A third of the UK population spent at least one year in relative income poverty between 2011 and 2014. Traditionally policymakers and anti-poverty organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) have focused on boosting people’s economic capital (e.g., income) and human capital (e.g., educational attainment) to reduce poverty. While investments in these areas have led to important gains in opportunity for many Britons, emerging research from behavioural science shows that other less tangible resources, which derive from psychological, social and cultural processes, significantly influence people’s ability to overcome disadvantage. BIT was commissioned by JRF to examine the role of individual decisions in shaping people’s experiences of poverty in the UK and to identify the drivers of these decisions. This reflects JRF’s interest in looking beyond traditional, structural drivers of poverty. Our findings, based on a review of the published literature, are presented in a new report, launched today. Building on the concepts of economic and human capital, our report proposes a more expansive capital-based model of poverty and decision-making, encompassing environmental, social, character and cognitive capital (Figure 1). For example, an individual may use their social capital (e.g., trusted social connections) to identify labour market opportunities; but being low in environmental capital (e.g., overcrowded housing) may reduce opportunities for parents to talk with their child in ways that build their human capital (e.g., speech development).
The present study used positron emission tomography (PET) to examine the cerebral activity pattern associated with auditory imagery for familiar tunes. Subjects either imagined the continuation of nonverbal tunes cued by their first few notes, listened to a short sequence of notes as a control task, or listened and then reimagined that short sequence. Subtraction of the activation in the control task from that in the real-tune imagery task revealed primarily right-sided activation in frontal and superior temporal regions, plus supplementary motor area (SMA). Isolating retrieval of the real tunes by subtracting activation in the reimagine task from that in the real-tune imagery task revealed activation primarily in right frontal areas and right superior temporal gyrus. Subtraction of activation in the control condition from that in the reimagine condition, intended to capture imagery of unfamiliar sequences, revealed activation in SMA, plus some left frontal regions. We conclude that areas of right auditory association cortex, together with right and left frontal cortices, are implicated in imagery for familiar tunes, in accord with previous behavioral, lesion and PET data. Retrieval from musical semantic memory is mediated by structures in the right frontal lobe, in contrast to results from previous studies implicating left frontal areas for all semantic retrieval. The SMA seems to be involved specifically in image generation, implicating a motor code in this process.
White House releases report on applying behavioral science to government policy The White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST), a subgroup of the Office of Science and Technology Policy that has been working to make government more effective, recently released its second report. This might seem like quiet, behind-the-scenes-work, but it can make a…
THE SOCIAL AND NATURAL SCIENCES DIFFER IN THIS REGARD We have talked in the past about how economics does not cite other fields much (see Pieters and Baumgartner, 2002). Are authors rewarded for writing papers this way? In social science, the answer seems to be yes. A recent article in Plos One “The Impact of …
By guiding the design of customer interactions, the principles of behavioral science offer a simple, low-cost route to improved customer satisfaction. Service operations seem a natural setting for the ideas of behavioral science. Every year, companies have thousands, even millions, of interactions with human beings—also known as customers. Their perceptions of an interaction, behavioral scientists tell us, are influenced powerfully by considerations such as its sequence of painful and pleasurable experiences. Companies care deeply about the quality of those interactions and invest heavily in effective Web sites and in responsive, simplified call centers. Yet the application of behavioral science to service operations seems spotty at best. Its principles have been implemented by relatively few companies, such as the telecommunications business, which found that giving customers some control over their service interactions by allowing them to schedule field service visits at specific times could make them more satisfied, even when they had to wait a week or longer. Many more companies ignore what makes people tick. Banks, for example, often disturb the customer experience by altering the menus on ATMs or the interactive-voice-response (IVR) systems in call centers. They fail to recognize the psychological discomfort customers experience when faced with unexpected changes.
