Essential Reads

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?

Tom Brady Broke the Rules, But Don't We All?

What "Deflategate" can teach us about human nature

Recent Posts on Behavioral Economics

Meet the World’s Oldest Mothers of Newborns

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on August 01, 2011 in Singletons
What drives women to want to become mothers in their 60s and 70s?

The Great Recession of Our Virtual Lives

By Elias Aboujaoude M.D. on August 01, 2011 in Compulsive Acts
We used to want to keep up with the Joneses. Now, it's our online alter egos we are competing with. Could our new relationship with money be contributing to our economic woes?

What’s the Matter with Libertarianism?

By Peter Corning Ph.D. on August 01, 2011 in The Fair Society
There is much to admire in the core libertarian values of freedom and personal responsibility, but some of the more radical variants rely on terminally deficient models of human nature and our complex society. Ultimately, libertarianism is unfair.

6 Well-Kept Secrets that Affect Family Size

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on July 30, 2011 in Singletons
Six well-kept "family secrets" influencing the nuclear family today. Why are they not being discussed?

When You Negotiate, Don’t Argue

By Art Markman Ph.D. on July 29, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
There is a lot of interesting psychology involved in negotiation. How much should you try to persuade at the same time that you negotiate?

Can Diet Soda Make You Fat?

Effective weight watching begins in our heads. Then again, not all weight watching is effective. What are 7 common mistakes dieters' make?

Overcoming Anger at Products That Backfire

By Art Markman Ph.D. on July 27, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
There are many products that aim to protect us in various ways. Despite the best intentions of these products, though, they sometimes fail. How can we minimize the strength of the betrayal we feel when protections backfire?

The Know-It-All Fallacy: Yeah, But He's Got an Answer for That Too!

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on July 27, 2011 in Ambigamy
The false belief that because someone has a confident retort to every challenge he must be right.

The “S” Word

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on July 27, 2011 in Singletons
Do we really want to provide our children with a model of parenting that showcases ourselves as selfless martyrs who live out our dreams through our children?

A World Without Women?

By Carlin Flora on July 26, 2011 in Under a Friendly Spell
"A world without women" sounds like science fiction. But the gender imbalance is real: 160 million women are "missing" around the globe.

OxyContin Abuse by Youth

By Joel Bakan on July 25, 2011 in Childhood Under Siege
Teenagers and young adults in the town of Port St. Lucie, Florida "complain of having little or nothing to do, and marijuana, prescription drugs and parties often fill the void," according to them and their parents, as a story in last Sunday's New York Times reported.

Is Capitalism Fair?

By Peter Corning Ph.D. on July 25, 2011 in The Fair Society
It seems “fairness” is a buzzword in our politics these days. But what does fairness mean? How do you know it when you see it? Though some cynics view fairness as nothing more than a mask for self-interest, it turns out the cynics are wrong.

What Is Beautiful?

By Harry Beckwith J.D. on July 25, 2011 in Unthinking
We think of beauty as something exceptional. Yet there is ample evidence that what makes you beautiful is something quite different. Who and what is beautiful? Brace yourself for a surprise.

How to Pick a Movie

Can you pick a movie with confidence that you'll enjoy it? Despite the hype, despite the critics? Yes. You can use the popularity ratings from online sites and, if you make some statistical assumptions, you can be 70% sure that you'll enjoy the movie you're considering.

Shopping with Darwin

By Carlin Flora on July 19, 2011 in Under a Friendly Spell
A Q and A with Gad Saad about consumer behavior.

Psychopath Cowboys; Sociopath Herds: A New Theory of How Evil Happens

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on July 19, 2011 in Ambigamy
If you want a simple but accurate explanation for why civilization so often veers toward evil, here’s a theory worth considering: Psychopaths are overrepresented in positions of power and they make sociopaths out of large numbers of us.

You Don’t Like What You Ignore

By Art Markman Ph.D. on July 18, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
The world is a busy place. That means that you need to choose what you are going to look at. When you ignore something, that can affect how much you like it later.

Want a Baby? Enter a Lottery

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on July 18, 2011 in Singletons
Sounds appalling to some, a dream come true to others, I am sure. When I first heard about a "baby" lottery, I thought, no way, how can this be legal? But it is not a "baby" lottery in the way you might think.

A Lesson on Being Poor in the 21st Century

By Jen Kim on July 18, 2011 in Valley Girl With a Brain
How being broke has helped me to become an adult, kinda.

Cognitive Biases v.s. Common Sense

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on July 18, 2011 in The Power of Prime
As the fields of psychology and behavioral economics have demonstrated, homo sapiens is a seemingly irrational species that appears to, more often than not, think and behave in nonsensical rather than commonsensical ways.

A Deceptively Simple Preference Paradox

By Ben Y Hayden Ph.D. on July 17, 2011 in The Decision Tree
It seems simple, but this behavioral economics puzzle is fiendishly difficult. Get your pencils out now. This puzzle will be answered in next week's column.

Flash Sales: The New (Deeply Psychological) Budget Busters

Flash sale sites are designed to tap into the most vulnerable aspects of our shopping psychology.

How Your Dog Can Help Select Your Mate

By Donna Barstow on July 17, 2011 in Ink Blots Cartoons
We could all use a second opinion when deciding who to date, who to mate. Also, listen to your good dog.

Fourteen Surefire Signs That You're Dealing With A Sleezeball

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on July 15, 2011 in Ambigamy
If they sound like they're working from The Sleazeball Play Book, you're on to them.

How To Be Happier

By Harry Beckwith J.D. on July 15, 2011 in Unthinking
Do we experience unhappiness? Or do we merely think in such a way that unhappiness becomes inevitable? And what can you do to think yourself out of this dilemma and into happiness?

Buying Can Reduce Giving

By Art Markman Ph.D. on July 11, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
When you wander through the grocery store, there are lots of products that tie themselves to social causes. The idea is that everybody wins--the company, the charity, and the purchaser. It may not work out that well for the charity, though.

Think you can't be persuaded by ads you ignore? Think again

By Julie Sedivy Ph.D. on July 08, 2011 in Sold on Language
It’s no surprise to advertisers that people rarely devote their full brainpower to the ads that are lobbed at them. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the ads have no impact on consumers. Sometimes, it can mean the opposite.