Choiceology with Katy Milkman

By Charles Schwab

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Subscribers: 986
Reviews: 4


 Jan 18, 2020

Neo
 Oct 28, 2019
Katy has a great voice and the stories are always a great way to give a lesson.


 Feb 4, 2019


 Dec 16, 2018

Description

Can we learn to make smarter choices? Wharton professor Katy Milkman shares stories of irrational decision making--from historical blunders to the kinds of everyday errors that could affect your future. Choiceology, an original podcast from Charles Schwab, explores the lessons of behavioral economics, exposing the psychological traps that lead to expensive mistakes. Season 1 of Choiceology was hosted by Dan Heath, bestselling author of Made to Stick and Switch. Podcasts are for informational purposes only. This channel is not monitored by Charles Schwab. Please visit schwab.com/contactus for contact options.

Episode Date
A Spoonful of Sugar: With Guests Ayelet Fishbach, Dan Ariely, Lynne Gauthier & Nancy Strahl
00:43:11

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and snap, the job’s a game!” So says Julie Andrews’ character in the Disney film Mary Poppins before she launches into the famous musical number “A Spoonful of Sugar.” 

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at the science behind the intuitive strategy of making difficult or boring things easier by adding that “element of fun.” But while Mary Poppins was focused on making the tedious task of cleaning a room a bit more enjoyable, you’ll see that this approach isn’t limited to housework.

You’ll hear Nancy Stahl’s dramatic story of a life-threatening medical event. Her prognosis was grim, but thanks to grit, determination, and some pioneering work in gamifying rehabilitation by Professor Lynne Gauthier, Nancy made a remarkable recovery.

Lynne Gauthier is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and director of the Neurorecovery and Brain Imaging Laboratory. 

Next, Dan Ariely recounts an incredibly difficult long-term treatment that he was able to endure and complete, thanks to a strategy known as temptation bundling (a term coined by Katy Milkman through her research into the phenomenon).

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, and the author of several bestselling books, including Predictably Irrational.

Finally, Ayelet Fishbach joins Katy to discuss research into myriad ways that adding enjoyable elements to difficult or tedious tasks can improve outcomes in everything from math education to exercise to job satisfaction. 

Ayelet Fishbach is the Jeffrey Breakenridge Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(0520-0DAP)

May 25, 2020
Bidder Beware: With Guests Max Bazerman & Glenye Cain Oakford
00:34:11

Have you ever bid in a competitive auction—say, on eBay—and won the item, only to see a similar item for sale elsewhere at a lower price? If so, you may have fallen prey to the winner’s curse.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at bias that can lead people to overpay in auctions and other types of negotiations.

We begin with the story of Havre de Grace. This prize filly had an exceptionally successful career as a racehorse before being auctioned as a broodmare. Expectations were high for the sale because Havre de Grace had such a strong thoroughbred pedigree. But the way the auction proceeded surprised everyone in the room.

Glenye Cain Oakford was at the Fasig-Tipton November Mixed Sale and paints a vivid picture of a dramatic bidding process. She is an award-winning journalist, writer, and videographer based in Lexington, Kentucky. She was the senior bloodstock correspondent at the Daily Racing Form at the time of the auction

Special thanks to Fasig-Tipton for use of the audio clips from the Havre de Grace auction.

Max Bazerman has contributed important research to the study of the winner’s curse. He joins Katy to discuss the ways in which this phenomenon can affect purchasing decisions around everything from jewelry to oil leases—and how the bias can diminish your ability to negotiate successfully. 

Max Bazerman is the Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of many books, including the upcoming book Better, Not Perfect: The Realist’s Guide to Maximum Sustainable Goodness, which will be released later this year by Harper Collins. 

