Allecia Reid, William and Margaret Montgoris Assistant Professor of Psychology

I run half and full marathons. When I am training, I typically listen to podcasts, particularly This American Life and Radiolab (though the other Colby marathoners, like Paul Josephson, would say I shouldn’t be listening to anything while running!). I have found that these shows are not only an enjoyable way to pass 2 to 3 hours, but also provide real-world examples of topics that I cover in my health psychology class. I include the shorter segments in the class period or ask that students listen to the longer segments before class. For example, an episode of Radiolab focused on aggression among baboons. A researcher found that when the alpha males in a baboon troop died after eating garbage tainted with tuberculosis, grooming increased dramatically among the remaining baboons. This suggests that the baboons were less aggressive. Newcomers to the troop also adopted the kinder, gentler nature of this troop. This is a great example of how our social environment constrains or encourages certain behaviors. We then extend the example to consider how peer social networks might similarly influence alcohol use among college students. One of my goals is for students to transfer knowledge of course content to real-world contexts. Working through these audio segments provides an opportunity for practicing that skill.