Which is smarter—your head or your gut? It’s a familiar refrain: you’re getting too emotional. Try and think rationally. But is it always good advice? In this surprising book, Eyal Winter asks a simple question: why do we have emotions? If they lead to such bad decisions, why hasn’t evolution long since made emotions irrelevant? The answer is that, even though they may not behave in a purely logical manner, our emotions frequently lead us to better, safer, more optimal outcomes. In fact, as Winter discovers, there is often logic in emotion, and emotion in logic. For instance, many mutually beneficial commitments—such as marriage, or being a member of a team—are only possible when underscored by emotion rather than deliberate thought. The difference between pleasurable music and bad noise is mathematically precise; yet it is also something we feel at an instinctive level. And even though people are usually overconfident—how can we all be above average?—we often benefit from our arrogance. Feeling Smart brings together game theory, evolution, and behavioral science to produce a surprising and very persuasive defense of how we think, even when we don’t.
A Nobel Prize winner and a leading behavioral economist offer common sense and counterintuitive insights on performance, collaboration, and innovation. The confluence of economics, psychology, game theory, and neuroscience has opened new vistas—not just on how people think and behave, but also on how organizations function. Over the past two decades, academic insight and real-world experience have demonstrated, beyond much doubt, that when companies channel their competitive and collaborative instincts, embrace diversity, and recognize the needs and emotions of their employees, they can reap dividends in performance.1 The pioneering work of Nobel laureate and Harvard professor Eric Maskin in mechanism design theory represents one powerful application. Combining game theory, behavioral economics, and engineering, his ideas help an organization’s leaders choose a desired result and then design game-like rules that can realize it by taking into account how different independently acting, intelligent people will behave. The work of Hebrew University professor Eyal Winter challenges and advances our understanding of what “intelligence” really means. In his latest book, Feeling Smart: Why Our Emotions Are More Rational Than We Think (PublicAffairs, 2014), Winter shows that although emotions are thought to be at odds with rationality, they’re actually a key factor in rational decision making.2 In this discussion, led by McKinsey partner Julia Sperling, a medical doctor and neuroscientist by training, and McKinsey Publishing’s David Schwartz, Maskin and Winter explore some of the implications of their work for leaders of all stripes.
Results of a new study challenge the traditional view of decision making. Choices, it is commonly understood, lead to action - but how does this happen in the brain? Intuitively, we first make a choice between the options. For example, when approaching a yellow traffic light, we need to decide either to hit the breaks or to accelerate the car. Next, the appropriate motor response is selected and carried out, in this case moving the foot to the left or to the right. $$!ad_code_content_spilt_video_ad!$$ Traditionally, it is assumed that separate brain regions are responsible for these stages. Specifically, it is assumed that the motor cortex carries out this final response selection without influencing the choice itself. Two Tübingen Neuroscientists, Anna-Antonia Pape and research group leader Markus Siegel of the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) and MEG Center, have found evidence that challenges this intuitive division between a 'deciding' and a 'responding' stage in decision making. The results of their study have been published in the latest Nature Communications. While recording brain activity using magnetoencephalography (MEG) to monitor activity in motor areas, Pape and Siegel set 20 human subjects the simple task of deciding whether or not a field of dots on a screen was slowly moving together. The subjects could respond "yes" or "no" by pressing a button with either their left or their right hand. The mapping from choice (yes/no) to response (left/right button) changed randomly on each trial, with a short cue telling subjects the current configuration. This ensured the participants' brains could not plan a motor response, i.e. the correct button press, during choice formation. Astonishingly, while the test subjects were able to press the 'correct' button most of the time, subjects still showed a strong tendency towards motor response alternation. In other words, they often simply pressed the button they had not pressed in the trial just prior