Updates from May, 2018 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • feedwordpress 11:30:08 on 2018-05-26 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Casual Courtesy, Inconvenient Inheritance, and First-Hand Filing 

    Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.


    Hi Dan.

    At a “fast casual” restaurant without table service, the payment screen offered me a “No Tip” option or tips of 15%, 18% and 20%. I felt these were too high, since I had stood in line and was carrying my own food. I gave the minimum 15%—still a lot more than I have ever tipped in a fast-food place. I felt manipulated by the screen and wonder if this system prods people to tip more.


    Yes, such screens boost tips through a design principle called “active choice.” Many fast-food restaurants simply have an easily ignorable tip jar. But with the screen, neglecting to tip feels much worse, like a rejection of the staff. On the other hand, please remember that the people working at fast-food places work just as many hours as standard servers, for less money. Many may not be making a living wage. Helping them out a bit is a good thing to do.


    Dear Dan,

    To my surprise, I learned that my recently deceased grandfather owned mineral rights to some land highly coveted by an oil company. The acreage seems to be perfect for extracting oil from shale rock, or fracking. I’m named in my grandfather’s will, and when I heard that some of his other heirs had been negotiating with the oil people for a sale, I was giddy imagining profits that could change my life as well as my family’s. But that didn’t last long. I consider myself an environmentalist and have voted against fracking in my home state. Should I protest the sale right now, wait and see the size of my potential gains or commit to putting all or part of my share into a conservation charity?


    It’s harder to be an environmentalist when it means that you really have to give up something. In your case, it’s admirable that you are serious about giving up something that is potentially of great value.

    It makes sense to commit to a course of action before you have all the information, like how much money is at stake. Acting under what’s sometimes called “the veil of ignorance” is often a very good way to make such decisions. If your share of the proceeds really was enough to change your family’s life—say, $800,000—you would have a good reason to question your moral convictions. Here’s another strategy: Keep the money, estimate the dollar cost of the environmental damage from digging up the land, commit 110% of that amount to conservation efforts and try to persuade your relatives to do the same. Good luck.


    Dear Dan,

    My wife and I often argue about infrequent but time-intensive and complex administrative tasks like filing taxes. She’s very sensitive about money and thinks that since we save some by doing these tasks ourselves, I should spend a day or two on them. I think my time is worth some money and would rather pay an expert to take things off my plate. How can I convince her?


    In general it’s easy for us to discount someone else’s annoyance. So, for the next few of these irritating administrative tasks, why not ask your wife to do them herself (or at least do them together with you). After experiencing the pain of these tasks first-hand, she will most likely change her mind and see the rationale of paying a professional.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

  • feedwordpress 11:30:09 on 2018-05-12 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Patient Problems, Friday Fiascos, and Payment Puzzles 

    Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.


    Hi Dan,

    I manage an outpatient department at a large hospital, and half the patients don’t show up for their appointments. This wastes everyone’s time and reduces the quality of care. We already send patients automated phone messages, reminding them of their appointments, telling them of the no-show problem and urging them to call us if they can’t come. Sadly, this hasn’t made much difference in the no-show rate. What else could we do?

    —Sincerely, Gad 

    To start with, I would reframe the phone messages. By telling patients that skipping appointments is common, you’re implying that it’s an accepted norm. Instead, I would emphasize the norm of personal responsibility. The phone message could remind patients that they have made a promise to show up, that this promise is important and that you expect them to be there.

    To strengthen the effect, I would send the message not from “the department” but from someone they care about—their doctor or the nurse they deal with. I would ask them not only to let this hospital staffer know if they plan to skip the appointment but also to send an email if they plan to keep it. This solidifies the promise—and the embarrassment if it’s broken.



    Why does everything always go wrong on Friday evening at 5 p.m., just before I am about to leave work for the weekend?


    Actually, things don’t always go wrong at that time—but that’s how we remember it. We don’t have equally strong memories of all mishaps and are more likely to remember Friday problems, since they can delay or even ruin our weekend. In fact, the same magnitude of event that we usually think of as a mishap might be classified on Friday as a full-fledged disaster.

