About

The Actor’s Mind is a new podcast that explores acting from a psychological perspective. We describe and discuss popular acting tools that are commonly used in actor training, rehearsals, and performances. Then we identify the parallel psychological processes that are likely in play when actors use these techniques. We discuss the success of these techniques from our own experience, as well as why they work given the evidence from psychology and neuroscience. Our guests are experts from the theater and science worlds: actors, directors, teachers, and psychological scientists, who add their expertise and experience to the conversation.

Read the episode descriptions below to see what we’re talking about in Season 1 and 2.

Hosts

Kateri McRae

Kateri McRae (Ph.D.) is an Associate Professor in the University of Denver Department of Psychology, where she conducts research, teaches and does other fun things (like this podcast!). Her research is focused on emotion cognition interactions, often studying things like how we’re able to control our emotions (or how we’re not able to) using multiple methods like questionnaires, laboratory tasks, bodily physiology and brain imaging. She teaches graduate courses in fMRI methods and affective neuroscience, and undergraduate courses in emotion regulation, and the intersection of psychology and theater. She was a double major in Human Biology and Drama as an undergraduate, and throughout her adult life has performed semi-professionally (mostly in musicals). In addition, she served as an adjudicator for the Bobby G Awards, as well as a theater critic in her role as “She” in a husband/wife critic team called He Said/She Said Critiques, as well as a brief stint as a freelance critic for The Denver Post.

Anne Penner

Anne Penner is an Associate Professor in the University of Denver Theatre Department, where she teaches acting, directing, and movement courses. Most recently she performed Joan Didion’s one-woman play adaptation of her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, with Stories on Stage. Other professional acting credits include Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, Julius Caesar, and Cymbeline (Colorado Shakespeare Festival); The Wolves (Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company); Abundance, Crimes of the Heart, American Notes, and Savage in Limbo (Sis Tryst Productions); Not I & Rockaby (Edinburgh International Fringe Festival); Seascape (Modern Muse); The Crimson Thread (Arvada Center); Backsliding in the Promised Land (Syracuse Stages); and various performances with Stories on Stage. She also directs and produces, most often for DU; her theater company, Sis Tryst Productions; and for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Episodes

Season 2:

Season 2 Episode 5: Comedy and Psychological Theories of Humor
Anne and Kateri discuss comedy and psychological theories of humor.
Guest: Jessica Robblee

Season 2 Episode 4: Inner Monologue + Modes of Cognition
Kateri and Anne discuss the acting tools of inner monologue and objects of attention as well as the psychological concepts of “top down” and “bottom up” modes of cognition.
Guests: Mare Trevathan and Rodney Lizcano

Season 2 Episode 3: Perspective, Feedback, and Psychological Distance
Anne and Kateri discuss the roles of actor, director, dramaturg, audience, and critic when discussing perspective on the process of rehearsing and performing a play, including giving and receiving feedback.
Guest: John Moore (http://mydenvercenter.org)

Season 2 Episode 2: Casting + Personality Traits
Anne and Kateri discuss casting and personality traits.
Guest: Talleri McRae

Season 2 Episode 1: Auditioning + Impression Formation
Anne and Kateri discuss Auditioning and Impression Formation.
Guest: Sylvia Gregory (http://sylviagregorycasting.com/)

Season 1:

Season 1 Episode 1: Objective + Appraisal Theory of Emotion Kateri and Anne discuss one of the most important acting tools, objective, and a parallel psychological concept, appraisal theory of emotion.
Guests: Larry Hecht, Ashlee Temple, and Allison Watrous

Season 1 Episode 2: Substitution + Episodic Memory
Kateri and Anne discuss substitution and episodic memory.
Guest: Gareth Saxe

Season 1 Episode 3: Actor/Character Physicality + Embodied Cognition
Kateri and Anne discuss actor/character physicality and embodied cognition.
Guest: Regan Linton (www.reganlinton.com)

