Publications: Popular Media

Click any item below for a link.



O'Brien, E. (2021). Humans are hard-wired to expect the worst. Washington Post, May 24.

O'Brien, E. (2020). There’s a psychological reason we won’t return to normal right away after society reopens. Los Angeles Times, June 1.

Yoon, J., Whillans, A. V., & O'Brien, E. (2019). How to make even the most mundane tasks more motivating. Harvard Business Review, July 24.


O'Brien, E. (2019). We use less information to make decisions than we think. Harvard Business Review, March 7.


Smith, R., & O'Brien, E. (2018). Why you should eat popcorn with chopsticks—and other psychological tricks to make life more enjoyable. The Conversation, June 6.


Kardas, M., & O'Brien, E. (2018). Watching an expert do something makes you think you can do it too. Harvard Business Review, May 21.

O'Brien, E. (2017). Stop putting off fun for after you finish all your work. Harvard Business Review, July 7.

O'Brien, E., & Klein, N. (2016). It's hard to shake a bad reputation. Fortune, July 7.


O'Brien, E. (2015). Thinking about people we'd rather not think about. New America, November 12.


O'Brien, E. (2021). How to make boring work feel new again. Creative Conversation (Fast Company), October 21.

O'Brien, E. (2020). Finding joy in repeat experiences, even during a pandemic. WPR Ideas Network, November 23.

O'Brien, E. (2019). Confidence: Why it misleads us. BBC The Why Factor, May 2.

O'Brien, E. (2019). Close enough: The lure of living through others. NPR Hidden Brain, February 11.


O'Brien, E. (2018). YouTube isn’t as good a teacher as you think. Chicago Booth Review, July 30.


O'Brien, E. (2017). It’s getting worse! The science of negativity bias. Canvas8, March 24.


O'Brien, E. (2017). The medicinal effects of a happy spouse. Chicago Booth Review, March 2.


O'Brien, E., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2012). Why can’t Republicans and Democrats empathize with each other? Center For Building a Culture of Empathy, April 12.


O'Brien, E. (2012). Why the best chocolate is the one you eat last. NPR All Things Considered, February 14.


Konrath, S., & O'Brien, E. (2010). Empathy. WPR Ideas Network, June 15.

Konrath, S., & O.Brien, E. (2010). Empathy. Scientific American 60 Second Mind, May 29.