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(0520-0BPD)

May 11, 2020
A Choice Apart: With Guests Max Bazerman & Vivienne Wagner
00:28:04

Have you ever purchased a car or a motorcycle or a boat, based on some particular quality it had that made you fall in love? Maybe it was candy apple red. Maybe it had sleek lines. Maybe the engine made a pleasing purr. Hopefully that decision was a happy one. But what happens when the red sports car spends most of its time in the shop? Or the sleek motorbike is hard on your back? Or the purring boat engine is a gas-guzzler?

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how our preferences tend to shift when we evaluate a choice on its own versus side-by-side with other possible options.

The episode begins with Vivienne Wagner and her family’s decision to adopt an adorable puppy after seeing a popular movie that featured the breed. (You know, the spotty dogs—over a hundred of them.) It’s a cautionary tale about a lovable but incredibly difficult pooch named Barkley and the perils of selecting a family pet in a vacuum. 

Max Bazerman is an authority on the phenomenon of shifting preferences when decisions are made separately or jointly. He joins Katy to discuss the ways in which our evaluation tendencies can impact activities ranging from hiring an employee to communicating with a spouse. He also discusses strategies to be more deliberative while making important decisions.

Max Bazerman is the Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of many books, including, most recently, The Power of Experiments: Decision-Making in a Data-Driven World with Mike Luca.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(0420-0A3H)

Apr 27, 2020
So Close to the Prize: With Guests Oleg Urminsky & Brian Zinn
00:36:32

If you’ve ever signed up for a frequent flyer program, chances are good that you were awarded a certain number of bonus points to start. Those bonus points feel like a nice little gift, but they also serve another purpose: to increase your motivation to participate in the program.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we explore how your proximity to a goal can affect the way you behave.

You’ll hear the fascinating story of Brian Zinn and his decade-spanning quest to unravel an elaborate riddle. When Brian was a college student, he stumbled upon a book called The Secret: A Treasure Hunt. In it were 12 cryptic puzzles—arcane verses and mysterious images that, when paired and solved, would point readers to 12 treasures buried in undisclosed locations around the United States.

The treasure hunt was a harmless pastime during Brian’s college days, but when he rediscovered the book years later, it became something of an obsession. You’ll learn about his escalating adventures attempting to locate one of the book’s hidden treasures. Since the publication of The Secret nearly 40 years ago, only three of the 12 treasures have ever been found.

Next, Oleg Urminsky joins Katy to reveal the behavioral mechanisms that drive us to increase our efforts as we approach a goal, or perceive that we’re approaching a goal. Urminsky’s research led him to demonstrate surprising shifts in behavior using a simple coffee card loyalty program. 

Oleg Urminsky is a professor of marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. You can read more about his research in the 2006 paper “The Goal-Gradient Hypothesis Resurrected.” 

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(0420-08H4)

Apr 13, 2020
Coping Amid the Crisis: With Guest Laurie Santos
00:39:23

An unprecedented global health crisis has overwhelmed healthcare systems, disrupted economies and financial markets, and radically altered our daily lives. And while social distancing is the responsible thing to do to slow the spread of disease, it also heightens the emotional challenges we face during these scary and uncertain times.

In this special bonus episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look to the science of happiness to see how we might mitigate the adverse impacts to our mental health and well-being—and maybe even cultivate good new habits that can help us when the crisis is over.

In 2018, psychologist Laurie Santos introduced a new course at Yale—its subject, happiness—which quickly became the storied university’s most popular class ever. Katy interviews Laurie to find out what insights from the course apply to our current situation and to solicit advice on happiness-improvement steps we can be taking now.

Laurie Santos is a professor of psychology and head of Silliman College at Yale University. A version of her “happiness class”—The Science of Well-Being—is now available online for free through Coursera. Laurie also hosts the hit podcast The Happiness Lab.  

