Tagged: wsj Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • feedwordpress 12:30:21 on 2017-11-11 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Opposing Opinions, Feeling Failures, and Adjusting Activities 

    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 learned about research showing that when people hold extreme beliefs, giving them data that contradicts their basic opinions actually strengthens those beliefs! Does this mean that there is no way to change the beliefs of people with extreme opinions?

    —Jordan 

    Changing people’s opinions is indeed difficult, but there is hope. With people who hold extreme views, one paradoxical finding is that presenting them with even more extreme arguments in support of their beliefs persuades them to moderate. In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014, Boaz Hameiri and colleagues describe a citywide intervention in Israel where they used this approach in an ad campaign about the Israel-Palestine conflict. The ad campaign was designed to try to change the opinions of right-wing Israelis who oppose peace.

    The ads presented the participants with absurd claims about the benefits of the conflict—for example, that it’s good for camaraderie and morality and helps to create the unique culture of Israel. The results showed that the campaign changed minds: From what they said and how they reported voting, those with right-wing views became more conciliatory and cut back their support of aggressive policies, compared with residents of a comparable Israeli city without the ad campaign. The researchers hypothesize that the intervention succeeded because the ads caused people to more deeply consider their own beliefs.

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    Hey, Dan!

    Why do we believe we can learn from our own mistakes but blame other people’s failure on their personalities and/or lack of sufficient skills? Has this “one-way street” phenomenon been studied?

    —Darin 

    You are describing behavior that falls under the heading of what social psychologists call the “fundamental attribution error.” In general, we tend to see good things that happen to us as the product of our own doing and bad things as the result of outside circumstances. Conversely, we tend to attribute good things that happen to other people to external circumstances and bad things to their own doing.

    We believe that we can learn from our own mistakes because those mistakes aren’t really about us. We think they involve external circumstances that we can learn to handle better.

    Can we learn to override this type of judgment? I spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley recently, meeting with executives of startups and venture capitalists. I was struck by what often happens when a startup fails: People in Silicon Valley approach the setback much less negatively than the rest of the world does. Executives sometimes even look at their colleagues’ failure in a positive way, as a sign of experience and learning.

    Can we generalize from Silicon Valley to the rest of the world? I’m not sure, but it seems to me that we can change the way we look at other people’s failures, and maybe even limit the blame we assign to them, as we would with our own failures.

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    Hi, Dan.

    Let’s say that your regular activities include things like playing poker with friends every week or gardening every weekend. How do you decide when to keep on going with these activities—or stop and try something new?

    —Joanne 

    Questioning the value of our routines is good, because it can help us to stop doing things we no longer enjoy. It’s bad, however, because such questioning gets in the way of whatever happiness the activity gives us. So I suggest that you question yourself—but only for a short time. Perhaps take the last week of December to evaluate how much pleasure you get from your leisure activities—and consider what you could do instead.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.


     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:43 on 2017-10-28 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Creating Commitments, Simulating Stressors, and Tempting Turnips 

    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 was recently at a very good lecture about global warming, and by the end of the lecture I was highly motivated to make real changes in my life and have a more positive impact on the environment. Two months later, I realized that despite my good intentions, I had done very little to change anything about my behavior. Why is it so difficult for me to take any action?

    —Rachel 

    This is very human and common. There are many cases in which we feel we should take particular actions, but then we don’t—such as exercising, eating healthy, washing your hands, practicing safe sex or texting while driving. I think that getting people to care about the environment is perhaps one of the toughest behavioral challenges we have. In some ways, it’s as if the issue were perfectly designed to maximize human apathy: The consequences are probabilistic and somewhere in the far future, and anything we can do is just a drop in the bucket. In short, all the elements that create human apathy are rolled into one challenge.

    So how can you make sure that you’re acting on your beliefs? Come up with very specific rules (change the setting of your thermostat, eat less meat, etc.), write them down, tell other people that you have committed to them, and then try to follow them.