    When phenomena come to mind more easily, we also think they’re more frequent (a finding in psychology known as the availability bias). Take the question, “Which is more common—words that start with r or have r in the third space?” The knee-jerk reaction is to pick the starting position, because it’s easier to come up with those words. Similarly, many people think flying is more dangerous than driving, though there are far more car fatalities, since plane crashes get huge news coverage and in their massive loss of life are very upsetting. So to get back to your original question: It’s not about Friday; it’s about your attention and memory.


    Hey Dan,

    I’m still in college with a part-time job, but my boyfriend works full time and earns a handsome salary. When we go out he expects us to split the bills equally. Do you think this is fair?


    There are lots of versions of fair. My own version would be for each of you to pay in rough proportion to what you earn. But, before you propose this approach, be careful. Whatever version of “fair” you pick should be one you’re happy with—even if you start making much more money than your boyfriend.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

  • feedwordpress 11:30:57 on 2018-04-28 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: Template 

    Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.


    Dear Dan,

    After performance reviews at work, many of my colleagues started boasting about how much they had excelled. Since I didn’t do as well, I couldn’t help feeling discouraged. I just didn’t feel motivated any more to improve. Is that a common response? Or do most people want to do better when they discover others are thriving?


    Your feeling is perfectly normal. We instinctively compare ourselves to other people who are thinner, richer, more successful and so on. Once, during an online course, I had students anonymously grade the work of their peers, so that good and not-so-good students saw firsthand how others were measuring up. The not-so-good students who saw the better performance of their peers were 16% more likely to quit the course than if they had graded students at their own level.

    I would suggest that you work to control your exposure to personal comparisons, so that you don’t feel inferior and stay motivated. You may need to surround yourself with a new mix of people. That could mean spending more time with friends outside work. As for the office, find some colleagues who perform at your level or worse. Switching water-cooler talk away from workplace competition might help, too.


    Hi, Dan.

    I recently misplaced my wallet, which held about $80. For many days I couldn’t stop thinking about the loss. But as a stock-market investor, I often lose much more than that in a day. Why am I thinking so irrationally?

    —Best regards, Ramesh

    A few irrational things are probably going on. First, an $80 stock-market loss feels far less significant because it’s a small percentage of your total portfolio. When you lose $80 and your wallet, it feels overwhelming because, even though it’s temporary, you have no money.

    Cash affects us more deeply than more abstract forms of money. In a study by Drazen Prelec and Duncan Simester that was published in 2001 in the journal Marketing Letters, the researchers asked M.B.A. students to join an auction for basketball tickets. The researchers told some students they could pay with credit cards, others that they had to use cash. The students told to use credit cards were willing to pay about twice as much as the cash users.

    Cash feels much more tangible, while credit cards and stocks muffle the feeling of the loss.


    Dear Dan,

    Thanks to affordable DNA testing, I have recently discovered new relatives and will be meeting my half-sisters for the first time in a few weeks. But I’m having trouble thinking of a gift to give them to mark this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. A bottle of wine just isn’t going to do it. What recommendations can you make? Thank you!


    Why don’t you give them an album of family photos from your own childhood? In addition to being a very personal gift, it will help to start the conversation as you learn about each others’ lives.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here. (add link)

  • feedwordpress 11:30:20 on 2018-04-14 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Flexibility Fees, Climate Commitments, and Sensible Surprises 

    Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.


    Dear Dan,

    I know that you’ve often written about money as a motivator. This semester, I would like to join a yoga class that requires a substantial one-time registration fee. Will paying this amount in advance motivate me to attend regularly to make up for the money I’ve spent?


    Yes, we’re much more likely to do things when we commit to them in advance and have sunk costs. One challenge with this approach is that, over time, you might forget that you have paid that large initial fee. I would recommend that you print the receipt from your one-time registration fee, laminate it and attach it to the door of your refrigerator. This would not only be a constant reminder to attend your yoga class but also might be useful encouragement to eat more healthily.


