Bhanot

Why Your Lazy Colleague Gets Under Your Skin

BY: SYON BHANOT (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE) & JACKY YE (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE, CLASS OF 2019)

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.  

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

BY: SYON BHANOT (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE) & JACKY YE (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE, CLASS OF 2019)

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.

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

BY: SYON BHANOT (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE)

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

BY: DJ NERI (IDEAS42)

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!

Does the Gambler's Fallacy Appear in Real-World, High-Stakes Decision Making?

BY: SYON BHANOT (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE) AND ZACH SPECTOR (BROWN UNIVERSITY, CLASS OF 2018)

Sitting in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, you feel some spare change clang around in your pocket. With nothing better to do, you decide to give a coin a few flips to see what happens. After tossing it into the air and clapping it onto the back of your hand five times, you record the following results: THTHT. Unamused by such reasonableness, you give it another go, flipping the coin another five times. This time, your eyes grow wide in response to the wildly different results: TTTTT. What are the odds?

Can We Nudge Parents to Read to Their Kids?

BY: SYON BHANOT (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE) & CHRISTOPHER ZHANG (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE, CLASS OF 2019)

Many of us have fond memories of our parents reading to us when we were young. In the moment, these reading sessions were an opportunity for us to bond with our moms and dads (and for them to get us to sleep!). But in an increasingly busy world, many parents have a hard time regularly engaging with their kids. This is most true for low-income parents, with evidence suggesting that wealthier parents spend more time engaging with their children, particularly when it comes to educational activities (Lareau 2003; Guryan, Hurst, and Kearney 2008; Kalil, Ryan, and Corey 2012). Why is this?

Are Nudges Good? Prove It!

BY SYON BHANOT (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE) AND SHENSTONE HUANG (SWARTHMORE COLLEGE, CLASS OF 2016)

If you’re reading this, you probably like nudges. You probably think they are a terrific way to change behavior in ways that are socially beneficial. Think of the classic social information nudges used to encourage environmental conservation, like Opower’s household mailers (Home Energy Reports, or HERs, pictured below) showing homeowners how their electricity usage stacks up against their neighbors’. Evidence suggests that they are cheap, easy to understand, and reduce energy use (see Allcott, 2011). What’s not to like?

Why Don’t People Take Free Cash?

By Prof. Syon Bhanot (Swarthmore College) & Antonia Violante (Swarthmore College, Class of 2016)

Two economists are walking down the street. One sees a $20 bill lying on the sidewalk and says, "Look at that $20 bill!" The second economist responds, "Nah, that’s not a $20 bill. If it was, someone would have picked it up already.”

 

From flu shots to home energy audits to government assistance, there are arguably plenty of “$20 bills” out there for the taking. On the face of it, these programs are a no-brainer for potential beneficiaries: they are generally free, widely available, and impose few transaction costs. In a rational world, such programs would be used by close to 100% of those eligible.