to the current one. This tendency was pronounced enough to detract from subjects' overall decision task performance. In their MEG data, Pape and Siegel found a neural correlate of this tendency in the motor cortex itself. They showed that the upcoming motor decision can be predicted from the status of motor areas even before decision formation has begun. This pre-decisional motor activity to a large extent originates from the neural residue of the previous motor response. How often the subjects alternated between response alternatives is predicted by how pronounced the previous response's vestiges in the motor cortex still are. Together, these results suggest that the status of the motor cortex even before decision making can influence the formation of a given choice. These results challenge the traditional view of decision making. According to this view, decisions are formed in the prefrontal cortex and fronto-parietal cortex, brain regions that are associated with 'higher' brain functions that are essential for memory and problem solving. The motor cortex is seen as the structure merely executing the behaviour that those 'higher' brain regions have determined. Contrary to this view, Pape and Siegel's findings suggest that the motor cortex also plays a role in informing decision-based behaviour. Does that mean the way we respond to our environment is not a matter of choice after all? Do we just randomly 'decide' what to do based on the state our motor cortex happens to be in? Anna-Antonia Pape, who recorded and analysed the data, does not think so: "The effect is there, yes, but I wouldn't link it to the question of free will by any means! Higher brain areas are still very important for the decision making process, but now we know that motor areas can tip the scales." Source: Universitaet Tübingen
Sappiamo ancora chi siamo? C’è chi è magari americano da sette generazioni, ma vanta origini olandesi e porta un cognome italiano, e tuttavia non ha mai messo piede né ad Amsterdam né a Firenze. O l’ebreo che non entra in una sinagoga da decenni. E ancora, chi si vede etichettato come “suburbano”, ma lavora e trascorre il tempo libero in una grande città, e ci si vorrebbe anche trasferire. Se a ciò si aggiungono fattori quali la mobilità globale, le telecomunicazioni e la rete sempre più vasta dei social network, ne risulta che non è affatto semplice incasellare i cittadini americani in categorie rigide e unidimensionali. Il punto è che gli indicatori tradizionali non sono più adatti a definire la nostra identità. La difficoltà di capire e descrivere una società complessa
This volume brings together essays by different generations of Italian thinkers which address, whether in affirmative, problematizing or genealogical registers, the entanglement of philosophical speculation and political proposition within recent Italian thought. Nihilism and biopolitics, two concepts that have played a very prominent role in theoretical discussions in Italy, serve as the thematic foci around which the collection orbits, as it seeks to define the historical and geographical particularity of these notions as well their continuing impact on an international debate. The volume also covers the debate around ‘weak thought’ (pensiero debole), the feminist thinking of sexual difference, the re-emergence of political anthropology and the question of communism. The contributors provide contrasting narratives of the development of post-war Italian thought and trace paths out of the theoretical and political impasses of the present—against what Negri, in the text from which the volume takes its name, calls ‘the Italian desert’.
Abstract: We propose a theory of strategic voting in multi-winner elections with approval balloting: A fixed number M of candidates are to be elected; each voter votes for as many candidates as she wants; the M candidates with the most votes are elected. We assume that voter preferences are separable and that there exists a tiny probability that any vote might be misrecorded. Best responses involve voting by pairwise comparisons. Two candidates play a critical role: the weakest expected winner and the strongest expected loser. Expected winners are approved if and only if they are preferred to the strongest expected loser and expected losers are approved if and only if they are preferred to the weakest expected winner. At equilibrium, if any, a candidate is elected if and only if he is approved by at least half of the voters. With single-peaked preferences, an equilibrium always exists, in which the first M candidates according to the majority tournament relation are elected. The theory is tested on individual data from the 2011 Regional Government election in Zurich.
A neuroscientist explains the cognitive effects of high-intensity workouts.
