Alix Spiegel

NPR correspondent Alix Spiegel works on the Science desk and covers psychology.

Arriving at NPR in 2003, much of Spiegel's reporting has been on emotion mental health. She has reported on everything from the psychological impact of killing another person, to the emotional devastation of Katrina, to psycho-therapeutic approaches to transgender children.

Over the course of her career in public radio, Spiegel has won awards including the George Foster Peabody Award, Livingston Award, and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. Spiegel's 2007 documentary revealing mental health issues and crime plaguing a Southern Mississippi FEMA trailer park housing Katrina victims was recognized with Scripps Howard National Journalism Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Her radio documentary 81 Words, about the removal of homosexuality from psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, is being turned into a film by HBO.

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Spiegel graduated from Oberlin College. She began her career in radio in 1995 as one of the founding producers of the public radio show This American Life. Spiegel left the show in 1999 to become a full time reporter. She has also written for The New Yorker magazine and The New York Times.

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Science
3:20 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Psychology Of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things

Adam Cole/NPR

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 10:44 am

Enron, Worldcom, Bernie Madoff, the subprime mortgage crisis.

Over the past decade or so, news stories about unethical behavior have been a regular feature on TV, a long, discouraging parade of misdeeds marching across our screens. And in the face of these scandals, psychologists and economists have been slowly reworking how they think about the cause of unethical behavior.

In general, when we think about bad behavior, we think about it being tied to character: Bad people do bad things. But that model, researchers say, is profoundly inadequate.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:35 am
Mon April 30, 2012

To Predict Dating Success, The Secret's In The Pronouns

People who are interested in and paying close attention to each other begin to speak more alike, a psychologist says.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 11:17 pm

On a recent Friday night, 30 men and 30 women gathered at a hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C. Their goal was love, or maybe sex, or maybe some combination of the two. They were there for speed dating.

The women sat at separate numbered tables while the men moved down the line, and for two solid hours they did a rotation, making small talk with people they did not know, one after another, in three-minute increments.

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Children's Health
4:00 am
Tue February 21, 2012

More Children Struggle With Gender Identity Disorder

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 7:04 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The March issue of the medical journal, Pediatrics, features a striking editorial. It begins with the following sentence: A new pediatric problem is in town. That new problem, according to the editorial, is gender identity disorder in children. Pediatricians are apparently seeing more young patients who express an interest in changing their gender. NPR's Alix Spiegel reports.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:16 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

A Fresh Look At Antidepressants Finds Low Risk Of Youth Suicide

Originally published on Tue February 7, 2012 5:35 pm

In 2004, after an extensive review, the Food and Drug Administration issued a strong warning to doctors who prescribed antidepressants to teens and children.

Antidepressants, the FDA said, appeared to increase suicide among kids and teens. Doctors needed to be careful. The FDA even mandated that a "black-box warning," the strongest type, be placed on antidepressant packaging.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Mon January 23, 2012

When It Comes To Depression, Serotonin Isn't The Whole Story

The antidepressant Prozac selectively targets the chemical serotonin.
Paul S. Howell Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 3, 2012 1:13 pm

When I was 17 years old, I got so depressed that what felt like an enormous black hole appeared in my chest. Everywhere I went, the black hole went, too.

So to address the black-hole issue, my parents took me to a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She did an evaluation and then told me this story:

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Mon January 2, 2012

What Vietnam Taught Us About Breaking Bad Habits

U.S. soldiers at Long Binh base, northeast of Saigon, line up to give urine samples at a heroin detection center in June 1971, before departing for the U.S.
AP

Originally published on Thu January 5, 2012 3:49 pm

It's a tradition as old as New Year's: making resolutions. We will not smoke, or sojourn with the bucket of mint chocolate chip. In fact, we will resist sweets generally, including the bowl of M &Ms that our co-worker has helpfully positioned on the aisle corner of his desk. There will be exercise, and the learning of a new language.

It is resolved.

So what does science know about translating our resolve into actual changes in behavior? The answer to this question brings us — strangely enough — to a story about heroin use in Vietnam.

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Science
3:50 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Taj Hotel Staff Were Mumbai's Unlikely Heroes

Indian firefighters attempt to put out a fire as smoke billows out of the historic Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, which was stormed by armed gunmen in November 2008.
Indranil Mukherjee AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 10:18 pm

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Humans
1:21 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

For Creative People, Cheating Comes More Easily

New research suggests that people who are more creative are more likely to cheat.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon December 5, 2011 7:22 pm

Five months after the implosion of Enron, Feb. 12, 2002, the company's chief executive, Ken Lay, finally stood in front of Congress and the world, and placed his hand on a Bible.

At that point everyone had questions for Lay. It was clear by then that Enron was the product of a spectacular ethical failure, that there had been massive cheating and lying. The real question was: How many people had been dishonest? Who was in on it?

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Research News
3:00 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

Why We Give, Not Why You Think

Originally published on Fri November 25, 2011 5:16 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

This time of year, pleas for donations are as plentiful as eggnog and door-buster sales. Americans give around $300 billion a year to charity. And as NPR's Alix Spiegel reports, psychologists have started to look more closely at when and why we're motivated to give.

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Science
4:37 am
Tue September 27, 2011

How Psychology Solved A WWII Shipwreck Mystery

A gun turret on the sunken Australian warship HMAS Sydney. All 645 people aboard the Sydney died.
AP

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 12:52 pm

In November 1941, two ships crossed paths off the coast of Australia. One was the German raider HSK Kormoran. The other: an Australian warship called the HMAS Sydney. Guns were fired, the ships were damaged, and both sank to the bottom of the ocean.

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