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    Dear Dan,

    As an oral surgeon, I encounter patients in pain (or anxious about possible pain) every day. I have a solution for many of them: intravenous sedation! Unfortunately, the cost (about $600) deters many patients and they prefer to suffer to avoid the payment. Do you have any advice about how best to guide patients who would benefit from IV sedation to pick it instead of suffering?

    —Andrew 

    Helping people figure out how they’ll feel in a future state, especially one that they’ve never experienced, is tricky. I would suggest that you try to create a comparison between the pain of the surgery and another type of pain. Suggest that your patients put their hands in a bucket with ice for three minutes (which is very painful), and when they are experiencing this pain, say: “Here is what surgery would most likely feel like without the IV sedation. The only difference is that the surgery will take about an hour. Would you rather pay for the IV sedation or do the surgery without it?” Now, the patients can make a more informed decision, and my guess is that many more will pick the IV sedation.

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    Dear Dan,

    I notice that at farmers markets, I am generally less worried about price and tend to spend more than I do in regular grocery stores. Does the presence of the crowd make me less concerned with the way I spend my money? I wonder if the same tendency is true for visitors to county fairs, flea markets, carnivals and other outdoor venues where lots of people gather in a temporary mini-community. Or is something else entirely going on in this context?

    —Paul 

    My guess is that it is the result of excitement, but the excitement is not with the crowd but with scarcity—with having a small window of time to buy, say, locally grown kale or handmade stuff. The knowledge that this window of opportunity will soon close and that we will not have a way to get back to our beloved kale makes us want the product more—and get it without paying much attention to the price.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.


     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:35 on 2017-10-14 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Avoiding Admonitions, Bestowing Beverages, and Reaching Readers 

    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’ve read that gossip represents a huge proportion of people’s communication with each other. Why do you think gossip is so pervasive?

    —Shelly 

    The short answer is it’s titillating. But there is a deeper reason for why people dish about other people: It is society’s way of regulating behavior. We usually think negatively of gossip, but fear of being gossiped about can be beneficial.

    A 2012 study by Bianca Beersma and Gerben A. Van Kleef illustrated thisThey gave participants lottery tickets and told them to allocate as many as they wanted to themselves or to others. Everyone was told that the allocations would be made public to the rest of the group, while some were also told that the group had a high tendency to gossip. The latter set acted more charitably: They kept fewer tickets for themselves.

    While gossip isn’t fun for the person being talked about, it may be an effective way to keep each other in line.

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    Dear Dan,

    For 40-plus years I’ve given homemade Bloody Marys to friends over the holidays. Newer friends hear about them, so the list gets longer each year. I now make more than 60 one-liter bottles annually. I enjoy making them, but I’m sure that some recipients would prefer not to keep getting them. How can I separate those who really enjoy them from those who don’t?

    —Bill 

    Giving people an easy way out is helpful in matters like this. If you’re too direct—that is, if you ask people directly if they don’t want the gift—no one will want to hurt your feelings.

    Given this, instead of asking who doesn’t want it, ask who does. Send everyone an email asking them to contact you to stay on the Bloody Mary list. And if you want to further control the number of bottles you make, tell them that you can only make 20, meaning that if they don’t really want your Bloody Marys, they would be taking one from a friend who does.

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    Dear Dan,

    I’m starting a neighborhood book club, but I want to make sure that only the most committed individuals join. So I considered having the club meet a bit outside of our neighborhood, or early in the day on Saturday. Would these methods ensure that I will only get the most dedicated readers? 

    —Dylan 

    I faced a similar dilemma when I started teaching. I wanted to get only the most dedicated students, so I decided to hold the class at 8 a.m. My logic was that only the most motivated students would sign up for such an early class. Two weeks in, though, I realized I was wrong. About half of the students weren’t showing up; many others were sleeping in class.

    It turns out that my approach backfired: Instead of getting dedicated students, I got the ones who couldn’t wake up on time to register for classes that took place in a more reasonable hour.

