Robert Cialdini, PhD: Littering, Egoism and Aretha FranklinBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
Robert Cialdini, PhD is counted among the greatest psychological researchers alive today and his published works have been cited thousands of times. His New York Times best-selling book, Influence, from 1984, is considered a classic for classroom and corporate use alike. He is an ardent author and a passionate professor, and his work has impacted millions. In short, Bob Cialdini has shaped the landscape of how sales and marketing workers do their jobs and how researchers frame their studies.
In this episode of Behavioral Grooves, Bob took a few minutes to discuss some of his most underappreciated research and some of the new things he’s working on. We began with a study that used littering as a way to predict, before the polls closed, the outcome of an election by watching how voters treated candidate fliers left on their cars. One of the very elegant aspects of this study was that it required no surveys – merely the observation of behaviors in the parking lots of the polling places. The question the researchers sought to answer was this: How do voters treat the fliers of candidates they favor and of those they oppose? More specifically, do voters keep fliers from candidates they like and litter with the fliers of candidates they dislike?
Then, our conversation moved to a line of research that he’d investigated for over a decade: the motivations for pro-social behavior, such as giving to those in need. Bob reminds us that there are many motivators at play when one person helps out another, as when a passerby gives money to some asking for money on the street, but there is one motivator that stands out: egoism. Many of us believe that being charitable is an obligation or is driven by guilt, and while that is true to some degree, Bob’s collective research over more than a dozen years revealed that egoism, that selfish desire to feel good about ourselves, is at the heart of helping others.
Then we went a step farther. Bob noted that helping others is more likely to occur when the person in need appears to be in-group or in-tribe. In other words, we’re more likely to be charitable if it appears the person asking for help is “like me.” The primary way we decide if someone is like us is to look at how they’re dressed. What kind of clothes are they wearing? In his studies, Bob found that soccer (football) fans were more likely to assist someone on the street if they were wearing the jersey of their favorite team. It’s unnerving to think that the clothes you wear could determine whether someone helps you or not.
In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim discussed the impact of social identity and self-identity. We discussed articles by Michael Hogg and Roy Baumeister. We brought in books by Harvard Professor Teresa Amabile and Dan Levitan’s great treatise on the neurological effects of music. And on music, we chatted about how music makes us feel and we cited Semisonic’s “Closing Time” and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony as examples.
Lastly, Bob is interested in hearing from YOU! He’d like listeners to send reports on how the principles of influence are being used in the real world to be included in his next book. If you’d like to be considered for his next work, please send your stories to email@example.com
We hope you enjoy our discussion with Bob Cialdini. https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/Sponsor: The Creative Group, Inc.
This episode is brought to you by Creative Group Inc. Kurt and Tim have worked with CGI and have found that their process of co-creation of incentive program provides clients with more robust solutions. Because their incentive and employee engagement programs are co-created, they reflect the truest aspects of the client’s organization and culture. CGI shares our belief that incentives and rewards shouldn’t be used to create brand mercenaries – but instead, should be about creating brand missionaries. Check them out at https://www.creativegroupinc.com/.A Note of Gratitude
We are grateful to Bob for sharing his insights with us in this very fun conversation. However, it wouldn’t have happened without the concerted effort of Bobette Gordon. We thank her for her coordination and support to make put make our conversation with Bob a reality.References
Robert Cialdini, PhD and Influence at Work: https://www.influenceatwork.com/
The Principle of Continuation in Gestalt Psychology. The Continuity Principle: http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Gestalt_principles#Continuity_principle
Daniel Levitin: This is Your Brain on Music. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_Your_Brain_on_Music
Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). “The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation,” Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.
Festinger, L. (1954). “A theory of social comparison processes,” Human Relations, 7, 117–140.
Hogg, M. A. (2001). “Social categorization, depersonalization, and group behavior. In M. A. Hogg & R. S. Tindale (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Group processes (pp. 56–85). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Walton, G., Cohen, G., Cwir, D., and Spencer, S. (2012) “Mere Belonging: The Power of Social Connections,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,, Vol. 102, No. 3, 513–532.
Amabile, T., Kramer, S., Williams, S. (2011) The Progress Principle, Harvard Business Review Press.
Aretha Franklin: “Think” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsL9UL9qbv8
Semisonic: “Closing Time” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGytDsqkQY
Ludwig von Beethoven: “5th Symphony” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxF7hDsU-HY
Cassette tape: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassette_tape
Grooving: Political Stalemates - Insights on ConsistencyBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
This episode is first in a series called Exploring the Principles of Influence, named for Robert Cialdini, PhD’s principles in his 1984 book, Influence. During this and the next 5 mini-grooving sessions, we will discuss Dr. Cialdini’s principles in light of events that are making headlines.
In this episode, we tackle principle #4: Consistency. Dr. Cialdini describes consistency in this way: “Once people make a decision, take a stand or perform an action, they will face an interpersonal pressure to behave in a consistent manner with what they have said or done previously.”
Consistency impacts how we view ourselves and how we are viewed by our familial, social and work communities. Consistency is the foundation of trust, a central element to the success of humankind.
Kurt and Tim discuss how consistency plays a role in two political stalemates in the headlines: one in the United States with the government shutdown and the other in the UK with Brexit. We discuss how politicians are known for flip-flopping without impacting the support of their base enthusiasts. But, we ask, how many times can politicians forego consistency before the base supporters begin defecting? And how does context impact a politician’s need to be consistent?
Listen to this mini grooving session to get a quick snapshot of these two political stalemates through the lens of Robert Cialdini’s 4th principle of influence: Consistency.
Ori Brafman: On Starfish, Burning Man and Efficient MarketsBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
In this episode, we had a discussion with Ori Brafman about decentralization and how our brains respond to cash and cocaine. Ori is a multiple New York Times bestselling author and is the founder and president of Starfish Leadership as well as the co-founder of the Fully Charged Institute with Tom Rath. He is a Distinguished Teaching Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and his specialties range from organizational culture, employee engagement, business transformation, leadership, to emerging technologies.
More than many of our guests, our talk with Ori touched on a very wide range of topics. We rambled from from distributed trust, gaining power through ceding control in decentralized industries, making a new blockchain currency – called Groove Coins (which would be cool!) – to how being born in Israel and growing up in El Paso, Texas impacted his life, how communities and tribes impact us, how we do or do not imply intent, and to how we use technology, in many ways, is a huge behavioral science experiment.
We also discussed a new podcast that Ori has launched with his brother Rom called “Psychological Mysteries” and how they’re attempting to wrap up some loose ends in the world of psychology. Sort of a fraternal myth-busters approach to solving some common misconceptions of our minds.
Of course, we discussed music and how Ori’s love for serious music (classical and baroque) became evident at an early age, but he didn’t find enough traction to pursue it professionally. Ironically, he discovered some of his baroque heroes at Burning Man while EDM music (EDM = electronic dance music) played in the background. Burning Man, if you are not familiar, is an annual festival of sorts, that attracts nearly 80,000 people to a playa in the middle of the desert near Reno, Nevada in the western United States. Burning Man promotes principles such as radical inclusion, radical self-expression, radical self-reliance and gifting among their top 10. These make for a unique experience according to friends who have attended the week-long cultural experience.