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast

Schwab also has resources to help you make sense of the pandemic’s impact on your finances at schwab.com/volatility, including FAQs and strategies for long-term investors and people nearing or in retirement.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(0420-068J)

Apr 06, 2020
The Simple Choice: With Guests Shlomo Benartzi & Eric Sink
00:35:04

We are inundated with decisions in the modern world. What to wear, what to buy, what to watch, where to work, what to eat, who to call, where to live, what to study, when to exercise, how much to save, etc. And every decision, no matter how small, requires mental effort. But when a particular option is suggested to us ahead of time, the cognitive load is much smaller.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we explore the subtle power of default options.

We begin with a simple experiment, offering free hot chocolate to random college students. A small shift in the way we present the option of a whipped-cream topping leads to a measurable change in the students’ preferences. 

Next up, a rather more consequential example. It’s the story of the web browser wars in the mid-1990s. You’ll get an insider’s perspective on the epic battle between Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, and Netscape Communications’ Navigator browser. Netscape had a substantial head start in the browser space, pioneering many of the features we take for granted in web browsing today. But Microsoft employed a simple strategy to grow their user base for Internet Explorer and quickly gained market share. The end result of this strategy was a seismic shift in the industry. You’ll hear from Eric Sink, a lead developer on the Internet Explorer project.

To examine the science behind defaults, Katy invited behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi to join her to discuss the ways that choice architecture and defaults can have a major impact on our behavior, particularly around retirement savings programs.

Shlomo Benartzi is a Professor of Accounting at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative. He is a senior academic advisor to the Voya Behavioral Finance Institute. He is also the author of the book Save More Tomorrow: Practical Behavioral Science Solutions to Improve 401(k) Plans.

Finally, Katy offers practical advice on how to leverage defaults to reach your goals—and how to avoid the defaults that might trick you into less desirable options.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

All corporate names are for illustrative purposes only and are not a recommendation, offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security.

Shlomo Benartzi and Voya Financial are not affiliated with Schwab and any mentions should not be construed as a recommendation, endorsement of, or sponsorship by Schwab.

(0320-0FL1)

Mar 30, 2020
Judge the Judges: With Guests Daniel Kahneman, James Hutchinson & G.M. Pucilowski
00:32:30

Many episodes of this podcast deal with cognitive biases that can hinder our decision-making abilities. In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at a different kind of error: how completely irrelevant information can negatively influence our judgments, making them varied and unpredictable.

This variability of human judgment—or noise—is the topic of an upcoming book by Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman, with Cass Sunstein and Olivier Sibony. You’ll hear an interview with Kahneman later in the episode where he explains his preoccupation with the substantial and expensive effects of noise. He proposes ways to reduce the problem of noise for industries, businesses, and individuals who need to make more objective judgements.

But first, we’ll dive into the world of wine judging. G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski will take you on a guided tour of the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition. You’ll hear about the criteria for judging different varietals—and the accompanying challenges that wine judges face as they swirl, sniff, and sip through dozens and sometimes hundreds of different wines. 

After years of coordinating and observing the judges, Pooch noticed a large amount of variability in the results. This may not be surprising, since taste is subjective. But after some tweaks to the process, he even began to notice that judges were inconsistent with themselves!

Enter vintner and retired oceanographer Robert Hodgson. Pooch teamed up with Hodgson to devise a way to study and improve the consistency of wine judging and push for a more objective competition. The results were promising, but not without controversy.

You can read Robert Hodgson’s research paper on wine judging here

G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski is a speaker, writer, wine judge, and educator. He runs wine appreciation classes through his University of Wine.

You’ll also hear about the potential role of chemical analysis and artificial intelligence in improving the results of wine judging from James Hutchinson, formerly of the Royal Society of Chemistry and currently CEO of KiwiNet.

And finally, Katy explores the potential of leveraging noise to produce better decisions by employing the wisdom of crowds—and even “the crowd within.”

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

 

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ***** rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

 

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(0320-0FLK)

Mar 16, 2020
The Price of Your Vice: With Guests Dan Ariely & Dean Karlan
00:32:39

In an episode of the television series Seinfeld, Jerry does a standup bit where he talks about staying up too late at night. He says, “I’m Night Guy. Night Guy wants to stay up late,” to which he then replies, “What about getting up after five hours of sleep?” The answer? “That’s Morning Guy’s problem.” This illustrates a challenge that we all face: How do you stick to positive long-term goals in the face of negative short-term temptations? 

