News

LDI eMagazine: The Latest in Behavioral Economics and Dinner With a Sphinx

“The most unusual and visually interesting part of this year’s annual University of Pennsylvania Behavioral Economics and Health Symposium was its reception and dinner in the Egyptian galleries of the Penn Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. It was, for everyone in the smiling crowd, the first time they had dined in the presence of a sphinx. Now in its eighth year, the two-day symposium was co-hosted by Penn’s Center for Health Incentives & Behavioral Economics (CHIBE) and the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Roybal Center for Behavioral Change in Health and Savings….” Read more at LDI eMagazine.

Read More

Q&A with Katherine Milkman: Keeping Your Resolutions

What are some common roadblocks to keeping new year’s resolutions? How can behavioral strategies remove them? Self-control problems lead us to put off doing what we resolve to do better until later.  I’ll start the diet, but NEXT week.  I’ll go to the gym, but NEXT week.  Commitment devices are a terrific behavioral solution.  They involve signing up for some kind of punishment in the future (e.g., paying a fine, being ashamed in front of friends on social media) if we don’t actually do what we’ve resolved to do.  So I might sign up for a commitment device (say using…

Read More

Washington Post: The science of keeping your new year’s resolution

“…New Year’s resolutions, derided though they often are, present a big opportunity for self-improvement, according to research on human behavior. On New Year’s, we look back on past failures to change and feel an uncommon surge of optimism. We rationalize that it was “the old me” who failed to change, but this year will be different. A full 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and fortunately for them, social science has some insights into how to break a bad habit — or start a good one…” Read more at the Washington Post.

Read More

Knowledge@Wharton: Can Firms Help Employees Make Better Retirement Choices?

Retirement savings plans have been in the news lately as Republicans eyed limits on the maximum pretax 401(k) contributions as a way to fund the cuts outlined in their tax proposal. The 401(k) plan has over the last two decades become the dominant way that Americans save for retirement, replacing the traditional pension. But employers may not be doing as much as they can to encourage employees to use 401(k)s to adequately prepare for the end of their working years. Many employers automatically enroll workers in 401(k) plans and set a default savings level, which puts the onus on employees…

Read More

Penn Spotlight: In the Quest for Lasting Behavior Change, Two Researchers Lead the Charge

Have you ever made a commitment to exercise more often? You sign up with a gym and succeed for a time but soon, too soon, the enthusiasm fades. Eventually, your workout clothes gather dust and your gym membership does nothing but empty your wallet. In the short term, changing behavior is doable, even exciting, but it’s really hard to make that change permanent. Ask anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking or eat less junk food. There’s a reason the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” exists within popular vernacular. But Penn researchers Angela Duckworth and Katherine Milkman, along…

Read More

Knowledge@Wharton: How Richard Thaler’s ‘Simple Insights’ Led to a Nobel Prize

Richard H. Thaler, the “father of behavioral economics,” has this week won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in that field. Thaler has long been known for challenging a foundational concept in mainstream economics — namely, that people by-and-large behave rationally when making purchasing and financial decisions. Thaler’s research upended the conventional wisdom and showed that human decisions are sometimes less rational than assumed, and that psychology in general — and concepts such as impulsiveness — influence many consumer choices in often-predictable ways. Once considered an outlier, behavioral economics today has become part of generally accepted economic…

Read More

Psychology Today: Are Simple Behavioral Interventions Cost Effective?

Psychology Today: “These analyses suggest that simple behavioral interventions should remain a part of the way governments and organizations try to affect people’s behavior. They often involve simple interventions that give a lot of bang for the buck. That said, it is also worth doing some testing of the effectiveness of these interventions. At times they can lead to unintended consequences.”

Read More

TMSIDK: Behavior Change

http://chibe.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/TMSIDK_S03E24_PHILLY1_v08_FIX_PUB-44k-1.mp3 Tell Me Something I Don’t Know (TMSIDK) is live journalism wrapped in a game-show package and hosted by Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the Freakonomics books and host of Freakonomics Radio. In this episode, CHIBE’s Kevin Volpp, Katherine Milkman, and Angela Duckworth are all featured discussing how to make behavior change stick. The episode can also be listened to at Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.

Read More

Harvard Business School: Why Government ‘Nudges’ Motivate Good Citizen Behavior

Most governments aren’t subtle when they want citizens to do something. The United States spends close to $1 billion annually on advertising–trying to convince citizens to do everything from taking flu prevention shots to reporting unattended suitcases at the airport. But now agencies are finding that subtle “nudges” can motivate behavior much better than ads, fines, or deadlines. Nudges, or small changes to the context in which decisions are made, are the subject of a new analysis by Harvard Business School Associate Professor John Beshears and colleagues, recently published in the journal Psychological Science. The paper, Should Governments Invest More in Nudges? answers its…

Read More

Change Behaviors For Good With Katherine Milkman

Jean Chatsky, interviewer of HerMoney, speaks with Katherine Milkman, PhD,  to explain why changing our behaviors can be so difficult, and — best of all — how to finally make the changes we want for good. In Mailbag, we answer your questions on how to prioritize savings with credit card debt, what to do with old 403(b) accounts and how to handle those sometimes-pricey hobbies for kids. You can listen to the podcast here at PRX.

Read More