Tagged: Irrationally Yours Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • feedwordpress 11:30:02 on 2018-09-15 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Irrationally Yours, , ,   

    Ask Ariely: On Blueberry Buffets, Compliment Condiments, and Historical Habits 

    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.

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    Dear Dan,

    I have a farm where people come to pick blueberries, and I charge $3 per pound. The problem is that people think it is an open buffet and eat a lot of blueberries while in the field, and then they come back to the payment station with just $3 worth of blueberries. Without being rude, how can I let them know that they are stealing?

    —Michelle 

    I must admit that when I’ve picked blueberries I too ate a few in the process. It’s just so tempting that I think it’s inhuman to ask people not to eat any. So if we accept that people will eat some blueberries in the process of picking, maybe the best approach is to charge an entrance fee to cover the cost of the snacking. But make sure to call it an entrance fee and not a snacking fee—otherwise people will try to maximize their benefit by eating even more blueberries.

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    Dear Dan,

    Conventional wisdom says that when providing criticism, you should use a “compliment sandwich,” that is, say something nice, give the critique and then end with something nice again. Have there been any studies regarding the effectiveness of this practice? It seems to me that the person may just hear and remember the positive parts, and that the impact of the criticism would be lost.

    —Andrew 

    “Compliment sandwiches” certainly feel less painful than sheer critiques—but they don’t seem to be particularly effective. According to a study by Jay Parkes, Sara Abercrombie and Teresita McCarty, published in 2013 in the journal Advances in Health Sciences Education, people who received “compliment sandwiches” were more likely to believe that the feedback would improve their performance. But they didn’t actually do any better than those who received more straightforward criticism. The good news is that the sandwich method did not get them to perform any worse either—it just made no difference. It is really hard to change people’s behavior, and a single piece of feedback is not going to do much, no matter how it is phrased.

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    Dear Dan,

    I teach computer science 101, and I’ve recently started thinking of ways to get students to begin their work earlier in the semester. Research has shown that if they start earlier, they are likely to put more time into their project and get a better grade. I wonder if it would be useful to send a daily email reminder asking the students to start working on their project today. What do you think?

    —Kristin 

    A daily reminder is a good start, and it should certainly help the students to get going. But it would be even more powerful to give concrete instructions and make use of social comparison. What if the email didn’t just ask them to work on their project today but specifically told them to spend 30 minutes on it? You could also tell them something about the work habits of students who do well in the class—for example, “Historically, the students who got an A in this class started working on their projects early and worked on them consistently throughout the semester.”

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:18 on 2018-09-02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Irrationally Yours, , ,   

    Ask Ariely: On Invasive Inquiry, Circumcision Conversation, and Admirable Advice 

    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.

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    Dear Dan,

    I’m a single woman in my mid 30s. I get invited to a lot of cocktail parties, which I don’t particularly enjoy, but I feel I have to go. To make things worse, during these parties people who I know only superficially often feel free to ask me why I am so wonderful and yet unmarried. I have some real answers to this question (I didn’t find the right person, I’m very excited about my career right now), but mostly I’m annoyed that they have the audacity to ask me such a personal and complex question as a form of small talk. How would you deal with this situation?

    —Jax 

    It is indeed odd that while so many topics are considered taboo for standard small-talk—how much do you earn? what are your sexual preferences?—others that should be considered just as personal, like marital status, are considered fair game. With this in mind, I think that your job is not to answer the question but to demonstrate to the people asking it how inappropriate it is.

    I’d suggest that you respond by saying: “That’s a very personal question. Before we talk about me, can you tell me what aspects of your life you wish were different?” It might be difficult to say this in the beginning, but my guess is that if you stick to it for a few cocktail parties, it will become second nature. A side benefit of this approach is that you might get invited to these parties less often.

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    Dear Dan,

    I am Jewish, and my wife is agnostic. We are both economists and big fans of your work. Our first son was circumcised as a newborn. We are now waiting for our second boy, and we are not sure what to do. My wife prefers not to have him circumcised, and I prefer to have it done for ritual reasons. Any hint how to approach this decision?