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at strategies to help keep Night Guy in check, so that Morning Guy can wake up well-rested.

The episode begins with two short tales of temptation. The first is the mythical story of Ulysses (Odysseus) avoiding the tantalizing but dangerous songs of the sirens. The second is an account of Victor Hugo’s struggles to complete his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the face of his own procrastination. In both stories, the protagonist employs a clever strategy to reach his goals.

For another illustration, we turn to Dean Karlan. Dean is a founder of StickK, a website and app that helps people commit to achieving goals using contracts with real stakes. The idea for StickK came about through Dean’s personal struggle to lose weight. He decided to leverage what he’d learned about human behavior as an economist. He drew up a contract with a friend--someone who was also struggling with his weight--that would oblige each of them to pay the other thousands of dollars if they failed in their quest to shed pounds.

Dean Karlan is a professor of economics and finance at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is also the co-author of More Than Good Intentions: Improving the Ways the World’s Poor Borrow, Save, Farm, Learn, and Stay Healthy.

To look at the science behind commitment strategies, Katy is joined by behavioral economist and best-selling author Dan Ariely. You’ll hear how commitment devices can be used to help people overcome procrastination, save money for the future, and eat more vegetables. You’ll also hear about some of Dan’s favorite studies, in which these commitment devices improved post-operative outcomes for heart surgery patients and helped students better manage their workloads.

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He is also the author of Predictably Irrational and The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(1219-9PPT)

Dec 02, 2019
Creatures of Habit: With Guests Wendy Wood, Angela Duckworth & Stephan Kesting
00:34:59

Benjamin Franklin is one of the most revered figures in American history. He accomplished more in one lifetime--as a publisher, scientist, and politician--than most of us dream of. One argument for his success is that he was a creature of habit. His grueling daily schedule focused on repeating several habits of self-improvement. He hoped to achieve a perfect version of himself by automating certain positive behaviors. Whether or not he always stuck to his daily schedule of self-improvement is debatable, but his intuition about the importance of habit was right on the money.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at the power of habit in shaping our behavior--for the better and for the worse.

We begin with firefighter Stephan Kesting. Stephan takes us through several of the drills that firefighters repeat over and over again in order to internalize certain behaviors. These behaviors can save lives in disaster scenarios. Stephan’s preparedness was put to the test early in his career when he and his team were called to a massive fire. You’ll hear how habits developed through intense training made all the difference in a life-or-death rescue operation.

Stephan Kesting is an officer in the Delta Fire Department in Delta, British Columbia. He is also a black belt instructor in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

To look at the science behind habit, Katy invited two top scholars to share their insights into this phenomenon.

First, Wendy Wood explains why we have habits, how they’re formed, and the reasons they’re often difficult to change. Wendy Wood is the Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at Dornsife College at the University of Southern California. She’s also the author of the new book Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick.

Next, you’ll hear from Angela Duckworth on how habits relate to self-control and persistence. She offers strategies that leverage the power of habit to help mitigate self-control challenges. Angela Duckworth is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ✪✪✪✪✪ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(1119-99ZW)

Nov 18, 2019
Invisible Failures: With Guests Emily Oster, Sendhil Mullainathan & Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
00:38:33

If you’ve toured through any old world cities, you’ve probably marveled at ancient buildings that have stood the test of time. You might think to yourself, “They sure made things to last back in those days.” And while the Notre Dame Cathedral or the Parthenon or the Tower of London may seem like proof of the superior workmanship of a bygone era, what you don’t see are all the other buildings erected during the same period that have since crumbled or been torn down.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at a bias that often clouds the way we evaluate success and failure.