    Dear Dan,

    I am very concerned about climate change, and I try to minimize my own consumption. I don’t drive much, avoid products packaged in plastic, grow as much of my own food as I can and use video chats with my relatives instead of flying to visit them. At the same time, I know that my individual choices and sacrifices are not having much of an impact on this gigantic problem, so I find it hard sometimes to keep to these restrictions. How can I increase my motivation and stick to my principles?


    Climate change is certainly one of the toughest behavioral issues, for exactly the reason you cite: Our individual actions feel like a drop in the bucket, and this discourages us from acting.

    One of the best ways to boost your motivation is to use the people around you. You could, for example, rally some friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members to join you in your effort to limit consumption. You might start by asking them to commit to one action, such as putting a five-minute cap on showers, and then all of you could track your success together. By acting together, you will feel that your impact is larger.

    One example of such motivation comes from a study recently conducted for the grass-roots political group Postcards4VA by the social psychologist Brett Major, described in the journal Behavioral Scientist. The study looked at what motivates people to volunteer more for political action. As you might expect, those who had joined political groups were more likely than the unaffiliated to act politically. Group participants were also more likely to have a positive experience and to intend taking future action; they were also less likely to get burned out. So before you give up on your cause, call a few friends.


    Dear Dan,

    I live abroad. My girlfriend has never been to my hometown, and my parents are always asking me to bring her when I go to visit them. In October I plan to do that, though my family doesn’t know. What would make them happier: to surprise them when she shows up with me or to tell them in advance and let them enjoy the anticipation?


    Surprise and anticipation can each lead to happiness. In your case, surprising your parents might make the first hour of your visit more exciting for them—but after that, it might take a few weeks for them to get over the shock. In this case, I would advise you to give them plenty of time to look forward to your joint visit.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

  • feedwordpress 17:00:46 on 2018-04-02 Permalink
    Tags: Behavioral Economics & Psychology,   

    Behavioral Economists Needed for Postdoc 

    Announcing: Postdoctoral positions in Consumer Behavior and Behavioral Economics at the Department of Management 966650

    The Department of Management at Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University, invites applications for 2-year postdoctoral positions offering applicants an exciting opportunity to join a new research project focused on decision making, consumer behavior, behavioral economics, and social influence.

    The starting date is September 1st, 2018 or subject to mutual agreement.

    The research project

    The post will suit candidates with relevant experience in experimental design and an interest in conducting experiments that have direct application to policy. The project contributes to the fields of marketing, behavioral economics, and psychology and will employ both theoretical and empirical tools. The project is expected to generate high-quality research and top-tier publications with societal and scientific implications.

    Job description

    Candidates are expected to contribute to the overall objectives of the project by being involved in experimental designs, data collection, data analyses, development of theoretical models, and writing of academic articles. They may also contribute by writing grant proposals.

    The project will be under the supervision of Tobias Otterbring (Aarhus University & Karlstad University), Panos Mitkidis (Aarhus University & Duke University), and Dan Ariely (Duke University & Aarhus University).

    The position is research-oriented but may involve teaching and/or supervision assignments.

    Candidates must hold a PhD relevant to the academic areas of the Department of Management, preferably within one or more of the following areas: Social or Consumer Psychology, Marketing, Behavioral Economics, or another relevant field.
    Other requirements include:
    •    Publication experience in high-ranking journals in psychology and/or marketing
    •    Experience with designing, analyzing, and reporting experimental or survey research
    •    Experience with field studies, consumer panel surveys, lab experiments, and the combination of these (multi-methods studies)
    •    Knowledge and expertise in one or many of the following areas: marketing, consumer behavior, social psychology, behavioral economics, and judgment and decision making
    •    Excellent research skills, including advanced statistical and methodological knowledge (e.g.,  experience with eye tracking, programming of experiments, statistical methods such as individual models of preferences or models of decision-making processes, and programming skills in R or Python)
    •    Experience in course teaching
    •    Excellent command of written and spoken English, with a certified proficiency in English
    •    Excellent knowledge of office and statistical software
    •    Motivation to work independently as well as cooperatively in an international team

    Who we are
    The Department of Management is one of the six departments at Aarhus BSS, one of the four faculties at Aarhus University. Aarhus BSS unites the research fields of business and social sciences bringing them closer together to reflect  the  close  relationship  between  society  and  the  business  community.  As part of a Top 100 university, Aarhus BSS has achieved the distinguished AASCB, AMBA and EQUIS accreditations.

