Essential Reads

Our Children's Children's Children*

Would we recognize our 26th Century descendants as human?

Water Games

Let us revisit a negotiation over drinking water in the German heartland.

What Happens When the Whole Family Plays with Food?

“Family therapy can be helpful; family dinner is transformative.”

Democracy and the Pro-social Impulse

Can there be democracy without idealism?

Recent Posts on Behavioral Economics

More Speaking Tips that Beat "Pretend Your Audience Is Naked"

By Harry Beckwith J.D. on September 07, 2011 in Unthinking
How can you win over your audience and sedate your butterflies? With these three tips that helped launch the career of an international professional speaker.

Boy? Girl? Now You Can Decide, but Should You?

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on September 07, 2011 in Singletons
Should safe, early gender selection be a personal choice?

Novak Djokovic and the Crowd Whisperer of the U.S. Open

By Sam Sommers on September 06, 2011 in Science Of Small Talk
A video making the internet rounds shows tennis star Novak Djokovic dancing himself silly at the U.S. Open. The clip's backstory involves Cameron Hughes, the so-called "SuperFan," a professional riler-up of crowds at sporting venues across the globe. I recently spoke with Hughes to explore his skill for manipulating situations to shape group behavior...

Do You Underestimate the Joys of Nature?

Why are we surprised at how good it feels to take a hike? A new experiment demonstrates that people significantly underestimate the psychological boost they would get from taking a walk in a natural environment.

Is the Financial Crisis Bringing Us Together?

By Ran Zilca on September 04, 2011 in Confessions of a Techie
Should banks provide free beer?

Is It Fair to Soak the Poor?

By Peter Corning Ph.D. on September 02, 2011 in The Fair Society
Warren Buffet, among many others, thinks the rich should pay more taxes. Some Robin Hoods in reverse claim the poor should be paying more taxes instead. How come?

Economic Fairness—What Is It?

By John A. Johnson Ph.D. on August 31, 2011 in Cui Bono
Most people recognize meritocracy (a system where what you get is proportional to what you give) as a fair form of compensation. The problem is that we all start out in life with different resources. If Monopoly were like real life, some players would start out with $1500 dollars and other players would start out with $10. Is there a fair way of evening the playing field?

The “Cute Dog Effect” On Sex, Money, and Justice

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on August 29, 2011 in Animals and Us
Cute dogs make men sexier and boost the income of beggars. But do they also unfairly tip the scales of justice?

9 Ways to Live with Your Biggest Fan and Harshest Critic

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on August 28, 2011 in Singletons
Age and accomplishments don't give you immunity against a parent's insults and personal attacks, or the anger and resentment they create.

Have We Become Superhero Obsessed?

By Ethan Gilsdorf on August 26, 2011 in Geek Pride
What "Griff the Invisible" and others in the DIY superhero genre suggest is a culture that no longer provides opportunities to feel heroic. Is there an inner alter-ego that wants to fight crime, take matters into our own hands, save the day -- one that has been effectively suppressed by a bureaucratic, civilized society?

Warren Buffet versus Ayn Rand

By Peter Corning Ph.D. on August 26, 2011 in The Fair Society
Multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffet has called for the rich to do their “fair share” to help solve our deep economic problems. The right wing has responded with quotes from the high priestess of selfishness, novelist Ayn Rand. The choice is clear.

The Hidden Cost of Inequality

By Peter Corning Ph.D. on August 22, 2011 in The Fair Society
Most Americans seem to think our income disparities are modest, like Scandinavia. In fact, ours' is among the worst of the democracies, and the outlook for the long term is ominous.

Money or Cocaine? It All Depends on Timing

By Adi Jaffe Ph.D. on August 21, 2011 in All About Addiction
The notion that drug addicts will always choose drugs over anything else is a silly oversimplification of the condition. A recent study gives us a possible glimpse into why.

Go to Work, Mom, the Kids Will Be Fine

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on August 19, 2011 in Singletons
It pays to work in more ways than simply in dollars. Working doesn't have the negative effect on young children that many believe.

Gender, Anixiety, and Purchases

By Art Markman Ph.D. on August 18, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
Shopping and decision making can be stressful. In those case, people look for all kinds of ways to reduce the stress of a choice.

What Is Brainstorming REALLY, and Does It Work?

Most people have heard of (or used) brainstorming techniques to generate creative ideas. Many believe that it was created by psychologists, and that it works. However, brainstorming was the brainchild of an advertising executive in the 1950s and research has questioned its effectiveness.

The Surprising Secret to Detecting Villains Before They Get You

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on August 17, 2011 in Ambigamy
Some people are proud of their singular dedication to a Sacred Principle that trumps all others forever more at any cost. Even if you value the principle, singular dedication to it is a trait not to be admired but feared and fought.

Why Not Try Stakeholder Capitalism?

By Peter Corning Ph.D. on August 16, 2011 in The Fair Society
Modern capitalist business firms often resemble Feudal aristocracies. However, there is a more democratic model, called “stakeholder capitalism,” that is better aligned with what we have learned about human nature. It is arguably a more effective form of corporate governance.

Planning for Your Parents’ (Or Your) Old Age

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on August 15, 2011 in Singletons
In a perfect world, families come together to support their aging parents. Can you count on that in your family?

"Only Child" Redefined

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on August 11, 2011 in Singletons
With so many blended families, how do you define “only child”?

Can You Predict the Future?

By Ben Y Hayden Ph.D. on August 09, 2011 in The Decision Tree
A group of scientists is trying to understand the wisdom of the crowds. You can participate in their study and get $150 for your effort.

The Perils of Corporate Social Responsibility

By Hans Villarica on August 09, 2011 in Better Business Behavior
It’s time to stop assuming consumers reward brands’ CSR efforts across the board - because they don't. A new Journal of Consumer Research study says messages of social responsibility from luxury brands may even backfire.