    This general problem is what is called adverse selection, where the process causes the people who join to be the ones that we want the least. So, while you think that your approach will recruit the most dedicated readers, consider that your method may instead land you people who have no friends or nothing else to do on the weekend. If you go ahead with this, let me know how it worked out.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.


     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:24 on 2017-09-30 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Better Brews, Money Management, and Flirting Forays 

    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 fan of craft beers, and when I hear about an exciting new one, I’ll get a case or two and invite some fellow aficionados to share the experience. But as we crack open the new beer and sample it, I almost always find myself disappointed. Why does this happen so much?

    —Ben 

    Your latest beer may just not be that good, but I think something else is probably going on here: Your heightened expectations are working against you. Raised hopes can influence the way that we experience something, for good or ill, depending on the gap between expectation and reality.

    Imagine, for example, that the new beer you just bought measures an objective eight on a beer connoisseur’s 10-point scale. It’s a good beer, but not an amazing one.

    If you had been hoping that your new brew would be a nine, your expectations can “pull up” the way that you experience the beer, making it taste as if it really is a nine. Your heightened expectations would heighten your experience.

    On the other hand, if you were expecting a 10 as you raised your glass, the gap between the beer’s objective eight-point quality and your 10-point expectations will be too large to bridge—so large, in fact, that you’ll be disappointed relative to your expectations and feel like you’re drinking a mere seven.

    All of this means that the trick to happiness (with beer as with much else in life) is to tame your expectations. Maybe try telling yourself that your latest brew is unlikely to be a 10, or remind yourself that the odds that your next beer will be spectacular are very low—and then be ready to enjoy it if that first quaff surpasses your less-than-great expectations.

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    Dear Dan,

    I’ve set myself a weekly budget of $500, which should cover groceries, lunch, coffee and nights out. I used to put everything on my credit card and try to keep track of my spending in my head, but I inevitably wound up spending more. To fight this credit-card temptation, I started taking out $500 in cash every Friday and spending only that. This strategy leaves me more aware of my outlays—but I’m still running out of cash by Thursday. What else can I do?

    —George 

    Your dedication is impressive. Having a budget for discretionary spending isn’t easy, but it is the first important step toward better finances. It’s also good that you’re managing your weekly budget without credit cards, which are designed to make it hard for us to remember how much we’ve spent.

    With that in mind, let me suggest two things. First, instead of using cash, switch to a prepaid debit card that you load with $500 a week. With cash, you tend to estimate how much is left just by looking at the piles of bills you have; the debit card can tell you after each transaction exactly how much is left in your weekly budget.

    Second, start your budget week on Monday, not on Friday. With your current method, you’re giving yourself the largest amount of money to start the most tempting part of the week—the weekend—which leaves you more likely to overspend. If you start your budget week on Monday, you’ll be more likely to try to save some cash to have a fun weekend.

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    Dear Dan,

    What is the most effective pickup line?

    —Janet 

    A good pickup line should show some interest but not too much, and it should put the burden of proof on the other person. I’d suggest trying, “You don’t seem like my style, but you intrigue me.”

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.


     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:48 on 2017-09-16 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Tee Time, Quick Quizzes, and Leisurely Lifestyles 

    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,

    Many CEOs claim to use golf to informally “get things done.” How much are they really accomplishing on the links?

    —Paul 

    I used to believe in the popular notion that golfing is an important business tool, but a paper published last year in the journal Management Science changed my view. Lee Biggerstaff, David Cicero and Andy Puckett collected golfing records for more than 300 CEOs from S&P 1500 firms from 2008 to 2012 and found that the more golf a CEO played, the more a firm’s performance and value decreased. When CEOs played at least 22 rounds in a year, they found, the mean return on assets was more than 100 basis points lower than for firms whose CEOs played golf less frequently. I’m inclined to think that the idea of golf as a business tool is a self-serving tale that CEOs tell themselves and us to justify spending time and money at play.

