Behavioral economists study human errors. People don’t always make the best choices for themselves, so there’s good reason to doubt whether they will always make the best choices for others.
If you’ve ever received a useless gadget, a horrendous tie or some kind of bowl, you’ll know that when people buy Christmas presents, they can blunder badly. Chances are pretty good that whatever you end up getting people this year, and however hard you try, some of your friends and family members aren’t going to think that the gift is worth what you paid for it.
University of Minnesota economist Joel Waldfogel, author of “Scroogenomics,” finds that Americans spend about $65 billion on winter holiday presents every year -- and that many of those billions are simply wasted, because a lot of people don’t much like what they get. Typically the value of a gift, to the recipient, is about 20 percent lower than its cost. He describes the holiday season as “an orgy of value destruction.”
Harvard Law Professor and former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass R. Sunstein visits the National Constitution Center to debut his latest book Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas—a collection of 11 essays that touch on a wide range of political, social, and judicial topics including: climate change, same-sex marriage, animal rights, religious freedom, gender equality, and of course, conspiracy theory.
La nuova strategia di comunicazione di massa si basa su una "spinta gentile" per indirizzare cittadini e consumatori. È poco intrusiva, ma molto efficace. Lo chiamano "nudge", ovvero "spinta gentile", e viene raffigurato con un’immagine paternalistica: un elefante che, con la proboscide, spinge il suo cucciolo riottoso. Ecco: immaginate che il pachiderma sia lo Stato e il cucciolo siamo tutti noi, i cittadini. Perché forse ancora non lo sapete, ma da qualche tempo è di gran moda il "nudging": una nuova strategia di comunicazione di massa, adottata da Barack Obama nella sua campagna elettorale, da David Cameron e da Angela Merkel per indirizzare i cittadini verso le decisioni che il governo reputa migliori per salute, benessere, gestione del denaro. Servendosi di uno staff composto da economisti comportamentali, antropologi, sociologi e neuroscienziati, che studia le tecniche per influenzare silenziosamente la popolazione nelle scelte. Il nudging è già stato utilizzato, soprattutto in Inghilterra, per convincere i cittadini a non ricorrere al pronto soccorso per ogni minimo malessere, rendendo così più funzionale quel servizio per i casi gravi e veramente urgenti. Ma anche a pagare le tasse: attraverso un semplice cambiamento di tecnica nella scrittura delle lettere di sollecito spedite in prossimità della scadenza. Invece di "hai pagato le tasse?", nella lettera spedita dal fisco britannico è comparsa l’affermazione: "La maggior parte dei cittadini con la tua stessa aliquota ha già pagato".
CASS SUNSTEIN ’75, J.D. ’78, has been regarded as one of the country’s most influential and adventurous legal scholars for a generation. His scholarly articles have been cited more often than those of any of his peers ever since he was a young professor. At 60, now Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, he publishes significant books as often as many productive academics publish scholarly articles—three of them last year. In each, Sunstein comes across as a brainy and cheerful technocrat, practiced at thinking about the consequences of rules, regulations, and policies, with attention to the linkages between particular means and ends. Drawing on insights from cognitive psychology as well as behavioral economics, he is especially focused on mastering how people make significant choices that promote or undercut their own well-being and that of society, so government and other institutions can reinforce the good and correct for the bad in shaping policy.
This English version of a preface to the forthcoming Japanese edition of ET&CS:M identifies issues raised in my 2005 book on which I would place greater or different emphasis in light of developments in economics, cognitive science and the
At the end of a hectic six days, Simon Ruda and Stewart Kettle took theirdata to the superintendent of the Guatemalan tax authority. The two men had spent several weeks redrafting letters sent to citizens, reminding them to pay tax. It looked like their efforts had generated a significant windfall for the cash-strapped Guatemalan administration. “When we showed these results to the superintendent he was just so happy,” says Kettle.
Ruda and Kettle work for the Behavioural Insights Team, a social purpose company that began life as part of the UK Prime Minister’s Office. But its services were in such demand that it was spun out of government to become an independent company to allow it to expand more rapidly — the first time this has happened to a Whitehall policy team. The unit specialises in delivering ‘nudges’: tiny changes in how governments operate that make it more likely their citizens will behave in a certain way.
For example, if a government wanted to promote healthy eating, it could introduce a law that everyone had to eat 100 grams of carrot every day. Or it could reduce any sales tax on carrots, encouraging people to buy them.
