Essential Reads

What's The Difference Between Rationality And Rationalizing?

A complicated issue at the heart of a whole lot of debate and argument

Is Virtual Virtue a Virtue or a Vice?

Is wrapping our Facebook pictures in French Flags an empty gesture?

The Link Between the Refugee Crisis and Climate Change Talks

Biases hold the key to both Europe’s refugee crisis and climate change.

Why the Freelance Economy Is a Social Tragedy in the Making

Corporate profits are very high and retirement prospects very low.

Recent Posts on Behavioral Economics

Optimal Time for Fund Raising and Grant Writing

How many hours should I spend preparing a grant application or a VC funding pitch? Does this depend on how large the grant is? Is there a way to optimally allocate time/effort given different grants have different funding rates? I might get some partial credit...

Does the Thought of Money Make Us Dishonest?

By Peter A. Ubel M.D. on November 05, 2015 Scientocracy
Our moral backbones are often quite pliable, bending to the social norms of things like our workplace.

The Real Reason to Care About Employee Engagement

By Victor Lipman on November 04, 2015 Mind of the Manager
Mindset matters. Attitude is a difference maker. It's not about sensitivity. It's about productivity.

Can a Celebrity Endorsement Hurt the Brand?

Celebrity endorsements are wildly popular among advertisers. If not used carefully, they can produce a "Vampire Effect" sucking the life-blood out of a brand.

New Insight on Climate and Work Effort

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on November 03, 2015 The Human Beast
Historians and economists point to favorable climate as an advantage enjoyed by Europeans so that these countries developed early, became wealthier, and dominated the globe through innovation, military aggression, and trade. I wondered whether unpleasant climate saps work motivation.

Getting In the Way of Our Own Old-Age Well-being

How do loss aversion and the above-average effect influence people's decisions about where to spend their later years?

How Not to Be a Jerk or a Wimp

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 01, 2015 Ambigamy
Based on broad reading in behavioral science and philosophy, here are some tips on how to tip yourself toward the middle ground between being over-assertive and over-accommodating.

Gender and Money: Are There Sex Differences in Money Usage?

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on November 01, 2015 A Sideways View
Have you ever had a relationship with an emotional shopper? Are there sex differences in attitudes to, beliefs about and behaviour regarding money

When Auto Companies Do Wrong

The challenges VW faces in the aftermath of its protracted and elaborate lies about its emissions standards are not new to the car industry. Jennifer Robbennolt discusses the challenges General Motors faced in the aftermath of its defective ignition switches.

Behavioral Unit May Benefit from Deeper Analytical Framework

In a recent executive order, President Obama singled out psychology for its contributions to an understanding of the way people think, feel and behave, both individually and collectively.

Forgive Me, Forgive me not

“I’m so mad, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive them.” So what exactly is forgiveness… and what is it not?

Competing Against Another Group Makes Rivals Cooperate

By Art Markman Ph.D. on October 28, 2015 Ulterior Motives
An ancient proverb says, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This proverb suggests that I may choose to cooperate with one of my rivals when I know that this cooperation will allow us to defeat a common enemy.

How Holiday Shopping Became a Moral Issue

Holiday shopping starts earlier every year and it's a hot-button issue between consumers. Here's what's going on in the minds of both early and late shoppers.

Will Social Media 'Hijack' Your Vote in 2016?

Facebook and other Internet companies have the power to influence your emotions. And that power could impact the results of the 2016 elections ... and you may never know it happened.

Should You Follow Your Heart or Your Head?

We often hear it said that it’s better to listen to your heart rather than your head. However, when and to what extent is this good advice?

Big Data Conversations

How can you effectively engage with your customers who operate at warp speed? We live in a world of right now, and the demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives. Instant gratification is no longer a desire—it is an expectation.

The Myth of Welfare Dependency

By Ken Eisold Ph.D. on October 27, 2015 Hidden Motives
Well-meaning people worry about welfare dependency, while others use it as an argument against helping the poor. But last week, a director of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT released a paper suggesting it just isn't so.

Should You Wear a Costume for Halloween?

The pros and cons of dressing up for undecided readers.

"Hey This Isn't A Competition And You Have Cooties So I Win"

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 25, 2015 Ambigamy
When we want to end arguments without admitting defeat we often accuse our opponents of having negative emotions which we treat as the equivalent of having cooties. Here's how it works and why its not just insulting to them but dangerous for us to end arguments this way.

Why Are Modern Families so Small?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on October 23, 2015 The Human Beast
The fact that modern families are so small is perhaps the biggest embarrassment to an evolutionary approach to human societies. After all, the key assumption is that humans are shaped by natural selection in ways that enhance reproductive success. Why are we defying nature with small families?

Are You Teaching Or Preaching?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 22, 2015 Ambigamy
When we teach people how, but not what to think, are we crossing the line into proselytizing? Some say yes, which limits public education in critical thinking much to our national disadvantage.

Shopping, Dopamine, and Anticipation

By Susan Weinschenk Ph.D. on October 22, 2015 Brain Wise
Dopamine creates excitement when you shop. But which creates more excitement: Online or in-store shopping?

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

By Michael F. Kay on October 21, 2015 Financial Life Focus
You begin with an idea that sounds great, at least to you. Then suddenly, without notice, a shift spins you in the other direction spelling d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r.

5 Reasons We Don't Protect Our Privacy Online

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on October 21, 2015 Consumed
You are probably concerned about the privacy of your information online, but do you act accordingly? Here's why you may not.

How Much Are Your Shoes Really Costing You?

The sticker price of your shoes is only a small fraction of what they actually cost you. Asking the question "How much will I have to earn to pay for my shoes?" will often lead to a dramatically higher cost calculus.

What Really Happens When a Couple Splits

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 19, 2015 Ambigamy
Why do exes say such harsh things about each other? Why, in breakups of all kinds do we go from being able to do no wrong to being able to do no right? After years of harmonizing stories, breakups lead us to tell divergent stories.

When a Friend's "Helpful Comments" Go Too Far

Do you really want your friend to answer the question, "Do these jeans make me look fat?" honestly -- no matter who's around -- or is there a preferred time and place for the "Denim Inquisition" or other "touchy" topics?

Bribing Good Behavior

By Peter A. Ubel M.D. on October 19, 2015 Scientocracy
If $10 here and $20 there will cancel out some of these losses and improve these people’s health at the same time — I’m all for it.

Why Lower-Stress Management Leads to Higher Productivity

By Victor Lipman on October 19, 2015 Mind of the Manager
We often just assume a high-intensity model of Type A behavior is the natural style for management. But is this really the best way to bring out the best in others? This article first appeared in Harvard Business Review.

Fraud in the Auto Industry

By Ken Eisold Ph.D. on October 18, 2015 Hidden Motives
The blatant fraud of Volkswagen’s emissions was disclosed just a few weeks ago. Now it appears that virtually the entire automobile industry is compromised.