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The Why Factor

The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

Popular episodes

Millennials and business

Feb 3 • 23:07
Whether it is the growth in co-working spaces around the world full of 20 and 30-somethings starting their own thing, to TV shows on entrepreneurship, all the way to the big successes out of California’s Silicon Valley, the millennial generation are attracted to starting their own businesses. However, it is not just about making money but also about passion and doing good.

Why do we text instead of talk?

Jan 27 • 24:17
We can now curate who we talk to in a way that wasn’t thinkable when a bulky landline phone sat in a corner of a house and rang with anonymous urgency. The screens on our devices allow us to communicate in any number of quick, cheap but silent ways.These modern technologies are very useful, which is why they are so ubiquitous, but are they taking something from us that i...

Why do physical scars matter?

Jan 20 • 23:51
Physical scars can be sources of shame or badges of honour: acquired accidentally or a cry for help. How should we read them, and what do they tell us about ourselves and our place in the world?

We explore the practice of scarification, intentional body modification which has been practised for millennia, where scars denote status within tribal communities and are worn with...


Jan 13 • 23:28
Dystopic fiction is going through a bit of a boom at the moment, but why is it that we can’t seem to get enough of stories where ordinary people struggle to survive against an all-powerful state, or in a post-apocalyptic world? Is it because they reflect the anxieties we already feel about the world we live in, or because they allow us to escape it? Shabnam Grewal asks: Wh...

Victim blaming

Jan 6 • 24:08
The trauma of sexual assault is both personal and brutal. But what may be an indisputably traumatic event for one person is often challenged by another, and the responsibility for events gets scattered in the process. Why is it so common for people to look for reasons to blame the victims of sexual assault for what has happened to them?

Nastaran Tavakoli-Far finds multipl...


Dec 16 • 23:58
It’s the festive season, which means there are lots of parties going on. If you’re planning a party, what kind of celebration will it be? Organising the right food, drink and, crucially, guest list requires time and effort. Party planning has been listed as one of the most stressful professions you can have so, in the spirit of the season, in this edition of the Why Fact...


Dec 9 • 23:50
Resilience is one of the buzzwords of the moment with multiple self-helps books and motivational speakers all promising us we can learn to be resilient, and use this skill to manage our pain. But what exactly is resilience and why does it help some people to cope better in times of stress than others?

In this Why Factor, Abby Hollick examines why some people, in the face...

Why does music affect the way we feel?

Dec 2 • 22:58
An exploration of why and how music can exert a powerful effect on our emotions. Why does one particular collection of notes make us want to get up and dance, and another calm us down?

Edwina Pitman hears from record producer turned neuroscientist Daniel Levitin about how our brains process music and from psychologist Victoria Williamson about how we react to the memories...

Why do we need to talk about men?

Nov 25 • 24:04
Many men believe their gender is under siege from a welter of criticism about male attitudes and behaviours. Not everyone accepts the idea of a masculinity crisis, but this programme looks at the concept of the “man box” – a set of attitudes and assumptions which many males struggle to deal with. Artist Grayson Perry joins the discussion.

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Why grandparents are important

Nov 18 • 24:05
Asked to describe your grandparents, you may conjure fond childhood memories of trips to the park or going round for your favourite dinner after school. You may live just around the corner and see your grandparents daily or they might be a welcome voice on the phone, brightening your day from afar.

Elaine Chong discovers just why it is that grandparents matter so much to us...

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