Our time with Ori passed quickly and was filled with lots and lots of laughter. We found that his intellectual rigor lifted us up with new ideas and fresh perspectives and we are grateful to have had a chat with him.
In our grooving session, we started out discussing Richard Mowday’s book, Employee – Organization Linkages: The Psychology of Commitment, Absenteeism, and Turnover, published by Academic Press in 1982. We also discussed the Psychometrics of Decentralization, from an article in Psychology Today, from June 14, 2018 and some of Rachel Botsman’s interesting work on trust.
Before you listen, we would like your help. Stars and written reviews help move us up in Apple’s (and other pod services) algorithms for ratings and rankings. On Apple, all you have to do is click on “Shows” find Behavioral Grooves, scroll down to the bottom (past all our episodes) to rate us AND write a review. We would greatly appreciate it.
Please enjoy our discussion with Ori Brafman.
Ori’s Books include:Radical Inclusion: What the Post–9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About LeadershipThe Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless OrganizationsSway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational BehaviorClick: The Forces Behind How We Fully Engage with People, Work, and Everything We DoThe Chaos Imperative: How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation, Effectiveness, and Success
Ori & Rom’s Podcast “Psychological Mysteries” can be found at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/psychological-mysteries/id1434160105?mt=2
To subscribe to Behavioral Grooves, you can do so at any major podcatcher or at Podbean: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/
Barry Ritholtz: How to Reduce Evolutionary PanicBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
In this special edition, we sat down with Barry Ritholtz, a Wall Street investment maven, host of the podcast Masters In Business, a regular contributor to Bloomberg TV, CNBC and The Street, as well as an author whose pieces appear in The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post as well as his blog, The Big Picture.
To say that our conversation with Barry was unconventional is an understatement. We talked for well over an hour about the application of behavioral science in his investment firm, predicting market downturns, Steely Dan, behavioral science researchers, great investors throughout history and personal anecdotes… all of which were as entertaining as they were insightful.
This episode strays from our regular format by including our grooving commentaries as we go through the interview. In other words, we talk about the concepts that our guest brings up as interludes to the live discussion with him.
Barry lets us know – right off the bat – that he is not your average Wall Street investment-firm guy. He is insightful and data-driven. He noted one of his earliest influences was Jack Schwager, author of Market Sense and Nonsense. Schwager’s data-driven position was instantly appealing to Barry. Then Tom Gilovich, PhD brought research into Barry’s purview and fueled a deeper dive into behavioral science. Tom is known for his work on biases and heuristics as well as the enlightening research he contributed to on the hot-hand fallacy, which has recently been challenged.
In Barry’s career, he became aware of small differences in his coworker’s approaches making big differences to their results. It was the Dunning-Kruger Effect, a common cognitive bias in which people of low ability mistakenly assess their cognitive skill as greater than it is. We’ve all had the experience of hearing a friend make grand predictions about something we’re pretty sure they know nearly nothing about.
Barry was also impressed by the research-based Fama-French model and how it addresses three critical basics of investing using data. The model uses three factors to describe stock returns: 1. Market risk. 2. Small company stocks tend to provide better returns than larger company stocks. 2. High book-to-market companies perform better than low book-to-market companies.
Barry also noted how he has been influenced by Ray Dalio, author and investor, and how much Barry’s science-based college education helped him appreciate and focus his investment approach by using data.
Our musical discussion began with Steely Dan and headed into Steely Dan’s co-founder’s first solo effort, The Nightfly. Donald Fagen recorded and produced The Nightfly in 1982 with audiophile-perfect recording techniques. We also discussed Barry’s quest to discover the Greatest American Band and the constraints he put on the title. Without constraints, we lack focus, he says, so eligibility required that each band be (a) American born and (b) a band, not an individual with a back-up band.
If you like listening to this episode and the way we edited our conversation with Barry, send us a note! We’d love to hear what you think.
Link to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/
Grooving on Too Much StuffBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
After the gift-giving holidays – Hanukkah and Christmas – homes and apartments are bursting at the seams with more stuff. Knick-knacks, novelties, gewgaws, tchotchkes, odds and ends of all sorts are crowding out space where the familiar stuff currently resides.
For most of us, parting with some old familiar goodies requires a change in behavior. And if you want to make that change, there’s hope! This episode offers some behavioral science to help you with the process.
One of the biggest things you need to overcome is Status Quo Bias. This is the big hairy elephant in the room. We love to hang on to old stuff, in part because our default is to keep stuff, not get rid of it – that’s the status quo. Ridding yourself of old stuff to make way for the new requires overcoming this intensely powerful default.
Priming. Begin your journey to unload stuff by opening up 3 or 4 bags or boxes and laying them in plain sight. You’re more likely to fill them if they’re open and ready to use than if you must fetch a new one each time you fill the previous one. Make the choice to give something away as easy as possible.
Joint Comparison. If you only look at one item at a time, you’ll find a good reason to keep it. Force yourself to compare two or three like items and to rid yourself of one of them. That way, you’re creating an environment where you might say: “This old cookie-sheet is in worse shape than this other cookie sheet and, since I haven’t used it in a year, I’ll give it away.”
Social Accountability. The best solution for cleaning out a kitchen, bathroom or garage to make way for newer things is to enlist the help of a trusted friend or relative. Ideally, they could become recipients for some of your gently-used items; however, the important thing is that having a comrade-in-arms will reduce the probability of assigning ‘save’ to items best identified as ‘give away.’
When/Then Statement. Use a commitment statement to orient your actions, such as, “When I get home from work on Friday night, then I’m going to set out my packing boxes.” And, “When I wake up on Saturday morning, then I’m going to start cleaning out my closet.”
Getting rid of stuff can be difficult, but when space begins to run short, you’re going to be forced to make some decisions. You want plenty of room for all the new stuff that you just received as gifts, don’t you? Then get started!
If you haven’t subscribed, you can check out all our episodes on iTunes, Podbean, Castbox, Stitcher and lots of other podcatchers. https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/
Grooving: Top 10 Podcasts of 2018Behavioral Grooves Podcast add
During 2018, Behavioral Grooves published 44 episodes and expanded our viewers into more than 90 countries. To celebrate our successful first year, Kurt and Tim called out our ten most downloaded episodes from 2018. We hope you check them out.
#10. Behavioral Grooves #1: James Heyman, PhD. In this episode, we discussed research that James conducted with Dan Ariely, PhD while they were both at Berkeley.
#9. David Yokum – Science is Hard. David’s journey from the White House Insights Team to The Lab @ DC, to Brown University (to establish a center for applying behavioral sciences to governmental policies) is remarkable.
#8. Grooving on Cash vs. Non-Cash. For many years, we have been fascinated with why rewards that provide the greatest extrinsic motivation are NOT cash!
#7. Grooving on Applying Behavioral Sciences at Your Office. In this episode, we offer tips on how to put your behavioral science desires into action at the office.
