Essential Reads

The Winner's Curse

Some Behavioural Economics of Bidding and Information

Why It's Time to Change How You Divide Your Time

It's not about balance. It's about doing what matters most.

What Your Financial Health Says About Your Mental Health

Studies show your debt could cost you more than just interest.

Recent Posts on Behavioral Economics

How Mastering All 5 Senses Can Get You What You Want

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on May 01, 2014 in The Squeaky Wheel
Our thoughts and decisions are unconsciously influenced by our physical senses in very surprising ways.

Why Trust Isn't Easy

By Art Markman Ph.D. on April 22, 2014 in Ulterior Motives
Trust is important. You have to trust that people will generally deal with you honestly, and that they will follow through on their commitments. After all, you do not know all the people who grow your food, make your clothes, and take care of your money in the bank. You do not have the time to do all of these things for yourself.

Discipline: Is It What You Say or How You Say It?

Nothing is of greater interest to parents than how their behavior affects their children; but do we know what questions to ask?

How to Be an Environmentalist in the Bedroom

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on April 15, 2014 in The Squeaky Wheel
When one of my patients mentions a sexual practice I had not heard of previously, I consider it a quirk. When three different people mention the same practice in one week, I consider it a potential fad.

A Designer Dog-Maker Regrets His Creation

Many designer dogs involve crossbreeding Poodles with other breeds in order to avoid coats that shed and to supposedly create hypoallergenic canines. Wally Conron, the inventor of the Labradoodle, believes that such problems are not solved in such crosses, and many additional problems have resulted from the popularity of these dogs.

You Are Awesome

Do you spend your time trying to improve on qualities and abilities that you don't value; working on your "weaknesses"? Make the most of your time and get the most Bang for your Buck. Discover your top character strengths and abilities; using them in unique ways will increase happiness. Old = "What's wrong with you?", New = "What's Right with You?"

The Pros and Cons of Winning a Fortune

Nearly everyone daydreams about winning big money in the lottery. Most people believe that winning a million in a lottery would dramatically change their lives, but would it change for better or for worse? Here's what the research on lottery winners shows.

What Causes Materialism in America?

Wealthy neighborhoods fuel materialistic desires. Individuals who live in affluent areas more likely to spend compulsively, less likely to save.

Why Guilt Trips Can Be Relationship Killers

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on March 18, 2014 in The Squeaky Wheel
Have you ever given your romantic partner a guilt trip? Bad idea. Here’s why.

An Indian Economist in Bhutan: The Kingdom of Happiness

Vatsalya Srivastava is an Indian Professor who is studying Finances in the University of Tilburg – Holland. He was my colleague in the course of Behavioral Economics. When in one class, we were discussing the Economics of Happiness, I understood he had been in Bhutan, and couldn’t resist inviting him for an interview.

Psychological Testing Without Psychological Tests

By Leon Pomeroy Ph.D. on February 28, 2014 in Beyond Good and Evil
Value Science and Moral Mathematics

A Simple Change That Could Help Everyone Drink Less

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on February 25, 2014 in Consumed
Could a change in default alcohol serving sizes help us reduce problem drinking?

Shared Social Responsibility

By Uri Gneezy Ph.D. on February 12, 2014 in The Why Axis
Here’s a question millions of people asked after Super Bowl Sunday—is it worth paying more than $4 million for a 30 second ad on the Super Bowl? It seemed to work for Bank of America. Their one-minute commercial, featuring U2’s new single, Invisible, resulted in more than 3 million downloads in the 36 hours following the Super Bowl.

Dilbert Does Behavioral Economics

By Lisa Kramer Ph.D. on January 30, 2014 in Markets in Mind
Dilbert comic strips offer insights into many topics in investing and behavioral economics, including overconfidence, confirmation bias, framing, prospect theory, and the winner's curse.

What do personality traits tell us about consumer behavior?

By Ryan T. Howell Ph.D. on January 26, 2014 in Can't Buy Happiness?
While researchers can determine, quite easily, consumer behaviors from self-report data, it is almost impossible to get reliable data on why they buy what they do. How then can we predict why consumers make the decisions they make?

Giving and Taking: How to Get Ahead at Work

In his recent book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Guide to Success, psychologist Adam Grant discusses three types of workers: Givers, those who are committed to helping others, Takers, workers who try to get as much as possible from others and give little back, and Matchers, who give only to the extent that they get something in return. Who succeeds in the workplace?

