The Why Factor

The Why Factor

Why do we do the things we do? Mike Williams searches for the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions to inform us about the way we live in the 21st Century. Broadcast and podcast every Friday.

Updated: weekly
Episodes available for: Indefinitely
Series Feed: RSS

  • 01 May 9MB

    Jargon - 1 May 2015

    The deliberate obfuscation of language. Why do we use jargon? Mike Williams explains

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 24 Apr 9MB

    Animals Are Us? 24 Apr 2015

    Maria Margaronis asks why we project human qualities onto animals, and whether we are as distinct from other species as

    Duration: 19 mins

  • 17 Apr 9MB

    The Circus

    From clowns to lion trainers, the modern circus has been around for centuries. Mike Williams explores its origins and

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 10 Apr 9MB

    Daydreaming - 10 Apr 2015

    Does everyone’s mind wander at some point during the day? And what happens to us, and our lives, when we daydream?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 03 Apr 9MB

    Suicide - 3 Apr 2015

    Our desire to live is strong. But it’s not always enough. And every year, across the world, around a million people

    Duration: 19 mins

  • 28 Mar 9MB

    The Refugee Journey - 28 Mar 2015

    At the mercy of people smugglers, how do refugees make their often perilous journeys? And who are the people who smuggle

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 21 Mar 9MB

    Death Penalty - 21 March 2015

    Mike Williams asks why the death penalty still exists in so many countries around the world.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 14 Mar 9MB

    Forgetting - 14 Mar 2015

    In this week’s edition of The Why Factor … forgetting… we’ll be looking inside the brain to find out why we lose

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 07 Mar 9MB

    Crime Fiction - 7 Mar 2015

    Why do so many people all over the world enjoy stories about criminals and the people who bring them to justice?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 28 Feb 9MB

    Skyscrapers - 28 Feb 2015

    Mike Williams asks why we build skyscrapers. Are they just vanity projects or are the a necessary part of our cities?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 21 Feb 9MB

    Chasing Riches 21 Feb 15

    Why do the rich want to get richer? Why when you’ve got a million or even a billion do you want more? Mike Williams

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 14 Feb 9MB

    Rejecting Riches 14 Feb 2015

    Why do some people give the vast majority of their money away? Mike Williams talks to people who just don’t want to be

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 07 Feb 9MB

    Watches As A Status Symbol - 7 Feb 2015

    Watches have been a status symbol for the wealthy and powerful for centuries. As part of the BBC World Service’s ‘A

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 31 Jan 9MB

    Sad Music - 31 Jan 2015

    A study has shown that sad music has become increasingly popular, but why do people choose to listen to it?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 24 Jan 9MB

    Flags - 24 Jan 2015

    Why do we fly flags? They have many uses, from identifying symbols to signalling tools. But why a piece of cloth? Mike

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 17 Jan 9MB

    Loyalty - 17 January 2015

    Mike Williams asks why are we loyal, and who are we really loyal to? Is it other people, or our own values?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 10 Jan 9MB

    Portrait Photography - 10 Jan 2015

    With photography, the portrait is now available to all. Mike Williams explores our fascination for capturing images of

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 03 Jan 9MB

    The Moon - 03 Jan 2015

    Mike Williams explores the moon in culture, how it affects life on Earth and he asks Alan Bean – one of the handful of

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 27 Dec 9MB

    Honour - 27 December 2014

    Honour. People have fought for it and died for it. From honour-codes of the Japanese samurai, to the persistence of

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 20 Dec 9MB

    Perfume - 20 Dec 2014

    Mike Williams asks why do we use perfume, what does it say about us and the image we’re trying to project?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 13 Dec 9MB

    Sharing

    We teach our children that it’s good to share… but why? What exactly is it? Why do we do it? And what happens

    Duration: 19 mins

  • 06 Dec 9MB

    Nudity - 6 December 2014

    We are all born naked, yet there’s a taboo about displaying naked bodies in public. Mike Williams asks why the naked

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 29 Nov 9MB

    Cookery - 29 Nov 2014

    Jo Fidgen asks why do we cook and not just eat raw food, and hears that cooking made us human.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 22 Nov 9MB

    Letters - 22 Nov 2014

    Why do letters have such power to move us? Three stories of love from the vanishing world of handwritten correspondence.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 15 Nov 9MB

    Poetry - 15 Nov 2014

    Jo Fidgen asks why do we read, or write poetry? What can poetry do that prose can’t? And why do we respond to poetry

    Duration: 19 mins

  • 08 Nov 9MB

    Memorialisation - 8 Nov 2014

    In this special edition of The Why Factor Mike Williams explores how the dead have been remembered around the world and