#6. Nudge-A-Thon with Dr. Christina Gravert. Christina discussed the difference between a nudge and a sludge in this fun conversation. Also, she established Impactually, a behavioral sciences firm with Nurit Nobel, to offer consulting and online classes.
#5. Caroline Webb: Having a Good Day. Our conversation with Caroline rambled from her terrific book to speaking at Davos to singing at Carnegie Hall and even Burning Man! What a life!
#4. Don’t Be Creepy – Data Transparency with Charlotte Blank. Charlotte is the Chief Behavioral Officer at Maritz, Inc., and we had a great discussion about how to use data appropriately.
#3. Grooving on Books: Our Top 10 Recommended books on Behavioral Science. We were pleasantly surprised to hear from so many listeners around the world who shared their own top 10 lists with us.
#2. Michael Hallsworth: From MINDSCAPE to EAST. Michael’s discoveries of behavioral interventions that worked went hand in hand with many studies that demonstrated what didn’t work. This episode highlights both.
#1: Leaving the Matrix: Annie Duke and insights on how you can improve your thinking! Author and poker player extraordinaire, Annie was a delightful guest offering great insights and great laughs. Note: Check out her mentor Lila Gleitman’s contribution to the English Dictionary!
Thank you all for a wonderful 2018!
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Podbean host: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/
Sam Tatam: Smelling the BrandBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
We were introduced to Sam in San Francisco where he wowed us with his presentation about how applying behavioral science was like writing a song. Sam is an Aussie living in London and his references to songwriting and Jimi Hendrix were at the very least unconventional and instantly made him someone we wanted to meet.
Sam’s journey into behavioral science began when he chose to study clinical psychology over graphic design and was formalized when one of his managers recommended Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Tipping Point. Sam found it inspirational. Ironically, his work at Ogilvy has reunited his passions for both psychology and graphic design
From a very early age, Sam indicated he believed in asking people the right questions over telling people what to do. He gave us examples of how asking the right questions allow people to respond authentically which got Sam thinking about how asking consumers the right questions could impact the data they gathered. He’s a regular Socrates for the 21st century!
Sam also shared a terrific story about leveraging social proof to increase hand washing among food-processing employees. Sam told us about plant employees who were not thoroughly washing their hands even with lots of reminders. But the GI Joe Fallacy was in full play as knowing was not moving the needle on clean hands. Ogilvy’s very clever solution was to put an inexpensive organic ink stamp on every employee’s hands before they started their shift, immediately before they were supposed to wash their hands. Once they were on the factory floor, it was instantly clear who DID and who DIDN’T wash their hands correctly. Social proof was an important element to increase the rate of proper hand washing, but providing a salient feedback loop for each worker was critical.
Like the hand-washing case where awareness was simply not enough, Sam shared some tips on implicit hiring bias that caught our attention: 1. Focusing on process over outcome can lead to higher-quality new-hires. And, 2. Exploiting the diversification heuristic – by slowing down and hiring for more than one position at a time – can bring significantly better new employees your company.
We were not surprised that Sam’s eclectic tastes in music bounce between Ronin Keating (from the Irish pop group Boyzone) for his recording of Alison Kraus’ hit for the Notting Hill movie: “When you say nothing at all” to Aussie bands including Powderfinger, and the great AC/DC. But he also called attention to UK-based singer-songwriter, David Gray.
We hope you enjoy this episode. If you’re not already a subscriber, check out all the episodes at https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/.
And if you enjoy this conversation with Sam, please share your thoughts in the form of a positive rating with your favorite podcatcher.
Will Leach: Marketing to MindstatesBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
Will Leach is a marketer, econometrician and author whose recent book, Marketing to Mindstates, captured our attention before it was even published. His clever, behaviorally-focused marketing messages were provocative and we were excited to have him as a guest.
Will’s book focuses on 4 key mind states: Activating a goal, priming the need, framing the choice and triggering the behavior. The book was written as a practical guide for marketers looking to integrate behavioral sciences into their work.
To lay the foundation for the book, Will relied on his experience at the PepsiCo SMART lab. There, they tested prices, planograms, promotional messages and packaging on real-life consumers in a simulated shopping experience. There his curiosity was peaked about why people do what they do. He discovered gold in books like Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, and in Tory Higgins and Heidi Grant Halverson’s book on regulatory fit, Focus. (Both are recommended reading!)
In his years following PepsiCo, Will has taken on some very cool clients and introduced us to Phil Kusak, the founder of Wicked Crisps. Will and Phil worked on the development, branding and marketing of a healthy snack food targeted at Millennial Mom’s leveraging the regulatory fit model. Will was struck by Phil’s caring approach to the people in his organization by modifying machines at Wicked Crisps to accommodate the special physical needs of his employees. We were pleased to be introduced to Phil’s work, as well, and hope you support his wonderful work.
Before we signed off, Will shared three tips with us: 1. Set goals. It’s important that our first step be to actually set and own the goal. 2. Manage regulatory fit. Will reminded us of the importance of making decisions frictionless. 3., Use behavioral triggers. Together, these tips help tell the mind what to do and when to do it.
Our musical discussion had a very eclectic mix to it. We talked about how Will grew up with the sounds of Motown – Aretha Franklin and Bill Withers and he even uses the song Lovely Day as a prime for getting up in the morning. But once he moved to Texas, he realized that the prettiest girls listened to George Strait, Pat Green, and Robert Earl Keen. It always starts with a girl!
In our grooving session, we discussed the importance of the ethical application of these tools. The application of regulatory fit and the use of behavioral triggers can be very powerful, and we recommend careful consideration before implementing them.
Grooving on: New Year's ResolutionsBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
Every year, millions of people make resolutions at the start of the new year and researchers indicate that 91% of those resolutions are sunk by the end of the second week in January.
In this grooving episode, we highlight 10 tips on how you can keep your New Year’s resolutions and how you can manifest an even more amazing version of the already-wonderful YOU. To do so, we’re providing 10 tips and hacks that can help you maintain your resolutions and achieve your goals. We are also taking this medicine to make our own new year’s resolutions more successful! Let’s do it together so we can all stay on the resolution bandwagon!
The Ten Tips Are:
Make it emotional. Don’t create a resolution that is completely rational and lacks emotion. Make sure that you engage an emotional trigger and find the larger meaning. People often talk about SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) and for good reason: because they work and the key piece in SMART is that they are relevant.
Adopt your future self as your present identity – “I’m not losing weight, I’m being the healthy, active person that I want to be” – bring your ideal future self to today. Start talking about yourself and referring to your lifestyle today as if you were already living your I’ve-succeeded-with-my-resolution self.
Start small. The first level of starting small is to keep the number of resolutions small – no more than three! You’re destined for failure if you have a dozen resolutions to try to adhere to. The second level is to break down larger goals into manageable chunks – what are the behaviors that you need to do each week/day/hour that will make you achieve your goal.
