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What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

237. Solving Modern Problems with a Stone Age Brain

In today’s conversation, I am joined by Dr. Douglas Kenrick and David Lundberg-Kenrick to talk about their new book, Solving Modern Problems with a Stone-Age Brain. As you will hear about in the episode, they are a father and son team with very different backgrounds, so it is incredibly interesting to see how they came together to write this really incredibly interesting book.

I became acquainted with Doug and Dave through Bob Cialdini, who emailed me saying that this team from ASU had a new book out that he found to be fascinating and thought I would too. That was, of course, enough endorsement for me, and after some due diligence, I quickly confirmed that this was a book that was a great fit for the podcast. Doug and Dave have stories of a young Bob Cialdini as well as “Danny Kahneman” in their book as they share examples of how our brains have adapted (or not) while the world around us has changed dramatically and how that matters to all of us in life, and of course in business. You don’t want to miss this!

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HERE'S A 2 MINUTE TIP.

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SHOW NOTES:

  • [00:46] In today’s conversation, I am joined by Dr. Douglas Kenrick and David Lundberg-Kenrick to talk about their new book, Solving Modern Problems with a Stone-Age Brain
  • [03:06] Dave and Doug share their backgrounds and how they found themselves writing a book together. Dave’s background is in film production.
  • [04:20] Doug is a social psychologist. 
  • [05:59] Social motives are actually primary. We have basic needs like hunger and thirst and as we get a little older we start to become concerned with protecting ourselves. 
  • [07:58] Organisms are designed to reproduce. So human beings go through the same basic phases as other animals. You develop your body, develop your social relationships, and then you find mates. 
  • [10:25] The seven motives are basic resources (food and shelter), self-protection, affiliations or friendship, gaining status, finding and choosing a mate, maintaining romantic relationships, and kin care. 
  • [12:04] There are some places in which our ancestral motives serve us well and there are others in which they serve us really badly. 
  • [14:20] Melina recommends Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and  Evolutionary Ideas by Sam Tatam (previous guest on The Brainy Business). 
  • [16:06] Stimulus control is incredibly important and you can control your environment to support what you want to do. 
  • [18:00] You should never strive for perfection because you are always going to feel disappointed. It is really hard for us to balance all seven motives. 
  • [21:11] We can only prioritize 1-2 of the motives at any given time. 
  • [23:34] We can take small steps and do a little in each of these categories and when we do them they tend to make us feel healthier. 
  • [25:25] Their book-writing process was to go for a walk in the morning and talk about the ideas they were going to write that day. After working and writing alone during the day when they took an evening walk they almost always came up with solutions to the problems they had found in the morning. 
  • [28:05] They really enjoyed the process and learned a lot. 
  • [29:58] Figuring out ways to present things in a way that is ethical is really important too. 
  • [32:22] There is something really interesting about ideas that come from dialogue. 
  • [33:11] What about applying this in business? Start by asking how your business can fill the seven fundamental motives for your customers and employees.
  • [35:07] The thing you might think your brand is about might not actually be the only way to convey your message. Think about what your brand conveys and what you really want it to convey. 
  • [37:48] You can ask yourself, “How can this job satisfy my motives?” You will do better on the job if you walk in and regularly consider, “How can I satisfy the motives of my co-workers and bosses?” 
  • [39:38] Public compliments are one of the best things leaders and coworkers can do and it is a really effective thing. 
  • [40:59] Learning people’s names is one of the classic ways to give a little bit of affiliation and status. 
  • [43:45] Work-life balance is a big thing for both finding, keeping a mate, and parenting. 
  • [45:04] Stick to lifting people up and always giving them more status. Give them more autonomy and time also. 
  • [48:40] Human beings are designed to not be selfish, but to help other people. The best thing you can do for yourself is to help others. 
  • [50:49] Melina shares her closing thoughts. 
  • [51:24] Often, a simple reframing of your message can make all the difference in the world, and understanding the things that will motivate our stone-age minds to act — even in this modern world — is so, so useful in finding messaging that sticks.

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