But research has shown that another approach is often cheaper and more effective: arrange things so the behaviour you want to encourage is the easiest and most attractive option. In our healthy eating example, this might mean nudging children towards eating vegetables by simply asking schools to place them in front of the chips when serving lunch.
Daniel Kahneman, Dan Lovallo und Olivier Sibony haben daher in der aktuellen Ausgabe des Harvard Businessmanager eine Checkliste zusammengestellt (S. 22-29), wie sich diese Wahrnehmungszerrungen vermeiden lassen. Diese Checkliste umfasst 12 Aktionen. Im Originalbeitrag werden diese Aktionen als Fragen formuliert und mit konkreten Fallbeispielen zu einer Preissenkungs-, Investitions- und Akquisitionsentscheidung illustriert.
Hier sollen die Aktionen in ihrer grundlegenden psychologischen Wirkrichtung kurz angerissen werden. Sie können von einer Führungskraft eingesetzt werden, die eine Entscheidungsvorlage ihres Arbeitsteams bewerten will.
Abstract: “Partyism” is a form of hostility and prejudice that operates across political lines. For example, some Republicans have an immediate aversive reaction to Democrats, and some Democrats have the same aversive reaction to Republicans, so much so that they would discriminate against them in hiring or promotion decisions, or in imposing punishment. If elected officials suffer from partyism – perhaps because their constituents do – they will devalue proposals from the opposing party and refuse to enter into agreements with its members, even if their independent assessment, freed from partyism, would be favorably disposed toward those proposals or agreements. In the United States, partyism has been rapidly growing, and it is quite pronounced – in some ways, more so than racism. It also has a series of adverse effects on governance itself, above all by making it difficult to enact desirable legislation and thus disrupting the system of separation of powers. Under circumstances of severe partyism, relatively broad delegations of authority to the executive branch, and a suitably receptive approach to the Chevron principle, have considerable appeal as ways of allowing significant social problems to be addressed. This conclusion bears on both domestic issues and foreign affairs.
Wer sich für den Insellappen – den Lobus insularis interessiert, muss ihn erst einmal finden: verdeckt vom Temporallappen und den Opercula – wörtlich den „Deckeln“ – des Frontal- und des Parietallappens ist er von außen nicht zu sehen. Johann Christian Reil (1759-1813) entdeckte ihn erst 1796. Nun ja, er beschrieb ihn erstmals 1796. Aber „Entdeckung“ passt so schön zu der Bezeichnung, die dem Lobus insularis im berühmten anatomischen Grundlagenwerk Gray´s Anatomy zuteil wurde: „The Island of Reil“.
Alessandro Cerboni's insight:
Sind neurowissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse hilfreich für die Forschung über Heuristiken?
There is a paucity of experimental data addressing how peers influence adolescent risk-taking. Here, we examined peer effects on risky decision-making in adults and adolescents using a virtual social context that enabled experimental control over the peer “interactions.” 40 adolescents (age 11–18) and 28 adults (age 20–38) completed a risk-taking (Wheel of Fortune) task under four conditions: in private; while being observed by (fictitious) peers; and after receiving ‘risky’ or ‘safe’ advice from the peers. For high-risk gambles (but not medium-risk or even gambles), adolescents made more risky decisions under peer observation than adults. Adolescents, but not adults, tended to resist ‘safe’ advice for high-risk gambles. Although both groups tended to follow ‘risky’ advice for high-risk gambles, adults did so more than adolescents. These findings highlight the importance of distinguishing between the effects of peer observation and peer advice on risky decision-making.
Abstract Recently, we demonstrated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that the outcome of free decisions can be decoded from brain activity several seconds before reaching conscious awareness. Activity patterns in anterior frontopolar cortex (BA 10) were temporally the first to carry intention-related information and thus a candidate region for the unconscious generation of free decisions. In the present study, the original paradigm was replicated and multivariate pattern classification was applied to functional images of frontopolar cortex, acquired using ultra-high field fMRI at 7 Tesla. Here, we show that predictive activity patterns recorded before a decision was made became increasingly stable with increasing temporal proximity to the time point of the conscious decision. Furthermore, detailed questionnaires exploring subjects' thoughts before and during the decision confirmed that decisions were made spontaneously and subjects were unaware of the evolution of their decision outcomes. These results give further evidence that FPC stands at the top of the prefrontal executive hierarchy in the unconscious generation of free decisions.
