News

Harvard Business Review: The best flu prevention might be behavioral economics

“One of the best examples of a successful nudge was reported last year by University of Pennsylvania researchers who, with a simple tweak in the electronic medical record, increased vaccination rates by almost 40% relative to clinics that did not receive the tech change. The intervention was devastatingly simple: When doctors first logged in to a patient chart, they were prompted to either “accept” or “cancel” an order for the flu shot.” Read more here.

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Knowledge@Wharton: Is it possible to change bad behavior – permanently?

“With the recently launched Behavior Change for Good Initiative, University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth and Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions Katherine Milkman are hoping to come up with strategies for change that actually stick. Working with a team of scientists from different disciplines, they’re conducting some of the largest social science experiments ever in an effort to create easy, affordable tools that help people make better daily and long-term decisions about their health, education and savings.” Read more here.

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Businesswire: What Really Motivates People? 24 Hour Fitness and University of Pennsylvania’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative to Launch Groundbreaking Science-Based StepUp Program

“24 Hour Fitness and the University of Pennsylvania’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative (BCFG) announce a game-changing science-based partnership and research study to explore what really motivates gym-goers with the goal of creating lasting habits. The StepUp Program, launching in April 2018, is a science-based interactive digital program developed to encourage more visits to the gym and, ultimately, better health and fitness for life.” Read more here.

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The National: evidence-based policy will save us all a headache

“Research published in Psychological Science last year by Wharton professor Katherine Milkman and some of the behavioural economics “all stars” provide hard evidence of the cost effectiveness of relying on behavioural insights. People change. So do socio-economic contexts. Evidence-informed policies should be the new norm. The next step will be to involve neuroscientific insights and artificial intelligence to this mix – a combination that will save us all lot of headaches.” Read more here.

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Penn Today: How psychology explains the itch for spring cleaning

Wharton Professor Katherine Milkman teases out the “fresh start effect” of temporal landmarks like the first day of spring, New Year’s Day, and other meaningful calendar dates: “A lot of my work is on health, and it turns out 40 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. are the result of behaviors people could change. Not taking medications, not being physically active, drinking too much, smoking cigarettes; those are huge numbers.  If we can get even a small number of people to make changes that would change their lives, that’s a huge deal.” Read more here.

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The Washington Post: People can’t be educated into vaccinations, but behavioral nudges help, study finds

“Vaccines were one of the great inventions of modern history. They helped stop America’s polio epidemic in the 1950s, when it was paralyzing thousands and killing at least 3,000 a year. They have prevented the deaths of millions worldwide from diseases such as diphtheria, smallpox, measles and tetanus. And yet many people are reluctant to get their shots or vaccinate their children. A study published Wednesday concludes that using education campaigns, and simply trying to persuade people to get the shots, is far less effective than using indirect behavioral nudges. The reason most people don’t get vaccinations for themselves or their children, the study found, isn’t because…

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The Atlantic: Why Amazon Pays Some of Its Workers to Quit

“… When I talked to Katherine Milkman, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, she brought up a similar idea, from the realm of social psychology. She talked about the mental pressure humans feel to resolve cognitive dissonance—if people have two conflicting beliefs, they’ll try to rationalize one to make it fit with the other. In this case, workers may dislike their jobs at Amazon, but if they turn down The Offer, it means they passed on a chance to quit. It’s likely that they’ll then try to convince themselves that they actually like working at…

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Knowledge@Wharton: It’s All About Timing: How Nonprofits Can Increase Charitable Donations

“Charitable organizations and nonprofit institutions that rely on donations to fund their activities have to strike a delicate balance between aggressively soliciting money and not turning off donors. New research from Wharton shows that timing is the key to maximizing donations, particularly from people with an existing connection to the organization. Katherine Milkman, professor of operations, information and decisions, and Judd Kessler, professor of business economics and public policy, joined the Knowledge@Wharton show, which airs on SiriusXM channel 111, to discuss their study, which focused on donations to a hospital system. While the findings have practical implications for nonprofits, the study also offers…

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New York Times: How to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution

“Making a concrete goal is really important rather than just vaguely saying ‘I want to lose weight.’ You want to have a goal: How much weight do you want to lose and at what time interval?” said Katherine L. Milkman, an associate professor of operations information and decisions at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Five pounds in the next two months — that’s going to be more effective.” Read more here.

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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…

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