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

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.

How Reading Improves Your Social Life

Exposure to fiction makes us more empathic. Here's why.

Why We're Terrible Predictors

By Carlin Flora on April 26, 2011 in Under a Friendly Spell
In his fascinating new book, Duncan Watts, a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research and former professor of sociology at Columbia University, takes a critical look at common sense and shows how dangerously bad we are at predicting certain outcomes.

Are Good Looking People Dumb?

By Raj Raghunathan Ph.D. on April 26, 2011 in Sapient Nature
Pleasurable and enjoyable products, people and activities are thought to be less practical and functional. Where does this belief come from?

If and When to Have Your Babies: The Happiness Measure

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on April 26, 2011 in Singletons
During what 20-year period would you rather risk being less happy?

Crossing the Gap

By Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D. on April 23, 2011 in Don't Delay
Typically, psychologists define procrastination as a gap between intention and action. Have you experienced that gap? Did it look more like the Grand Canyon? How do you get across this gap?

When Beauty and Technology Collide

A very curious thing is happening at beauty stores across America. It is the convergence of technology and consumerism, whereby women’s self-image, worth, and esteem are caught at the crossroads in between.

When's The Best Time To Get A "Yes"?

By Harry Beckwith J.D. on April 21, 2011 in Unthinking
Does the time of day significantly influence our decisions? And if it does, what does this tell us about the ideal times to ask for a raise, a contract, or a date?

The Economy: Consumer Mastery Vs. Soaring Prices

Rather than to be felled by the recession, the American consumer has emerged empowered.

Why It's Never About Race

By Sam Sommers on April 18, 2011 in Science Of Small Talk
Last month, Brigham Young University suspended from its nationally ranked men's basketball team starting forward Brandon Davies. That a major college team would have cause to discipline one of its own was hardly shocking. But the nature of Davies' honor code violation: Reportedly, he was dismissed for having consensual sex with his girlfriend.

Not Enough Willpower? Use Your "Extended Will!"

By Meg Selig on April 18, 2011 in Changepower
Getting help is a terrific technique for boosting your willpower.

Is Addiction a Social Disease?

By Lynn Phillips on April 17, 2011 in Dream On
Does getting paid in millions get people hooked on an executive compensation high? Is addiction the most useful way to think about our craving for oil, or Wall Street’s compulsion to repackage bad loans in pursuit of profit? Is the very concept of addiction so addictive that we can’t stop using it, even when it isn’t the best metaphor for the job?

Cancer, Choice, Beer, and Fear

By David Ropeik on April 13, 2011 in How Risky Is It, Really?
Engaging in risky behavior voluntarily makes it feel less risky. It doesn't mean the risk goes down, though, only the fear. And THAT may raise your risk!