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Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics Research

CHIBE researchers apply concepts from the field of behavioral economics to design, implement, and evaluate interventions that improve health and build knowledge about efficacy, cost and effectiveness. 

Basic Science Core Request for Applications

The Basic Science Core aims to support laboratory or low-cost field studies that will shed light on mechanisms that can generate behavior change.  In contrast to previous large-scale field studies, which have often combined multiple mechanisms into one intervention in order to maximize impact on behavior, basic science projects supported by the Core focus on disentangling and precisely identifying the impacts of individual mechanisms.  CHIBE researchers interested in applying for project support can click here for more information.



Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics Research Studies

You are viewing 13 posts with the tag George Loewenstein

Behavioral Economics of Privacy

Principal Investigators: Loewenstein / Acquisti / John 

Dominant theories proposed by economists and psychologists assume that people have stable, coherent, attitudes toward privacy, but this research has found that people are extremely inconsistent in their concern about privacy. A large number of field and laboratory studies have found that people are often protective of their privacy in situations in which there is no need to be, and even more often not concerned about privacy or even motivated to reveal information in situations in which caution would be warranted.

Developing Interactive Technologies to Improve Research and Health Behavior

Principal Investigators: Asch / Volpp

Co-investigators:  Bellamy, Halpern, Glanz, Goldberg, Groeneveld, Karlawish, Kimmel, Kuna, Loewenstein, Rozin, Shea, Troxel, Zauberman

David A. Asch, MD, MBA and Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD are developing IT infrastructure that will deploy clinical and behavioral research studies to advance the science at the intersection of behavioral economics and health.  The project is called Way to Health. For more information see:

Funded by: National Institutes of Health / National Institute on Aging

Behavioral Economic Approaches to Dietary Control

Principal Investigators: Loewenstein / Volpp / Asch

George Loewenstein, PhD is leading a team in pilot studies to explore different ways of encouraging consumption of healthier food items by framing caloric content using various formats.

 Funded by: Aramark

The Impact of Nonlinear Pricing on Portion Size of Unhealthy Food Purchases

Principal Investigators: Julie Downs, PhD; George Loewenstein, PhD 

This study will test the differential impact of nonlinear pricing on (over) consumption of healthy versus non-healthy food items. 

Funder: NIA Penn Roybal Center on Behavioral Economics and Health

Can Calorie Labels Increase Caloric Intake?

Principal Investigator:  Loewenstein

Research on the effectiveness of calorie and nutrition labeling of food in propelling individuals toward healthier food choices has revealed weak and inconsistent findings.  Four potential mechanisms to induce perverse effects -- causing people to increase calorie intake -- are tested in this pilot study.

Funded by:  National Institutes of Health / National Institute on Aging

Making Calories Count: Information Format and Food Choice

Principal Investigators:  Downs / Loewenstein

Government policy aimed at promoting healthy eating habits has tended toward strategies based on information provision, though there is little evidence that this strategy is maximally effective. This pilot study involves a cross-sectional test of the impact of calorie labeling and a heuristic cue on customers' choice of lunch item on-site at a chain restaurant, as well as a cohort study which assesses lunch item choices over time based on real-time nutritional feedback.

Funder:  National Institute on Aging

Using Technology to Promote Mental Acuity

Principal Investigator:  Loewenstein

A rapidly aging population is faced with a growing number of technological advances which offer to improve quality of life and health, but many of these may seem inaccessible to those with little exposure to them. This pilot study is testing interventions involving financial incentives to encourage senior citizens to engage in long term use of technologies which promote health and wellness, specifically, computer programs designed to improve memory and mental acuity.

Funder:  National Institute on Aging

Ostrich Effect

Principal Investigators: Loewenstein / Seppi / Sicherman / Utkus  

This research studies investors' tendency to 'put their head in the sand' and deliberately avoid getting information about the value of their holdings when the market is down, but to look much more frequently when the market is up. The project has diverse implications that are being explored for other situations, including decisions about when to seek out medical information.

Conflict of Interest

Principal Investigators: Loewenstein / Seppi / Sicherman / Utkus  

A conflict of interest is a situation in which an individual faces a conflict between a primary professional responsibility, such as a physician's responsibility to promote the health of his or her patients and a secondary personal interest, which often involves money or career advancement. Most lay people as well as academics have typically viewed conflicts of interest through the lens of corruption; those succumbing to conflicts of interest are assumed to put make a deliberate decision to put self-interest before professional responsibilities. This research proposes an alternative perspective, according to which succumbing to a conflict of interest is often the result of unconscious, unintentional, bias. A related line of research is focusing on the limitation of disclosure as a remedy for the problems caused by conflicts of interest.

Improving the effectiveness of IDAs (Individual Development Accounts)

Principal Investigator: George Lowenstein 

Randomized trials to test different ways to use ideas from behavioral economics to increase the effectiveness of IDAs, targeted savings plans intended to help low income individuals meet savings goals for purposes of education, house purchases or business development by typically providing a 1-1 or larger match of the saver’s deposits. People asked to deposit smaller amounts more frequently might end up saving more.

Funded by: Foundation Support

Deposit Contracts for Weight Loss

Principal Investigators: Volpp / Loewenstein 

Co-investigators:  Troxel

Deposit contracts are pre-commitment devices that are used in various non-health-related areas such as retirement savings investment, which help people overcome their present-biased tendencies. This is a randomized, controlled trial which tests the association between various types of deposit contract incentive schemes and weight loss among overweight volunteers in a workplace setting.

Funded by: McKinsey & Company, Inc.

A Randomized Trial of Interventions to Improve Warfarin Adherence

Principal Investigators: Volpp / Kimmel 

Co-investigators:  Doshi, Loewenstein, Shea, Troxel

Pilot data from a study funded by the Aetna Foundation has shown that delivery of a lottery-based financial incentive was feasible and may be associated with substantial improvement in adherence. This larger phase III study is powered to evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of incentives and reminders for warfarin adherence.

Funded by: National Institutes of Health / National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Charitable Fundraising

Principal Investigators: Loewenstein / Cryder 

In collaboration with organizations such as the Red Cross, United Way, and the Carnegie Mellon Development Office, this project is exploring different ways to increase charitable giving, volunteering and blood donations.  Specifically, the project explores a variety of different ways of increasing the tangibility to donors of the benefits produced by their donations.

Funded by: Hewlett Foundation