    —Michael 

    On this question, there is a long list of very different pros and cons. Against circumcision is the argument that sexual pleasure is said to be greater for the uncircumcised—though this is difficult to measure. On the other hand, some authorities say that a circumcised penis is easier to clean, and there is data that suggests circumcision reduces the odds of contracting HIV. In the end, of course, only you can decide how important the religious aspect of circumcision is to you. But since your first son was circumcised according to your preference, it would seem fair for your wife to make the decision for your second child.

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    Dear Dan,

    What was the best advice you ever got?

    —Alison 

    It was when I was a Ph.D. student interviewing for my first academic job. I had a few offers, and one of my advisers suggested that I pick the department most different from where I had studied, in order to force myself to learn new things. I did, and I learned a lot over the next 10 years. Generally, I think it is good advice to think about such choices not as the immediate next step but in terms of how they will help us to develop in the long run.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:39 on 2018-08-18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Irrationally Yours, , ,   

    Ask Ariely: On Pickleball Problems, Calorie Compensation, and Friend Finding 

    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.

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    Dear Dan,

    I play the paddle sport pickleball on outdoor courts at our local city park. During the season, the members of our association have to clean up the courts at the end of each day, which takes about 15 minutes.

    As you might expect, few people volunteer regularly, and pleas for more help fall on deaf ears. I recently suggested to the group’s executive board that we should pay members who help clean up, but my idea was shot down. The reasoning was that we are a volunteer organization and should not pay for such services. How can we get more people to pitch in?

    —John 

    Paying a few members to clean the courts is always an option. But if you start paying for cleaning, it will change how those who clean and those who don’t treat each other. So I would try other methods first.
    One effective approach is to use social shaming. What if the pickleball association posted the names of all the members on a large poster board and used markings to show how often each person cleaned the courts? What if, next to the names of the people who did not help even once, there was a large question mark? My guess is that the desire to appear to be a team player rather than a freeloader could motivate many more people to contribute to the cleaning effort.

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    Hi Dan,

    I am a doctor specializing in obesity management, and one of the challenges we face in my practice is something called the “Last Supper” effect. We find that patients who know they are about to undergo weight loss surgery tend to binge during the two weeks prior to the procedure, gaining anywhere from five to 20 pounds. Do you have any suggestions for how we might be able to change this pattern?

    —Adrian 

    My colleagues and I carried out research at our lab at Duke University that might shed some light on this question. We asked one group of participants to indulge in food and compensate for it by reducing their calorie consumption later. Meanwhile, we asked another group to create an “indulgence bank,” going on a diet first and indulging only after they “saved” enough calories to compensate.

    It turns out that when people indulged first, they didn’t compensate enough and ended up gaining weight. But when they saved calories by dieting first, they realized how much hard work it was and didn’t want to “spend” all their savings by eating more.

    With this in mind, I would ask patients to start two months before the weight-loss procedure and spend the first six weeks creating an indulgence bank by reducing their calorie intake. Then they can “celebrate” by eating freely during the last two weeks before the procedure. My guess is that they will celebrate a bit, but not too much.

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    Hello, Dan.

    I recently retired, and since many of my friends were from my workplace, I feel lonely and deprived of connections. Any advice?

    —Warren 

    It’s a bit awkward to advertise “friends needed,” and if you tried, you could attract some shady characters. Instead, I’d suggest that you pick an activity that is likely to attract the kind of people you want to be friends with: the Sierra Club, or bird watching, or maybe pickleball. Odds are that you will find your next friends there. And don’t worry if you don’t like the activities very much: The other people are probably there for the same reason—to make friends.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:48 on 2018-08-04 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Irrationally Yours, , ,   

    Ask Ariely: On Missing Morality, Caring Critiques, and Remodeling Resources 

    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.

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    Dear Dan,

    I recently lost my wallet while shopping at the mall. Within moments, I heard an announcement from the information desk calling me to pick it up. Relief! But once I got it back, I realized that the person who returned it had stolen all the money and returned only my driver’s license and credit card. Here’s what I don’t get: How could a person doing such a kind act also do something so immoral?

