Behavioral Economics Conquered Books—Can It Be a Hit on TV? Each weekday, I take the elevator up to the Atlantic office in New York City—an unremarkable detail, except our office is on the second floor, and this is an act of profound laziness. When I press the “2” button with another passenger in the elevator car, I feel only the soft gnawing of shame—nothing sharp enough to change my habit. But what if each time I pressed the button, a voice bellowed from the speakers: “Hey lazy, take the stairs!” Yes, that would count as biting shame. I would obey … Continue reading Behavioral economics on the National Geographic Channel
Deciphering Hidden Biases During Interviews Research suggests the timing of an applicant’s interview, whether it’s for a job or admittance to a school, may determine the outcome of that interview. A new study shows that interviewers who have seen a string of strong candidates are more likely to view the next applicant negatively. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Benjamin Franklin said the only certain things are death and taxes. Let’s add a third thing: Interviews. At many points, starting with school admissions or a new job, you’re going to sit down before someone else and answer their questions. Which is what NPR’s … Continue reading Ordering matters in job interviews
Nudges are everywhere Nudges are things in our environment, things that impact on our senses, things that make us do stuff. What makes the Nudge concept different from other means of affecting behaviour, is that Nudge doesn’t try to make us think differently, it simply uses things in our environment to trigger a behaviour. So there is always a nudge in our environment that is prompting our behaviour. Like the look of the sky might cause us to take an umbrella. Or a handle on a door might make us pull rather than push. It’s not to do with our … Continue reading Nudge is creating a default
Summit Europe: To Anticipate the Future Is to Abandon Intuition In the evolution of information technology, acceleration is the rule—and this fact isn’t easy for the human brain to grasp. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t at least intuitively aware of the speed of information technology. We’ve become used to the idea that the performance of our devices has regularly doubled for the last few decades. What is less intuitive is the rate at which this doubling results in massive leaps. The price performance of today’s devices is a billion times better than computers in 1980. But … Continue reading Our brain is not updated
Games, flat-pack furniture and cakes: how behavioural economics could help In the 1950s General Mills ran into problems selling its Betty Crocker instant cake mix. Nobody wanted it. The cake tasted good but the “just add water” approach was a little too easy. “They would take this powder and they would put it in a box and they would ask housewives to basically pour it in, stir some water in it, mix it, put it in the oven and voila! you had cake,” behavioural economist Dan Ariely explains in one of his highly subscribed Ted Talks. “But it turns out … Continue reading The Ikea effect for cakes
Most Heavy Drinkers Are Not Alcoholics Most people who drink to get drunk are not alcoholics, suggesting that more can be done to help heavy drinkers cut back, a new government report concludes. The finding, from a government survey of 138,100 adults, counters the conventional wisdom that every “falling-down drunk” must be addicted to alcohol. Instead, the results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that nine out of 10 people who drink too much are not addicts, and can change their behavior with a little — or perhaps a lot of — prompting. “Many people tend … Continue reading Excessive drinking or alcohol addiction?
How to debunk falsehoods We all resist changing our beliefs about the world, but what happens when some of those beliefs are based on misinformation? Is there a right way to correct someone when they believe something that’s wrong? Stephen Lewandowsky and John Cook set out to review the science on this topic, and even carried out a few experiments of their own. This effort led to their “Debunker’s Handbook”, which gives practical, evidence-based techniques for correcting misinformation about, say, climate change or evolution. Yet the findings apply to any situation where you find the facts are falling on deaf … Continue reading The backfire effect