No, Mornings Don’t Make You Moral The idea of the virtuous early bird goes back at least to Aristotle, who wrote, in his Economics, that “Rising before daylight is … to be commended; it is a healthy habit.” Benjamin Franklin, of course, framed the same sentiment in catchier terms: “Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy and wise.” More recently, there has been a push for ever earlier work starts, conference calls, and breakfast meetings, and a steady stream of advice to leave Twitter and Facebook to the afternoon and spend the morning getting real … Continue reading The early birds may still get the worms
How Do You Decide Who Owns Something? Ownership is an important part of our daily lives, but most of us do not spend much time thinking about how we make decisions about who owns things. We care about ownership, because the owner of an object gets to decide what is done with it. Owners also benefit from the value of the object. It might seem straightforward to decide who owns something, but it quickly becomes clear that things are more complicated than they seem. Consider just a simple trip to the store. You walk into a department store, and you … Continue reading Ownership and responsibility
Yes, You’re Irrational, and Yes, That’s OK Imagine that (for some reason involving cultural tradition, family pressure, or a shotgun) you suddenly have to get married. Fortunately, there are two candidates. One is charming and a lion in bed but an idiot about money. The other has a reliable income and fantastic financial sense but is, on the other fronts, kind of meh. Which would you choose? Sound like six of one, half-dozen of the other? Many would say so. But that can change when a third person is added to the mix. Suppose candidate number three has a meager … Continue reading Are we making all those mistakes?
Q & A With Richard Thaler On What It Really Means To Be A “Nudge” Nudge is one of the most important and influential books on behavioral science and public policy I’ve ever read. Co-authored by economist Richard Thaler and lawyer Cass Sunstein, the book lays out the rationale for adopting policies designed to make it more likely that people will act in their own best interests rather than, say, spend money they shouldn’t spend or eat food they shouldn’t consume. In the book, Thaler and Sunstein discuss how recent advances in behavioral science should inform our attitudes towards rational … Continue reading Is behavioral economics just trendy?
How Technology is Tricking You Into Tipping More My taxi pulled up to the hotel. I got out my credit card and prepared to pay for the ride. The journey was pleasant enough but little did I know I was about to encounter a bit of psychological trickery designed to get me to pay more for the lift. Chances are you’re paying more, too. Digital payment systems use subtle tactics to increase tips, and while it’s certainly good for hard-working service workers, it may not be so good for your wallet. A new report (link is external) by the tech … Continue reading Biases in digital tipping
The Attention-Deficit-Disorder Economy I was going to finish up this post earlier, but I got diverted on the Internet. First, there were those amazing videos of people snow-diving in Boston. Then I did an interactive quiz on Buzzfeed called “What Would Your Puritan Name Be?” Next, I got caught up in a story on Vice’s Motherboard site about extraterrestrial super-computer robots, which was actually pretty educational, or so I told myself as I tweeted it to other people who should have been working. Finally, I went back to the text of a speech given on Tuesday at the University of … Continue reading The rise of short-termism
Threat of punishment makes us better judges of our own knowledge There are some walks of life where trying to be right as often as possible is not enough. Just as important is having insight into the likely accuracy of your own knowledge. Think of doctors and surgeons making diagnostic decisions. They can’t be right all the time, and neither can they be completely certain over their judgments. What becomes important then, is that they have an accurate sense of the reliability of their own knowledge. Psychologists call this “metacognitive accuracy”. Michelle Arnold and her colleagues have performed the first … Continue reading Does punishment temper overconfidence?