When I run, I think about everything. My mind wanders here and there and by the time I’m done, it often feels like I’ve found solutions for every problem I’ve ever had. There’s likely some truth to that feeling, too: Brain-imaging studies have shown that after about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, activity in the brain’s “frontal executive network system” increases; this is the region of the brain associated with things like problem-solving, decision-making, and planning. It’s empirical evidence for something every runner already knows — that the activity can help you think through the things that are troubling you. It’s why I love it. It’s also why I hate it. Sometimes, I just want to shut my mind up and lock the world out, just for a little while. This year has been a long and weird one, and so I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I have somewhat recently embraced a rather specific new kind of workout: You could call it speedwork, or intervals, or the ridiculously named “fartlek” — in short, I am lately into running very, very fast. If long, slow runs provide the opportunity to think about everything, short, speedy runs give me, blessedly, a few brief moments to think about nothing. It’s like my body is working so hard that it requires the full attention of my mind, too. RELATED STORIES How Neuroscientists Explain the Mind-Clearing Magic of Running How Running and Meditation Change the Brains of the Depressed
Why You Should Bet Against Your Candidate When your favorite sports team is defeated, you’re disappointed, even dismayed. The same is true when your preferred political candidate doesn’t win. It hurts when your side loses. Fortunately, you can insure yourself against such unhappiness: just place a bet for your side to lose. This strategy, which…
Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and psychologist Gary Klein debate the power and perils of intuition for senior executives. For two scholars representing opposing schools of thought, Daniel Kahneman and Gary Klein find a surprising amount of common ground. Kahneman, a psychologist, won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002 for prospect theory, which helps explain the sometimes counterintuitive choices people make under uncertainty. Klein, a senior scientist at MacroCognition, has focused on the power of intuition to support good decision making in high-pressure environments, such as firefighting and intensive-care units. In a September 2009 American Psychology article titled “Conditions for intuitive expertise: A failure to disagree,” Kahneman and Klein debated the circumstances in which intuition would yield good decision making. In this interview with Olivier Sibony, a director in McKinsey’s Brussels office, and Dan Lovallo, a professor at the University of Sydney and an adviser to McKinsey, Kahneman and Klein explore the power and perils of intuition for senior executives.
Can the general public learn to deal with risk and uncertainty, or do authorities need to steer people’s choices in the right direction? Libertarian paternalists argue that results from psychological research show that our reasoning is systematically flawed and that we are hardly educable because our cognitive biases resemble stable visual illusions. For that reason, they maintain, authorities who know what is best for us need to step in and steer our behavior with the help of “nudges.” Nudges are nothing new, but justifying them on the basis of a latent irrationality is. In this article, I analyze the scientific evidence presented for such a justification. It suffers from narrow logical norms, that is, a misunderstanding of the nature of rational thinking, and from a confirmation bias, that is, selective reporting of research. These two flaws focus the blame on individuals’ minds rather than on external causes, such as industries that spend billions to nudge people into unhealthy behavior. I conclude that the claim that we are hardly educable lacks evidence and forecloses the true alternative to nudging: teaching people to become risk savvy.
Before doing so, executives should ask themselves two sets of questions. Good managers—even great ones—can make spectacularly bad choices. Some of them result from bad luck or poor timing, but a large body of research suggests that many are caused by cognitive and behavioral biases. While techniques to “debias” decision making do exist, it’s often difficult for executives, whose own biases may be part of the problem, to know when they are worth applying. In this article, we propose a simple, checklist-based approach that can help flag times when the decision-making process may have gone awry and interventions are necessary. Our early research, which we explain later, suggests that is the case roughly 75 percent of the time. Biases in action In our experience, two particular types of bias weigh heavily on the decisions of large corporations—confirmation bias and overconfidence bias. The former describes our unconscious tendency to attach more weight than we should to information that is consistent with our beliefs, hypotheses, and recent experiences and to discount information that contradicts them. Overconfidence bias frequently makes executives misjudge their own abilities, as well as the competencies of the business. It leads them to take risks they should not take, in the mistaken belief that they will be able to control outcomes. The combination of misreading the environment and overestimating skill and control can lead to dire consequences. Consider, for instance, a decision made by Blockbuster, the video-rental giant, in the spring of 2000. A promising start-up approached Blockbuster’s management with an offer to sell itself for $50 million and join forces to create a “click-and-mortar” video-rental model. Its name? Netflix. As a former Netflix executive recalled, Blockbuster “just about laughed [us] out of their office.”1 Netflix is now worth over $25 billion. Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and has since been liquidated.