    Duration: 19 mins

  • 06 Nov 23MB

    Memorialisation - 6 Nov 2014

    In this special edition of The Why Factor Mike Williams explores how the dead have been remembered around the world and

    Duration: 50 mins

  • 01 Nov 9MB

    Chess - 1 Nov 2014

    The Why Factor looks at Chess – why has the game endured over more than 1500 years, how has it mirrored politics and

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 24 Oct 9MB

    Embarrassment - 24 Oct 2014

    We’ve all felt squirms of embarrassment when we wanted the ground to swallow us up. Mike Williams discovers why we

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 17 Oct 9MB

    Karma - 17 Oct 2014

    Millions of people believe in Karma around the world. What impact does this belief have on individuals and communities?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 10 Oct 9MB

    Brands - 10 Oct 2014

    The world as a whole has long had a love affair with brands, but how has this relationship come about? Mike Williams

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 03 Oct 9MB

    Charisma - 3 Oct 2014

    Why is it so hard to pin down what we mean by Charisma? Mike Williams explains

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 26 Sep 9MB

    The Rivals - 26 Sept 2014

    What is rivalry? In this episode of the Why Factor we’ll hear about some of history’s greatest rivals and explore

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 19 Sep 9MB

    Risking Life For Strangers - 19 Sept 2014

    Cokie van der Velde tells Mike Williams about an experience which has forced her to reassess her attitude to death - the

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 12 Sep 9MB

    Protest - 12 Sept 2014

    What brings people out into the streets to take direct action against the powerful? Mike Williams looks at some of the

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 05 Sep 9MB

    The Life of Why - 5 Sept 2014

    In the 100th edition of The Why Factor Mike Williams explores what we’ve learnt about our existence, from birth to

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 29 Aug 9MB

    Gardens - 29 Aug 2014

    For thousands of years, in every corner of the world, people have been gardening – including in war and in prisons.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 22 Aug 9MB

    Gossip - 22 August 2014

    Why do we feel the need to discuss other people’s lives? Gossiping’s been punished in the past, but it’s

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 15 Aug 9MB

    Ghosts - 15 Aug 2014

    Ghosts have been haunting people all over the world for centuries. But why do they persist in this age of reason? Mike

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 08 Aug 9MB

    Chastity - 8 Aug 2014

    Chastity is much more than abstention from sex. The Why Factor looks at the concept from the point of view of young

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 01 Aug 9MB

    The Pilgrimage - 1 Aug 2014

    The Pilgrimage is one of the most popular collective human activities, why?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 25 Jul 9MB

    The Walk - 25 July 2014

    Why do we go on long walks? From the German tradition of the wandern to urban street walking, it seems we’ve always

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 18 Jul 9MB

    The Moon - 18 July 2014

    Mike Williams explores the moon in culture, how it affects life on Earth and he asks Alan Bean – one of the handful of

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 11 Jul 9MB

    The Apology - 11 July 2014

    Why do we say sorry – and what do we really mean by it? Mike Williams explores the apology, from Ancient Greece to

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 04 Jul 9MB

    Coincidence - 04 July 2014

    What is coincidence and why do we attach meaning to it? Jo Fidgen hears World Service listeners’ gripping coincidence

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 27 Jun 23MB

    World War One: Patriotism - 27 June 2014

    Mike Williams investigates the power of patriotism, from World War One to the present day. How can this loyalty be

    Duration: 50 mins

  • 20 Jun 9MB

    Accents - 20 June 2014

    As soon as we speak we are judged on our accents. But what do they really reveal about who we are? Jo Fidgen explores

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 13 Jun 9MB

    Eyes - 13 June 2014

    Mike Williams explores why eye contact is an essential part of a baby’s development, how we can manipulate eye contact

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 06 Jun 9MB

    The Fool - 6 June 2014

    Mike Williams explores the role of the fool, their place in culture and politics, and asks whether there is still a need

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 30 May 9MB

    Diplomacy - 30 May 2014

    Diplomacy. What’s it for and how is it done? This week we present a user’s guide to the “great game”. With Mike

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 23 May 9MB

    Competition - 23 May 2014

    Why are we competitive? Is it a natural instinct we should nurture in our children so they learn that victory is the

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 16 May 9MB

    Symmetry - 16 May 2014

    Symmetry is everywhere once you become aware of its presence, in art, architecture and science. Why does symmetry exist

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 09 May 9MB

    Sticky Songs - 9 May 2014

    What makes snippets of popular songs go round and round in our heads? Which songs are likely to be “sticky songs”

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 02 May 9MB

    The Kiss - 02 May 2014

    Is kissing universal to all cultures? It might be today, but one 19th century African chief’s daughter got a fright

