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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Nudging in the Smoke, Part 2: London Behavioural Insights Conference BX2015

The Behavioural Insights Team has now posted the videos from the plenary sessions, individual streams and workshops from the London Behavioural Insights Conference BX2015. So, no excuse for not catching up with all the latest material from behavioural economics and behavioural insights as applied to behaviour change interventions and policy. Click here.  

If you don’t have time to watch all the videos, following, as a public service (we were there, in real time), is our pick of the quotes from the sessions which we attended.

Reasons to be humble

“When we observe behaviour that we don’t understand, it can be because people actually know things that we don’t.”

Rachel Glennerster

“The poor are largely unseen.”

Eldar Shafir

Women Are Missing…and here’s what to do about it

“Between 100 million and 160 million girls and women are ‘missing’ because of sex-selective abortion, mistreatment and abuse.”

“Seeing is believing. If we don’t see women as CEOs or men as kindergarten teachers, we don’t believe it’s possible.”

“When it comes to tackling gender inequality, rather than change people’s minds, we should change the environment in which people live and work.”

“We have known for over 60 years that a selection interview is a poor predictor of future performance. And panel interviews are even worse because of groupthink.”

“Don’t establish a prescriptive norm by how you describe things, such as the lack of women in certain fields.”

Iris Bohnet

The Curse of Knowledge strikes again

“Writing is an act of pretence and craftsmanship.”

“The curse of knowledge is the biggest barrier to clear writing.”

Steven Pinker

How reciprocity can beat the market

“There are six universal principles of social influence: reciprocation, liking, scarcity, social proof, authority, commitment.”

“If a change is small, it’s more likely to be implemented by the people who you are asking to do it.” (although it could bring major results)

“Reciprocity is about more than the traditional economic tit-for-tat model based on exchange. And it’s better if you go first, because people will want to give in return.”

“You should always think about what you can give that helps meet the needs of your audience.”

“Ernest Hemingway’s bet-winning short story, told in six words: ‘For Sale: baby shoes. Never used.’ “

“Start with a broad smile.”

Robert Cialdini

Multi-tasker? Yeah, Right.

“Multi-tasking is a myth. We can’t do more than one thing at a time.”

Marjorie Stiegler

Insights and Advice from Daniel Kahneman

Advice to those trying to influence policy makers: “What is preventing people doing the things that you want them to do? When you implement the policy who will be the losers and what will they do to you?

Advice to students: “Be less about (the) literature and more about life.”

Advice to everyone:  “Don’t study anything that isn’t interesting or fun. Don’t worry so much. And know when to give up.”

Answering a question from Steven Pinker on whether de-biasing should be part of the curriculum:

“It should be possible to give people the chance to slow down and reflect on what they are doing. But people can’t be reflective all the time. For decision making, structure is a good thing. But this isn’t the same as de-biasing.”

“A lot of decision making in firms and in government is of very poor quality. It has evolved, it has not been designed.”

Daniel Kahneman

The Power of Search and the trouble with economics

“If people are interested in economics, you can be pretty sure that the economy is in trouble.”

From Google search results, “The strongest correlations with “Hardest Place to live in America” are disability, diabetic, blood pressure, antichrist and the rapture.”

Hal Varian

The thin line between honesty and dishonesty

“People normally only take a maximum of four free candies from a malfunctioning (experimentally fixed) vending machine, because five would be stealing.”

“People invite their friends to join in because of reverse social proof – if they do it, it makes it ok that you’ve done it.”

“Corruption is not about knowing that something is wrong – it’s about putting it into a place where you don’t care about it.” (e.g, not in the box marked ‘family’).

“Once you are in a corrupt environment, where the work takes place under different rules, behaviour changes very quickly.”

“The incidence of corruption and cheating is pretty similar across the world. But culture changes the domains in which corruption happens.”

“We think of ourselves in binary terms – we are either good or bad.”

“The logic of confession from the standpoint of an economist: if we can get absolution, why not cheat more. Even on the way to the church.”

“The standard models for understanding corruption are based on cost benefit analysis: the consequences of actions. But it’s actually more to do with rationalisation in the moment.”

“Whistleblowers are more likely to be women, because they aren’t part of ‘the boy’s club’ and aren’t betraying the group.”

“Drunk driving kills people, so we legislate to prevent it. But there are many other ways of killing people that we tolerate. Why?”

Dan Ariely

Markets are looking out for the naïve consumer – it could be you (some of the time)

“Consumers can be naïve or sophisticated, but not all the time. Even sophisticated consumers make mistakes, and markets are good at finding the instance when that mistake is made.”

Paul Heidhues

Firms are not black boxes

“Because firms are run by humans, they may not always profit-maxmimise.”

“Regulatory remedies rely on people acting in certain ways. If these don’t happen, bad outcomes follow.”

“Behavioural economics can be incorporated into the market.”

Amelia Fletcher

Why mindless eating can be a good thing

“It’s easier to change your eating environment than to change your mind.”

“We don’t know what we like, and we don’t know why we do what we do. Both of which are opportunities to change behaviour.”

“In the US, it’s possible to predict a person’s weight based on about nine observable variables in their kitchen. If a cereal box is visible, they are likely to be 20lb heavier than their neighbours.”

Brian Wansink

Last but not least – a few concluding gems

“When it comes to food, the less you pay, the more you get.”

Unidentified contributor

“If you have to go out of your way to think about healthy eating, you won’t do it.”

Sam Kass

“The average British male is eating 200 calories a day more than he needs.”

Alison Tedstone

“It’s important to learn from failure. It’s not just about saying ‘When it works, it’s all down to me and my colleagues. When it doesn’t work, we blame other factors.” You should not be afraid to create a situation in which interventions might fail – you could even give 3 “fails” a year to put in the bank”

Andrea Schneider

“The ancient Greeks were familiar with ‘weakness of the will.’ People do not always do what’s best for themselves.”

Daniel Gordon

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