Tie triggers into current habits to make the modifications you need to adopt the new behavior. A good way to do this is to use when ______, then _______ statements. “When I go to brush my teeth, then I will pick up the dental floss.” Research indicates we are three times more likely to do the desired behavior if we tie it to a trigger from our current behavior.
Remove friction. Once you’ve uncovered what might derail you, use if _____, then ______ statements to help figure out what to do when derailments happen. “If I feel like not going to the gym, then I will rely on my commitment to get three visits in this week.” Add friction to things you don’t want to do (move the Oreo cookies to the basement) and reduce friction for things you want to do (put your workout shoes at your bedside before you sleep).
Enlist Social Support. It’s best to have three kinds of people that can help you on your journey: the cheerleader, the coach, and the referee. Build a small group of people to hold you accountable and reward them for focusing on accuracy, not just warm feelings.
Measure your progress. It could be as simple placing check marks on a diary or to use an app to automate the process. Measure at a rate that is appropriate for the behavior change you’re undertaking: use daily or weekly measures for shorter-term resolutions and weekly or monthly for longer-term resolutions.
Reward your progress. If you’re set milestones along the way, make sure you reward yourself as you achieve these milestones. Don’t hold all your rewards until the very end. These rewards can coincide with the way you’ve broken down your resolution into smaller parts. And they need to be the right kinds of rewards.
Give yourself a break. We are human, not machines and the world is complex. Not everything will go as planned. It’s ok to not be 100%, but “don’t miss twice,” as James Clear says. One of our biggest biases is to underestimate how much time any given task will take. Don’t punish yourself for missing a date – just do the work.
Make it fun. Be intentional about laughing and enjoying the process of the change you’re in. When things don’t go as planned, laugh it off and learn from it. Share your hardships and successes with your social networks. Laughing releases endorphins in the brain that cause you to feel less pain and anxiety, which actually makes you more resilient and happier.
The resolution solution: Longitudinal examination of New Year's change attempts, by JC Norcross at the University of Scranton. Or Forbes article titled “Just 8% of People Achieve Their New Year's Resolutions. Here's How They Do It.”
“Atomic Habits,” by James Clear.
“How to Have a Good Day,” by Caroline Webb.
“Large Stakes and Big Mistakes,” by Loewenstein, Gneezy, Mazar & Ariely.
“Tiny Habits,” by B.J. Fogg.
“Thinking in Bets,” by Annie Duke.
Michael Hallsworth: From MINDSPACE to EASTBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
In this episode, we spoke with Dr. Michael Hallsworth PhD, the Managing Director of the North American Behavioral Insights Team. We met up with him at his office in Brooklyn which gave the audio a bit of an echo-chamber vibe.
Michael was an early member of the UK’s Behavioral Insights Team. Along with Paul Dolan, Dominic King, Ivo Vlaev, and David Halpern, Michael created MINDSPACE in 2009 and later, the EAST model. Both are mnemonic tools for remembering key elements of behavioral science.
To ensure that everyone is comfortable with the MINDSPACE and EAST models, we recommend this link to an overview from the Behavioural Insights Team: https://www.behaviouralinsights.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/BIT-Publication-EAST_FA_WEB.pdf. The paper is brief, informative, easy to read and offers one of the best explanations on how to apply behavioral insights we’ve read. However, in quick recap form, the mnemonic MINDSCAPE stands for:
Messenger. We are heavily influenced by who communicates information
Incentives. Our responses to incentives are shaped by predictable mental shortcuts such as strongly avoiding losses
Norms. We are strongly influenced by what others do
Defaults. We “go with the flow” of pre-set options
Salience. Our attention is drawn to what is novel and seems relevant to us
Priming. Our actions are often influenced by sub-conscious cues
Affect. Our emotional associations can powerfully shape our behaviors
Commitments. We seek to be consistent with our public promises and reciprocate acts
Ego. We act in ways that make us feel better about ourselves
EAST is an updated and simplified version of MINDSPACE. EAST is a powerful tool because it is so easy to remember and it stands for:
Easy. Harness the power of defaults; reduce the ‘hassle factor’ of taking up a service; simplify messages
Attractive. Attract attention; design rewards and sanctions for maximum effect
Social. Show that most people perform the desired behavior; leverage the power of networks; encourage people to make a commitment to others
Timely. Prompt people when they are likely to be most receptive; consider the immediate costs and benefits; help people plan their response to events
Michael is a relentless researcher. He never fatigues of testing new ideas or recycling old ones and he’s open about situations where replications of his earlier studies worked well and not so well. His candidness about his successes and failures, when it comes to replicating results, is a breath of fresh air in the scientific community. To highlight this fact, we discussed how changes to the format of the letter used by the British tax authority to collect taxes from delinquents generated great results. However, when he applied the same approach to collect dues in Albuquerque, New Mexico with a different audience, the formality effect failed miserably.
Michael shared his observations on framing, political systems, confirmation bias and motivated reasoning. All are prominent in the world today, increasing our need to pay attention to them and to be aware of their effects on our decisions and behaviors.
He also shared two tips on how to prepare to conduct a study. He teed these two up in a fashion that was highly intentional, so we recommend following his direction if you are interested in conducting a study of your own.Pay attention to details as the human condition (and our world) is complexAsk for written predictions from the experts prior to collecting data – hindsight bias is a powerful effect
We also discussed how Michael came to play piano “quite late” as a child because, unlike many kids who are thrown into piano lessons, he volunteered to study the instrument. Quite simply, he loved music and still does. He still plays a bit today at holiday gatherings and when he’s in close proximity to a piano. Also, he introduced us to a band neither of us had heard of - Okkervil River. A very chill Americana band out of Austin, Texas.
That led us to discuss Texas bands and Texas music festivals in our Grooving Session. We remind listeners of 3 great Texas-born songwriters, Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaugh, and Buddy Holly and discussed how the festival known as South by Southwest (SXSW) has become a highly commercialized event in Austin. Is it still fun, entertaining and rewarding for music fans? Certainly, but it’s become a corporate marketing event and is a bit overwhelming for those hoping to the next musical superstar in a small saloon.
We hope you enjoy our discussion with Michael Hallsworth, PhD.
Check out our website, www.behavioralgrooves.com if you’re interested in more episodes. And stop by the Podbean hosting site if you’d like to see the episode notes with all the live links in it. The complete and original version is located at https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/.
Re-Grooving on Annie DukeBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
This is a special Re-Grooving session for your speedy listening enjoyment. In this re-grooving episode, we are re-sharing the Grooving Session (only the Grooving Session) that followed Kurt’s and my conversation with Annie Duke, author and poker champion extraordinaire. That means that in this episode, you won’t hear the conversation with Annie. To hear that, you need to check out our podcast called “Leaving the Matrix.” There you can enjoy all of Annie’s insights and enthusiasm first hand.
This episode is just the Grooving Session after we spoke with Annie. It’s about 30 minutes long and includes comments Kurt and I made about Annie, as well as our observations on tribes, loss aversion, goal setting, accountability coaches, nudge-fest, Lila Gleitman’s contribution the English dictionary, listening to (or not listening) to music while we’re doing other tasks and Alex Chilton’s impact on musical literature.