    —Jessie 

    The basic principle operating here is what psychologists call “moral licensing.” Sometimes when we do a good deed, such as returning someone’s wallet, we feel an immediate boost to our self-image: We just proved to ourselves that we are good people. Sadly, that also makes us less concerned with the moral implications of our next actions. After all, if we are such good, moral people, don’t we deserve to act a bit selfishly?

    Moral licensing operates across many areas of life. After we recycle our trash from lunch, we’re more likely to buy non-green products. After we go to the gym, we’re more likely to order a double cheeseburger. This is probably why the person who found your wallet and decided to return it felt justified taking your cash.

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    Dear Dan,

    A thought occurred to me during recent coverage of the rescue of the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave. It seemed that no expense was spared in bringing out the 12 boys and their coach alive. The same urgency in saving lives, regardless of the cost, occurred during the rescue of the Chilean miners in 2010.

    But there are plenty of ways that, for a fraction of the cost, we as a society could save and improve the lives of far more people—for example, by spending more on public health measures. I’m not criticizing the rescue of the soccer players or miners—both incidents were causes for celebration, examples of the triumph of human ingenuity and endurance against the forces of nature. But what makes us care so much about these episodes and so little about other issues?

    —Stanley 

    You are correct in your observation. We’re much more motivated to take drastic measures to help others when we see suffering on a specific human face, rather than in abstract numbers. This is what’s known as the “identifiable victim effect.” Think of moments when people have been galvanized around major issues. They often come right after a vivid story about a particular person or a harrowing image made the news.

    Consider, for example, the recent stories about immigrant children separated from their parents at the border, which has made the issue of immigration more urgent across the political spectrum. Most of us were aware of immigration problems before, but when the harm became more individual and visible, it seemed intolerable. We should be aware of this effect and, as you say, shouldn’t necessarily let it dictate where we focus our effort and resources.

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    Dear Dan,

    I recently decided to remodel my bathroom myself instead of hiring a contractor to do it, which would have cost $65,000. I did it myself for $25,000 in materials and some hired help. It took up my weekends for nine months, time that I otherwise would have spent in advancing my career. I enjoy the hands-on work, but would I have been better off focusing on my job and trying to earn more money? Was the bathroom worth it?

    —Will 

    While it’s certainly more time-efficient to hire a contractor, and you could have used the time to further your career, it sounds like you got a lot of satisfaction out of remodeling the bathroom yourself. Several colleagues and I conducted research a few year ago on what we called the “Ikea effect.” It turns out that when we assemble something ourselves, we end up taking a lot of pride in it, and for a long time. So I wouldn’t just think about money and time. Think also about the pleasure of inviting friends to your home, showing them your bathroom and taking pride in your craftsmanship.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:05 on 2018-07-21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Irrationally Yours, , ,   

    Ask Ariely: On Exercise Equations, Pricy Pals, and Happier Holidays 

    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.

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    Dear Dan,

    I’m currently in physical therapy for a knee injury, but I haven’t been improving much lately. The main reason is that I’ve been slacking off with my exercises at home, which my physical therapist says are crucial for the treatment to be effective. I know I could be recovering much faster if I actually followed through with my exercises, but doing them is just miserable. What can I do?

    —Jordan 

    Because physical therapy is often tedious and uncomfortable, the mood to do your exercises will probably not strike you very frequently, if at all. What I would do is add something to the exercises that changes your motivation equation. For example, you could make a rule that your whole family can only watch their favorite TV show after you’ve completed your exercises. This way, the pressure of not wanting to disappoint everyone in your family will add to your motivation; and if you slack off, your family will nag you to get your exercises done. This approach can be thought of as “doing the right thing for the wrong reason”–in this case, doing your physical therapy in order to watch TV and not annoy your family. It is a great way to engineer our motivation to get us to do things that are no fun in themselves.

