Anticipatory regret

We’re more likely to cheat when we think it’s our last chance to do so

Imagine spending your school half-term week with a forgetful relative who always leaves money scattered around the house. Would you pinch any? If so, when, and why? A new paper suggests that we are most likely to “cheat at the end”, and uses a neat method to find out why. A number of theories predict we are likelier to cheat later than earlier. Perhaps we award ourselves moral credits for being good earlier, and later spend them like Catholic indulgences for guilt-free sin. Or maybe the struggle with temptation wears down our self-control, or we become desensitised to the thought of cheating. ….[READ]


Do irrational idiots exist?

Rational expectations — only for Gods and idiots

In a laboratory experiment run by James Andreoni and Tymofiy Mylovanov — presented here — the researchers induced common probability priors, and then told all participants of the actions taken by the others. Their findings is very interesting, and says something rather profound on the value of the rational expectations hypothesis in standard neoclassical economic models: We look at choices in round 1, when individuals should still maintain common priors, being indifferent about the true state. Nonetheless, we see that about 20% of the sample erroneously disagrees and favors one point of view. Moreover, while other errors tend to diminish as the experiment progresses, the fraction making this type of error is nearly constant. One may interpret disagreement in this case as evidence of erroneous or nonrational choices. ….[READ]

Pixar Post Inside Out Joy w Candy Bag

What Pixar’s “Inside-Out” teaches us

4 Observations on Memory and Emotion

Last week I saw Pixar’s Inside-Out, and I really enjoyed it. It was really funny, but unfortunately I think I was also allergic to something in the theater, because a couple times my throat tightened up and my eyes kept watering. Yes, I was moved through a full range of emotions, but also, as a neuroscientist, I was impressed with the nuanced depiction of complex brain functions that the movie depicted. Understanding these can help you better understand yourself, so I figured I’d share 4 observations: 1. Emotions strengthen memories. ….[READ]


Experiments in neuromarketing

The marketing industry has started using neuroscience, but the results are more glitter than gold

Marketing has discovered neuroscience and the shiny new product has plenty of style but very little substance. “Neuromarketing” is lighting up the eyes of advertising executives and lightening the wallets of public relations companies. It promises to target the unconscious desires of consumers, which are supposedly revealed by measuring the brain. The more successful agencies have some of the world’s biggest brands on their books and these mega-corporations are happy to trumpet their use of brain science in targeting their key markets. The holy grail of neuromarketing is to predict which ads will lead to most sales before they’ve been released but the reality is a mixture of bad science, bullshit and hope…..[READ]


Handmade with love

What Retailers Selling Handmade Products Need To Know About “The Handmade Effect”

With the influx of machine made products in today’s crowded marketplace, consumers seem to crave the homely touch that handmade products offer. Many smart retailers are now catering to this need – from handmade soaps by Lush, to handmade bread by Pret, to basically anything handmade on Etsy, the trend of selling and consuming handcrafted products is here to stay. It is therefore important that marketers and retailers alike understand what attracts consumers to handmade products. Is it that these products are just genuinely better in quality compared to machine made ones, or could there be an alternative, psychological reason as to why consumers buy them? ….[READ]


Can we live without cash?

Cash is a lot more than just notes and coins

Have you found yourself rubbing your eyes with surprise while reading the financial section of your daily newspaper in recent weeks? A number of renowned economists are demanding an end to physical currency. In lectures, Kenneth Rogoff – Professor of Economics at Harvard University and one of the most respected and widely cited economists of our time – has long been proposing the end of banknotes and coins. And Peter Bofinger, a member of the German Council of Experts of the Federal Government, has also recently expressed his support of the idea. A number of countries have actually started taking steps in this direction. Denmark is one example: petrol stations and shops are allowed to refuse to accept cash payments under certain circumstances. ….[READ]


Focusing on attention

The economics of attention: Is there an appropriate balance between the interests of information providers and users?

Attention has become a critical resource for decision-making in the digital age. But differing approaches in economics present widely different understandings of the role attention plays in modern life, argue Agnès Festré and Pierre Garrouste. There are risks in confining the field to be concerned solely with information provision and noise filtering, without recognising how attention shapes problem-solving and rationality. The “economics of attention” has increasingly gained importance in academic research since the first appearance of the term in 1997 in a seminal on-line article by Michael Goldhaber where he defined it as a sub-field of the “Internet economics”, focusing on the time-consuming dimension of overflowing information. ….[READ]