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    Dear Dan,

    I am an economics professor, and many of my students don’t complete their readings before class. That makes class activities ineffective and meaningful discussions impossible. I have tried incentives and punishments related to their final grades, but these haven’t done much. Any suggestions for nudging my students along here?

    —Amarendu

    This is a challenge. You’re right to think about offering incentives, but they have to be fairly immediate. Waiting until the end of the semester isn’t going to work. Your goals include fostering a love of learning that will endure long after your class, which means that your nudges shouldn’t be perceived as penalties but as ways to help your students do their best.

    I recommend the following approach, which I use in my own courses. On the first day of class, I ask, “How many of you hope to do all the reading for each session?” They all raise their hands. Next I ask, “But how many of you will probably—particularly toward the end of the semester—sometimes not be on top of the readings before each class?” Again, they all raise their hands.

    Then I say, “OK. To help you achieve your goals, we’re going to have a quick quiz on the assigned reading at the beginning of each class. The quizzes should take three or four minutes and will make up 10% of your final grade. And to be clear, they’re designed to help you be the kind of student you want to be.” This has worked for me, and I hope you’ll find it effective with your students.

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    Dear Dan,

    Is this column the best use of your time? For that matter, how should one decide how best to use one’s time, especially leisure time?

    —Paul 

    The way we spend our time, much like the way we spend our money, is mostly a question of opportunity cost. If you spend an hour reading, that’s an hour that you can’t spend training for a marathon.

    People vary somewhat in what makes them happy, but the longevity expert Dan Buettner has found some general lessons. His research shows that the world’s happiest people, in an average day, spend less than 30 minutes watching TV, devote just 30 to 60 minutes to social media, listen to music for at least two hours and get six to nine hours of sleep. They also volunteer two to four hours a week, practice relaxation techniques, take at least four weeks of vacation a year, read a book at least every other month, engage in sexual activity (the more, the merrier, Mr. Buettner says), and have close friends who are racially and ethnically diverse.

    All that may be too much of a lifestyle change for you, but try picking a few of the elements that seem simplest to implement—and over time, try to take on more.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.


     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:33 on 2017-08-19 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Helping Hands, Popular Posts, and Mischievous Motivators 

    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 struggling financially, and I’m considering asking some friends for help—perhaps seeing if they could offer a small amount every month until things get better. Is this a good strategy, or should I ask for more money upfront?

    —Jordan 

    Mixing finances and personal relationships is always risky. But if you have the right friends—understanding, compassionate and generous of spirit—and are determined to go this route, I would ask them for all the money upfront.

    The issue here isn’t just asking them for help; it is their having to think about your request. When a friendship gets tangled up with personal finances, the best you can hope for is that all involved won’t have it in mind when they spend time together and will be able just to enjoy one another’s company. But if you have to keep asking your friends for more installments, everyone is more likely to be thinking about it. That will lead to more uncomfortable conversations, strain the friendships and add to your financial stress.

    So the simplest route is to ask just once, for the full amount that you need, thank your friends sincerely—and not mention it again until you can pay them back.

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    Dear Dan,

    Why would people rather believe a viral social-media post over credible scientific information?

    —Efrat 

    Because we are cognitively lazy and want simple answers.

    A fuller explanation would also concede that academics and scientists bear some responsibility for the difficulty that some feel in taking our research at face value. We tend to write in technical jargon, to add endless qualifications to our findings and to insist that every topic needs to be studied further—all of which makes it hard for nonspecialists to take guidance from us.

    As for posts on social media, their believability has to do with what psychologists call “social proof.” That is, we instinctively follow the herd, without realizing that we are doing it. The algorithms that social networks use are designed to exploit social proof and to get people to spend more time online. When a post becomes popular, the social networks promote it even more heavily, targeting users who are likely to be sympathetic, with the goal of maximizing their use of the network. Of course, that means that more people will see the popular post, pushing the chance of something going viral even higher.