Season 1 Episode 4: Presence + Mindfulness
Kateri and Anne share their discussion of actor presence/stage presence and the psychological concept of mindfulness with guest Thalia Goldstein.
Guests: Thalia Goldstein, Jessica Austgen, and Lauren Bahlman

Season 1 Episode 5: Language + Psycholinguistics
Kateri and Anne discuss the power of language for an actor and the corresponding study of psycholinguistics.
Guest: Sabin Epstein

Click here to access the The Actor’s Mind Podcast on iTunes

Resources

Season 2:

Anne’s Resources:

Merlin, Joanna.  (2001). Auditioning.  New York: Vintage Books.

Edelstein, Barry.  (2018).  Thinking Shakespeare: Revised Edition.  New York: Theatre Communications Group.

Roznowski, Rob.  (2013).  Inner Monologue in Acting.  New York: St. Martin’s Press

Wright, John.  (2006).  Why Is That So Funny?  A Practical Exploration of Physical Comedy.  London: Nick Hern Books.

Harrop, John and Sabin R. Epstein.  (1999).  Acting with Style (3rd edition).  Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


Kateri’s Episode 1 resources:

Walker, M. P. (2008). Cognitive consequences of sleep and sleep loss. Sleep Medicine9, S29-S34.

MacLeod, C. M. (1991). Half a century of research on the Stroop effect: an integrative review. Psychological bulletin109(2), 163.

Fiske, S. T., Cuddy, A. J., Glick, P., & Xu, J. (2002). A model of (often mixed) stereotype content: competence and warmth respectively follow from perceived status and competition. Journal of personality and social psychology82(6), 878.

Schultz, W. (2013). Updating dopamine reward signals. Current opinion in neurobiology23(2), 229-238.

Shohamy, D., & Adcock, R. A. (2010). Dopamine and adaptive memory. Trends in cognitive sciences14(10), 464-472.

Jamieson, J. P., Mendes, W. B., Blackstock, E., & Schmader, T. (2010). Turning the knots in your stomach into bows: Reappraising arousal improves performance on the GRE. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology46(1), 208-212.

Zarolia, P., Weisbuch, M., & McRae, K. (2017). Influence of indirect information on interpersonal trust despite direct information. Journal of personality and social psychology112(1), 39.


Kateri’s Episode 2 resources:

Zillig, L. M. P., Hemenover, S. H., & Dienstbier, R. A. (2002). What do we assess when we assess a Big 5 trait? A content analysis of the affective, behavioral, and cognitive processes represented in Big 5 personality inventories. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin28(6), 847-858.

Nettle, D. (2006). Psychological profiles of professional actors. Personality and individual differences40(2), 375-383.

Greengross, G., & Miller, G. F. (2009). The Big Five personality traits of professional comedians compared to amateur comedians, comedy writers, and college students. Personality and Individual Differences47(2), 79-83.

Prentice, D. A., & Miller, D. T. (2007). Psychological essentialism of human categories. Current directions in psychological science16(4), 202-206.

Goldstein, T. R., & Winner, E. (2012). Enhancing empathy and theory of mind. Journal of cognition and development13(1), 19-37.

Prati, F., Crisp, R. J., Meleady, R., & Rubini, M. (2016). Humanizing outgroups through multiple categorization: The roles of individuation and threat. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin42(4), 526-539.

Woods, S. A., & Hampson, S. E. (2005). Measuring the Big Five with single items using a bipolar response scale. European Journal of Personality: Published for the European Association of Personality Psychology19(5), 373-390.

Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E., & Viechtbauer, W. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological bulletin132(1), 1.

Carstensen, L. L., & Mikels, J. A. (2005). At the intersection of emotion and cognition: Aging and the positivity effect. Current directions in psychological science14(3), 117-121.


Kateri’s Episode 3 resources:

Trope, Y., & Liberman, N. (2010). Construal-level theory of psychological distance. Psychological review117(2), 440.

