Two Guys on Your Head

Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

In conversations hosted by producer Rebecca McInroy, the two renowned psychologists cover everything from the effects of sugar on the brain, to what's happening in our minds while we sleep, and much, much more.

Listen to the Two Guys every Friday at 7:51 a.m., 1:49 and 4:51 p.m. on KUT-FM. You can always dig into the posts below or checkout and subscribe to podcasts via iTunes

We'd love to know what you're curious about!  Email us your topics and suggestions at twoguys@kut.org. And follow Two Guys on Twitter: @2GoYH

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Is greed good?  Is greed a human instinct?  Why are some people inclined to hoard?

For some individuals, greed and selfishness are much more commonly displayed than generosity. So, it might be fair to say greed feels more natural for some. On the other hand, most might say they favor unselfishness.

In this installment of "Two Guys on Your Head" Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss whether greed is instinctual or not.

onewithnow.com

I am absolutely certain that I’m right and you’re wrong, so because of this certainty, I will argue my belief, which I believe to be correct, however long it takes to convince you to submit to my superior correctness. 

Have you ever encountered such a fixed and inflexible perspective of a belief in a person who disagrees with you on something?  Of course you have.  We’re only human, and it’s part of the nature of our cognitive patterns to want to hold onto certain beliefs with a very firm intellectual grip.

On this week’s episode of Two Guys On Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke analyze the differing approaches to holding a belief and how those different approaches affect interaction in society. Essentially, this comes down to two fundamental ways of holding a belief: You can have a firm grip, or a loose one.

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Don’t we all hate having to deal with jerks? Everyone has some unpleasant person that they encounter frequently in life and would rather not. 

Fact is, we constantly encounter an endless variety of people with an endless variety of attitudes, perspectives and beliefs that – in all realistic possibility – will differ from the attitudes that we carry for the moment. 

This week, the Two Guys On Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, will toss around the topic of jerks – and provide some insightful, doctor prescribed strategies for handling difficult people in our lives.  

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Do you take pride in your ability to divide your focus and energy into more than one task at a time? Do you think you’re a good multitasker?

Chances are, you’re probably not.

We sat down with two experts – the Two Guys, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Robert Duke – to take a closer look at the topic of multitasking. Their take offers a perspective into some of the unique issues associated with multitasking.

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Being the incredibly social species that we are, we humans simply cannot avoid influencing one another when we interact. Influence is inevitable. 

The question then becomes, since influence is inevitable in human interaction, can we achieve the kind of influence that we intend to have, or that we might think we have in the world? 

On this week’s show, the Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, influence our understanding of the different functions and effects of influence in our lives.

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What’s so funny?

In this week’s show, the Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, analyze laughter until it cracks you up.

Why is it that laughter is such a seemingly uncontrollable response? There's many angles in a discussion on laughter, since there is no definitive way of explaining or understanding such a complex aspect of life. So lets start by noting laughter is a form of social bonding. 

The idea of distance conjures up many images in our minds. We might be thinking of how wonderful it will be when we are retired and have time to spend with our loved ones, do some traveling, or play 18 holes of golf on a weekday. Or perhaps when we think of distance, we think of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how far away the conflicts are from us.

For Art Markman and Robert Duke, how we process distance is particularly important, because it clues researchers in to how we think and make decisions as a result of distance.

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Who knows what? Essentially, this question is the basis of the complex concept called Theory of Mind – which is very misleadingly labeled. No, it’s not a theory that explains how mind works, as you might assume. It’s a process within our minds that allows us to separate and distinguish between what we know ourselves and what we know that other people know – or don’t know.  It’s a skill that is critical for accomplishing effective social interaction in the world. A better term might be Theory of Other People's Minds.

Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke do a wonderful job of explaining and dissecting this important skill in this week’s episode of Two Guys on Your Head. Have a listen and get smarter.  

flickr.com/yourdon

Everybody knows somebody who's familiar with the online dating service experience. It's a fairly common way for people to meet and become romantically involved these days. But how is it different from more traditional dating and courtship?

Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke take a crack at online dating in this week’s episode of Two Guys on Your Head.

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Living with a mental illness is difficult – not only for the sufferer, but for caregivers, friends and family.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk how it can be isolating and disheartening to interact with someone who has depression, dementia or any other mental illness – and they offer some ideas that can help.