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 25 Apr 9MB

    Luck - 25 April 2014

    Most people believe in some aspects of luck. Is believing in luck something which can empower us or does it mean we give

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 18 Apr 9MB

    Horoscopes - 18 Apr 2014

    Around the world millions of people believe their lives are governed by the position of the sun, moon and planets but

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 11 Apr 9MB

    Racism - 11 April 2014

    Jo Fidgeon explores the experience of racism around the world and in different societies and discover the genetics

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 04 Apr 9MB

    Boredom - 4 April 2014

    Boredom is experienced by everyone from production workers to philosophers and is increasingly an area of study for

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 28 Mar 9MB

    Envy - 28 Mar 2014

    What is envy? Why do we feel it and what does it do to us? This week Mike Williams explores an emotion than can be

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 21 Mar 9MB

    Dance - 21 March 2014

    It’s thought that dance predates language. But why do we have an innate desire to move, and what are we trying to

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 14 Mar 9MB

    Family Names - 14 March 2014

    Some last names grow longer and longer as they carry a family story from generation to generation. It could decide how

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 07 Mar 9MB

    Names 1 - 7 March 2014

    What’s In a Name? Each of us has one. But what does the name say about us, and about our parents who, in most cases,

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 28 Feb 9MB

    Privacy - 28 Feb 2014

    Mike Williams traces the history of privacy and ponders what a society without it might look like.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 21 Feb 9MB

    Coffee - 21 Feb 2014

    Why is coffee so compulsive, and controversial? Mike Williams explores the spread of coffee drinking, and why its

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 14 Feb 9MB

    Trees 14 Feb 2014

    Wood is a vital human resource. But trees inspire myths and reverence. So, Mike Williams asks, why are our feelings

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 07 Feb 9MB

    Adolescence - 7 Feb 2014

    Mike Williams asks if changes to adolescent’s brain explains behavioural turbulence in the teenage years or is

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 31 Jan 9MB

    Touch 31st Jan 2014

    Why do humans touch each other? And how do different cultures view physical contact in everyday life? Mike Williams

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 24 Jan 9MB

    Homosexuality - 24 Jan 2014

    Ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics next month and the controversy surrounding Russia’s anti-gay laws, Mike Williams

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 17 Jan 9MB

    Masks - 17 Jan 2014

    They have been around as long as humanity and they evoke both fascination and fear. Mike Williams traces the power and

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 10 Jan 9MB

    Alcohol 10 Jan 2014

    Alcohol has been part of human civilisation for thousands of years. But why do we drink it? And why do some people have

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 03 Jan 9MB

    Running - 3 Jan 2014

    Some claim that homo-sapiens are physiologically designed to be long distance runners, so as to once track their prey.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 27 Dec 9MB

    Nitrogen: Forgetting Fritz - 27 Dec 2013

    Why has one of the world’s most important scientists been forgotten? He worked with something without which, we'd all

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 20 Dec 9MB

    Debt - 20 December 2013

    Mike Williams finds out how the way we lend and borrow money is changing.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 13 Dec 9MB

    Cross Dressing 13 Dec 2013

    Mike Williams asks why is it that western society accepts men in kilts, priests in cassocks but has issues with men in

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 06 Dec 9MB

    Crying - 6 Dec 2013

    Crying emotional tears is uniquely human but nobody really knows why we produce tears. Mike Williams investigates the

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 29 Nov 9MB

    The Heel - 29 Nov 2013

    Why do tens of millions of women all over the world choose to walk around on stilt like objects called heels? Find out

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 22 Nov 9MB

    Solitude - 22 Nov 2013

    Time on our own has had a bad press. It’s certainly becoming more common in many parts of the globe, but how far can

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 15 Nov 9MB

    Secrets - 15 Nov 2013

    Why do we have secrets? What are the consequences for either holding onto a secret or for giving it away? Mike Williams

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 08 Nov 9MB

    Optimism and Pessimism 8 Nov 2013

    In the Why Factor ring this week - in the pessimist corner Dr Michael Mosley and in the optimist corner Mrs Roz Taylor.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 02 Nov 9MB

    The Lie - 2nd November 2013

    We all do it… don’t we? If your answer is no perhaps you’re doing it right now. This week Mike Williams explores

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 25 Oct 9MB

    Speed 25 Oct 2013

    Why does humankind insist on the need to go faster and faster? From the playground roundabout to the 1600 km/h rocket

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 18 Oct 9MB

    Bullying - 18 October 2013

    Why do humans bully, why do some do it and others allow it? Are bullies born or do they learn their bullying behaviour?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 11 Oct 9MB