Medvec, V. H., Madey, S. F., & Gilovich, T. (1995). When less is more: counterfactual thinking and satisfaction among Olympic medalists. Journal of personality and social psychology69(4), 603.


Kateri’s Episode 4 resources:

Buschman, T. J., & Miller, E. K. (2007). Top-down versus bottom-up control of attention in the prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices. Science315(5820), 1860-1862.

Ochsner, K. N., Ray, R. D., Cooper, J. C., Robertson, E. R., Chopra, S., Gabrieli, J. D., & Gross, J. J. (2004). For better or for worse: neural systems supporting the cognitive down-and up-regulation of negative emotion. Neuroimage23(2), 483-499.

Otto, B., Misra, S., Prasad, A., & McRae, K. (2014). Functional overlap of top-down emotion regulation and generation: An fMRI study identifying common neural substrates between cognitive reappraisal and cognitively generated emotions. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience14(3), 923-938.

Sonnby-Borgström, M., Jönsson, P., & Svensson, O. (2003). Emotional empathy as related to mimicry reactions at different levels of information processing. Journal of Nonverbal behavior27(1), 3-23.

Stel, M., & Van Knippenberg, A. (2008). The role of facial mimicry in the recognition of affect. Psychological Science19(10), 984.


Kateri’s Episode 5 resources:

Attardo, S. (1997). The semantic foundations of cognitive theories of humor. Humor-International Journal of Humor Research10(4), 395-420.

McGraw, A. P., & Warren, C. (2010). Benign violations: Making immoral behavior funny. Psychological science21(8), 1141-1149.

McGraw, A. P., Williams, L. E., & Warren, C. (2014). The rise and fall of humor: Psychological distance modulates humorous responses to tragedy. Social Psychological and Personality Science5(5), 566-572.

McGraw, A. P., Warren, C., Williams, L. E., & Leonard, B. (2012). Too close for comfort, or too far to care? Finding humor in distant tragedies and close mishaps. Psychological science23(10), 1215-1223.

Nezlek, J. B., & Derks, P. (2001). Use of humor as a coping mechanism, psychological adjustment, and social interaction. Humor14(4), 395-414.

Westbury, C., Shaoul, C., Moroschan, G., & Ramscar, M. (2016). Telling the world’s least funny jokes: On the quantification of humor as entropy. Journal of Memory and Language86, 141-156.

Hurley, M. M., Dennett, D. C., Adams Jr, R. B., & Adams, R. B. (2011). Inside jokes: Using humor to reverse-engineer the mind. MIT press.


Season 1:

Anne’s Resources:

Caldarone, Marina & Maggie Lloyd Williams. (2004). Actions: The Actors’ Thesaurus. Hollywood, CA: Drama Publishers.

Hagen, Uta. (1973). Respect for Acting. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Bruder, Melissa, et al. (1986). A Practical Handbook for the Actor. New York, NY: Random House.

Ball, William. (1984). A Sense of Direction. Hollywood, CA: Drama Publishers. “Objectives” chapter.

Hodge, Alison, editor. (2010). Actor Training, second edition. New York, NY: Routledge. Chapter 1: Stanislavsky’s System.

Bogart, Anne and Tina Landau. (2005). The Viewpoints Book. New York: NY. Theatre Communications Group.

Bogart, Anne. (2001). A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre. New York, NY: Routledge.

Chekhov, Michael. (1953). To the Actor. New York, NY: Harper and Brothers.

Harrop, John and Sabin Epstein. (2000). Acting with Style, third edition. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Jeffries, Stuart.  “Inside the mind of an actor (literally).”  Theguardian.com.  November 29, 2009.

Vedantam, Shankar (Producer).  (January 29, 2018).  Hidden Brain episode: “Lost in Translation” [Audio podcast].

Linklater, Kristin.  (2006).  Freeing the Natural Voice.  Hollywood, CA: Drama Publishers.

