Behaviour Economics

 
  • Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception

    Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things — from alien abductions to dowsing rods — boils down to two of the brain’s most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble. Michael Shermer debunks myths, superstitions and urban legends, and explains why we believe them. Along with publishing Skeptic Magazine, he’s author of Why People Believe Weird Things and The Mind of the Market. Why you should listen to him: As founder and publisher of Skeptic Magazine, Michael Shermer has exposed fallacies behind intelligent design, 9/11 conspiracies, the low-carb craze, alien sightings and other popular beliefs and paranoias. But it’s not about debunking for debunking’s sake. Shermer defends the notion that we can understand our world better only by matching good theory with good science. Thus, in order to explore a conspiracy theory that pre-planted explosives caused the World Trade Center towers to fall on 9/11, the magazine called on demolition experts. Shermer’s work offers cognitive context for our often misguided beliefs: In the absence of sound science, incomplete information can powerfully combine with the power of suggestion (helping us hear Satanic lyrics when “Stairway to Heaven” plays backwards, for example). In fact, a common thread that runs through beliefs of all sorts, he says, is our tendency to convince ourselves: We overvalue the shreds of evidence that support our preferred outcome, and ignore the facts we aren’t looking for. “Michael Shermer, as head of one of America’s leading skeptic organizations, and as a powerful activist and essayist in the service of this operational form of reason, is an important figure in American public life.”   Stephen Jay Gould “[A] captivating raconteur of all the greatest hits of behavioral, evolutionary and neuropsychology . . . Fascinating.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review How did we make the leap from ancient hunter-gatherers to modern consumers, and why do people get so emotional about financial decisions? The national bestseller The Mind of the Market uncovers the evolutionary roots of our economic behavior. Drawing on the new field of neuroeconomics, psychologist Michael Shermer investigates what brain scans reveal about bargaining, snap purchases, and establishing trust in business. He scrutinizes experiments in behavioral economics to understand why people hang on to losing stocks and why negotiations disintegrate into tit-for-tat disputes. He brings together findings from psychology and biology to describe how our tribal ancestry makes us suckers for brands, why researchers believe cooperation feels (biochemically) like sex, and how even capuchin monkeys get indignant if they don’t get a fair reward for their work. Entertaining and eye-opening, The Mind of the Market explains the real science of economics.

     
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  • Daniel Goldstein: The battle between your present and future self

    Daniel Goldstein: The battle between your present and future self     Every day, we make decisions that have good or bad consequences for our future selves. (Can I skip flossing just this one time?) Daniel Goldstein makes tools that help us imagine ourselves over time, so that we make smart choices for Future Us.   Daniel Goldstein studies how we make decisions about our financial selves — both now and in the future.   Why you should listen to him:   Daniel Goldstein studies decision-making — especially how humans make economic and social decisions over the course of our lives, and how we can give ourselves the right incentives, reminders, and rules of thumb to make long-term smart choices rather than short-term fun choices. He runs the blog Decision Science News. He’s a Principal Research Scientist at Yahoo! Research, on leave from a post at the London Business School.   “Goldstein is part of a really fascinating band of psychologists interested in heuristics — that is, mental shortcuts that have the effect of helping us better navigate the world.”  Malcolm Gladwell  

     
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  • Tim Brown: The powerful link between creativity and play

    Tim Brown: The powerful link between creativity and play     At the 2008 Serious Play conference, designer Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play — with many examples you can try at home (and one that maybe you shouldn’t).   Tim Brown is the CEO of the “innovation and design” firm IDEO — taking an approach to design that digs deeper than the surface.   Why you should listen to him:   Tim Brown is the CEO of innovation and design firm IDEO, taking an approach to design that digs deeper than the surface. Having taken over from founder David E. Kelley, Tim Brown carries forward the firm’s mission of fusing design, business and social studies to come up with deeply researched, deeply understood designs and ideas — they call it “design thinking.”   IDEO is the kind of firm that companies turn to when they want a top-down rethink of a business or product — from fast food conglomerates to high-tech startups, hospitals to universities.   IDEO has designed and prototyped everything from a life-saving portable defibrillator to the defining details at the groundbreaking Prada shop in Manhattan to corporate processes. And check out the Global Chain Reaction for a sample of how seriously this firm takes play.   Curious about design thinking? Check out this free toolkit: Design Thinking for Educators.   “We need more executives like Brown who understand how creativity works.”  Ginger Grant, comment, TED.com

     
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