Essential Reads

The Role of 'One-Sided Sex' in Relationships

Peace-inducing sex is one-sided sex intended to maintain industrial peace within one’s relationship. Is it beneficial? Yes and no.

Are You Your Millennial Child’s New Spouse?

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on July 18, 2016 in Singletons
More young adults are moving home than are getting married or living on their own. Here are 6 ways to the smooth transition.

Crowding Out Virtue

By Samuel Bowles on July 14, 2016 in The Moral Economy
Monetary rewards are proposed to promote everything from losing weight to reading books. But an experiment with villagers in Colombia shows that incentives can backfire.

Stuart Smalley Was Wrong

By Sarah C. Newcomb Ph.D. on July 12, 2016 in Loaded
Can affirmations help you avoid over-spending? The right way to affirm yourself for better self-control.

More Posts on Behavioral Economics

Optimal Time for Fund Raising and Grant Writing

By Sean X. Luo M.D., Ph.D. on November 05, 2015 in Hooked on Patterns
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...

The Real Reason to Care About Employee Engagement

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

New Insight on Climate and Work Effort

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on November 03, 2015 in 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?

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

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on November 01, 2015 in 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

By Neil Farber M.D, Ph.D. on October 29, 2015 in The Blame Game
“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?

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 in 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.

Why Are Modern Families so Small?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on October 23, 2015 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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.

What Really Happens When a Couple Splits

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 19, 2015 in 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?

Why Lower-Stress Management Leads to Higher Productivity

By Victor Lipman on October 19, 2015 in 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 in 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.

The Overarching Importance of Leadership Credibility

By Victor Lipman on October 18, 2015 in Mind of the Manager
People are bone-tired of leaders they don't feel they can believe. In a land where evasion is commonly the verbal currency of choice, straight talk, no matter its flavor, has powerful popular appeal.

Psychology and Hillary vs. Bernie

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 15, 2015 in Ambigamy
Do you want to hear what's true or what feels good? If you're human you want both: "Give me the unvarnished truth, and it better be pleasing." Given this tension, politicians have to walk the tightrope between honesty and electability. Political seasons, especially this one, are a great opportunity to explore the tension.

Why Women Make Better Investors than Men

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on October 14, 2015 in The Human Beast
In a world that has a thousand beatings in store for you every day you get up - as Wally Shawn's character memorably expressed it in the movie My Dinner with Andre - you have two choices. Either you get seriously humble along with Shawn, or you get spectacularly lucky. These options are illustrated by investment differences between men and women.

Why Are FanDuel Television Advertisements So Effective?

Fantasy sports companies make ingenious use of psychology to attract new customers and grow rapidly.

6 Ways to (Tactfully) Bring Up Personal Hygiene Issues

By Kerry Patterson on October 12, 2015 in Crucial Conversations
Set the tone in helping an awkward discussion go quickly and smoothly.

Are Fictional Heroes Making Us Stupid About Gun Control?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 09, 2015 in Ambigamy
Those who oppose gun control could be influenced more by their Netflix account than by the NRA. Availability bias explains why.

Why Wait? The Psychological Origins of Procrastination

By Elliot T Berkman Ph.D. on October 08, 2015 in The Motivated Brain
We all procrastinate. New research in psychology provides clues as to why--and how to stop.

13 Ways to Tell If It's Love or If You're Being Manipulated

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 08, 2015 in Ambigamy
Understanding how affirmations work will help hone your ability to discriminate between genuine and manipulative flattery.
By Kuha455405 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Why Do We Remember Certain Things, But Forget Others?

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on October 08, 2015 in Science of Choice
Much of learning takes place in the form of emotional learning.
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Cooperation and the public good

Social scientists differ about the relative virtues of top-down verses peer-to-peer actions to secure public goods like clean water and air and safe foods and pharmaceuticals. Recent decision experiments suggest that in modern societies, both dimensions are necessary, and that they’re complementary to each other.