Category Archives: Behavioral Economics and Public Policy

A Self Control App?

The MacOS has a new self control app called, straightforwardly, SelfControl. The app has an ominous icon, which looks like a cross between a poker game gone wrong and the warning symbol on a bottle of poisonous chemicals: The app … Continue reading

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Want Credibility? Use a Chart!

If I told you there was a new medicine effective in treating a previously untreatable illness, you might be interested. If you have the illness, you might even read up and try to figure out whether the medicine would work … Continue reading

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More Like a Sludge Than a Nudge

Every once in a while, I post a picture of an effort to nudge people into better behavior. Sometimes, I post pictures of pretty horrendous nudges. In response to one of those posts, Lydia Ashton sent me this picture, of … Continue reading

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The Anchoring Heuristic Courtesy of Dilbert

Heuristics is jargon used by decision psychologists and behavioral economists to refer to cognitive shortcuts we humans take to make judgments and decisions. One of the first heuristics identified as such by Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky was the anchoring … Continue reading

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Incentive to Stop Smoking?

In the United States, the FDA tried to mandate that cigarette companies put nasty images of the harms of smoking onto cigarette packages, images that would take up at least half of the carton. It looks like that effort has … Continue reading

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The Hidden Psychology of Antibiotic Prescribing

Experts in decision psychology and behavioral economics have conclusively shown that humans, those silly creatures, are not always rational decision makers. They let unconscious forces influence their thinking, and not always for the better. But of course, doctors aren’t human. … Continue reading

Posted in Behavioral Economics and Public Policy, Medical Decision Making | Tagged ,

Here’s Why I’m Guilty Of Experimenting On People

Last summer, Facebook received terrible press for running experiments on its users, adjusting the proportion of happy and unhappy posts at the top of people’s news feeds to see how that effected their moods. Shortly after that controversy surfaced, OK-Cupid … Continue reading

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More Encouragement to Walk the Stairs

A while back, I posted an interesting effort to get people to walk upstairs, rather than take the escalator. It involved a staircase designed to look like a piano, with musical sounds generated when people stepped on each stair. I … Continue reading

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Are Patients Harmed When Physicians Explain Things Too Simply?

A quick quiz before we start today’s lesson. What do we call a tree that grows from acorns? What do we call a funny story? What sound does a frog make? What is another word for a cape? What do … Continue reading

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Podcast on Healthcare.gov 3.0

The Managing Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine interviewed me about the piece I wrote, with David Comerford and Eric Johnson, on redesigning the health insurance exchanges. For those of you with long commutes, here is that podcast: … Continue reading

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