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    Hi Dan,

    Recently, I retired on a small income. I have an old friend who visits regularly, and who is very well off. She often stays with me for a week or more, but rarely offers to cover any of the expenses connected with her visit, such as food or gas. She doesn’t take me out to dinner and seldom brings a gift. To make things worse, when we go shopping together she buys expensive things for herself, making the income difference between us even more obvious and painful.

    I can get over the difference in wealth, but it is hard for me not to care that she doesn’t help out with expenses. How can I suggest that she chip in and still keep her as a good friend?

    —Francis 

    Since your friend is used to a pattern where you are paying for everything, she probably no longer thinks much about it. In general, we are all very good at taking things for granted. To break this pattern, I would sit with her over a glass of wine and tell her that while you love her visits, since you retired you feel a bit financially stressed. Tell her that you don’t want her to visit less often, but that you would like to alternate who pays for groceries and for going out.

    I suggest alternating rather than splitting the bills because splitting requires an ongoing accounting, which is uncomfortable and can put an extra strain on the relationship. With this kind of an arrangement, the expenses won’t necessarily be divided equally, but it will help you avoid awkwardness during each and every transaction. My guess is that your friend will be delighted to share in the expenses, and you’ll wonder why you felt it was so difficult to bring this topic up in the first place.

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    Dear Dan,

    Summer is here and I am wondering: what is the secret to a good vacation?

    —Moran 

    The first secret is not to call it a vacation. To vacate a place is to leave it, but the point of taking time off is not just to leave our lives behind. It is to approach something new and different. That’s why I think the British have it right: they call this time a holiday, which is a much more fitting name for an exciting experience. And since the words we use matter to how we think and act, my advice is: plan to have a holiday!

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:57 on 2018-07-07 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Real Randomness, Complex Conversation, and Linen Loss 

    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.

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    Dear Dan,

    On a recent trip to Las Vegas, my wife wanted to observe how roulette is played. In addition to the real game with a real wheel, we saw video versions of the game that you could bet on. It looked to us like the real version was less random than the video version, which must depend on algorithms to mimic the roulette wheel. Could this difference in randomness be true?

    —Mark 

    I haven’t made a study of real roulette games versus virtual ones in Las Vegas, but I have to think that you’re imagining the difference. We have a very hard time perceiving randomness and tend to see links between events even when there are none. We blame the gain of a pound overnight on eating things that couldn’t have enough calories to cause such a weight increase, and we believe TV shows and web sites that explain with supposed certainty why a certain share price on the stock market went up or down that day, even though it’s often just random variation.

    It’s the same with roulette. My guess is that with the physical wheel, you had more factors to pay attention to: the person turning the wheel, their movements, the action around the table. I suspect that it all made you think the real game was somehow less pure, less random.

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    Hi there.

    My girlfriend and I get along well but feel our relationship is very superficial. The truth is that we both have trouble speaking about ourselves or our feelings, so we almost never have deep conversations. But our mundane discussions don’t provide any real closeness, and they just help us pass the time in a sort of pleasant way. More troubling are times when one of us is going through some difficulty and doesn’t bring it up—and as a result gets no help solving the problem. We’ve both realized this and want to get better. How could we establish a mechanism to push us to have regular “deep” conversations?

    —Miguel 

    You’re experiencing what I’d call the small-talk syndrome. Making meaningless small talk is the easiest way to keep on having a conversation. Everyone can participate, and no one will be offended because nothing complex or controversial will be discussed.

    But a deep relationship, which demands more intimate connections and often brings important challenges, needs more. I would suggest that you create a few rules for conversations. For example, ban small talk from Friday-night dinner: Only complex topics are allowed.

    If you need some inspiration, Kristen Berman at Irrational Labs (a nonprofit behavioral consulting company that I co-founded with her) has made a deck of questions for such situations, including “What was the last lie that you told?” and “What gives you energy?” If you follow this plan for a few months, I suspect that making “big talk” will become much more natural and easy for both of you.

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    Dear Dan,

    I belong to a sports club that loses many towels because members take them home. The towels are cheaply made, so it’s doubtful that my club’s affluent members really need them for their homes. What can be done to stop the losses?