Also, Kurt and I wanted to let you know that we have instituted the thinking-in-probabilities approach in our conversations with each other and with our respective clients. We encourage you to give it a try.
And speaking of probabilities, we believe that you are at least 87% likely to jump onto your favorite podcatcher and give Behavioral Grooves a positive review! Thanks in advance for your support.
Check out www.behavioralgrooves.com for more information on meetups and podcasts.
Brian Ahearn: The Heart of ReciprocityBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence People, LLC, and one of only 20 Cialdini Method Certified Trainers in the world. Brian’s experience with Robert Cialdini’s methods places him among the most experienced practitioners alive. It was a pleasure to speak with Brian and to gain some insight on applying the methods of ethical influence that Cialdini pioneered in his book, Influence with clients in the real world.
We hosted Brian in the Behavioral Grooves studio for our wide-ranging and in-depth conversation. It was a treat because we typically have our discussions via the web on Zoom or SquadCast, but Brian was able to meet us at the dining room table and it was terrific. As a result of being in the same room and sitting around the same table, our discussion on priming, influence and ethics was particularly personal and dynamic.
Brian began our conversation by outlining the six principles of influence: liking, reciprocity, authority, social proof or consensus, consistency, and scarcity, all of which were identified by Robert Cialdini in his first book. We wandered into a great story about Cialdini’s very humble personality, that Brian conveyed by way of a dinner meeting with the professor. (Note: Kurt and Tim experienced Cialdini’s humility directly when we met up with the good professor in New York City, recently. Bob, as he urged us to call him, was as curious as a college freshman and solicited our thoughts on every topic we spoke about. Truly an inspiring and amazing guy.)
Brian shared his thoughts about Tom Hopkins work on “How to Master the Art of Selling” and the impact that the spoken word has on our beliefs. The ‘what I say becomes what I believe’ was an important reminder that words matter. And in Brian’s case, words are just about everything when it comes to the world of ethical influence. This became clear when he spoke about how he trains insurance salespeople to use primes with their customers when pitching technology. The technology actually helps keep the drivers safer and provides more reliable data to the insurance agencies. Brian trains the agents to say, “…this technology works really well for good drivers like you.” We’re all for being safer on the road.
Of course, we spent a fair amount of our conversation on the subtlety and power of primes. Fortunately, Brian took our musical bait and spoke to how he uses musical playlists to create and deliver his own personal primes. We were happy to hear that he’s created playlists that focus on titles or themes with the words ‘moment’ or ‘time’ in them. And it’s evidence that he takes his own medicine when it comes to the advice he shares with his clients. He’s using music to prime himself and others before meetings! We are always impressed with people, like many of our other guests, who apply these principles to their own lives.
The priming discussion included a great story about how he used reciprocity to engage his daughter in doing some extra chores around the house. Rather than making his request quid pro quo, Brian decided to preempt the request with a raise to her allowance. After the new, upgraded allowance was in place, Brian’s request was met with immediate support. Kurt and Tim have recollections of childhood chores compressed with bad feelings – and they linger long into adulthood. As children, we never experienced enthusiasm over chores or things we were asked to do, in part because of the ways those requests were made.
Brian concluded our conversation with three tips about the most impactful tools from the principles of persuasion. They are:Liking. The focus with liking needs to be on ME figuring out how to like YOU, not the other way around. The search for commonalities and the need to deliver compliments are on ME, not you.Authority. While authority has many meanings, a core part of this principle is in being an authority on what you do. Be willing to share advice. Be a giver. Be an authority, don’t just walk through your job with your eyes half closed.Consistency. The biggest part of consistency is, of course, being consistent in your words and deeds. However, beneath the headline is the very powerful subtext of asking, not telling. Be strategic. Be inquisitive. And live up to the words you speak.
Our discussion with Brian gave us the opportunity to talk about both Coldplay and Frank Sinatra. With a playlist that wildly varied from a guy from Ohio, what is there not to like? And since Brian is from Ohio, the home of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, we decided to do a little grooving on it. So, Kurt and Tim discussed Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees and who, in our humble opinion, deserves to be nominated. Todd Rundgren was discussed as one of our nominees we'd like to see in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. (We also discussed Queen, but Queen was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, ten years after Freddie Mercury died.) The impact that music has on our lives is nearly immeasurable and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to listen to it, enjoy it, and chat about it.
Tee up a lively tune before you listen to this episode! We hope you enjoy our conversation with Brian Ahearn.
Subscribe at www.behavioralgrooves.com or learn more about Behavioral Grooves podcast and meetup.
Linnea Gandhi: Crushing on StatisticsBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
University of Chicago MBA professor Linnea Gandhi talked with Kurt and Tim recently about her consulting work, her passion for statistics, grading papers and how a good improvisational theatre production can be sheer joy. Self-descriptions of her own achievements are blanketed with modesty; however, her passions shine through when discussing her work, both past and present.
Linnea is a remarkable person. After completing her undergraduate at Harvard and an MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School, she worked with the Boston Consulting Group, then with ideas42. And since last year, she’s operated her own consultancy based on the application of behavioral sciences while teaching MBA students at the University of Chicago. Her consultancy, BehavioralSight, takes clients beyond simple biases and into the methodologies of scientific measurement that are critical to professional and personal decision-making.
When we caught up with Linnea, she was busy preparing a presentation for a conference she was invited to speak at and, simultaneously, was deep into reading a book on statistics. Statistics became central to our conversation and she even admitted to having a CRUSH on statistics! She sees a need to understand how we calculate decision probabilities and believes the world could be a better place with better application of statistical tools.
In addition to her extensive work as consultant and teacher, she is one of the very special fraternity of people who have co-authored a paper with Nobel Laureate, Danny Kahneman. The paper, coauthored with Kahneman, Andrew Rosenfield and Tom Blaser, is called “Noise: How to Overcome the High, Hidden Cost of Inconsistent Decision Making.” Published in the October 2016 Harvard Business Review, the article shares the important lesson of how to differentiate biases from noise – you know, that thing we often refer to as chance variability. The authors write: “We call the chance variability of judgments noise. It is an invisible tax on the bottom line of many companies.” Kurt and Tim found that tremendously insightful.
On the topic of excellent articles, Linnea’s piece on the People Science site, “Testing, Testing: Not All Failures Are Created Equal,” hit home with us, too. Her chart featuring the taxonomy of failure breaks down the need to focus on process failures, rather than outcome failures, which led us to discuss thinking in probabilities, a favorite topic of Annie Duke.
We also talked about how people are particularly challenged when it comes to grasping uncertainty and developing concrete probabilities around difficult-to-identify risks. Quite frequently, Linnea puts these ideas to work in her consulting business. Clients often overreact to the freshest data or recent market changes, and she helps guide their way through the decisions that can be improved by relying on a broader data set.