Barton, John.  (1984).  Playing Shakespeare: An Actor’s Guide.  New York, NY: Random House.


Kateri’s Episode 1 resources:

Arnold, Magda B. “Emotion and personality.” (1960). NY: Columbia University Press.

Ellsworth, Phoebe C., and Klaus R. Scherer. “Appraisal processes in emotion.” Handbook of Affective Sciences 572 (2003): V595.

Lazarus, R. S. (1966). Psychological stress and the coping process. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Vedantam, Shankar (Producer).  (January 29, 2018).  Hidden Brain episode: “Lost in Translation” [Audio podcast].

Kateri’s Episode 2 resources:

Tulving, Endel, and David Murray. “Elements of episodic memory.” Canadian Psychology 26.3 (1985): 235-238.

Phelps, Elizabeth A. “Human emotion and memory: interactions of the amygdala and hippocampal complex.” Current opinion in neurobiology 14.2 (2004): 198-202.

Hamann, Stephan B., et al. “Amygdala activity related to enhanced memory for pleasant and aversive stimuli.” Nature neuroscience 2.3 (1999): 289.

Alberini, Cristina M., and Joseph E. LeDoux. “Memory reconsolidation.” Current Biology 23.17 (2013): R746-R750.

Kateri’s Episode 3 resources:

Ambady, N., & Rosenthal, R. (1993). Half a minute: Predicting teacher evaluations from thin slices of nonverbal behavior and physical attractiveness. Journal of personality and social psychology64(3), 431.

Rule, N. O., Ambady, N., Adams Jr, R. B., & Macrae, C. N. (2008). Accuracy and awareness in the perception and categorization of male sexual orientation. Journal of personality and social psychology95(5), 1019.

Curhan, J. R., & Pentland, A. (2007). Thin slices of negotiation: Predicting outcomes from conversational dynamics within the first 5 minutes. Journal of Applied Psychology92(3), 802.

Schwartz, B. (2004, January). The paradox of choice: Why more is less. New York: Ecco.

Västfjäll, D. (2001). Emotion induction through music: A review of the musical mood induction procedure. Musicae Scientiae5(1_suppl), 173-211.

Henver, K. 1937. The affective value of pitch and tempo in music. American Journal of Social Psychology, 49(4): 621–30.

Sievers, B., Polansky, L., Casey, M., & Wheatley, T. (2013). Music and movement share a dynamic structure that supports universal expressions of emotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences110(1), 70-75.

Strack, F., Martin, L. L., & Stepper, S. (1988). Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: a nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis. Journal of personality and social psychology54(5), 768.

Söderkvist, S., Ohlén, K., & Dimberg, U. (2018). How the experience of emotion is modulated by facial feedback. Journal of nonverbal behavior42(1), 129-151.

Noah, T., Schul, Y., & Mayo, R. (2018). When both the original study and its failed replication are correct: Feeling observed eliminates the facial-feedback effect. Journal of personality and social psychology114(5), 657.

Wilson, M. (2002). Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomic bulletin & review9(4), 625-636.

Lotze, M., Montoya, P., Erb, M., Hülsmann, E., Flor, H., Klose, U., … & Grodd, W. (1999). Activation of cortical and cerebellar motor areas during executed and imagined hand movements: an fMRI study. Journal of cognitive neuroscience11(5), 491-501.

Cross, E. S., Hamilton, A. F. D. C., & Grafton, S. T. (2006). Building a motor simulation de novo: observation of dance by dancers. Neuroimage31(3), 1257-1267.

Tchernichovski, O., & Wallman, J. (2008). Behavioural neuroscience: Neurons of imitation. Nature451(7176), 249.

Wiens, S. (2005). Interoception in emotional experience. Current opinion in neurology18(4), 442-447.

Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J., & Yap, A. J. (2010). Power posing: Brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological science21(10), 1363-1368.

