We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
The Hidden Brain Audiobook

The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives

Regular Price:$31.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

The "hidden brain" is Shankar Vedantam's shorthand for a host of brain functions, emotional responses, and cognitive processes that happen outside of our conscious awareness, but that have a decisive effect on how we behave.

The hidden brain has its finger on the scale when we make all of our most complex and important decisions - it decides who we fall in love with, whether we should convict someone of murder, or which way to run when someone yells "fire!" It explains why we can become riveted by the story of a single puppy adrift on an ocean but are quickly bored by a story of genocide. The hidden brain can also be deliberately manipulated to vote against someone's interest, or even to become a suicidal terrorist. But the most disturbing thing is that it can do all of this without our knowing.

Shankar Vedantam, longtime author of the Washington Post's popular Department of Human Behavior column, takes us on a tour of this phenomenon and explores its consequences. Using original reporting that combines the latest scientific research with fascinating narratives that take listeners from the American campaign trail to terrorist indoctrination camps, from the World Trade Center on 9/11 to, yes, a puppy adrift in the Pacific Ocean, Vedantam illuminates the dark recesses of our minds while making an original argument about how we can compensate for our mental blindness - and what happens when we don't.

©2010 Shankar Vedantam; (P)2010 Random House Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (170 )
5 star
 (74)
4 star
 (47)
3 star
 (29)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (9)
Overall
4.1 (77 )
5 star
 (40)
4 star
 (18)
3 star
 (8)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (5)
Story
4.1 (76 )
5 star
 (33)
4 star
 (23)
3 star
 (13)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Anne Hilton Head Island, SC, USA 02-16-10
    Anne Hilton Head Island, SC, USA 02-16-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Adjunct Instructor of Psychology"

    This is a fascinating look at behavior. I use it to strengthen my classes in Psychology and Human Development. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in human behavior and the brain.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael EAST PEORIA, IL, United States 01-25-11
    michael EAST PEORIA, IL, United States 01-25-11 Member Since 2014

    vancholland77

    HELPFUL VOTES
    54
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    499
    32
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    3
    Overall
    "It's a fairly good book, all things considered"

    I bought this book in a buying binge of what I like to call "Pop Psychology". I figured this would be another knock off of Malcolm Gladwell's books or Dan Ariely's books, but it wasn't. This fellow went fairly deep into similar subjects as the above mentioned authors, he leaned a bit more into the neurological side, but he did it in an interesting and original way. So, in my opinion you won't be wasting your money if you pick this book up and take a good listen.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Caroline Elkins, AR, USA 03-16-10
    Caroline Elkins, AR, USA 03-16-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Excellent!"

    I loved it! Intriguing, well-written, and well-researched.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heidi Winner 07-17-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Missing 1 HUGE Point"
    Any additional comments?

    My frustration with this book is that while is takes more than enough space to drive home its point that we are highly influenced by unconscious workings of the brain, it fails to tell you WHY our brains work as they do. Where is the (much more) interesting discussion about WHY human brains evolved to think and act the way they do? There's hardly any mention of evolution of all - which is the driver behind practically everything described in the book!!

    For example, he describes a study that showed that when people subconsciously feel eyes looking at them (even if the eyes are on paper), they become much more generous with their money. But, instead of describing the fascinating phenomenon of WHY people react this way, he spends about 5 minutes talking about how interesting it was that people didn't consciously realize that there were eyes on the paper in the room. Is it really all that fascinating that people can't absorb every detail in their line of vision at one time?

    No mention of what the evolutionary sciences have known for a long time: people are more generous when they sense they're being watched in order to appear to be a "team player", because to do the opposite could mean being labeled a "free rider" and risk being hurt or outcast from society. Over time, the gene of "be a team player" while I sense I'm being watched" becomes more abundant in the population as the gene "be a free rider while I sense I'm being watched" becomes weeded out. This trait is now so strong in us as humans, that today we're more likely to put money in the community pot for the coffee we take from the office break room if someone is watching us, even if the eyes are just drawings on a piece of paper taped to the fridge.