    Swearing - 11th Oct 2013

    Why do we swear? Mike Williams traces the history of taboo language from Roman times to the present day and discovers

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 04 Oct 9MB

    Burial - 4 Oct 2013

    Mike Williams asks why we bury the dead, a practice that’s been carried out for centuries by different cultures and

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 27 Sep 9MB

    Nostalgia - 27 Sept 2013

    Why do we look back and yearn for the past, or recall sweet memories of our youth? Mike Williams explains.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 20 Sep 9MB

    Sad Music - 20 Sept 2013

    A recent study has shown that sad music has become increasingly popular, but why do people choose to listen to it?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 13 Sep 9MB

    Fasting - 13 Sept 2013

    Why would someone go voluntarily without food, or even water? Charlotte McDonald speaks to those who have fasted to find

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 06 Sep 9MB

    Memory - 6 Sept 2013

    Memory plays a big part in shaping our identity, but how reliable is it? Mike Williams finds out how human memory works

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 30 Aug 9MB

    Body Hair 30 Aug 2013

    Why is it fine for a man to sport hairy legs, but unthinkable for most women? Mike Williams investigates.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 23 Aug 9MB

    Monogamy

    What's monogamy got to do with love? We assume they go together but how important really is sexual exclusivity? And what

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 16 Aug 9MB

    Celebrity 16 Aug 2013

    Mike Williams examines celebrity culture, past and present. Why do we idolise singers and film-stars and why do we care

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 09 Aug 9MB

    Mountains - 9 Aug 2013

    Mike Williams travels to the Alps to speak to skilled climbers who try to scale dangerous peaks, including the son of

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 02 Aug 9MB

    Violent Entertainment - 2 Aug 2013

    What explains our attraction to violent entertainment and what kind of violence are we most drawn to?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 26 Jul 9MB

    Ageing - 26 July 2013

    Why are attitudes towards older people often so negative? Mike Williams talks to older people, and the young, and asks

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 19 Jul 9MB

    Tattoos - 19 July 2013

    Mike explores the universal motivation behind why people decorate their bodies with ink.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 12 Jul 9MB

    Fire - 12 July 2013

    What motivates arsonists to use fire as a weapon and what do the various myths about the origins of fire tell us about

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 05 Jul 9MB

    The City - 05 July 2013

    We humans are -- these days -- an urban-dwelling species. So how has the city changed us? What are the pros and cons of

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 21 Jun 9MB

    Bathing 2 - 21 June 2013

    The second of two programmes examining the rituals of bathing. This week: cleansing the body and clearing the mind..

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 14 Jun 9MB

    Bathing 1 - 14 June 2013

    Why can this seemingly every day activity mean so many different things for millions around the world?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 07 Jun 9MB

    The Sea - 7 June 2013

    Whether viewed from the shore, out on the waves or under the surface people flock to the ocean. Mike Williams asks why

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 31 May 9MB

    Make-Up - 31 May 2013

    Make-up is a multi-million dollar industry with sales around the world but are we just being sold a dream or is there

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 24 May 9MB

    The Ball - 24 May 2013

    Why do we like playing with a ball? Mike Williams finds out how ball games first evolved, and what that says about us.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 17 May 9MB

    The Lie - 17 May 2013

    We all do it… don’t we? If your answer is no perhaps you’re doing it right now. This week Mike Williams explores

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 10 May 9MB

    Disgust 10 May 2013

    Disgust is an emotion that we all experience, but what purpose does it serve? And what role does it play in our moral

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 03 May 9MB

    Pets - 3 May 2013

    Mike Williams asks why do we live with cats and dogs and what does our choice of pet say about us?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 26 Apr 9MB

    Gold - 26 Apr 2013

    That gold is rare and valuable is of course well known but beyond that why are so many people around the world obsessed

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 19 Apr 9MB

    Singing 19 Apr 2013

    It’s something that all individuals and societies have done for millions of years. But why do we sing?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 12 Apr 9MB

    The Kiss 12 Apr 2013

    Why do humans kiss? Is it a universal trait? When European explorers travelled the world, they met tribes that didn’t

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 05 Apr 9MB

    Ageing 05 Apr 2013

    Why are attitudes towards older people often so negative? Mike Williams talks to older people, and the young, and asks

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 30 Mar 9MB

    Retirement 30 Mar 2013

    Why do we retire? Will retirement, as adopted over the past 50 years in the developed world, soon be a thing of the

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 22 Mar 9MB

    Why do we get insomnia? 22 Mar 2013

    People have always had trouble sleeping but are some of us more susceptible to it than others? If so, why?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 15 Mar 9MB