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    Dear Dan,

    My son, a fourth-grader, recently had another child’s progress report placed in his box by accident. That made me wonder: If children were “accidentally” sent a fake report card, along with their own, for another kid who was making slightly better progress in school, would it motivate them to work harder?

    —Paula 

    I like the way you think—slightly devious but very creative. You’re also right. Giving people (children included) the sense that another person is doing better increases their motivation—so long as it’s only slightly better. Setting unattainable goals doesn’t work well, but offering a reachable one can be a useful goad.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.


     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:49 on 2017-08-05 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Interrupting the Internet, Involving Ideologies, and Admiring Air Travel 

    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,

    We try to set boundaries on phone and computer use by our teenagers, who are supposed to stop using their devices by 9 p.m. But my husband stays on his phone long after that, researching vacations or kitchen appliances—which, to my mind, is a clear double standard. Am I right?

    —Tina 

    I’m with you: Setting a bad personal example isn’t a great way to encourage good behavior in your teens. I would pressure your husband to be a better role model.

    Or you could just turn off the Wi-Fi router after 9 p.m., which would guarantee that nobody could go online. It is hard to resist temptation when giving in is so easy—in this case, when the internet is just a click away. By creating roadblocks, even small ones like turning a router back on, we can create a natural pause for reflection that should encourage better decisions.

    The only downside is that, with all the free time your husband will now have, he might want to spend it with you. Are you ready for this?

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    Dear Dan,

    How can some people see global warming as a huge crisis facing humanity while others dismiss it as a big red herring? Why do Republicans and Democrats reach such different conclusions reading the same data? Can ideologies really lead to such strong biases in the way that we look at the world?

    —Rachel 

    Ideology can easily color our views, even on scientific data. In much the same way that Israelis and Palestinians can see the same clash and place the blame entirely differently, so too can political ideology taint almost everything we experience. And, of course, people with different ideologies don’t read the same information: We largely pick the information outlets that support our initial beliefs, making it even easier to become convinced that we are correct.

    This sort of biased interpretation of data isn’t the end of it, though. As Troy Campbell and Aaron Kay showed in a 2014 paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “an aversion to the solutions associated with the problem” can color our view of the problem itself.

    When the researchers exposed participants to solutions to global warming based on more government regulation, those who supported free-market ideologies were much less likely to acknowledge the hazards of climate change. On the other hand, when the researchers proposed solutions based on less government regulation and more autonomy for private enterprise, these same participants were much more likely to see the dangers of global warming.

    That suggests one way forward: Don’t just shove more data in peoples’ faces and ask them why they won’t face up to reality, but work on solutions that align with a wide variety of ideologies.

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    Dear Dan,

    I fly a lot for work, and my annoyance with air travel is rising all the time. These days, I get upset the night before a flight just from knowing I have to head for the airport the next day. What can I do to reduce my distaste for flying?

    —David 

    Learn more about the physics of flying and the complexity of the operational side of managing a large airline. We are quick to take things for granted. We get wondrous new technologies such as Google and quickly stop being impressed; we get clean, running water in our homes and stop being amazed. By reminding yourself every time you get to an airport about the marvels of flight and the difficulty of running a big transportation company, you will focus on the full experience—and enjoy it much more.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.


     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:05 on 2017-07-22 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Coin Conundrums, Reading Realizations, and Ice-Breaking Ideas 

    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,

    A chain of coffee shops in Israel, where I live, had tremendous success charging a flat price of five shekels (about $1.35) for coffee and other items on its menu. People would get coffee and often a muffin or something else to eat. Now the chain has raised the flat price at its cafes to six shekels, and suddenly my friends don’t go anymore. Why?

    —Ron 

    Some time ago, Unilever entered several markets in India and Africa, offering tiny amounts of products such as soap or milk in packages that were small and inexpensive. The company found that it could do well selling these products so long as the price for them matched the smallest coin then circulating in the economy

    For example, as long as people in Kenya were buying a small portion of milk for 10 shillings, they would purchase a lot of it. But when the cost increased even a smidgen over the value of the smallest local coin, sales dropped dramatically.

