Misbehaving Blog is now part of the Behavioral Scientist

“[We need to] stop people calling everyone who does applied work in this area a behavioral economist. The term we prefer is ‘behavioral scientist.’” - Richard Thaler

In an interview at ideas42’s New York headquarters, Richard Thaler called for a more open-minded (and less economics-centric) approach to behavioral science. He said that economics “leaves out so many important things,” and that applied behavioral science cannot only be practiced by behavioral economists: “[We need to] stop people calling everyone who does applied work in this area a behavioral economist. The term we prefer is ‘behavioral scientist.’”

With that in mind, Misbehaving Blog is thrilled to become part of the Behavioral Scientista new online magazine whose mission is to make the valuable insights gathered from behavioral science accessible and useful to all. With support provided by ideas42, the Center for Decision Research, and the Behavioral Science and Policy Association, the Behavioral Scientist will bring you original, thought-provoking reports from the front lines of behavioral science. On our site you'll find analysis of current events by leading behavioral scientists, updates on developments in the field, conversations with experts, coverage of recently published books and papers, and a curation of some of the best behavioral science writing online.

Find out more about the Behavioral Scientist in our letter welcoming readers to this exciting new project and be sure to join us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Why Your Lazy Colleague Gets Under Your Skin


Imagine you have an office job in New York City. You’ve been working at this firm for five years and know how the office works. The cubicle to your right is occupied by Joshua. Joshua’s been around a while, but you don’t understand how he still has a job. The guy’s a total slacker. Meanwhile, the cubicle to your left has been vacant for a while -- that is until Ellen, fresh out of business school and eager to prove herself, shows up. She’s a star -- she gets more done in a day than you do in two. Your boss comes in and assigns you to work on two different projects, one with Ellen and the other with Joshua. You notice that when you work with Ellen, you feel more productive than when you work with Joshua. Actually, working with Joshua starts to really frustrate you, and you think about reporting him to your boss.  

Nudgespotting: Getting Active in D.C.


Almost everyone appreciates the benefits of exercise, especially when it's time to make New Year’s resolutions. But incorporating exercise into your busy schedule isn’t always as easy as it looks on the Lulu Lemon commercials. In fact, in 2015 only 20.9% of adults over 18 met the federal physical activity guidelines. Even when we do intend to exercise, we often find ourselves feeling like it’s not worth the trouble or being tempted into a happy hour instead.

The good news is behavioral science can help. Here are some Washington, D.C. behavioral science insights in action that have helped others -- and myself -- get active.

Mad at Nate Silver About Election 2016? Why Behavioral Economics Suggests You Shouldn't Be


For many, the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election has raised questions about the future of the United States. It has also led some to cast aspersions on analysts like Nate Silver, who used statistical models and polling data to make probabilistic predictions about the election’s outcome. Because these models consistently favored Hillary Clinton, and often heavily so (Nate Silver predicted that Clinton had a 71.4% chance of winning, and other estimates were as high as 99%), some have accused these poll analysts of ignorance or bias. Research suggests, however, that it may be the critics, and not the statheads, who are suffering from a bias -- more specifically, “outcome bias,” whereby we have a tendency to overweight the outcome of a decision (or model) when assessing its ex-ante quality.

Nudgespotting: #NudgeTheVote


As you may have heard, there is an election coming up. Cable news, social media, and water cooler chatter have all been dominated by political discussion and debate. However, all of this apparent excitement and intention to vote may not necessarily translate into high levels of voter registration and turnout on Election Day. People may forget to register by their state deadline, or the hassle of filling out and sending registration paperwork may cause them to put it off indefinitely. Even those who have gone through the effort of registering to vote may not show up on Election Day if they have not planned enough time into their day to wait in the long lines at polling places. Campaigns, civic engagement groups, civic-minded organizations, and even private companies are using strategies informed by behavioral science to help overcome this intention-action gap and get people registered and to the polls. Here are three behaviorally informed examples of these strategies I’ve recently spotted.

The Power of Certainty: How Behavioral Economics Helps Us Understand the "Trump Tape"


By now, pretty much everyone in America knows about the tape of Donald Trump saying lewd things about women while on an Access Hollywood bus in 2005. The recording has had a seismic effect on the presidential campaign, and has triggered an important conversation about sexual assault. The backlash is, on the one hand, completely understandable. But some are wondering – why are we so surprised? Based on his public statements, isn’t it clear that Donald Trump is capable of saying things like this in private? Perhaps behavioral economics can help explain why we were so collectively shocked.

Interview with Richard Thaler: Part 3 of 3


In the third and final part of their interview, Richard Thaler and Syon Bhanot delve into the replicability problem in psychology, whether behavioral economics needs to focus on "bigger problems," and close with a lightning round on topics such as the underrepresentation of women in economics, boring conferences, and which economist is the best golfer.

Check out part 1 and part 2 as well!