Essential Reads

The Psychology of Tipping

Do American tipping practices help the customer more than the waitstaff?

How Minds Work: As Little As Possible

Minds aren't machines but they mechanize what they can. And then some.

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?

Recent Posts on Behavioral Economics

Psychology Uncovers Racism at the Movies

New research finds racial bias against movies with black leading actors and white supporting roles is rife amongst mainstream newspaper critics - resulting in an average revenue loss for these films of up to $2.57 million, per movie

You Naturally Choose Your Friends With This Pattern

Benford's Law says that numbers in natural systems start with a 1 far more often than they start with a 9. A new study shows this applies to friend counts in social networks - and to friend counts in your own social circle, too.

How to Spot When Someone is Lying to You

But before we are too quick to judge those in the headlines who find themselves accused of lying, the psychological research indicates that ordinary people tell an average of 1.5 lies a day, but this rate can climb dramatically because how likely you are to deceive depends a lot on the situation you find yourself in.

Lessons From Kenyan Consumers About Technology & Marketing

Kenya is the global leader in mobile financial services innovation. I describe the lessons from M-Pesa's success story for technology marketers and consumers.

What Most People Get Wrong About Generosity and Selfishness

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 28, 2015 Ambigamy
People treat generosity as all good and selfishness as all bad. It's more complicated than that. Still, pretending it's that simple can be a great way to grab what we want.

7 New Books to Read This Fall

By Adam Grant Ph.D. on August 27, 2015 Give and Take
The best new reads on psychology

Making Sense of Common Sense

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on August 27, 2015 Consumed
How understanding the taken-for-granted can enrich behavioral science

Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

The quiet, polite expression of doubt can turn the rest of the group from zombies into thinkers.

Amazon and Toxic Workplaces

By Ray Williams on August 26, 2015 Wired for Success
A recent expose of Amazon’s work culture in a New York Times report brings into focus the growing problem of toxic work cultures in North America, one that will take a huge toll on long term productivity and employee well being.

The Culture of Precaution

Would you rather definitely lose ten dollars or a one percent chance of losing 1000 dollars? Perhaps not surprisingly, people would much prefer to lose the 10 dollars, than run a small risk of a large loss. Why?

How To Need Less Affirmation

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 26, 2015 Ambigamy
We all need ego-strokes, but how many? Here are five ideas for going on an affirmation diet, without starving.

Will Americans Eat Fewer Subway Sandwiches Because of Jared?

Jared Fogle embodies the Subway brand so his reprehensible actions spell potential doom. However, I argue that any adverse effects to Subway will be temporary, and offer four explanations for such an outcome.

Your Three Languages and How to Speak Them Well

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 24, 2015 Ambigamy
There's a lot of confusion about when it's best to be positive, negative and neutral. Here we sort it out.

Vegetarianism and Money: Surprising Results from a New Study

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on August 24, 2015 Animals and Us
What the results of a new survey of the diets of Americans reveal about the connection between vegetarianism and household income.

The Nine Levers for Better Decisions

To help people make better decisions, we have nine levers to use: Clarifying goals, structuring the decision, training, checklists, incentives, behavioral engineering, picking the right people, using information technology, and designing better organizations. We don't have to be trapped by habits of using only one lever, such as training or incentives.

Does Your Psyche Embrace Flourishing?

“A shared story is the basis of the ability of any people to live together as an organized society.” Cultural stories or narratives shape attitudes and behaviors, influencing everyday psychological functioning. David Korten says that we have our story wrong, one that heads us toward self-destruction. There is an alternative, life-promoting story...

3 Reasons People Don't Reply to Your Messages

By Victor Lipman on August 21, 2015 Mind of the Manager
Are people just too busy these days? Or lazy? Or oversaturated with media? And does anyone (besides me) care?

This Is Your Brain On College Football

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on August 21, 2015 Obesely Speaking
Beyond Social Tribalism, BIRGing, CORFing, and Tailgating - the brain needs its football.

Nine Steps to Turn Your Money "Shoulds" Into Action

When was the last time you rocked a “should”? As in, "I should replace that burned out light bulb." "I should exercise more often and eat better."

Do Shoppers Benefit From Buying With Subscriptions?

Most products and services can now be purchased with subscriptions. In this article, I will explain two types of subscriptions and the pros and cons of subscription-based buying. For most shoppers, the potential downsides of subscriptions far outweigh the benefits.

When Kindness Backfires: Salary Increases Cause Unhappiness

Most of us have seen the TV program about Undercover Bosses many of whom are surprised by the loyalty and dedication of their staff. But this is the story of a kind and generous boss who was to pay a high price for his generosity

Cookie Dilemma

When you leave a cookie and the choice to eat it to others, you better mean it. Otherwise, you are not being socially mindful but hypocritical, or just dumb.

A Moving Experience

By E E Smith on August 17, 2015 Not Born Yesterday
Psychologists list it among the most traumatic things we do as human beings, and I can believe it. I also believe that it gets harder as we grow older. Whether you call it pulling up stakes, relocating, moving on, or as my teenaged daughter used to say, "being uprooted," it can be painful.

Why Image Is Everything

Research reveals the irrational reasons we buy brands.

Does the Impulse to Gossip Have a Silver Lining for Markets?

The urge to let others know when you've been taken advantage of, and instinctively knowing that almost all of us have it, may play a big role in helping markets to function well--most recently including ones relying on online reviews such as eBay, airbnb, and trip advisor. I describe a novel laboratory experiment that demonstrates the tendency to tell in its purest form.

Controlling CEO Pay

By Ken Eisold Ph.D. on August 15, 2015 Hidden Motives
The SEC recently established a new rule requiring most companies to disclose the ratio of CEO pay to that of their average employee, but what will be the likely consequence?

4 Creative Ways to Become a Better Manager

By Victor Lipman on August 14, 2015 Mind of the Manager
To develop managers, we tend to focus on a relatively predictable skill set. These four less expected, creative approaches can help improve management performance. It's not about sensitivity, it's about productivity.

4 Ways to Stop Paying Too Much for Anything

Charm prices (prices that end with the digit 9) are used by retailers because they encourage purchases. In this article, I will explain why charm pricing works and discuss four ways in which shoppers can minimize the effects of charm prices on their buying behavior.

Why Income Inequality Threatens Democracy

By Ray Williams on August 12, 2015 Wired for Success
Rising economic inequality is threatening not only economic progress but also the democratic political system in the U.S.