N.C. State University professor Rupert Nacoste's latest book is "Taking on Diversity."

Rupert Nacoste served in the U.S. Navy during military race riots in the 1970s.

His commanding officers chose him to facilitate conversations about race relations among his fellow sailors. The experience prompted him to pursue a career as a social psychologist. 

Cynthia Bulik

Cynthia Bulik grew up as a lover of international language and culture. She was the first in her family to leave the dry cleaning business and go to college, and she was determined to study diplomacy and international relations. But when she was required to take a psychology class her freshman year at The University of Notre Dame, it changed the course of her life.

Split-brain studies have illuminated how the brain functions and raised bigger philosophical questions like: what is a mind, and what would it mean to have two minds?
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Cognitive neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that uses brain damage or atypical brains to theorize about the structure of the mind.

Elizabeth Schechter is a philosopher who uses cognitive neuropsychology to ponder bigger philosophical questions like: What is a mind? What is self consciousness? What would it mean to have two minds?

Dan Ariely / Duke Photography

Dan Ariely works in contradictions. He studies behavioral economics and points out that humans are logical but irrational beings.

How do we assign monetary value to a thought or an idea? How do we decide when a lie is more valuable than the truth? Are we really in control of the decisions we make on a daily basis?

At the crossroads of psychology and economics, Ariely has made it his life’s work to study the idea that some of our best intentions can lead to our most irrational behavior.

Image of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and other psychologists.
Flickr/ David Webb


Fairy tales have been around in various forms for hundreds and likely thousands of years, and many scholars argue that they’ve stood the test of time because they speak to many of our most deep-seated beliefs and struggles.

Long-term solitary confinement is a cruel, inhumane and degrading form of punishment, according to a new report from The University of North Carolina School of Law.

Sociologist Stephen Vaisey
Stephen Vaisey

For a million dollars, would you: 

  • Throw a tomato at a politician? 
  • Kick a dog in the head?
  • Sign away your soul?

Sociologist Stephen Vaisey asked these questions and more in the first stage of his project, Measuring Morality, which seeks to understand moral beliefs and moral divides. The study also followed teenagers for more than a decade to monitor the development of morality in young adults. 

Brain scan
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In the future, neuroscientific evidence may be as prevalent as DNA evidence in the criminal justice system. Today on The State of Things, experts discussed the future of neuroscience and the law. Here are some highlights. 

MRI brain scan
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In the not so distant future, brain scans may be as prevalent as DNA evidence in the criminal justice system. This neuroscientific evidence has the potential to correct biases and predict criminal recidivism. But critics argue it could be misleading and difficult to refute. Exploring the brain as a means of assessing intent also raises privacy concerns. 

Researchers at Duke University say testosterone affects people’s willingness to take economic risks. Associate professor of psychology and neuroscience Scott Huettel says men and women with high or low levels of testosterone are more likely to take risks in economic situations:

"Testosterone is important, but it’s equally important for men and women it turns out. Your level of testosterone matters quite a lot to how risk-seeking you are, but it matters in much the same for women as it does for men."