One of the struggles in caring for friends and family with mental illness is that we have no idea what we’re really dealing with. Unlike seeing someone with a broken bone, we don’t see mental illness. It's more like a cancer in that it affects the whole family and it lasts for a long time.

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Our world these days is laden with a constant flow of information. It’s unavoidable. 

But how do we determine what information to believe? Once we’ve made that choice, what if we later find out that the information was false? How do we shed false beliefs?

On this week’s show, good doctors Art Markman and Bob Duke analyze the process of belief formation – and why our false beliefs are so insistent that we reconsider them.

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What happens when we feel guilt and shame? Our hearts may pound, we may feel sad, we might even want to cry. Physiologically our response to both shame and guilt is the same – but cognitively, the way we interpret these two emotions has consequences we may not realize.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke deconstruct the ramifications of these two emotions.

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Horrible music, incredible wait times and an inscrutable labyrinth of phone prompts: We've all experienced the frustrations of being on hold. Even when we're on hold for a minute or so, blood pressure can spike when an automated voice answers the phone.

Why is being on hold so annoying? Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke will be with you shortly to explain it. 

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Austin is now ranked as the fourth worst city in the nation for traffic. According to an annual traffic scorecard, Austinites waste an average of 41 hours in traffic annually. 

It’s no wonder then that we're encountering more vehicular aggression on overcrowded Austin roads. So what’s happening in our brains when we encounter that familiar feeling of intense frustration we call road rage? The Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, break it down in this week’s episode.

Flickr user reynermedia, https://flic.kr/ps/2mRc3m

Does size matter when it comes to meetings? 

Actually, yes. It’s not a myth. Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to meetings, it’s better to keep it on the small side. Short and sweet is best.

Efficiency of the shared time spent during a meeting is a primary determinant of its potential for effectiveness. The Two Guys, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, break down the best practices to ensure that the meetings you call will achieve their intended purpose. 

Give it a listen.

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Ever have those moments when you just can’t find the right words to express your thoughts? They happen. Articulation isn’t always easy.

Sometimes, words or language alone can't accurately express the complexity of thought. At those times, it can be very helpful to use an analogy or a metaphor to illustrate the fullness of the concept being expressed. Analogies and metaphors allow us to communicate complex concepts or ideas that transcend simple words. 

If you have a desire to develop good analogies or metaphors, the Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, have some tips that will blow your mind – metaphorically speaking. 

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Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Time flies when you're having fun, the old saying goes. But how can time – maybe the most fundamental concept of the universe – feel different under different conditions?

Our brains perceive time differently in different circumstances. When we pay close attention to something, tedium can set in and it can feel like time slows to a crawl.

Conversely, if our lives demand we juggle several different things at once, we tend to pay less attention to some activities – and time races by in a flash.

Christian Holmér, christianholmer.com

Human beings are a social species. Our natural programming requires a certain amount of social contact with other people. 

Shared experiences are simply a fundamental component of our needs as humans. We don’t just have a need for direct interaction and verbal communication either – there's all sorts of nonverbal communicative actions we take in the presence of others that we wouldn’t do alone.

In this installment of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke take us through the psychological benefits of "going out" and mingling with our fellow humans.

justtegan.com

Writer’s block! That phrase might induce panic and a recollection of a familiar experience. It’s a very common phenomenon. So what is it?

When in the beginning stages of undertaking a new writing project, a writer might find themselves blocked – stuck in front of a blank page or screen with no thoughts coming to mind. This lack of creative flow is further exacerbated by anxiety over the lack of production – making it a self-perpetuating cycle that can lead to stagnation. 

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke explain the ins and outs of how and why we sometimes get stuck – and what we can do to help ourselves in those difficult situations.  

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“Hey, you’re smart!”  That feels good to hear, doesn’t it?  Praise always feels good, but not all praise motivates us to try new things, challenge ourselves, or deal with failure.

In this episode of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss how to praise in a productive and meaningful way.

In summary, when giving or receiving praise, it’s a helpful skill to think about where that praise is directed.  

healthmeup.com

When it comes to the Myers-Briggs personality type test, are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you focus on sensing, or do you use your intuition to interpret information that you absorb? 

Does it matter?  Why is it so entertaining and satisfying for some people to answer these questions about themselves and others in their lives? 