Stumbling on Kurt Lewin was a stroke of luck. If you’re not familiar, Lewin was a prolific creator of psychological observations and theories. His work is wide-ranging and our own Kurt Nelson, PhD has been a fan of Lewin’s for some time. Noteworthy is Lewin’s Equation, or so it is often called, that simplifies human behavior with a direct and unpretentious approach: behavior is a function of the person in their environment. When Linnea brought up Lewin, it was clear Kurt was loving the conversation.
We discovered that Linnea’s connection to music is through movement – like dance and improvisational theatre – and leaves the singing up to people with better vocal cords. However, she’s a fan of Billy Joel and shared her fondness for “For the Longest Time,” which led Kurt and Tim to discuss our own favorite Billy Joel songs.
We ended our conversation with Linnea with three succinct tips for those interested in improving their decision making.Look for disconfirming data.If you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist. (Stolen from Linda Ginzel, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School and author of “Choosing Leadership.”)Take a course in statistics!
With that, we’ll end our comments with a quotation from the great Edwards Deming that reminds us to remain diligent in designing and implementing processes in our work and personal lives: “Every system is perfectly designed to produce the results it gets.”
Grooving on Civil Discourse at the Thanksgiving TableBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
Political discussions in many places around the world have become more contentious than at any time in our recent history. It seems almost impossible to have a calm conversation with someone who doesn’t hold our own political views. In North America and Liberia, we’re approaching the Thanksgiving 2018 holiday where families have a tradition of coming together to show gratitude for a successful harvest. In many of these settings, the dinner-table conversation with be with people we don’t agree with.
In this episode, Kurt and Tim share 5 tips on how to maintain civil discourse at the dining table during these family gatherings. As we all know, families aren’t homogeneous groups of automatons – in the United States or anywhere else. People choose different paths for their political or religious beliefs and “what I believe” can be difficult for those who don’t share those beliefs.
At the heart of these conflicts is that we are all different and different is good. To maintain a successful civilization, we need both conservative and liberal perspectives. Without a conservative perspective, we might fail to honor long-standing institutions. Without a liberal perspective, we might fail to move past our comfort zones. We need both, so we start by recognizing that.
Our list begins with being curious and we refer to the person we disagree with as “the crazy uncle,” with no disrespect for uncles or mental illness. When this uncle makes a statement you don’t agree with, don’t zing back a rebuttal…just ask him about his comment. How did he come to this perspective? What makes him believe this is the case? To what degree is he certain of this?
We reference an excellent article in Psychology Today by Robert Mauer on the topic of curiosity. Mauer urges readers to frame questions with high integrity and pure wonder. When you’re in that space, you are more likely to engage in conversations with people you initially disagreed with.
The second tip is to focus on the topic, not the person. Never attack the person with your objections – focus on the issue at hand. It’s about the topic, not the person! A critical error in any contentious conversation is the erosion of the dialogue away from the topic at hand. When emotions get the best of us, we can dog-pile our grievances onto the crazy uncle and lose sight of why we disagree in the first place. Don’t wander from the point either of you was trying to make.
The third tip is to argue the facts, not the perceptions. And when you don’t agree on facts, agree to move on to a topic that you DO agree on the facts. (That means you need to think about the FACTS, not just your opinion.) It’s more of a philosophical approach, but still important in keeping the discourse civil, it’s best if we can agree on certain facts, even when they don’t support our own position.
John Greco’s chapter called “Knowledge as Credit for True Belief” in the Clarendon Press book titled Intellectual Virtue: Perspectives From Ethics and Epistemology is a great example of how to focus on facts and not perceptions.
Another way to approach the potentially contentious discussion is to make an agreement up front with the other person to focus on facts. Annie Duke, in her book Thinking in Bets, speaks to the importance of agreeing on a set of “rules” and sticking to it. Set up an agreement prior to the discussion and hold yourself accountable.
Our fourth tip is also related to Annie Duke’s book, and that is to talk in percentages and avoid black-and-white statements. Use statements like, “I’m 75% confident that gun legislation could have a positive impact on mass shootings,” and avoid saying things like, “You’re an idiot for not supporting gun control!”
Annie’s book is the best reference for avoiding a black and white approach to topics, especially challenging ones, and gives readers a very powerful toolbox for working our way through difficult dialogues. Most importantly, she reminds us that we don’t know everything – we never have, and we never will. We can feel certain, but that doesn’t mean we are perfectly correct. Allow our conversation with the crazy uncle to rest in the space of, “We could be wrong, even a little bit.”
The fifth tip is to respect our differences. Political difference has roots that are deeper than where we grew up – scientists are discovering that there are biological differences between conservatives and liberals. From what we know, the brains of people who tend to be more progressive experience triggers differently from those who tend to be more conservative. For instance, loud noises tend to impact people who are more conservative with more fear or caution than those who tend to be more progressive. These are uncontrollable, reflexive responses and we’re not going to persuade anyone to change their DNA.
To expand on this topic, we refer you to two pieces of value. In a Scientific American article by Emily Laber-Warren, the author highlights key findings in recent years about how Conservatives are better organizers and cleaners while Liberals are more novelty-seeking.
And one of our favorite books, Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind, is a reference volume on how to understand and work with the differences we have. Highly recommended.
BONUS TIP: What do you want to achieve in this conversation? If you’re approaching your dinner conversation with the intent to persuade others to your point of view, think again. How would you feel if you felt as though others at the dinner table were trying to persuade you to agree with their controversial ideas?
We recommend you leverage the power of your curiosity to learn more about what your crazy uncle has going on in his cranium. You just might leave the dinner table a little more informed than when you arrived.
David Yokum: Science is HardBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
David Yokum may not be a household name but that shouldn’t stop you from listening. If you’ve ever wondered about police officer body cameras and the effect they’re having on crime, policing and adjudication, we have David to thank for conducting the first major randomized study on the use of police officer body cameras.
We came to know his work by a stroke of good fortune. He and Tim met as guests of George Loewenstein at the 2016 inauguration of Carnegie Mellon University’s undergraduate degree in Behavioral Economics. It was clear from the first handshake that David is not just another guy who’s curious about behavioral sciences. Even though he’s earned a law degree and a PhD in psychology, he’s not just another science geek. He’s a doer.
When they were introduced, David was transitioning from the White House Social and Behavioral Science Team to be a founding member of The Lab @ DC, which resides in the Executive Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia. Among their many accomplishments, David and his colleagues conducted the foundational study on the impact of police officer body cameras. They set out to understand how body cameras might influence the use of force, how the cameras might impact crime and how the cameras might impact the flow of cases through the courts. But they discovered much more.
They realized that the context in which the study was rolled out mattered a great deal. The District of Columbia is not a static laboratory – it’s a city with nearly 4,000 law enforcement officers that represent a spectrum of quality, ability and experience on the job. Police officer training, police force reform, the urban crime environment, the population of the city, the support from other governmental agencies…all of these create a context that impacted the study’s results.