I just came across a very interesting bit of research, A Guide to Paradigmatic Self-Marginalization: Lessons for Post-Keynesian Economists by Leonhard Dobusch and Jakob Kapeller; you can find it here.
I realize this is not going to be of interest to many of our readers, as it is a sort of “inside the halls of academia” analysis. What the authors do is to look at the strategies of editors running the top orthodox and the top heterodox journals in economics. Actually it might be a bit unfair to label these strategies, as the authors do not mean to imply that editorial policy knowingly pursues the strategies. Instead, the article looks at the ex post results.
In a nutshell, what they find is that the articles published in orthodox journals do not cite the research published in heterodox journals. NO SURPRISE THERE! But they also find some startling self-defeating practices pursued by heterodox journals.
Let’s first deal with cross-citation between orthodox and heterodox articles, then turn to the problems with within heterodoxy.
Professor Richard Thaler, Chicago Booth Business School. Nudge and Beyond - Behavioural Science, Public Policy and Knowing What Works. Richard gives a presentation on his work since he published his seminal book Nudge and also how the world has changed. Event held at the British Academy, 14 June 2012...
The music business was killed by Napster; movie theaters were derailed by digital streaming; traditional magazines are in crisis mode--yet in this digital information wild west: academic journals and the publishers who own them are posting higher profits than nearly any sector of commerce.
Academic publisher Elsevier, which owns a majority of the prestigious academic journals, has higher operating profits than Apple. In 2013, Elsevier posted 39 percentprofits, according to Heather Morrison, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa's School of Information Studies in contrast to the 37 percent profit that Apple displayed.
This lucrative nature of academic publishing comes at a price--and that weight falls on the shoulders of the full higher education community which is already bearing the burden of significantly decreasing academic budgets. "A large research university will pay between $3-3.5 million a year in academic subscription fees --the majority of which goes to for-profit academic publishers," says Sam Gershman, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT who assumes his post as an assistant professor at Harvard next year. In contrast to the exorbitant prices for access, the majority of academic journals are produced, reviewed, and edited on a volunteer basis by academics who take part in the tasks for tenure and promotion.
Study on rituals before eating reveals why they should be observed.
Every family has their Christmas rituals: it may be who hands out the presents, what songs are played or sung, what is watched on TV or where you sit at the table. While these may all have special significance as making it your particular Christmas, are they just regular routines that have evolved over the years or do they have a psychological impact?
In fact, a recent study finds, rituals performed before eating or drinking can indeed enhance the pleasure we get (Vohs et al., 2013).
That’s what a new study, from researchers at France’s University of Grenoble, found in their new study titled “Some Like It Hot.” To test this correlation, they recruited 114 men aged 18 to 44 and asked them whether they preferred spicy food or not, then they gave the men a meal of mashed potatoes and provided them with either a spicy pepper sauce or regular table salt (a control seasoning). The men were then asked to report how spicy they felt their meals were, and the researchers measured levels of testosterone in their saliva. Men with the most testosterone were also the ones who liked the spicier potatoes.
“These results are in line with a lot of research showing a link between testosterone and financial, sexual, and behavioral risk-taking,” Laurent Begue, an author of the study, toldThe Telegraph. “In this case, it applies to risk-taking in taste.”
“We present an EEG study of two music improvisation experiments. Professional musicians with high level of improvisation skills were asked to perform music either according to notes (composed music) or in improvisation. Each piece of music was performed in two different modes: strict mode and “let-go” mode. Synchronized EEG data was measured from both musicians and listeners. We used one of the most reliable causality measures: conditional Mutual Information from Mixed Embedding (MIME), to analyze directed correlations between different EEG channels, which was combined with network theory to construct both intra-brain and cross-brain networks. Differences were identified in intra-brain neural networks between composed music and improvisation and between strict mode and “let-go” mode. Particular brain regions such as frontal, parietal and temporal regions were found to play a key role in differentiating the brain activities between different playing conditions. By comparing the level of degree centralities in intra-brain neural networks, we found a difference between the response of musicians and the listeners when comparing the different playing conditions.”
Can quantum probability provide a new direction for cognitive modeling?
Abstract: Classical (Bayesian) probability (CP) theory has led to an influential research tradition for modeling cognitive processes.
