The Ezra Klein Show

Winner of the 2020 Webby and People's Voice awards for best interview podcast. Ezra Klein brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. Want to know how Stacey Abrams feels about identity politics? How Hasan Minhaj is reinventing political comedy? The plans behind Elizabeth Warren’s plans? How Michael Lewis reads minds? This is the podcast for you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.


episode 266: We don’t just feel emotions. We make them.

How do you feel right now? Excited to listen to your favorite podcast? Anxious about the state of American politics? Annoyed by my use of rhetorical questions?

These questions seem pretty straightforward. But as my guest today, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett, points out there is a lot more to emotion than meets the mind.

Barrett is a superstar in her field. She’s a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, holds appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and has received various prestigious awards for her pioneering research on emotion. Her most recent book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain argues that emotions are not biologically hardwired into our brains but constructed by our minds. In other words, we don’t merely feel emotions — we actively create them.

Barrett’s work has potentially radical implications. If we take her theory seriously, it follows that the ways we think about our daily emotional states, diagnose illnesses, interact with friends, raise our children, and experience reality all need some serious adjusting, if not complete rethinking.

If you enjoyed this episode, you should check out:

A mind-expanding conversation with Michael Pollan

The cognitive cost of poverty (with Sendhil Mullainathan)

Will Storr on why you are not yourself 

A mind-bending, reality-warping conversation with John Higgs

Book recommendations: 

Naming the Mind by Kurt Danzinger 

The Island of Knowledge by Marcelo Gleiser 

The Accidental Species by Henry Gee

Sense and Nonsense by Kevin L. Laland

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Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Recording engineer - Cynthia Gil

Field engineer - Joseph Fridman

The Ezra Klein Show is a production of the Vox Media Podcast Network

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 2019-10-17  1h35m