Luisa Damiano (PhD in Epistemology of Complex Systems) is Associate Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of Messina (Italy), and Member of the Research Center on Complex Systems (CERCO) of the University of Bergamo (Italy), where she co-established the Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial Research Group (ESARG). Her main research fields are: - Epistemology of the Sciences of Complex Systems; - Epistemology of the Cognitive Sciences and Philosophy of Mind, with a focus on Cognitive Extension, Minimal Cognition, Inter-subjective Cognition, Embodiment and Enaction; - Philosophy of Biology, with a focus on Self-organization, Autopoiesis, Minimal Life, Origins of Life; - Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial, with a focus on the Synthetic Modeling of Life and Cognition, in particular in Synthetic Biology and in Cognitive, Developmental and Social Robotics. She worked on these topics within scientific teams, with which she is still collaborating, at the University of Rome Three, Italy (Origins of Life Group, SynthCells European Project), at the Ritsumeikan University of Kyoto, Japan (Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Empathy and Frontier Sciences and Artificial Empathy JSPS Projects), and at the University of Hertfordshire, UK (Adaptive Systems Research Group, Feelix Growing and Aliz-é European Projects). IT Luisa Damiano (dottorato di ricerca in Epistemologia dei sistemi complessi) è professore associato di Logica e Filosofia della Scienza presso l'Università di Messina (Italia), e membro del Centro di Ricerca sui Sistemi Complessi (CERCO) dell'Università degli Studi di Bergamo (Italia), dove ha co-fondato l'epistemologia delle scienze del gruppo di ricerca artificiale (ESARG). I suoi principali campi di ricerca sono: - Epistemologia delle Scienze dei Sistemi Complessi; - Epistemologia delle scienze cognitive e filosofia della mente, con particolare attenzione alla estensione cognitiva, la cognizione minimale, la cognizione intersoggettiva, l'incarnazione e l'enazione; - Filosofia della Biologia, con un focus sull'Auto-organizzazione, Autopoiesi, Vita minimale, origini della vita; - Epistemologia delle Scienze dell'artificiale, con un focus sulla modellazione sintetica della vita e cognizione, in particolare in biologia sintetica e nello Sviluppo cognitivo e sociale della robotica. Ha lavorato su questi temi all'interno di team scientifici, con la quale lei è ancora collabora, presso l'Università di Roma Tre, Italia (Origini del Gruppo Vita, SynthCells Progetto Europeo), presso l'Università Ritsumeikan di Kyoto, in Giappone (Graduate School of Nucleo Etica e Scienze di frontiera, l'empatia e delle Scienze di frontiera e artificiali Empatia JSP progetti), e presso l'Università di Hertfordshire, nel Regno Unito (Adaptive Systems Group Research, Feelix crescita e Progetti europei Aliz-e). Luisa Damiano https://www.linkedin.com/in/luisa-dam... Being Sapiens site www.beingsapiens.it
“Questa crisi era per gli economisti l’occasione di giustificare la loro ragione di essere, per noi scribacchini accademici era il momento di mostrare cosa sanno fare i nostri modelli e le nostre analisi”, ha scritto Paul Krugman, Premio Nobel per l’Economia. Se è così, l’occasione è stata clamorosamente perduta: nessuno ha visto arrivare la crisi, nessuno ha saputo come affrontarla, e dopo diversi anni, e molte tragedie personali e collettive, con la disoccupazione alle stelle e la recessione sempre in agguato, possiamo a buon diritto ripetere la sua domanda: come hanno fatto gli economisti a sbagliare in modo così grossolano? Il vero errore degli economisti: teorie belle e inutili Sgomberiamo subito il campo da un malinteso: il torto degli economisti non è non avere previsto l’anno della crisi o la prima grande società che sarebbe fallita. Sarebbe ingiusto e nello stesso tempo ingenuo attribuire loro questa colpa. Anche perché ne hanno una ben peggiore: non aver saputo adempiere alla loro funzione sociale una volta che la crisi ci ha fulminati. Non aver potuto giustificare la propria ragione d’essere portando soluzioni valide per reagire. Il sistema economico è gravemente malato ma loro non hanno la cura. Perché hanno scambiato la bellezza, il rigore formale e l’esattezza matematica delle loro teorie per verità. Sedotti dalla visione di mercati perfetti, senza bachi e attriti, e dalla grande unità formale della teoria che ne ‘spiega’ il funzionamento. Abbiamo dovuto scoprire a nostre spese che questa grandiosa teoria ‘esplicativa’ non è sufficiente; anzi, ottenebra.