Cognitive scientists have been trained to work with CP principles for so long that it is hard even to imagine alternative ways to formalize probabilities. However, in physics, quantum probability (QP) theory has been the dominant probabilistic approach for nearly 100 years. Could QP theory provide us with any advantages in cognitive modeling as well? Note first that both CP and QP theory share the fundamental assumption that it is possible to model cognition on the basis of formal, probabilistic principles. But why consider a QP approach? The answers are that (1) there are many well-established empirical findings (e.g., from the influential Tversky, Kahneman research tradition) that are hard to reconcile with CP principles; and (2) these same findings have natural and straightforward explanations with quantum principles. In QP theory, probabilistic assessment is often strongly context- and orderdependent, individual states can be superposition states (that are impossible to associate with specific values), and composite systems can be entangled (they cannot be decomposed into their subsystems). All these characteristics appear perplexing from a classical perspective. However, our thesis is that they provide a more accurate and powerful account of certain cognitive processes. We first introduce QP theory and illustrate its application with psychological examples. We then review empirical findings that motivate the use of quantum theory in cognitive theory, but also discuss ways in which QP and CP theories converge. Finally, we consider the implications of a QP theory approach to cognition for human rationality.
Athens, Ga. - Although choosing to do something because the perceived benefit outweighs the financial cost is something people do daily, little is known about what happens in the brain when a person makes these kinds of decisions. Studying how these cost-benefit decisions are made when choosing to consume alcohol, University of Georgia associate professor of psychology James MacKillop identified distinct profiles of brain activity that are present when making these decisions.
"We were interested in understanding how the brain makes decisions about drinking alcohol. Particularly, we wanted to clarify how the brain weighs the pros and cons of drinking," said MacKillop, who directs the Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology Laboratory in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Am Massachusetts Institute of Technology untersuchen Wissenschaftler, was sich im Hirn ändert, wenn verfeindete Menschen sich näher kommen. Interventionen bei Konflikten sollen so künftig wissenschaftlich bewertet werden können. Die Empathie gegenüber Menschen der gegnerischen Seite hält sich in Grenzen. Wo im Gehirn der Mangel an Mitgefühl verursacht wird, steht allerdings noch nicht fest. Auch Vorurteile gegenüber der feindlichen Gruppe spielen in Konflikten eine Rolle. Sie werden offensichtlich im Precuneus, einem Teil des Parietallappens verarbeitet.
In two replication studies we examined response bias and sequential dependencies in binary decisions. We applied a linear classifier (SVM) to predict spontaneous decisions as well as hidden intentions from responses in preceding trials and achieve similar prediction accuracies as multivariate pattern classification of voxel activities in frontopolar cortex. We discuss implications of our findings and suggest a simple way to improve analyses of fMRI BOLD signals to contain effects of sequential dependencies between trials.
Im Alltag glauben wir, uns meist völlig frei entscheiden zu können. Doch offenbar gehen neuronale Prozesse den bewussten Beschlüssen voraus und lassen uns scheinbar keine Wahl. Ist Willensfreiheit also nichts als eine schöne Illusion?
Philosophen haben verschiedene Kriterien herausgefiltert, die erfüllt sein müssen, damit man von Willensfreiheit sprechen könne. Zum einen das Prinzip des Anderskönnens: Die Person muss eine Wahl zwischen verschiedenen Alternativen haben und hätte sich auch anders entscheiden können. Zum zweiten das Prinzip der Urheberschaft: Die Person selbst muss die Wahl zwischen den Alternativen treffen können. Zum dritten wichtig sei das Prinzip der Autonomie: Die Wahl muss autonom und selbständig, also nicht unter Zwang erfolgen.
Nicht alle Philosophen und Naturwissenschaftler halten alle drei Kriterien für notwendig. Die philosophische Position des Kompatibilismus geht davon aus, dass Willensfreiheit und (naturwissenschaftlicher) Determinismus kompatibel sind. Sie verlangt von einer freien Entscheidung lediglich, dass sie von der Person selbst und autonom gefällt wird.
Over the past two months, the National Hockey League has experienced a baffling outbreak of mumps. Thirteen players are said to have it, and there's no telling when the outbreak will end. It is a story that seems to have stepped from the mid-20th century.
Before 1967, about 180,000 Americans had mumps every year. Sometimes the number was well over 200,000. While the illness is only rarely fatal, it is worse than unpleasant, producing fever, headache, fatigue and loss of appetite.
By 2012, the number of reported cases shrunk to 229. Mumps has hardly been wiped out, but in terms of public health, the improvement has been nothing short of spectacular.