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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?

241. Behavioral Science in the Wild with Dilip Soman

In today’s conversation, I am joined by Dr. Dilip Soman, coauthor of Behavioral Science in the Wild. Dilip is a Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Science and Economics and serves as a Director of the Behavioural Economics in Action Research Centre at Rotman [BEAR]. His research is in the area of behavioral science and its applications to consumer well-being, marketing, and policy. He has written multiple books including The Last Mile, The Behaviorally Informed Organization, and Behavioral Science in the Wild (all of which we will discuss a bit today) and he also teaches a massive open online course called “BE101X: Behavioural Economics in Action” on EdX.

That is actually how he and I first got introduced years ago when someone who was taking BE101X tagged us both on Twitter suggesting my podcast as a resource for students taking his class. We had connected a bit then but didn’t end up making it the “last mile” to getting a meeting in the books (see what I did there?). So when this new book, Behavioral Science in the Wild came out, I knew it was the perfect time for us to have this first chat and it was so much fun! Listen in to hear about the pain of paying (and some interesting thoughts and research about dental work), the duration heuristic, the importance of virtual progress and supposedly irrelevant factors (SIFs) and so much more!

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IN A RUSH?

HERE'S A 2 MINUTE TIP.

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SHOW NOTES:

  • [00:43] In today’s conversation, I am joined by Dr. Dilip Soman, coauthor of Behavioral Science in the Wild.
  • [03:31] Much of his early research was about how memory from pain depreciates.
  • [05:01] Memories of factual things remain. Memories of experiences tend to depreciate. 
  • [06:30] Melina shares a recent experience at the dentist where her hygienist said that 40% of people don’t want novocaine because they don’t like feeling numb after the appointment. 
  • [07:40] Dilip shares a story about his neighbor getting a snow blower. 
  • [09:35] Often people don’t want to pay more to get something done sooner. People learn in some domains that the longer the service the better.
  • [12:10] You would think that your overall evaluation of an experience depends on the sum of all of your experiences. Sometimes experiences feel better if you feel like you are making progress as opposed to actual progress.
  • [13:49] We are actually happier when we are driving than sitting in traffic (even if the trip takes longer). 
  • [16:25] Waiting time is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to educate, amuse, and engage people.  
  • [18:09] Dilip shares his background and the work that he does. He is a mechanical engineer by training.
  • [20:10] His entire motivation for coming to academia was to understand why people think and how we can help people lead happier lives. He has tried many ways to take science to the field. 
  • [23:06] Medical sciences actually have a science for how to implement stuff called implementation science – behavioral science should have this too. 
  • [23:41] The first book in his series, The Behaviorally Informed Organization talks about what an organization should do to embed behavioral science. 
  • [25:15] Behavioral Science in the Wild was written to tackle the challenge that the results are not as formidable as we would like them to be. 
  • [26:58] SIFs are supposedly irrelevant factors, things that we think should not influence decisions but do. 
  • [29:04] Every intervention could have multiple interpretations and pathways. 
  • [31:11] Successfully scaling an intervention doesn’t mean that intervention has to be homogenous. You don’t have to do the same thing for everyone. Often you actually need to customize it. 
  • [32:23] There are two sources of differences in situations that might cause the effect of our interventions to change. 
  • [34:47] Oftentimes we explain failures by just saying it is a different context (don’t let this be your excuse and stop there). 
  • [37:34] The moment you change the lens to try and understand the friction, you start seeing things.  
  • [37:44] Think small. The success of big ideas gets tripped up by small things.
  • [39:22] Sometimes it is the little stuff that trips people up. 
  • [41:02] Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones. 
  • [43:16] Melina shares her closing thoughts.
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