David shared with us about how, at the launch of the study, the team considered how body cameras might create an effect to increase the perceived legitimacy of the police force. And in some cases that happened. They believed that pairing the body camera data with existing datasets would reveal great insights for potential changes to police work. However, even with the tremendous amount of adjudication data and the dreaded police reporting paperwork, known to every viewer of a television police drama, there were still surprises. They discovered that some of the correlations (and sometimes lack of correlations) on arrests and quality of adjudication simply weren’t what they expected. To some degree, they got a null result. On that level, David noted that the null effect was an important message that prompted deeper analysis.
We wandered into a great discussion about the pratfalls of researchers relying too much on data, especially when they lack the ‘feet on the street’ view that comes from actually being in the field. All of this was predicated on the Lab@DC’s study on the capital city’s rat problem. The study changed for the better when the research team was enlightened with insights from the animal vector team and rat biology specialists.
At this point in our discussion, David enthusiastically noted that you should never stop developing a study. A study needs to be open to new insights, new data points, new information and reflect the latest and best thinking of the team. A study isn’t a shiny, newly-minted penny…it’s a living, breathing thing. All this connected us with the fact that not all results from just any similar study will replicate in your situation. This led us to a note about David’s failed attempt to replicate Michael Hallsworth’s tax letter studies, which reinforced the need for regular and rigorous research from context to context.
We were pleased to be conducting our discussion with David from Brown University, where he very recently assumed a post as an adjunct professor and has been tasked with establishing and directing a new center that will support applied public policy research with state and local governments. There is so much more to come from David Yokum!
Of course, we ended our discussion on music and we laughed our way through comments about Eddie Vedder to South African pop artist Mathew Mole and into the lost art of making a mixtape. Today, music is curated digitally, created by computers observing our likes and dislikes. We don’t even need to select individual songs, just click a ‘create’ button. But in the days before digital music, mixtapes allowed listeners to enjoy their favorite album tracks in the order that they wanted to listen to them. They were used at parties or for private consumption. And, in some cases, mixtapes were created as love letters – providing that special someone with a curated musical story of how you felt about him or her.
As technology changes, the world changes with it. For better or for worse, our human brains are huffing to keep up with that changing world. Our biases appear to be stuck in the context of a world that existed not 4 years ago, but 40,000 years ago. As long as we have a gap between our brain’s ability to process the contemporary world, we need science to help us understand it. We need people like David Yokum to do the hard work of figuring out how to apply the behavioral sciences to government.
Yes, science is hard. And we have David Yokum to thank for contributing to a better understanding of how governmental policies can improve our daily lives.
PS: As of this writing, Behavioral Grooves is now listened to in more than 85 countries. We are pleased to have listeners around this wonderful world. Thank you all for sharing in our journey.
Grooving on Waiting: Why we don't like to be idleBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
While Kurt and Tim were waiting for a podcast interviewee to log in recently, we decided to discuss the behavioral and psychological aspects of waiting. What do you do when you have unplanned time on your hands? Some people call it marginal time and others wasted time. But much of how we feel about slack in our schedule is dependent on how we frame it.
We reference Christopher Hsee's work on idleness to answer the question, "Why do we feel better taking back roads to avoid freeway traffic when we reach our destination at the same time?" Whether or not we know how long the wait is going to be didn't seem to make much difference to Kurt and Tim. We want to maximize its value in our lives. And although there is plenty of research on tolerable waiting times for different activities (longer for airport security lines, shorter for retail check-out lines, even shorter for web page refresh), we focused on what to do when the wait comes to us.
We believe that being thoughtful about how the time gets used is the first and most important element to making the most of waiting. Using your deliberate (System 1) thinking to make a decision about how you're going to spend that time is the best thing you can do. Tim relates how he was stuck in the doctor's office recently and a person on the staff let him know the doctor was running "at least 20 minutes late." That was the trigger for the choice. What to do? Tim chose to meditate and was unsure how long the waiting went on because the meditation was so good.
Koen Smets: The Altered ChordBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
Koen Smets is not a household name, but it ought to be. Pronounced KEWN, our guest in this episode is Belgian by birth and has lived in the UK for more than 20 years. He is a founding partner of CareIQ, a firm that offers innovative concepts for improving the healthcare market, but spends most of his time with Altered Chord, a behavioral sciences firm near and dear to his heart. And he is an avid writer on the topics related to applied behavioral science. Koen believes that human behavior is complex and simplified conclusions about why we do what we do are just plain lazy. We applaud his rigor!
It’s best to start learning about Koen from his own words: “A widespread misconception is that biases explain or even produce behavior. They don’t – they describe behavior…biases evolved with us, and for good reasons…”
Kurt and Tim came to follow Koen because of his provocative tweets and thoughtful writings about behavioral economics. His witty insights and unique perspective on the field bring a vital voice to how best to apply behavioral sciences to a variety of real-world situations. And for Koen, like us, it all starts with scientific study.
So our conversation started with discussing an issue on the minds of those who follow the world of behavioral sciences today: the so-called replication crisis. We got into Koen’s thoughts on why it’s no crisis at all, even in light of John Bargh’s famous study on priming failing to replicate. Koen explained that researchers are stumbling into the vagaries of how the complexities of context influence the execution of studies. In fact, he went on, the “replication crisis” really points to the need for organizations to test and identify the most successful practices for their own culture. Otherwise, beware of the consequences.
This led to a discussion about how the environment influences our decision making. We used the environment as a natural platform to discuss the actual differences, and similarities, between life in Europe and the US as well as the differences between behavioral economics and neoclassical economics. We discussed how the economics debate is a false dichotomy – or at least it should be – because decision making in the real world is complex. A decision will be influenced by our worldview, which is influenced by who we socialize with, which is influenced by where we work, which is influenced by our education, which is influenced by our family of origin, which is influenced by where we were born! Context contributes to a great deal of the way our decision making is manifest in the world.
We brought up some of the papers Koen’s written such as “There's more to behavioral economics than biases” and one of our all-time favorites, “An accidental behavioral economist on holiday” This last article shares insights on how taking a holiday in the same location every year allows the vacationer to notice changes more easily than if you lived there every day. Koen’s annual visit to a seaside resort reveals many examples of behavioral science. He points out what happens to surrounding businesses when a patisserie closes, how the cost of street parking in the downtown area affects traffic and shopping, and how reputation and risk (and their relative efficiencies and costs) go together in a small village by the sea. These examples are microcosmic examples of how our we behave in global markets.
Of course, we ended up with a conversation about music in which we talked about jazz and discussed the altered chord as a way to break up the predictable sounds of common tonality. Koen’s actively involved in music and revealed how music is a terrific metaphor for real life, especially in what he called “symphonic jazz.” In symphonic jazz, Koen describes how two disciplines collide to allow space for both a meaningful and agreed-upon direction with coordination of the various people who will do the work (the symphonic side). And it also fosters space for improvisation while the work is being done (the jazz side).
We even had the opportunity to integrate a brief discussion of religion, Richard Dawkins and the irreverent cartoon series South Park around the Atheist War storyline. Definately one of the best podcasts we did in 2018!
We hope you enjoy this as much as we did.