Feeling Deprived Can Lead to Some Illogical Behavior

When we feel short of time, love, or money, we may feel like we need to operate in emergency mode – penny-pinching, being guarded, or scheduling every second of our days. New theories and research about the psychology of scarcity help us understand how scarcity leads to poor decision-making and how to combat the scarcity mind traps.

What if the Grinch Really Did Steal all Christmas Presents?

Gift giving is an important part of Christmas. Dr. Seuss' Grinch tried to stop Christmas by stealing gifts. He did not succeed, of course. The Grinch did not need to return the gifts in order for the holiday to be happy. Research suggests that lasting happiness does not come from consumable items usually given as holiday gifts.

Can Intuition Predict Marital Success?

By Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. on December 17, 2013 in In the Name of Love
Intuitive implicit knowledge has been criticized for inappropriately overriding reliable intellectual knowledge. A recent study indicates the opposite: marriage is often the triumph of intelligence over more reliable intuitive knowledge. Listening to your unspoken heart, whether it expresses negative or positive intuitions, often leads you to a more satisfied marriage.

The Key to Quitting: Self-Trust Part 2, Delay Discounting

By Marc Lewis Ph.D. on December 17, 2013 in Addicted Brains
Delay discounting is the tendency to overvalue immediate rewards at the expense of long-term benefits, and addicts are particularly prone. Their messed-up dopamine system makes their drug, drink or behavior of choice seem way too attractive. To overcome delay discounting, addicts need to find a future self they can rely on.

Text-ing

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on December 15, 2013 in One Among Many
The interpretation of text is the enterprise of the humanities. Psychology rests on experiment and observation. Can the two meet? Here’s a modest proposal.

Warm and Fuzzy: Temperature and Consumer Behavior

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on December 05, 2013 in Consumed
Physical warmth has been linked to perceived social closeness. There's now growing evidence around embodied cognition suggesting that temperature also unconsciously affects the choices we make as consumers, from renting romantic movies to betting on horses and online purchasing behavior.

Consumer Self-report Data: You Can Ask What But Not Why

By Ryan T. Howell Ph.D. on November 17, 2013 in Can't Buy Happiness?
Marketers are always seeking to understand how consumers perceive and connect with their product. In doing this, they are trying to find ways to improve the product, packaging, messaging, and promotion. Improvements in these areas lead to better sales. The question is, what is the best way to get this information?

Should Marketers Trust Consumer Self-Reports?

By Ryan T. Howell Ph.D. on October 23, 2013 in Can't Buy Happiness?
We are constantly finding ways to layer plausible explanations onto decisions we make throughout the course of our everyday lives. While these explanations allow us to weave a coherent story, often times the true reason for why we make a decision is obscured from our conscious awareness.

Does Studying Economics Breed Greed?

By Adam Grant Ph.D. on October 22, 2013 in Give and Take
Do economics classes make people more selfish, or do selfish people choose economics?

Get Your Tickets Here for Blame Fest, 2013

By Neil Farber M.D, Ph.D. on October 04, 2013 in The Blame Game
John F. Kennedy eloquently stated, “Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.“ Alas, I wish it were so. Instead, Washington DC is the host of Blame Fest, 2013. Closed for Business - Open for Blaming!

Seven Reasons Why We're Irrational Shoppers

By Alain Samson Ph.D. on September 25, 2013 in Consumed
Find out why unnecessary purchases are the result of more than just tastes, money and marketing.

Emotion, Not Rational Logic, Determines the Stock Market

By Ray Williams on September 22, 2013 in Wired for Success
Scientists have shown that emotion, rather than logic, plays a more important role in evaluating risk and making decisions in the stock market.

The Psychology of Money: How Our Emotions Affect What We Buy

By Ryan T. Howell Ph.D. on September 22, 2013 in Can't Buy Happiness?
Advertisements with the intent of eliciting emotional responses from the consumer have become embedded in our culture – from ‘Nothin’ Says Lovin’ Like Somethin’ in the Oven’ (Pillsbury) and ‘There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s MasterCard’. But using emotional responses is not as straightforward as just presenting happy and cheery images.

Really? Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way?

The old English proverb asserts itself with complete assurance: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Like many time-worn sayings, this claim that mind always rules over matter rings true only some of the time. Sometimes we don’t have the will; sometimes we lose our way. What should we do then?