    The department’s research and teaching environment is highly international and culturally diverse with a mix of  Danish and international academic staff members and PhD students. We employ more than 160 academic staff including researchers, PhD students, research associates and cover a broad range of disciplines within     management, e.g. marketing, corporate communication, international business, organization, HR, strategy, management accounting, innovation management, entrepreneurship, project management, and information systems. We aim to conduct high-quality research, and we give high priority to publishing our research in leading academic journals and presenting it at recognised conferences. In addition, we have a dynamic exchange of international researchers, who stay at the department for short or long periods of time.

    For more information about the Department of Management, please visit: http://mgmt.au.dk/.

    International applicant?
    Aarhus University offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including relocation service and career counselling to expat partners. Please find more information about entering and working in Denmark.

    Further information
    For further information about the position and the department, please contact Head of Department Jacob Kjær Eskildsen, Tel.: +45 3160 8100, Email: eskildsen@mgmt.au.dk

    If you need help uploading your application or have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR supporter Frederik Sørensen, Tel.: +45 87153445 , Email: fso@au.dk.

    Place of work
    Aarhus BSS
    Department of Management
    Fuglesangs Allé 4
    DK-8210 Aarhus V

    Terms of employment
    The appointment is in accordance with the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at Danish Universities as well as the circular on the Collective Agreement for Academics Employed by the State.

    The job content and qualification requirements are described in further detail in Circular on Terms of Employment for Academic Staff at Universities.

    Application procedure
    It is obligatory to attach the following when you apply for this position:

    • Application
    • Curriculum Vitae. You are encouraged to declare any periods of leave without research activity, including, for example, maternity leave, since your research activities are assessed in relation to your actual research time
    • Education (diploma for master’s, PhD and possibly higher doctoral degree)
    • List of publications (the enclosed publications must be clearly marked on the list of publications)
    • Publications. Up to three publications can be included in the application. In the event of several authors the publications must be accompanied by a co-author statement concerning the applicant’s share of the collaborative work with the consent of the co-authors. This form can be used for the purpose
    • Teaching portfolio. The specific requirements regarding the documentation can be found here

    Materials which cannot be uploaded together with the application may be submitted in three copies to Aarhus BSS HR & PhD, Aarhus University, Tåsingegade 1, 2nd floor, DK-8000 Aarhus C.

    Read more about how to apply for an academic post at Aarhus BSS here.

    The evaluation process
    After the application deadline, an assessment committee is appointed. Please note that the assessment of applicants is based solely on the material received prior to the application deadline. For further information, see Guidelines for Assessment Committee, Aarhus BSS.

    All interested candidates are encouraged to apply regardless of personal background.

    All applications must be made online and received by:

    Apply online here

  • feedwordpress 11:30:11 on 2018-03-31 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Paying Your Taxes, Treating Your Friends, and Suiting Yourself 

    Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.


    Hi, Dan.

    With the recent changes in the tax code, Americans have been debating what rate high earners should pay. Here’s a thought experiment: How about offering those in the highest bracket a choice of rates—say, 37%, 40%, 45% even 50%. They could choose to pay whatever rate they wanted—but they would have to make their choice public. So politicians, celebrities and CEOs who talk about the need for fair taxes would have to walk the talk—and pay up. This altruistic option might even make them feel good.


    I like this creative approach. I would suggest adding some social-media coordination to the plan by obliging people to say, well before taxes are due, how much they plan to pay. I suspect that many of the superrich wouldn’t mind paying more taxes as long as their superrich friends paid the same amount (or more). After all, if everyone were to pay more, relative wealth would remain the same.