    I suspect that your coffee shop is suffering for the same reason. In Israel, the five-shekel coin is widely used, and though Israel has smaller coins, the same general principle probably applies: People are more inclined to buy items that are priced on the scale of familiar, low-denomination coins.

    When something costs the same as a coin, we can categorize the purchase as cheap and not think too much about it. But the moment something costs more than a single coin, we start thinking more carefully about whether or not we want to buy it.

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    Dear Dan,

    I turned 40 this year, and it is harder and harder for me to read text on my cellphone. Why did cellphone companies start reducing the font sizes on our phones?

    —Ayelet 

    It’s clearly a conspiracy among evil conglomerates. The cellphone companies are joining forces with the eyeglasses companies to persuade those of us over 40 that our eyesight is deteriorating and we need to purchase buy new glasses.

    On the other hand, it may be that sometimes we just don’t want to acknowledge certain conclusions or get certain answers (that we are spending more than we should, that we are getting older and so on). In such cases, people turn out to have a startling ability for self-delusion, even when the desire not to acknowledge the truth in the short term can hurt us in the long term.

    So maybe you should try to adopt eyeglasses as a fashion statement and use them to express your new, somewhat older and increasingly excellent self. (And happy birthday!)

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    Dear Dan,

    I’m going to host a party soon with some old and new friends, and I want to do something to break the ice. Any advice?

    —Moran 

    In such situations, I find it very useful to start the evening by declaring that the event will operate under Las Vegas rules: What happens at the party stays at the party. Next I tell people that sharing embarrassing stories is a wonderful way to get to know one another. Finally, I get things going by sharing one about myself.

    To give you the feel for it, here is the shortest such story anyone has ever shared with me: “I’m going on a blind date. I knock on the door. A woman opens it. I ask, ‘Is your daughter home?’ The door closes. I turn around and leave.”

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal here.


     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:39 on 2017-07-08 Permalink
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    Ask Ariely: On Financial Feelings, Polling Places, and Meaningless Messages 

    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,

    Why is society structured around the accumulation of wealth? Is this part of human nature, and is it the best way to achieve happiness?

    —Annie 

    Most of us believe that more money brings more happiness—and the wealthy are no exception. In a 2014 survey of very wealthy clients at a large investment bank, Mike Norton of Harvard Business School asked clients how happy they were and how much money would make them really happy.

    Regardless of the amount they already had, they responded that they’d need about three times more to feel happy. So people with $2 million thought they could achieve happiness if they had $6 million, while those with $6 million saw happiness in having $18 million, and so on. This kind of thinking changes, of course, as people get more money, with happiness in reach at a level that is some multiple more than what they already have.

    Although people predict that money strongly influences happiness, researchers also find that the actual relationship between wealth and happiness is more nuanced. In 2010 Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton analyzed data from over 450,000 responses to a daily survey of 1,000 U.S. residents by the Gallup Organization. They found that money does influence happiness at low to moderate levels of income. Real lack of money leads to more worry and sadness, higher levels of stress, less positive affect (happiness, enjoyment, and reports of smiling and laughter) and less favorable evaluations of one’s own life. Yet most of these effects only hold for people who earn $75,000 a year or less. Above about $75,000, higher income is not the simple ticket to happiness that we think it is.

    Together, these studies show that we need far less money than we think to maximize our emotional well-being and minimize stress. This means that accumulating wealth isn’t about the pursuit of happiness—it’s about the pursuit of what we think (wrongly) will make us happy.

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    Dear Dan,

    When I voted this morning in the U.K. general election (at a polling station in a church) I realized that the choice of venue may impact electoral decisions. Most polling stations in my area are in either a community center or a church, which may have mental associations for voters (for example, church=conservative/right; community center=community/social responsibility/left). I was wondering if you have ever looked at this phenomenon.

