezarta Bilali from New York University talks to Claudia about the power of radio to change minds.

Producer: Lorna Stewart

Air Traffic Control Source:

Treating refugee mental health; Improving personal growth; Dreamachine

What role can psychologist play in supporting the mental health of displaced Ukrainians? Millions of people have had to flee either abroad or to other parts of the country and the implications for mental health are huge – not only in terms of trauma but for those who’ve escaped, the constant anxiety of watching what’s happening back home and worrying about loved ones. Claudia talks to Emily Holmes, Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at Uppsala University, and Clinical Psychologist Professor Marit Sijbrandij of Vue University Amsterdam who have been working to ensure the interventions with the best evidence behind them get used.

And we pay a visit to the Dreamachine, an immersive sound and light installation that uses the power of flickering white light to create psychedelic experiences. Will it open a new window into how our brains make sense of the world? We hear from two scientists behind the project - Anil Seth Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, University of Sussex and Fiona MacPherson Professor of Philosophy, University of Glasgow

Claudia Hammond’s studio guest is Professor of Health Psychology Daryl O’Connor of Leeds University, armed with new research into how deliberately seeking out discomfort can help drive our personal growth

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Dreams and dreaming; brain scans for personality traits; extrovert listening

Many of us tend to dismiss dreams as merely the churning of the brain— but for much of human history, dreams were taken very seriously. Claudia Hammond speaks to Brazilian neuroscientist Sidarta Ribeiro who in his new wide ranging book The Oracle of Night wants to recapture that seriousness of dreams and the science of dreaming, drawing upon on his extensive career researching everything from sleep and memory to psychedelic drugs.

As brain scans have become more detailed in recent decades, MRI or magnetic resonance imaging - has revealed correlations between brain anatomy or function and illness, that have suggested new ways to diagnose and treat psychiatric, psychological and neurological conditions. But why has the promise been so slow to turn into reality? Claudia Hammond is joined by Sophie Scott, Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and also by neuroscientist Scott Marek of Washington University in St Louis. His new research offers some insights into why.

Good listening is truly hearing what the other person has to say without putting your own layer of experience on top of it. But who’s best at it – extroverts or introverts? Today’s studio guest, Prof.Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster weighs up the latest evidence.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

The Anatomy of Kindness

In the final part of the Anatomy of Kindness, Claudia Hammond and guests ask 'Can Bosses be Kind'? Using evidence from the Kindness Test, the world's largest psychological study into kindness, Claudia starts her quest with Thom Elliot Co-founder of Pizza Pilgrims, who deliberately set out to foster a kind culture in a sector not exactly known for its benevolence. They're joined for pizza by Prof Robin Banerjee, architect of the Kindness Test to discuss the findings and examine whether kindness in business really does result in success. Joe Folkman is the perfect person to ask. He runs an evidence based leadership development firm and produced a fascinating study "I'm a boss why should I care if you like me"? It turns out there's a strong correlation between being likeable and effectiveness. Such concepts are backed up by a relatively new field of research called 'ethical leadership' pioneered by Professor Mike Brown. But 60,000 people who took part in the Kindness Test revealed time pressures as one of the barriers to being kind, so how easy is it to be a kind leader on a day to day basis? Claudia meets former head teacher Ros McMullen who tells some home truths about leadership in a culture of relentless pressure and accountability. Plus Lisa Smosarski, editor in Chief of Stylist magazine shares shocking office stories of the 'Devil Wears Prada' era and discusses wider societal shifts that may be contributing to a kinder culture in her industry. And Claudia's fellow science presenters, Robin Ince, Hannah Fry and Marnie Chesterton recall some old bad boss stories of their own.

Producer, Erika Wright

The Anatomy of Kindness

In the Anatomy of Kindness Claudia Hammond asks who we are kind to. Professor Nichola Raihani from University College London says there are circles of connections, so family and friends, work colleagues, neighbours continuing out to everyone on the planet. Different people will put their boundaries in different places. One of the mechanisms we have to move these boundaries is empathy says Sara Konrath associate professor at the Lily Family School of Philanthropy. And being able to elicit empathy in strangers is an important part of raising awareness of challenging issues according to Lyndall Stein who has raised money for HIV, refugees and the homeless.
But how do we expand who us is, (whatever that means)? Sunder Katwaler of the think tank British Future says that in part its about making connections, which is something Gillian Sandstrom from the University of Sussex studies would agree with. She studies talking to strangers and why that is beneficial.

Presenter Claudia Hammond
Producer Geraldine Fitzgerald
Sound Engineer Sarah Hockley
Sound Designer Eleni Hassabis

36 episodes

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