    And if a few altruistic billionaires chose high rates, as they probably would, their peers might feel social pressure to follow suit. The more news coverage, the more likely this outcome. Though Congress is unlikely to try out this approach anytime soon, communities could experiment by trying some version of it with property taxes.


    Dear Dan,

    From time to time I treat a friend or my significant other to dinner, thanks to your advice that the psychological pain of spending $80 is less than the pain of each of us spending $40. My question is: When should I tell my friend it’s my treat? When I invite them? When the bill comes? What would maximize my guest’s enjoyment?


    You are absolutely right about the pain of paying. If your goal is to maximize your dinner partner’s enjoyment, I would let them know it’s your treat as soon as you make the invitation. That way, your guest won’t even experience the anticipated pain of paying for anything. It’s true that your guest, knowing dinner is on you, might order another dessert or glass of wine, but that’s a small price to pay.


    Dear Dan,

    I recently started working at a company that requires employees to wear suits, and I find them uncomfortable. Can you help me understand the logic for wearing them?


    In my mind, suits represent everything wrong with modern society. They’re basically an expensive school uniform. The lack of choice does make suit purchases easier, and since people wearing suits look more or less the same, the clothing works as a kind of leveler in looks, ensuring that no one looks more interesting or exciting.

    But suits kill sartorial creativity and individuality, and as you say, they’re uncomfortable. They are a prime example of our tendency to pick the unpleasant, uncreative option as long as it’s easy and makes us all look identical. My advice to you: Rebel, and if you succeed, most of your co-workers will thank you.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal.

  • feedwordpress 11:30:35 on 2018-03-17 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Missing Motivation, Distressing DNA, and Picturing Progress 

    Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.


    Dear Dan,

    I’m raising two teenagers and have discovered just how hard it is to teach them to be polite, to clean up after themselves and to leave the house on time. Would it make sense for me to pay them for better behavior?


    Simple rewards may seem like a good idea, but they often have unintended consequences. Consider the case of Kelly the dolphin, who lived in a marine institute in Mississippi. To teach her to keep her pool clean, her trainers started trading her fish for any litter she collected.

    Kelly soon learned that litter of any size would win her a treat. So when a visitor dropped paper into the pool, she would hide it under a rock and tear off one piece at a time to get more fish. Her response was logical but not exactly desirable.

    Something similar can happen with children. In studies conducted in the 1980s, psychologist Barry Schwartz had a teacher pay children for every book they finished. The children started choosing shorter books with large print in order to get more rewards—and they reported liking reading less. I think it’s best to teach your children how to act, not how to maximize their pay.


    Dear Dan,

    I recently bought a DNA test to learn about my ancestors’ roots. The test had an option to let me find out if I carry DNA mutations that increase the chances of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other diseases. I chose to include those tests, but now I can’t help feeling anxious about getting the results. What would you have done?


    Genetic information is becoming more and more available, for good and ill. Though medications exist for the diseases you mention, scientists think that Parkinson’s and most Alzheimer’s cases are not preventable, so if I were you, I would stick my head in the virtual sand and not find out about the DNA mutations. A bad result would cause you needless stress and might weaken your immune system.

    We all stand a chance of getting these diseases, and the best way to deal with that prospect is to take better care of our bodies and minds in preparation for old age. We also should be kinder to our significant others and children, because they’re likely to be our eventual caretakers.


    Dear Dan,

    The state of the world is depressing me. It feels that whatever good I do is a small drop in the bucket compared with a daily flood of illogical, ignorant and evil actions. How can I keep going and find hope?


    Over the past few years I’ve spent time with people who had suffered very complex injuries and were trying to regain their drive and sense of purpose. One thing they did was to set achievable goals and measure their progress toward them—the classic idea of “light at the end of the tunnel.” If you can focus on positive changes that you can make in the near term, it should help your motivation—and make you happier. Good luck.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal.

