Behavioural (*nudge*) insights – part 2

Returning to my attendance at this behavioural insights conference.

Speakers included those well known to this niche field:

  • Richard Thaler the co-author of the original ‘Nudge
  • Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard
  • Stephen Pinker an experimental psychologist who specialises in psycholinguistics – most recent book ‘The Sense of Style
  • Robert Cialdini – who wrote ‘Influence: the psychology of persuasion
  • Daniel Kahneman a psychologist noted for his work on psychology of judgment and decision-making, as well as behavioral economics, for which he was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science – (he was not in person but provided a televised interview from the US)
  • Dan Ariely – a professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University – his latest book ‘The honest truth about dishonesty
  • Elizabeth Dunn – academic and author of Happy Money
  • Eldar Shafir – behavioral scientist, and the co-author of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much

Standout comments included:

  • How we look and dress, determines whether people think we are rich or poor and if we are deemed rich we are also assumed to be more competent – an opinion that is apparently formed in seconds (Eldar Shafir)
  • Panel interviews are simply useless in picking the right people (iris Bohnet)
  • Aim to change environments not minds (Iris Bohnet)
  • if you want people to change behaviour or practice or you want to influence them to do something different from what they are doing now, don’t offend them, don’t do something which embarrasses them.  Many people think you have to challenge or create conflict or be critical – however what behavioural psychologists have found is that it is important not to do something that makes others appear to be the ‘loser’, to lose face, or to have their status or reputation diminished as a result of your actions – it would be better if you work out who has the potential to lose from the change you want to happen and you figure out what you can do to mitigate the consequences of that (Daniel Kahneman)
  • Figure out resistance; what is preventing people from doing the thing you want them to do? can you compensate their potential loss and decrease resistance? (Daniel Kahneman)
  • Try to find out whether you are being successful fairly quickly, don’t persevere too long if it does not appear to be working; be bold and stop (Daniel Kahneman)
  • People spend too much time reading the literature and too little time on ‘real life’ (Daniel Kahneman)
  • Teaching people about the different biases (outcome base, confirmative bias and so on) is not useful at all; much better to introduce the subject area and encourage people to reflect and recognise when they could be wrong, when they could be biased and could behave differently as a result – enable people to live it; structure their thinking (Daniel Kahneman)
  • Role models really do matter Iris Bohnet)
  • Get a non-expert to check everything you write – when you have too much knowledge you find it impossible to write for those who have no knowledge – it is hard for you to ‘undo’ your knowledge and are not able to figure out what people do and don’t need to know (Stephen Pinker)
  • Reciprocality – if you want people to change their behaviour, you should ‘give’ first and only then ask for something in return; the ‘gift’ should be meaningful, unexpected, tailored and personalised (Robert Cialdini)
  • People lie all the time (implications for incident reporting and incident investigation) (Dan Ariely)
  • People don’t like to ‘tell on others’; loyalty is a strong factor (again implications for safety) however trust is eroding in society (Dan Ariely)
  • There is a place for paternalism – when things are so important, that for people and society it is right that people are told what to do e.g. drink driving legislation (Dan Ariely)
  • In respect of ‘happiness’ the myth of a midlife ‘crisis’ is true for both genders – apparently we are ‘happy’ in our 20s, or happiness decreases throughout our 30s, 40s, and 50s and starts to increase from 60s – to a return to happiness in our 70s! This finding has been identified in both humans and apes – which means the causal or contributory factors are most likely to be ‘natural’ rather than societal.(Andrew Oswald)
  • Evolutionary theory could help predict how we behave in different contexts (Nicola Raihini)
  • Giving to others is correlated with feeling happier which in turn has been found to be correlated with a decrease in blood pressure over time – especially if that ‘giving’ is meaningful, targeted and personalised (Elizabeth Dunn)

More to follow!