“Dr. David Asch, a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine and Penn’s Wharton School, is a member of Val Health’s scientific advisory board. Asch was involved in a 2016 study led by his colleague, associate professor Mitish Patel that looked at the influence of behavioral economics on wellness programs. They found businesses needed to rethink how they encourage workers to participate in such programs. Typically, Asch said, incentives are crafted to reward, or punish, rational behavior. A company, for example, will award a cash bonus for going to the gym a certain number of days each month or they may impose a surcharge on an employee’s insurance premium if they don’t stop smoking. In reality, the researchers found people act in unpredictable and irrational ways and human decisions are strongly influenced by the way in which choices are presented. In a test to see the best incentive for getting people to walk 7,000 steps a day, more employees complied when they started the month with a pot of money and were told they could keep whatever was left at the end of the month, but they would lose $1.40 a day for every day they failed to walk 7,000 steps. That option was superior to giving a person $1.40 each for each day they met the goal. ‘Mathematically, those financial incentives are the same,’ Asch said in a previous interview. ‘From a “rational perspective,” you would say there is absolutely no difference. … When the incentive was framed as a loss, where money was taken away, the number of days employees hit the walking goal was 50 percent higher. This told us how you structure the incentive matters much more than what the incentive is.'” Read more at the Philadelphia Business Journal.