    What's interesting about humans is not that our brains work in a semi-programmed way, but the human story as to WHY that behavior was beneficial to our survival and reproduction throughout our evolutionary past. This book focuses on the top layer - observed behavior - and completely misses what that behavior is built upon - the many layers of our rich human history that has made us what we are today.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer melbourne, Australia 06-20-15
    Kindle Customer melbourne, Australia 06-20-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This is an absolute must read if you want to understand and counteract the biases caused by our unconscious or 'hidden' brain."

    Spoiler alert....

    I was shocked, dismayed and intrigued to learn how many experiments and studies show that even if we consider ourselves non racist or sexist, our hidden brain causes us to perceive others in prejudiced ways- without our consent or awareness. This book covered topics such as the mindset of suicide bombers (the total opposite of what I expected -and I am well read on psychology), presidential elections, our responses to humanitarian crises and much more. I was fuming while listening to the studies done on the sexism that males who have transitioned to female encounter in the workplace, likewise, the females who struggle against invisible currents of sexism, only to transition to male and find themselves getting pay rises, more support, less criticism and more respect in general. This book packed a lot of solid data and research into a highly interesting, entertaining and eye opening read. The narrator did a fantastic job also. I believe this should be required reading for people of all walks of life. After all, who wants to spend their life being manipulated by their own brain? By being aware, we can counter the effects of insidious biases.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joni 12-07-12
    joni 12-07-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "rated R: some disturbingly violent content"
    What would have made The Hidden Brain better?

    The violence in this book was distasteful. There are so many examples the author could have used other than the one he picked, which was used to sensationalize for what seemed like a lack of talent or imagination.


    What could Shankar Vedantam have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    a book without violent examples


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Steve West?

    the narrator was fine


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Hidden Brain?

    the violent ones, especially when the guy beats the woman to her death with all the people watching.


    Any additional comments?

    Audio books with explicit violent content should have warnings. Violence is not the kind of thing one wants to introduce into a relaxed psyche falling asleep. It was so disturbing that I don't even want to hear the rest of the book. I'm just glad my 12-year-old didn't hear that part because we started listening to the book together as we usually do, but I listened ahead even though there were no indications it would suddenly get so violent.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel 05-17-16
    Rachel 05-17-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    37
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not Vedantam's best work"

    Shankar Vedantam is one of the great science journalists of our time, but he doesn't shine in this book after the first few chapters.

    It may be the format-- as a journalist, and on his radio program, his stories are always short, punchy, and leave you wondering about the broader implications of the principles he talks about. Here, he organizes the book into what he calls "concentric circles", starting with the very specific and spiraling out towards broader implications of acknowledging the hidden brain. The first few chapters were engrossing, captivating, almost like a murder mystery. But once he delivered the punchline halfway through-- that rationality is largely an illusion and that many of our actions are controlled by the hidden brain-- the stories lost momentum. The last few expanding concentric circles harped on the point while adding little to the overall argument.

    Additionally, since Vedantam is so good on the radio, I wish he had narrated his book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    teresa sizer 03-18-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Required Reading for Humans"

    This book makes me question all the decisions I think I make that are logical, and really makes you question why you make the decision we do in society. A great read on how we aren't as logical as we think we are.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TopCat 04-05-15
    TopCat 04-05-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Missed the mark!"
    What disappointed you about The Hidden Brain?

    This book was too negative with too much violence. Did he need to rehash every detail about every person that was involved in every tragedy he discussed?
    I don't think so. I had to skip many sections that were too depressing to read.... again. 9/ 11 as an one example.Finally just gave up and deleted the book; not just from my device but from my library.
    There are lots of excellent books on the unconscious mind out there. This is not one of them. Unless he was trying to address address another subject.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment. A wasted credit.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 05-02-14
    Jennifer 05-02-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worthwhile & thought provoking book"
    If you could sum up The Hidden Brain in three words, what would they be?

    Fascinating, well-researched, engaging


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Hidden Brain?

    When he explained that when children are read stories about race relations in which the hero is African American, they still end up thinking that the white characters did the admirable things. This effect is somewhat offset if their teachers explicitly tell them otherwise.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, but I definitely looked for occasions to keep reading more - like finding housework to do or go for a walk.


    Any additional comments?

    The case studies are remarkably interesting and well-researched. I learned unexpected concepts that alter they way I process situations now. Shankar Vedantam also shows incredible sensitivity to his interview subjects, which makes me think he is a good person. I highly recommend this book - Vedantam deserves more attention as a journalist.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.