Essential Reads

How Technology is Tricking You Into Tipping More

Digital payment systems use subtle tactics to increase tips. Here's how...

8 Negative Attitudes of Chronically Unhappy People

8 Negative Thoughts of Chronically Unhappy People

Conflicting Goals Can Make You a Better Decision Maker

Some conflicts actually improve your ability to choose.

How to Become the Most Attractive Job Candidate

Why understanding your strengths will help you stand out.

Recent Posts on Behavioral Economics

Do You Do What You Say You'll Do?

By Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. on May 27, 2011 in Don't Delay
To what extent do you keep your promises to yourself even if later on you don't feel like doing what you had promised yourself to do? A recent study reveals the predictive power of say-do correspondence in relation to procrastination.

Self-interest Drives Animals to Dominate or Submit

When a mammal sees a piece of food, a group-mate sees it too. Group-living animals evolved to size up others as they act to meet their needs.

How To Tap the Power of Your Mind: Four Surprising Stories

By Harry Beckwith J.D. on May 25, 2011 in Unthinking
How can you lose weight, give a speech, accomplish more? Four surprising stories--of 84 Boston hotel housekeepers, some lucky putters, colorless Cheetos, and Calvin Trillin's reception in a Minneapolis library--suggest an answer that you can use immediately.

The myth of animal altruism

Reciprocal altruism is the organizing principle of a mammalian herd or pack or troop. That means helping others when you get something out of it, otherwise put yourself first. Researchers cherry pick their data to portray nature as a collectivist utopia.

A Scientific Breakthrough on Free Will

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 23, 2011 in Ambigamy
Emergent Dynamics Theory shows how there's no freedom without constraints, but with constraints, there's freedom.

What do Natalie Portman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Danielle Steel have in common?

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on May 23, 2011 in Singletons
What do Natalie Portman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Danielle Steel have in common?

Is This Singlism or a Smart Business Practice?

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on May 22, 2011 in Living Single
My local Cinema Society charges $425 for a single membership and $650 for a couple membership. That’s $100 more per person for the single person than the couple. Is that singlism or a smart business practice?

China Rethinks Its One-Child Policy

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on May 18, 2011 in Singletons
With a change in China’s one-child policy, will the Chinese bear more than one child per family? What would you do if you lived in China and were starting a family now?

A few words on subliminal advertising

By Art Markman Ph.D. on May 17, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
Thinking about summer movies and theater snacks often gets people thinking about subliminal advertising. Does subliminal advertising really work?

Politically Correct Animal Language

By Julie Sedivy Ph.D. on May 14, 2011 in Sold on Language
The editors of the Journal of Animal Ethics have called for re-vamping animal language. So-called negative words like "pets" or "wildlife," they say, should be replaced by "companion animals" and "free-living animals." Could changing the language also change attitudes towards animals?

I'm the Gift!

By Eliezer Sobel on May 14, 2011 in The 99th Monkey
I had to get her store credit at The Cat Store for the oversized kitty nightshirt I bought her; I had never noticed that she sleeps au naturel. (I’m not always the most observant guy.)

Being specific affects whether you think something will happen

By Art Markman Ph.D. on May 10, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
When you do things like buy insurance, you have to make judgments about how likely it is that something will happen in the future. Those judgments about the future are affected by whether you think about the future abstractly or specifically.

Boomers and Millennials Misunderstand How Long They Will Live

Don’t fall into this trap when estimating how long you and your family members are likely to live!

Why is the belief in global warming affected by temperature?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on May 06, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
Last week, I wrote about a strange finding. People are more likely to believe in global warming when the weather is warmer than usual for that time of year. As luck would have it, a fascinating paper was just published exploring why this happens.

How Complaining Via Twitter Is Changing Consumer Psychology

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on May 03, 2011 in The Squeaky Wheel
Every day, more businesses are monitoring Twitter for complaints. Twitter allows companies to respond to customers with such unprecedented immediacy, it is changing consumer psychology. To maximize your chances of getting a helpful response when you Tweet a complaint about a company or business—here’s what you need to know:

On a diet? Leave the credit card at home

By Art Markman Ph.D. on May 03, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
After getting home from the grocery store, you often discover purchases you did not intend to make. Your method of payment may affect how likely you are to make these impulse purchases.

Bin Laden and the Psychology of Closure

By Sam Sommers on May 01, 2011 in Science Of Small Talk
It's been just an hour since the news broke of the death of Osama bin Laden. Too soon to know all the details of how he was killed, to grasp the full scope of how the world will react, to find out how long it will be before Donald Trump takes credit. But one thing's certain: it sure *feels* like a momentous occasion...

When You Face An Open Palm

Bribery is considered routine in many countries. Before you pull out your wallet, consider the value of politely ignoring the extortion. You may waste time, but your contribution toward building a system with integrity is well worth the investment.

Happiness is a Warned (Nail) Gun

Nail guns are ubiquitous in construction jobs and commonplace in that hands consumers. New research has documented the extent to which this equipment is posing a serious injury hazard – and how easily this risk might be mitigated.

Avant-garde ads: A secret weapon of the right wing?

By Julie Sedivy Ph.D. on April 29, 2011 in Sold on Language
When befuddled by what seem like nonsensical messages, people tend to launch in hot pursuit of meaning elsewhere—including traditional social structures.

How To Outhink Common Sense

By Harry Beckwith J.D. on April 29, 2011 in Unthinking
"Common sense tells you," a partner or coworker begins, attempting to end your discussion right then. But how well has common sense worked? And how can we all achieve breakthroughs by looking differently at "common sense"?

Global warming, like politics, is local

By Art Markman Ph.D. on April 29, 2011 in Ulterior Motives
Climate change takes place over a period of years and reflects small changes in global temperature. But the temperatures in any location may change by 40 degrees from one day to the next. These daily temperature changes affect people's belief in global warming.

Governmental Procrastination

Since the 1950s, the Debt Ceiling has been described as "a meaningless strait jacket." Like an alcoholic leaving the key in the liquor cabinet, politicians have voted away their previous debt resolution and installed a new higher limit, hundreds of times already, though undoubtedly each increase was going to be "just this once." Here's how to fix it.