Many real networks in nature and society share two generic properties: they are scale-free and they display a high degree of clustering. We show that these two features are the consequence of a hierarchical organization, implying that small groups of nodes organize in a hierarchical manner into increasingly large groups, while maintaining a scale-free topology. In hierarchical networks, the degree of clustering characterizing the different groups follows a strict scaling law, which can be used to identify the presence of a hierarchical organization in real networks. We find that several real networks, such as the Worldwideweb, actor network, the Internet at the domain level, and the semantic web obey this scaling law, indicating that hierarchy is a fundamental characteristic of many complex systems.
If there was any possible upside from the destruction stemming from the financial crisis and Great Recession it was that neoclassical economics’ intellectual hegemony began to be more seriously questioned. As such, the rising interest in complexity theory is a welcome development. Indeed, approaching economic policy from a complexity perspective promises significant improvements. However, this will only be the case if we avoid a Hayekian passivity grounded in the view that action is too risky given just how complex economic systems are. This would be a significant mistake for the risk of non-action in complex systems is often higher than the risk of action, especially if the latter is informed by a rigorous thinking grounded in robust argumentation. The flaws of neoclassical economics have long been pointed out, including its belief of the “economy as machine”, where, if policymakers pull a lever they will get an expected result. However, despite what Larry Summers has written, economics is not a science that applies for all times and places. It is a doctrine and as economies evolve so too should doctrines. After the Second World War, when the United States was shifting from what Michael Lind calls the second republic (the post-Civil War governance system) to the third republic (the post-New-Deal, Great Society governance structure), there was an intense intellectual debate about the economic policy path America should take.The neoclassical economic doctrine Is over. Evolution and complexity Is the future.
Un dilemma implicativo é una struttura cognitiva propria di sé (uno schema nucleare), nel quale il problema o il sintomo (il polo non desiderabile di un costrutto), é associato a caratteristiche positive e congruenti con la propria identità e l´abbandono del problema o del sintomo supporrebbe, d’accordo all’associazione di significati del dilemma, di lasciare la costruzione di sé con questi aspetti positivi e congruenti e ciò rappresenterebbe una minaccia per la propria identità.
Abstract: Traditionally, the virtue of democratic elections has been seen in their role as means of screening and sanctioning shirking public officials. This paper proposes a novel rationale for elections and political campaigns considering that candidates incur psychological costs of lying, in particular from breaking campaign promises. These non-pecuniary costs imply that campaigns influence subsequent behavior, even in the absence of reputational or image concerns. Our lab experiments reveal that promises are more than cheap talk. They influence the behavior of both voters and their representatives. We observe that the electorate is better off when their leaders are elected democratically rather than being appointed exogenously - but only in the presence of electoral campaigns. In addition, we find that representatives are more likely to serve the public interest when their approval rates are high. Altogether, our results suggest that elections and campaigns confer important benefits beyond their screening and sanctioning functions.
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