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Alix Spiegel - 2014

Alix Spiegel

Alix Spiegel has worked on NPR's Science Desk for 10 years covering psychology and human behavior, and has reported on everything from what it's like to kill another person, to the psychology behind our use of function words like "and", "I", and "so." She began her career in 1995 as one of the founding producers of the public radio program This American Life. While there, Spiegel produced her first psychology story, which ultimately led to her focus on human behavior. It was a piece called 81 Words, and it examined the history behind the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

In January 2015, Spiegel joined forces with journalist Lulu Miller to co-host Invisibilia, a series from NPR about the unseen forces that control human behavior — our ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and thoughts. Invisibilia interweaves personal stories with fascinating psychological and brain science, in a way that ultimately makes you see your own life differently. Excerpts of the show are featured on the NPR News programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. The program is also available as a podcast.

Over the course of her career in public radio, Spiegel has won many awards including a George Foster Peabody Award, a Livingston Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award, and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Spiegel graduated from Oberlin College. Her work on human behavior has also appeared in The New Yorker magazine and The New York Times.

  • The developer of cognitive behavioral therapy, Dr. Aaron Beck, died on Monday at age 100. In 2015, NPR's Invisibilia introduced listeners to Beck.
  • The tobacco industry played an influential role in the funding and popularization of stress research. A vast document archive details the relationships between cigarette makers and key scientists.
  • For those who rely on technology to speak, there are a limited number of voices. "Perfect Paul" sounds robotic, and "Heather" can seem too old for some. Now, a researcher is using sound samples from people who have never been able to speak to create new, personalized voices for them.
  • An attention researcher wanted to find out how radiologists would fare in a version of the famous Invisible Gorilla study. He found that 83 percent of the radiologists failed to spot an image of a gorilla on slides they were told to inspect for cancer. It's just one example of how, when people are asked to perform a challenging task, their attention can narrow and blocks things out.
  • Teachers' expectations about their students' abilities affect classroom interactions in myriad ways that can impact student performance. Students expected to succeed, for example, get more time to answer questions and more specific feedback. But training aimed at changing teaching behavior can also help change expectations.
  • Our capacity to forget is as important, and certainly as interesting, as our ability to remember. But can we train ourselves to suppress certain memories, or the meaning we attach to life events?