In this episode, Wendy speaks with social neuroscientist Lasana Harris about his work on flexible social cognition—the variable ways that we perceive others. This conversation covers many topics, including:
• His accidental entry into psychology;
• What flexible social cognition is;
• Schemas and predictions about others’ minds;
• Dehumanization and why we do it;
• The role of propaganda and implications for the war in Ukraine;
• How these processes scale up from individuals to societies;
• Bias and prejudice, and the key roles of threat and safety;
• The inseparability of cognition and emotion;
• How contemplative practice might help reduce dehumanization;
• Information overload and echo chambers, and what to do about them;
• And looking at the concept of self to change social bias.
Hosted by Wendy Hasenkamp, neuroscientist and science director at the Mind & Life Institute, the Mind & Life Podcast addresses fundamental questions that arise through bridging science and contemplative wisdom.
How do we understand our minds? What are the mental patterns that shape our experience—how are those patterns created, maintained, and changed? In what ways can contemplative practices such as meditation help us work with our minds? And what are the potential benefits of these practices for individuals and society?
Wendy investigates these complex questions with leading researchers, thinkers, and on-the-ground practitioners, moving us toward a deeper understanding of ourselves and our world.