Listen to the show and let the Two Guys, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, demystify the wiry world of  personality tests for you.

There’s endless questions we could ask about how the brain works. A particularly interesting one: what's unique about the brain during adolescence?

During adolescence our brains are wired differently than adult brains will be – and for good reason. In adolescence our brains are in a process of development – so we’re less inhibited, allowing us to take the risks we need to learn about the world. In addition, the difference in brain physiology has other ramifications on behavior and needs. Ignoring them can make life more difficult for kids and parents.

sharpschool.com

Are you an auditory learner or a visual learner?  If you answered "yes" you would be right. That's because we use all our senses to learn and process information.

In this edition of Two Guys On Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke dispel the myths behind learning styles preferences: they don’t really exist. 

Our reliance on the theories of learning styles to explain our success or failure of understanding certain information is actually serving our human need to put things into categories – combined with our need to explain things when they don’t work. 

I Think I'm Thinking, Therefore I Am?

Jan 16, 2014
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As human beings, we are, in fact, creatures.  Like any other living organism, energy conservation is of highest priority to our vibrant being, whether we are consciously aware of that fact and its influence over our behavior or not.  So, how does that affect our decisions in life? 

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss two great minds in psychology, and the founders of Behavioral Economics, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

Why We Crave Sugar

Jan 3, 2014
youngbrokeandhungry.com

Why is it hard to have just one of those delicious slices of pound cake over the holidays? Well, it turns out it has less to do with the creamy butter and more to do with the way our brains react to those sweet white grains of sugar.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss the ways our brains respond to sugar by releasing dopamine.

While we may think this dopamine is supposed to make us feel good, what the chemicals in our brains are trying to do is to teach us that this sugar is a good thing and that we want more of it for our survival.

This might have been beneficial to us 150,000 years ago, but with sweets in every candy dish, gas station and coffee shop, craving sugar has its consequences.

How To Make Effective Changes in The New Year

Dec 27, 2013
edutopia.org

It’s that time of the year when we resolve to drink less, exercise more, save money, etc.

It may feel really good to intend to do “better” in the new year, but as Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke explain in this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, real change takes planning and hard work.

Why is that? It turns out we have no idea why we do most of the things we do on a daily basis. And as long as our behaviors are driven by factors that operate below our conscious awareness, we may not know how to change.

As the Two Guys point out, effective change can happen when we start from the outside in. When we look at our environments first we can make space and cultivate relationships that help us become best selves.

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When it comes to what humans find attractive, many factors play a role.

Evolutionarily speaking, we tend to be attracted to symmetry and markers that indicate health and wellness. In social terms it has more to do with what’s in fashion at a given moment. But it's when we begin to react to attractiveness that things get tricky.

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The part of our brains that is responsible for generating creativity evolved throughout human existence to serve a problem-solving function. 

If you lived in the great, wild, open world as a primitive human, and your problems were things like predators, or food security sources, or a need for shelter, what would your brain do? 

Your brain would concoct creative strategies to solve those problems, and that’s what our minds have built a capacity to do as we’ve evolved – create solutions. Drs. Art Markman and Bob Duke give you more of the details.

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Whether we like it or not, time marches on. And as it does, we age. 

One of the most challenging realities for everyone to face in life is that we are all, inevitably, destined to grow old (if we’re lucky, that is).

Aging correlates to a steady decline of functional abilities, both physical and mental. Memory and cognition peak in our early twenties, and we begin a very slow, steady decline of those functions as we near our senior years.  

After age 80, many bodily functions – including brain function – seem to have reached the average limit of their operation. So what can we do to preserve our brains for as long as possible?

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Merriam-Webster defines delusion as “a belief that is not true; a false idea.” But who’s to decide what is true? 

Being tagged as delusional carries a negative, unpleasant connotation – calling to mind straight jackets, or maybe some scenes from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” But thanks to our powers of perception – and Drs. Bob Duke and Art Markman – you can choose to change your definition of delusion. 

When you get down to it, much of human existence is delusional. We use our imaginations to fill in meaning, value, expectations and definitions around a small sliver of what we can actually observe in our surroundings. Our mental state – essentially our level of happiness or unhappiness – is based on how we choose to define and perceive our circumstances. 

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