SA 061: Dr. Glenn Fox on How Emotion Drives Decision Making and the Science of Gratitude

Dr. Glenn Fox

In this episode, I interview Dr. Glenn Fox, Fellow at the Brain and Creativity Institute of the University of Southern California. We talk about the importance of using gratitude and appreciation in leveraging adversity to our advantage and building resilience, and also about emotion versus feeling.  

Guest Bio:

Dr. Glenn Fox is a research fellow at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute and a co-founder and data scientist at PhD Insight LLC. He earned his PhD from the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Southern California working with Antonio Damasio.  

His research focuses on social cognition, affective neuroscience and social influence, and his dissertation in particular, focuses on the cognitive and neural bases for gratitude. His previous research has focused on group membership and pain observation, a case study of frontal lobotomy, as well as brain development and reading skill in adolescents.

He is also the director and founder of the Research Design Studio, an organization dedicated to giving real research experience to undergraduate students working in the Brain and Creativity Institute. To date, they have overseen the work of well over two dozen undergraduate students, many of whom have moved on to medical schools and graduate programs across the country.

Glenn restores cars, make things out of wood and metal. He also likes to travel and meet interesting people.

He writes about gratitude, nostalgia, restoring cars, and making mistakes while fixing previous mistakes at

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Some Questions We Ask:

  • When he hears the word successful, what’s the first thing that comes to mind and why?
  • Did his wife really help to redefine how he looked at success, or did it just kind of drive it home for him?
  • Is there an optimal emotional state?
  • Does he have any books that have most impacted him?
  • What about documentaries? Does he watch them? Does he have a favorite?
  • If he could have dinner with one person he admires, past or present, who would it be and why?


What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

  • What is affective neuroscience
  • Research on emotion vs reason
  • Adversity and peak performance

Peak performance is for everybody.

How we handle ourselves day to day, and how we take the time every day to check in, and to develop a centered self that’s not self-centered is really important for us.

  • Research on gratitude
  • Gratitude and post-traumatic stress
  • What’s happening in our brain when we’re practicing gratitude


Research: Holocaust Survivors’ Memories Help Researchers Map Brain Circuitry Of Gratitude



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