    Sleep - 15 Mar 2013

    We spend a third of our lives asleep, but sleep science hasn’t got much further than being sure that we sleep because,

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 08 Mar 9MB

    Silence - 8 Mar 2013

    This week on the Why Factor: What role does silence play in our lives and why can it be so poignant or so awkward?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 02 Mar 9MB

    PTSD - 2 Mar 2013

    What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and why is it so controversial?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 22 Feb 9MB

    Cultural Memory - 22 Feb 2013

    Mike Williams looks at the concept of cultural and collective memory and asks if we should come to terms with the

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 15 Feb 9MB

    Open Plan Offices 15 Feb 2013

    Open plan offices - why do we work in them? Mike Williams explains.

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 08 Feb 9MB

    Black 8 Feb 2013

    Mike Williams peers into the world of black and asks why it has so many different meanings?

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 02 Feb 9MB

    The Mob 2nd Feb 2013

    An “angry” mob and “ herd mentality,” terms that are frequently used to describe events like riots. But is

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 26 Jan 9MB

    Mirrors 26th JAN 2013

    Mike Williams explores the science and history behind the mirror and hears about the myths and mysteries of this

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 18 Jan 9MB

    The Boxers of Bukom 18 JAN 2013

    Why has the tiny area of Bukom in Accra, produced five World Champion boxers, including Ghana’s greatest ever fighter,

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 11 Jan 9MB

    The Heel 11 JAN 2013

    Why do tens of millions of women all over the world choose to walk around on stilt like objects called heels? Where

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 04 Jan 9MB

    Nitrogen 04 JAN 2013

    Why have we forgotten Fritz Haber? Perhaps one the most important scientists you’ve never heard of. It’s the

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 28 Dec 9MB

    Manners 28 DEC 2012

    On the programme today, the strange customs and conduct that make up ‘good manners’. Where do they come from? What

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 21 Dec 9MB

    The Sack Man (and other stories) 21 DEC 2012

    Sinister tales of characters that terrorise adults and children at night - why do we tell each other these stories? And

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 14 Dec 9MB

    The Drum 14 DEC 2012

    Why do human beings find the beat of the drum so intoxicating? No other animal is able to synchronise their whole body

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 07 Dec 9MB

    Fear 2 - 07 DEC 2012

    This week the second of two programmes about fear: Why do some of us like to be frightened? Why, in a darkened cinema,

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 01 Dec 9MB

    Fear 1 - 01 DEC 2012

    In the first of two programmes on fear: we ask what is fear? Do we all fear the same things or are our fears culturally

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 23 Nov 9MB

    The Tap 23 NOV 2012

    In a rural community in southern Ghana the simple addition of taps is changing lives. But how will it re-shape the area

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 16 Nov 9MB

    Blue 16 NOV 2012

    Babies can’t detect it. The Himba tribe of Namibia can’t describe it. Picasso used it. In the West it's creative and

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 09 Nov 9MB

    Coming of Age 09 NOV 2012

    Why do different cultures have different coming of ages? For some the advent of adulthood is celebrated by lavish

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 02 Nov 9MB

    The Handshake 02 NOV 2012

    Why do we shake hands? This week, Mike Williams looks at this strange ritual where people lock limbs with a friend or a

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 26 Oct 9MB

    The Shaved Head 26 OCT 2012

    Why do we care so much about the hair on our heads? Each year we spend billions of dollars on cutting, shaping and

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 19 Oct 9MB

    The Laugh 19 OCT 2012

    At first glance, it seems like a very obvious basic human response - we laugh because we find things amusing. But what

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 12 Oct 9MB

    The Bullet 12 OCT 2012

    Mike Williams finds out why armies use one type of bullet, while gangsters use another and what the phrase full-metal

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 05 Oct 9MB

    The Cigarette 05 OCT 2012

    In this week's programme Mike Williams looks at why people start smoking. Nearly 50 years after the world first

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 28 Sep 9MB

    Lifts and Elevators 29 SEP 2012

    The elevator - or lift - is an intriguing place where strange things seem to happen to us. Millions of us use elevators

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 24 Sep 9MB

    Neck Ties 21 SEP 2012

    Why do we wear neck ties? The Why Factor looks at the paradox at the heart of the human condition - the desire to belong

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 14 Sep 9MB

    Tattoos 14 SEP 2012

    Have you got a tattoo? Why did you get it? What is it? Ever regretted it? Tattoos is the topic of the first edition of

    Duration: 18 mins

  • 07 Sep 1MB

    whyfactor: Welcome

    The Why Factor is a new weekly programme from the BBC World Service which gets to the heart of why we do the things we

    Duration: 1 min