Victoria, Australia, steps up to the Obesity challenge A quick report from Victoria Australia, where we are working with VicHealth, before heading back to London tomorrow. The Australians have often led the world on public health measures, so it’s pretty cool to be working with them for the next 2 years, with a special focus on obesity – seen by some as the Mount Everest of contemporary behavioural challenges, and one that virtually all industrialised nations are wrestling with. First, an interesting result. Many people have sent me links to the ‘fun theory’ piano steps over the years (http://www.thefuntheory.com/piano-staircase). … Continue reading Piano steps for fighting obesity
Budge up nudge- Policy Fashions and the demise of an intervention There are few more important political issues of the 21st century than the making of arrangements to deal with the environmental consequences of global consumption patterns. Assessing the dimensions and scale of the problem and identifying strategies for dealing with it provides social science with one of its major challenges. Social science’s duty to understand impartially the social world sits uneasily with the imperatives of democratic political direction. Yet it would be hard to claim that social sciences have no obligation to contribute to the design of interventions that … Continue reading Pros and cons of Nudge
If Greed Is Good, Why Is Insider Trading Bad? Last week’s sentencing of Mathew Martoma for insider trading may signal the end of the SEC’s efforts to bring down his former boss, Steven A. Cohen, but it will almost certainly guarantee another round of debate over the legal regime that has sent Martoma behind bars for the next nine years. Like other laws that attempt to maintain a spirit of equity, insider trading is a legal distinction that rests on a moral misgiving. It identifies a way of gaining information for a financial transaction that seems (there is no better … Continue reading Information is money
Experiment makes energy savings a game Let’s face it: We’re energy hogs. We want more light, we flip a switch. If we’re hot, we crank up the AC, without a second thought on the power grid strain. It’s what economists call inelastic demand – the resource is widely sought and always available, and there’s little motivation to conserve. Meanwhile, the expansion of electricity transmission and generation capacity, even with increases in renewable energy sources, hasn’t kept pace with demand. As the U.S. power grid operates closer to its capacity, spikes in demand can lead to tremendous cost increases. Cornell researchers … Continue reading Gaming is better than monetary incentives
Scotland’s ‘No’ Vote: A Loss for Pollsters and a Win for Betting Markets Thursday’s Scottish referendum was interesting not just for what it said about Britain, but also for what it said about the state of political forecasting. I’m calling it a loss not only for the pro-independence movement — the “No” campaign won 55.3 percent of the vote — but also for the pollsters. To be fair, I should start by acknowledging that most of the election-eve polls correctly predicted a majority No vote, but they all underestimated the margin, and many missed by quite a lot. The polls … Continue reading Voters predict better than pollsters
The psychology behind Apple’s obsessive ‘iSheep’ fans The reputation of Apple’s fans is as well known as Apple’s products. These are the people who have already started lining up outside Apple stores, just to be first to own the latest iPhone due to go on sale this Friday. When they are not in line, they scour the Internet for articles that affirm their belief in Apple’s products, reacting swiftly to articles and comments from those that don’t share their views, principally anyone who uses a different phone. These are among the most loyal customers of any brand and are often … Continue reading What is your very own “Sheep” in-group?
How to Trick Yourself into Making Real Progress Progress motivates like no other method. Thanks to rigorous research by Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer, authors of the aptly titled The Progress Principle, we know that it’s not money, fame, or fear that drives us to do our best work. Instead, it’s making progress on meaningful work that’s key for staying motivated, productive, and creative. Even small steps count. Events and experiences that seem trivial or take mere minutes help to build that sense of progress, whether it’s having a constructive chat with a coworker about … Continue reading The illusion of progress motivates