Caroline Webb: Having a Good DayBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
Caroline Webb is an overachiever. Oxford, Cambridge, Levy Economics Institute, McKinsey & Associates, Carnegie Hall performer, Davos World Economic Forum speaker. It’s an inspiring list of accomplishments. Even with all of those remarkable feats, our discussion focused on Caroline as the author of How to Have a Good Day, a terrific how-to guide that has been published in more than 60 countries.
In our discussion, we covered how the book is written – with lots of juicy details in the narrative supported by end-of-chapter bullet points – and how critical that format is to the way the reader comprehends it. Frankly, the format makes it easy to read and to grasp and to put into action. It’s written in a very purposeful manner and it pays off: the author’s effort translates into the reader’s ease of application.
A central theme to the book is the Personal Why. Caroline discussed with Kurt and Tim how important it is to set up your personal WHY for work so that your daily efforts have meaning. Caroline gave great examples of how we can find our personal WHY in virtually every job. We talked about why it’s important to have a Devil’s Advocate in your life to question and challenge from time to time. The Devil’s Advocate can help keep our deliberate (a.k.a. System 2) thinking engaged, so we don’t rely on our low-calorie automatic (a.k.a. System 1) thinking all the time.
Caroline comes from a long line of musicians but rarely has a chance to talk about that history, so we found it extra fun to engage her in a romp down Music Lane. She admitted that one of her most common interview questions is spurred by her comments in the book about using Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” as a priming mechanism. But reminded us that’s just ONE song! In fact, she has dozens of different priming soundtracks for different effects and different situations. We even brought our priming discussion back to socks. Go figure. The musical discussion went off in the direction of piano at an early age and even a baccalaureate in music and ending up with a chat about the Cecilia Chorus and performing regularly at Carnegie Hall, right in her new hometown of New York City.
She shared with us how she took an economics course in secondary school and was tricked into liking it because the professor made it more of a course on human behavior, philosophy and politics than a course about supply and demand curves. The human behavior aspect of the course became more prevalent as she moved through her amazing career and was one of the many catalysts she experienced to write the book.
Across her career, Caroline has worked in a wide variety of corporate and governmental settings but in recent years, she’s moved away from the heavy lifting of policy work. Today, most of her work focuses on individuals and she spoke to the joy she finds in working with all sorts of teams. Her focus on individual, specific goals gets reinforced regularly with feedback that getting clear on what you want to accomplish could be one of the most important things you can do in your life.
Once you have a clear design for what you want to accomplish, she encourages us to create daily hacks to make each day a good day. It’s in the regular application of small tweaks that we find the days get better and add to the creation of a better life – at whatever situation you’re in. And she’s quick to admit to using her own advice.
We ended our discussion with an energetic dive into the peak-end effect. Fortunately, our memories are not digital video recorders that capture every single thing. We simply come away with the highlights – but which ones we remember can be influenced by how we process them. Even though not every moment in every day is wonderful, we can find things that we did well or worked well to add to our memories. “I remembered my umbrella today!” is a simple acknowledgment that can reinforce our good-day approach and positively impact our memories. We can also use the peak-end effect when ending a meeting with a short reflection on the one thing that went well during that meeting. Or end our workday with a reflection on what one thing worked well, didn’t go haywire, or simply went as planned. And we could even end our day – before we sleep – with gratitude for our situation, whatever that may be. Personal gratitude is something Caroline does not want us to overlook.
It’s worth noting that when we talked about How to Have a Good Day, Caroline said that it was the hardest project she’s ever taken on. In fact, it is literally the result of her lifetime’s worth of research and experience. She even admitted that she doesn’t see another book – at least like this one – in her future. We agree that How to Have a Good Day is rich with wisdom beyond the bullet points and we recommend it to our listeners.
Grooving on Books: Our Top 10 Recommended books on Behavioral ScienceBehavioral Grooves Podcast add
In this grooving session, Kurt and Tim discuss books that they believe every behavioral science nerd should (yes: should) read. Kurt was limited to 5 picks, but didn't stay in the lines, and Tim was also limited to 5 picks and did stay in the lines. (#justsayin) We began the conversation with 4 classics that are simply must-reads, then dug into our individual lists. After brief reviews on our collective top 10, we highlighted several books (and an article) that are undeniably instrumental to our fascination with behavioral sciences. Listen to the podcast to get the discussion; however, to save some time searching, below are the titles (with links) we discussed.
Mentions: Blink, Tipping Point, and Outliers (Gladwell), Drive (Pink), Power of Habit (Duhigg), The Righteous Mind (Haidt), Stumbling on Happiness (Gilbert), The Happiness Advantage (Achor), Pre-Suasion (Cialdini), The Art of Thinking Clearly (Dobelli), Priceless (Poundstone), Brain Rules (Medina), Rebel Talent (Gino), Emotionomics and Body of Truth (Hill), Sway (Brafman Brothers), Freakonomics (Levitt & Dubner), Descartes Error (Damasio).
Article Not To Miss: “Labor Supply of New York City Cab Drivers: One Day at a Time,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, pages 407-441, May 1997 (Camerer, Babcock, Loewenstein & Thaler).
Please feel free to leave a review and if you want, call it one of the best podcasts of 2018 (or not)!
Leaving the Matrix: Annie Duke and Insights into how you can improve your thinking!Behavioral Grooves Podcast add
Annie Duke’s latest book, Thinking in Bets, Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts, is a masterful mash-up of her life as a researcher, poker player and charitable organization founder. In it, she explores new ideas on how to make better decisions. Our interview with her expanded beyond the book and we talked extensively about probabilistic thinking and having people hold us accountable for our decision making. As expected, our interview covered an eclectic mix of behavioral biases, sociology, language development and, of without fail, music.
We noted some remarkable researchers including Anna Dreber, Phil Tetlock, Barb Miller, Stuart Firestein and Jonathan Haidt. We went deep into Annie’s personal history with her mentor Lila Gleitman and their work on Syntactic Bootstrapping, with the help of Donald Duck. Our music discussion included Jack White, Willie Nelson, Jonathan Richman, Prince, Alex Chilton and the Violent Femmes. If you find any of these names unfamiliar, we urge you to check them out.
We used the movie The Matrix and the blue pill/red pill metaphor for looking at the world as accurate vs. inaccurate, rather than right or wrong. We discussed how tribes can offer us distinctiveness and belongingness but also confine us with the tribe’s sometimes negative influences. We also examined learning pods and how they can be used to keep our decisions more in line with reality. ----more----Because this is a lengthy discussion we share the following to help you navigate if you’re interested in specific topics (Hour:Minute:Second). We sincerely hope you’ll take time to listen to the entire discussion – it’s both fun and insightful – but we also understand that life can get busy.
- Red Pill / Blue Pill begins at 00:07:40
- Tribes begins at 00:11:36
- Learning groups begins at 00:31:08
- Discussion of Lila Gleitman begins at 1:00:55
- Syntactic Bootstrapping begins at 1:05:36
- Jack White begins at 1:17:30
If you like this episode, please forward it on to a friend or colleague and help Kurt win his bet with Tim for who pays the donation to How I Decide. You can find more information on or donate to this wonderful non-profit at www.howidecide.org.