  • feedwordpress 19:25:56 on 2018-03-07 Permalink

    Medicine is Personal 

    Today, my team and I are launching an exciting new project. The Medical Professionalism Project is a 12-episode online course for healthcare providers that explores the complex expectations, challenges, and responsibilities of being a healthcare professional. In it, we bring together experts in behavioral science and medicine to address some of the most pressing issues in field today, including conflicts of interest, burnout, shared decision-making, and social norms.

    This topic is very important to me. As you may know, as a teenager I was badly burned in accident. I spent three years in the hospital recovering, and returned regularly for several years after for continued treatments and check-ups. In that time, I came to know and deeply respect the medical team that provided my care. They were a group of incredibly smart, driven, and compassionate people.

    But in my recovery, I also observed something else – healthcare providers are not perfect. That is to say, they are human. They have biases, maintain misconceptions, and make mistakes.

    A few years after I was released from the hospital, one of my favorite surgeons approached me about an exciting new treatment. With enthusiasm, he explained that he had an innovative fix to the fact that my facial hair grew unevenly. His solution? He was going to tattoo the burned side of my face to mimic a stubble.

    Despite his eagerness, the procedure did not interest me. When I turned him down, the surgeon began to berate me – What was my problem? Did I like looking this way? Did I enjoy the attention I got because of my burns?

    I was shocked. This doctor had never spoken to me this way, and I couldn’t understand why he was so worked up about a procedure that was not essential to my health. Dismayed, I went to his deputy and asked what was going on. The deputy said, “Oh, we’ve tried it on two people, but we need at least three for an academic paper.”

    This doctor was not a bad guy – he was dedicated and empathetic physician to whom I owe a lot. I think incredibly highly of him to this day. But he was not immune to other forces, and here he had a conflict of interest that allowed him to prioritize his desire to publish over respecting my wishes. 

    Research shows that we are all susceptible to these slips, and a crucial way to combat them is to be reminded our moral integrity. Medicine is profession of great integrity and sacrifice, but in today’s pressured practice environment, there is not a lot of space for reflection and reminders. That’s where we come in. Our hope through this course is to inspire an ongoing dialogue about the role of ethics and professionalism in medicine – and the challenges to maintaining it – in order to create more honesty and accountability, to better support the providers who have dedicated their careers to helping us.

    Learn More Here

  • feedwordpress 12:30:48 on 2018-03-03 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Ticket Tips, Coding Concerns, and System Setups 

    Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.


    Dear Dan,

    Early last year, I bought five tickets for $200 apiece for the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.” In the end, two members of my family couldn’t attend, so I sold the two extra tickets—for $800 each.

    The three tickets that we used cost me $600, but I could have made $1,800 (over their face value) by selling them for $800 each. We all really enjoyed the show, but I kept thinking about the other ways I could have used $1,800, and that cut into my pleasure. What’s the right way to think about the cost of our outing?

    —Thanks, Willy 

    If you had thought about this choice a few days in advance, when you could have changed your plans without too much disruption, you might have given serious consideration to the opportunity cost: the potential $1,800 profit on the other three tickets. You might have thought about what else you could do with the money and whether you’d rather use it that way.

    But once you decided to go to the show—and certainly once you were in the theater—you should have been thinking about how to maximize your
    enjoyment. After all, you’d made your decision, so why not enjoy the experience to its fullest? At
    that point, it’s best to forget about the $1,800 and just think about the $600 cost of the three tickets you used.

    But there’s an even more favorable way to see your situation: The five tickets cost you $1,000, but you got $1,600 from the two tickets you sold. That’s a profit of $600 on the deal—and you got to see “Hamilton” with people you love! Now you can use that extra cash to take your family out for a nice dinner, all thanks to your wise decisions.


    Dear Dan,

    I’m a college freshman and am debating whether to major in computer science. Last semester, when I took a course in the subject, I felt challenged during the first couple of weeks, but by the end of the term I found the assignments tedious and difficult.

