Does the Gambler's Fallacy Appear in Real-World, High-Stakes Decision Making?

BY: SYON BHANOT (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE) AND ZACH SPECTOR (BROWN UNIVERSITY, CLASS OF 2018)

Sitting in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, you feel some spare change clang around in your pocket. With nothing better to do, you decide to give a coin a few flips to see what happens. After tossing it into the air and clapping it onto the back of your hand five times, you record the following results: THTHT. Unamused by such reasonableness, you give it another go, flipping the coin another five times. This time, your eyes grow wide in response to the wildly different results: TTTTT. What are the odds?

Nudgespotting: Everyday Life in NYC

BY: DJ NERI (IDEAS42)

It’s impossible to live in New York City without experiencing the push and pull of influence. After all, one of NYC’s most famous destinations plants you in the center of an arena of advertisements. While some of these influences are merely annoyances or eyesores, others are more impactful. In this edition of Nudgespotting, I share four behavioral science insights in action from a typical day in the Big Apple.

Can We Nudge Parents to Read to Their Kids?

BY: SYON BHANOT (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE) & CHRISTOPHER ZHANG (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE, CLASS OF 2019)

Many of us have fond memories of our parents reading to us when we were young. In the moment, these reading sessions were an opportunity for us to bond with our moms and dads (and for them to get us to sleep!). But in an increasingly busy world, many parents have a hard time regularly engaging with their kids. This is most true for low-income parents, with evidence suggesting that wealthier parents spend more time engaging with their children, particularly when it comes to educational activities (Lareau 2003; Guryan, Hurst, and Kearney 2008; Kalil, Ryan, and Corey 2012). Why is this?

Why Don’t People Follow Through On Their Intent to Vaccinate?

By: Jaclyn Lefkowitz and Jess Leifer (ideas42)

Note: This post first appeared on the ideas42 blog

If you learned there was an easy, low-cost, and effective way to prevent sickness, would you be interested in it? Just one simple method for fewer sick days, fewer trips to the doctor, and better health – the flu shot. Yet less than 1 in 2 Americans get it every year, a rate that has been relatively stable since 2010. For a vaccine that is affordable and widely available, why are the rates so low? While some among us may explicitly choose not to get a vaccine, we suspect there’s more to the story.

Tales of choice architecture: The good (-intentioned), the bad, and the ugly

BY LINNEA GANDHI (TGG GROUP)

As a practitioner of behavioral science, I get pretty passionate – even emotional – about everyday choice architecture. In fact, more than once a week I encounter something that prompts me to say to my husband, “argh, this is terrible choice architecture,” to which he now invariably rolls his eyes. Which is why today I’m turning to you, clearly a far more appreciative audience, to share three tales of my recent run-ins with choice architecture: the Good (-intentioned), the Bad, and the Ugly.

Are Nudges Good? Prove It!

BY SYON BHANOT (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE) AND SHENSTONE HUANG (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE, CLASS OF 2016)

If you’re reading this, you probably like nudges. You probably think they are a terrific way to change behavior in ways that are socially beneficial. Think of the classic social information nudges used to encourage environmental conservation, like Opower’s household mailers (Home Energy Reports, or HERs, pictured below) showing homeowners how their electricity usage stacks up against their neighbors’. Evidence suggests that they are cheap, easy to understand, and reduce energy use (see Allcott, 2011). What’s not to like?

A Case of Decision-Making Under Uncertainty

(Or, how my husband and I spent our vacation developing decision aids)

By Linnea Gandhi (TGG Group)

 

At 4:30 AM on Sunday, January 24th, my husband and I faced one of the toughest decisions of our married lives:

Should we call United Airlines now and confirm one spot on the upgrade list, or take our chances later trying to persuading the airport representative to get us two spots, risking getting zero in the process?