    —Freddie 

    Put a permanent tag on each towel and write $20 in a large font. This will remind members that the towels have value and that taking them is stealing.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:41 on 2018-06-23 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Irrationally Yours, , ,   

    Ask Ariely: On Encouraging Exercise, Activating Altruism, and Debating Dishes 

    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.

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    Dear Dan,

    I hate exercise and always have, but I’ve recently started going to a spinning class, which I hate less than other forms of exercise. At the end I usually feel pretty good, but getting there is still a struggle. How can I motivate myself to go?

    —Amy 

    Clearly your future self wants to exercise, so why not help yourself along? You could arrange to work out with a good friend, which would provide encouragement and social pressure. And when she’s not available, you could make a deal with her: You have to text her a new photo of yourself sweating at the end of the class or else pay her $20. My guess is that the social pressure coupled with the financial incentive will compel your future self to exercise.

    If neither of these approaches works, try setting up a regular meeting with an especially annoying colleague just before your scheduled spinning class. That way, you’ll be eager to get out the door, and after the meeting, the cycling will feel like a joy.

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    Hello!

    What makes people show up at charity events and donate? Do they just want to promote themselves as virtuous, or are they genuinely altruistic?

    —Alexandra 

    Many factors come into play at charity events. If you attend, you’re signaling that you’re part of a group and committed to its cause. But the social signaling doesn’t stop there. Numerous studies have shown that the more public people’s charitable behavior is, the more they donate. In a 1984 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Joel Brockner and his colleagues showed that people were more willing to donate to a charity when they were solicited in person compared with a phone call. So altruism no doubt motivates many donors—but social factors can boost their giving.

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    Dear Dan,

    My wife and I alternate who loads and unloads the dishwasher. If she’s the loader and I’m the unloader, I often notice that she has placed certain items facing away from the water jets. My own research suggests that this isn’t the most effective way to get things clean. I haven’t seen a lot of residual bits of food on our dinnerware, but my wife’s habit still bothers me. Should I make some comment about dishwasher arrangements, hoping to give her a learning opportunity, or maybe suggest that we read the instruction manual together? Or should I just forget about it and let the crumbs fall as they may? We are otherwise happily married.

    —Michael 

    If loading the dishwasher were the only issue in your relationship (now or in the future), I would recommend an evening with the instruction manual and other sources on optimal dishwasher use. But it’s probably not going to be the only small annoyance in your marriage—minor irritations are a natural part of a healthy relationship. So I suggest that you consider this an opportunity for personal growth. Since your wife’s method doesn’t seem to lead to dirtier dinnerware, why not let it be? Letting go is an important skill—and you have in this everyday chore a great opportunity to practice it.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:23 on 2018-06-09 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Money Management, Temper Tantrums, and Retirement Rank 

    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.

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    Hi, Dan.

    I work as the managing director at a small nonprofit with 10 full-time staffers. I recently learned that one of the senior program directors, with a position junior to mine, makes nearly $15,000 a year more than I do. He consistently gets poor performance reviews and has done little fund-raising to keep our organization running. He’s also a white man (I am a woman of Middle Eastern descent) and about 30 years older than I. Should I say something to my boss about this? My salary is decent after all, and the job market is tough.

    —Sandy 

    In general, it’s not only our own salary but also how much our colleagues are paid that makes us happy or unhappy with what we’re earning. Having an unproductive subordinate earning more than you would annoy anyone—and the feeling will probably grow over time. With this in mind, you should ask your boss for an explanation. Maybe you’ll find that your colleague is getting paid more for a good reason, or that your organization will fix the inequity between the salaries—or that you are going to be happier elsewhere.

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    Hi, Dan.

    My 5-year-old frequently throws temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. When we are in public (say, on the bus or train), I often give in to him to head off the screaming and my resulting embarrassment. After each incident, he promises to behave better, but his tantrums just seem to escalate. I think he’s being manipulative. What can I do?