    —Zaur 

    Your intuition is absolutely right. In a 2008 paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Jonah Berger of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues showed that Arizona voters assigned to vote in schools were more likely to support an education funding initiative. In a follow-up lab experiment, Mr. Berger also showed that even viewing images of schools makes people more supportive of tax increase to fund public schools.

    In other words, the context for voting certainly changes how we look at the world and what decisions we make.

    ___________________________________________________

    Dear Dan,

    People I meet sometimes ask me for my email address. On one hand, I want to keep in touch with those who are truly interested in friendship, but on the other, I don’t want to have a million meaningless exchanges. How can I get email only from people who are truly invested in real discussions?

    —Ron 

    The problem is that email is too easy to send—it just takes a few seconds—while the person getting it on the other side might have to spend a lot of time responding to a particular message or to their email in general. My answer? Get a complex email address that takes some time to type. With this added effort you will get emails only from the people who are really interested in contacting you.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal.


     
  • feedwordpress 11:30:26 on 2017-06-24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , wsj   

    Ask Ariely: On Surveillance Success, Relationship Recovery, and Taste Temptation 

    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 seeing many more surveillance cameras in shopping malls, restaurants, roads and even my workplace. I doubt that anyone is watching all these acres of footage, so why should anyone care about being recorded? Won’t the cameras’ ubiquity undermine their effectiveness?

    —Bruce 

    Don’t be so sure. Even if no one is watching the cameras’ video in real time, authorities can still use it after a crime has occurred to figure out who did what to whom. So please don’t start behaving badly just because you’re seeing so many cameras around.

    Moreover, from a psychological perspective, surveillance cameras also provide a good mechanism for reminding us about morality. One of the most powerful motivators of honest behavior is our own moral self-evaluations (known to experts as “self-concept maintenance”). When we have other people (or cameras) around, they remind us about the people we want to be, which spurs us to behave more nobly.

    An early demonstration of this principle came from research in 1976 by Edward Diener and Mark Wallbom, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, who showed that mirrors reduced academic dishonesty in students by making them more self-aware. In their experiments, students who took an exam in a room decked out in mirrors were less likely to keep writing after the bell rang than those who took their tests in a normal classroom. Similarly, surveillance cameras—particularly if they’re clearly observable—should increase self-awareness and, with it, better behavior.

    ___________________________________________________

    Dear Dan,

    My closest friend since childhood recently betrayed me, after decades of trusting friendship. She has apologized sincerely, but all the confidence I had in her is still tainted. Is it rational (or helpful) to forgive people who have hurt us?

    —Jamie 

    While it isn’t clear whether your friendship can fully recover from this incident, you clearly would be better off if you could forgive your friend. Research has shown that our health improves when we free up mental space from grudges and hate.

    In a study published in 2003 in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Kathleen A. Lawler and colleagues interviewed 108 college students about a time when a parent or friend had deeply hurt them and measured their blood pressure at several points during the conversation. Subjects who forgave their betrayers had lower levels of blood pressure than those who hadn’t been as lenient. Even more important, college students who had more forgiving personalities overall turned over to have lower blood-pressure levels and heart rates.

    Of course, forgiveness isn’t easy, but if you can pull it off, it brings real benefits.

    ___________________________________________________

    Dear Dan,

    I go out to dinner with my husband once a week, and every time, we promise to order something healthy—but when we see the menu, we get tempted and order something less virtuous but tasty. Any advice on how to show more resolve?

    —Aimee 

    You are describing a classical case of temptation. Before you get to the restaurant, you’ve settled on a certain idea of how you want to behave—then you get tempted, and afterward, you regret your indulgences. So how can you override temptation? Just order for each other. When we order for our significant other, we aren’t tempted by taste and can instead think about their health—which is also what our spouse would want a few hours later.

    See the original article in the Wall Street Journal.


     
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