Ranehill, E., Dreber, A., Johannesson, M., Leiberg, S., Sul, S., & Weber, R. A. (2015). Assessing the robustness of power posing: No effect on hormones and risk tolerance in a large sample of men and women. Psychological science26(5), 653-656.

http://www.reganlinton.com/

Kateri’s Episode 4 resources:

Konijn, E. A. (1991). Empirical analysis of emotion processes in the theatre. Psychology and performing arts59.

Tugade, M. M., Fredrickson, B. L., & Feldman Barrett, L. (2004). Psychological resilience and positive emotional granularity: Examining the benefits of positive emotions on coping and health. Journal of personality72(6), 1161-1190.

http://marc.ucla.edu

Zuberbühler, K. (2008). Audience effects. Current Biology18(5), R189-R190.

Jakobs, E., Manstead, A. S., & Fischer, A. H. (2001). Social context effects on facial activity in a negative emotional setting. Emotion1(1), 51.

Csikszentmihalyi, M., Abuhamdeh, S., & Nakamura, J. (2014). Flow. In Flow and the foundations of positive psychology (pp. 227-238). Springer, Dordrecht.

Ellen, W., Goldstein, T.R., & Stéphan, V. L. (2013). Educational research and innovation art for art’s sake? The impact of arts education: The Impact of Arts Education. OECD publishing.

https://www.amazon.com/Art-Arts-Sake-Educational-Innovation/dp/B00FKYF60A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532638097&sr=8-1&keywords=art+for+art%27s+sake+goldstein

Kateri’s Episode 5 resources:

Majid, A. (2012). Current emotion research in the language sciences. Emotion Review4(4), 432-443.

Hauser, M. D. (1993). The evolution of nonhuman primate vocalizations: effects of phylogeny, body weight, and social context. The American Naturalist142(3), 528-542.

Wood, A., Martin, J., & Niedenthal, P. (2017). Towards a social functional account of laughter: Acoustic features convey reward, affiliation, and dominance. PloS one12(8), e0183811.

Kastl, A. J., & Child, I. L. (1968). Emotional meaning of four typographical variables. Journal of Applied Psychology52(6p1), 440.

Bar, M., & Neta, M. (2007). Visual elements of subjective preference modulate amygdala activation. Neuropsychologia45(10), 2191-2200.

Scherer, K. R. (1986). Vocal affect expression: A review and a model for future research. Psychological bulletin99(2), 143.

Whorf, B. L. (2012). Language, thought, and reality: Selected writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Mit Press.

Loftus, E. F., & Palmer, J. C. (1974). Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of verbal learning and verbal behavior13(5), 585-589.

Smith, A. D. (2001). Talk to me: Listening between the lines. Random House.

Kagitani, T., Goto, M., Watanbe, J., & Sakamoto, M. (2014, January). Sound symbolic relationship between onomatopoeia and emotional evaluations in taste. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (Vol. 36, No. 36).


Collaborators and Thanks

A big thanks to all of our guests: Larry Hecht, Ashlee Temple, Allison Watrous, Gareth Saxe, Regan Linton, Jessica Austgen, Lauren Bahlman, Thalia Goldstein, and Sabin Epstein.  Thanks to everyone willing to be recorded for our Introduction and the beginning of Episode #4, Presence: Moss Kaplan, Wren Schuyler, Mare Trevathan, Adeline Mann, Molly Carter, Gareth Saxe, Isaiah Adams, Deb Hultgren, Matthew Jones, Spencer Duncan, and Kenzie Kilroy.

Jennifer Forsyth, Production Administrator

Jonathan Howard, Music Composition and Audio Engineering

The University of Denver Department of Theatre

The University of Denver Creative Arts Materials Fund (CAMF) Grant

The University of Denver Faculty Research Fund (FRF) Grant

Contact Us

To reach us with questions or comments, please email: actorsmindpodcast@gmail.com