    —Margie 

    You’ve got what sounds like a garden-variety tantrum problem. I think that your son is just being a child and trying to fulfill his goals. Since you are teaching him that when he screams, you give him what he wants, he will continue that strategy until it stops working. This kind of conditioning strongly influences children—and the rest of us to some extent. The solution is to not give in to the screaming, while also making clear that you’re far more likely to yield when your son communicates calmly. Changing the conditioning will take time and expose a lot of innocent bystanders to screaming, but in the long run it will be worth it.

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    Dear Dr. Ariely,

    My wife has retired, but I’m still working at age 71, and we live with some difficulty from paycheck to paycheck. I don’t touch the more than $1 million in my retirement fund. Technically, I’m a millionaire, but I don’t behave like one. Should I start thinking of myself as wealthy and act accordingly?

    —Norman 

    Yes, you should. Since I am hoping that you and your wife will live a long life, I am not advising you to go on a spending spree. At the same time, it might be useful for you to think of yourself as having a higher socioeconomic status. A study published in the journal Health Psychology in 2000 by Nancy E. Adler and colleagues showed that subjective socioeconomic status (i.e., where people ranked themselves relative to others) was more predictive of physical health and psychological well-being than actual socioeconomic rank. So while I don’t think that you should start spending like a millionaire, it may help to think of yourself as one.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:23 on 2018-06-09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Irrationally Yours, , ,   

    Ask Ariely: On Money Management, Temper Tantrums, and Retirement Rank 

    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 work as the managing director at a small nonprofit with 10 full-time staffers. I recently learned that one of the senior program directors, with a position junior to mine, makes nearly $15,000 a year more than I do. He consistently gets poor performance reviews and has done little fund-raising to keep our organization running. He’s also a white man (I am a woman of Middle Eastern descent) and about 30 years older than I. Should I say something to my boss about this? My salary is decent after all, and the job market is tough.

    —Sandy 

    In general, it’s not only our own salary but also how much our colleagues are paid that makes us happy or unhappy with what we’re earning. Having an unproductive subordinate earning more than you would annoy anyone—and the feeling will probably grow over time. With this in mind, you should ask your boss for an explanation. Maybe you’ll find that your colleague is getting paid more for a good reason, or that your organization will fix the inequity between the salaries—or that you are going to be happier elsewhere.

    ___________________________________________________

    Hi, Dan.

    My 5-year-old frequently throws temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. When we are in public (say, on the bus or train), I often give in to him to head off the screaming and my resulting embarrassment. After each incident, he promises to behave better, but his tantrums just seem to escalate. I think he’s being manipulative. What can I do?

    —Margie 

    You’ve got what sounds like a garden-variety tantrum problem. I think that your son is just being a child and trying to fulfill his goals. Since you are teaching him that when he screams, you give him what he wants, he will continue that strategy until it stops working. This kind of conditioning strongly influences children—and the rest of us to some extent. The solution is to not give in to the screaming, while also making clear that you’re far more likely to yield when your son communicates calmly. Changing the conditioning will take time and expose a lot of innocent bystanders to screaming, but in the long run it will be worth it.

    ___________________________________________________

    Dear Dr. Ariely,

    My wife has retired, but I’m still working at age 71, and we live with some difficulty from paycheck to paycheck. I don’t touch the more than $1 million in my retirement fund. Technically, I’m a millionaire, but I don’t behave like one. Should I start thinking of myself as wealthy and act accordingly?

    —Norman 

    Yes, you should. Since I am hoping that you and your wife will live a long life, I am not advising you to go on a spending spree. At the same time, it might be useful for you to think of yourself as having a higher socioeconomic status. A study published in the journal Health Psychology in 2000 by Nancy E. Adler and colleagues showed that subjective socioeconomic status (i.e., where people ranked themselves relative to others) was more predictive of physical health and psychological well-being than actual socioeconomic rank. So while I don’t think that you should start spending like a millionaire, it may help to think of yourself as one.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:08 on 2018-05-26 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Irrationally Yours, , ,   

    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.

    —Robert 

    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?

    —David 

    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?

    —Michael 

    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.

     
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