    Should I keep studying computer science, hoping that I’ll eventually enjoy it, or should I focus instead on engineering or business courses?


    Since computer science remains a major with great career potential, I’d suggest that you explore it more deeply before giving up. When we are learning a new subject, from bird watching to social science, it often becomes more gratifying as we learn more and immerse ourselves in it. So maybe you should broaden the scope of your computer-science courses and explore things such as videogames, new programming languages and app design. They just might boot up your excitement about the field.


    Dear Dan,

    I’m a hard-core videogamer, but I’m trying to quit, since it all feels like a waste of time. Now I’m hearing about a new gaming platform, and I’m really tempted to buy it—even though I know I’d spend too much money and time on it. Any advice?


    Buy the platform for your parents and set it up at their home. That way, you can play on it sometimes, but you’ll also get to see your parents more. I imagine that they’ll make sure you don’t spend all your time with them just gaming.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

  • feedwordpress 12:30:49 on 2018-02-17 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Scanning Suitcases, Aligning Anticipation, and Validating Valentine’s Day 

    Here’s my Q&A column from the WSJ this week  and if you have any questions for me, you can tweet them to @danariely with the hashtag #askariely, post a comment on my Ask Ariely Facebook page, or email them to AskAriely@wsj.com.


    Dear Dan,

    According to recent reports, screeners for the Transportation Security Administration keep failing to spot weapons possessed by passengers. I wonder if they simply pay less attention after finding nothing threatening time after time. What if we told TSA screeners that undercover officers will try to smuggle up to three guns through their location every day, and that whoever spots a gun will get a $50 bonus? What do you think?


    I love the idea. First, you are correct. Research shows that our attention drifts after about 15 minutes of no action. So it would help to have those gun-packing undercover agents visit screeners even more often, perhaps every 15 to 30 minutes. There’s one big problem, though: As TSA agents scurried to deal with constant gun alerts, everyone waiting for flights would be completely terrified.

    A simpler approach, less likely to cause panic at airports, would be to program the X-ray machine to show, periodically, a fake image of a weapon hidden inside a suitcase. This might help the TSA agents to stay more alert.


    Dear Dan,

    Some time ago, my dentist urged me to get clear aligners, a plastic form of dental braces. He said that my insurance would cover most of it, but I didn’t really want the braces, so I held off.

    Then I quit my job and went to see the dentist one more time for my regular hygiene appointment—my last visit with the old insurance. Again he encouraged me to get the clear-aligner treatment, because it wouldn’t cost me that much. For some reason, that convinced me, and now after three days of wearing a clear aligner, I am miserable and regret the decision. What drove me to it?


    Your story illustrates the power of anticipated regret. We get this feeling when we have only a moment to take a certain action—and can’t stop imagining how we’ll feel if we don’t do it.

    I had my own run-in with anticipated regret when my wife, Sumi, and I went to buy a large-screen TV, and the salesperson said, “How would you feel if some of the pixels broke and you hadn’t bought the extended warranty?” We felt the anticipated regret and, of course, got the expensive warranty.

    One defense is to imagine scenarios that are not time-sensitive. You could say to yourself, “What if my new job also offered insurance coverage for clear aligners? Would I go ahead and get them?” If the answer is no, it should tell you that anticipated regret, not a desire for the treatment, is driving you.


    Dear Dan,

    This Valentine’s Day, as usual, I felt it was a fake, commercial love holiday designed by corporations to maximize their own wealth at our expense. Next year, I swear, I’ll skip the holiday altogether. I know that my husband will expect a gift and a nice dinner, but I have a hard time giving in to these manipulative marketers. What should I do?


    Gift-giving is an amazing way to increase human connection, friendship and reciprocity. We don’t give gifts enough to the people we love most. So, while we all know that Valentine’s Day is a commercial invention, at least it makes us think about our loved ones and our relationships—and that’s good.

    My advice: Stick to the dinner-and-a-gift policy. And if it’s just too hard for you to do on Valentine’s Day, do it the day before.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

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