We begin with the scientific awakening of Joseph Banks Rhine in the 1920s, during the peak of the spiritualist movement. Rhine was trained in science and wanted to apply the scientific method to his research into paranormal phenomena. Science taught him to be skeptical, so when Rhine’s research results seemed to demonstrate the existence of extra-sensory perception, or ESP, he believed he had found proof of a new aspect of human nature. The findings led to academic accolades and substantial financial support, until others tried to replicate his results.

Next, we present a survey on musical acts and college drop-outs to demonstrate how easy it is to discount important information—when that information is not readily apparent.  

To look at the science behind this bias, Katy has enlisted two scholars to help explain it in different contexts. 

First, Sendhil Mullainathan provides useful examples of the bias in the world of investing and hiring. Sendhil is the Roman Family University Professor of Computation and Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He’s also the co-author of the book Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much

Then, Emily Oster talks about the ways that doctors and parents sometimes unintentionally ignore important information when attempting to solve problems. Emily is a professor of economics at Brown University. Her most recent book is called Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting From Birth to Preschool

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

The Schwab Center for Financial Research is a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

(1119-9NGD)

Nov 04, 2019
Take the Deal! With Guests Daniel Kahneman, Colin Camerer & Luis Green
00:43:11

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how framing a decision based on what you stand to lose versus what you stand to gain affects your tolerance of risk.

Luis Green was a contestant on the popular TV game show Deal or No Deal. The game is largely one of chance, but there are moments during play where the contestant has an option to accept a cash offer to quit. At one point in the game, Luis was offered $333,000 to simply walk away. A guaranteed win! It seems like an obvious choice. But as you’ll hear from the story, there are other factors that influenced his decision.

Katy illustrates these factors with a version of a famous experiment. Volunteers are presented with two differently worded but mathematically identical scenarios. A simple shift from framing the scenario as a potential gain to one of potential loss results in starkly different choices from the volunteers.

Next, Katy speaks with special guest Daniel Kahneman about the underlying theory that explains human behavior in these types of situations.

Daniel Kahneman is a professor of psychology and public affairs emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School and the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University. He was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his pioneering research with Amos Tversky. Their work helped establish the field of behavioral economics. Kahneman is also the author of the bestselling book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Finally, Katy speaks with Colin Camerer about some of his favorite studies on risk seeking in the domain of losses, as well as practical approaches for avoiding this less-than-ideal behavior.

Colin Camerer is the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Finance and Economics at the California Institute of Technology, where he teaches cognitive psychology and economics. You can read his paper “Prospect Theory in the Wild: Evidence from the Field” here.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(0919-9CT3)

Oct 21, 2019
Your Own Advice: With Guests Angela Duckworth, Lauren Eskreis-Winkler & Mike Mangini
00:34:32

Say you have a colleague who is struggling to complete a project at work. You might offer them some tips and tricks based on your own experience with similar projects. And it’s reasonable to expect those tips might be helpful to your colleague. But what if it turned out that the act of giving that advice might provide a measurable benefit to you as well?

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how giving advice can benefit the giver—as much or even more than the person receiving the advice.

We begin the episode with Mike Mangini. Mike is a talented drummer, best known in the world of progressive rock. He has toured and recorded with numerous artists, including Steve Vai and Extreme. He also spent many years teaching drums privately and at the Berklee College of Music. It was in the process of teaching that he developed a system to codify his approach to playing drums. That system helped Mike navigate an intense audition for one of the biggest progressive rock bands in the world.

From the heady world of arena rock, we move to more practical examples of the power of giving advice. You’ll hear several people offering advice on a number of challenges—and then hear them realize the usefulness of their own advice in real time.

Next, Katy speaks with both Lauren Eskreis-Winkler and Angela Duckworth about the science behind advice giving. Lauren had the initial insight into this phenomenon. She and Angela, her doctoral adviser, ran a large-scale field experiment, along with Katy and Dena M. Gromet. The study demonstrates the measurable power of the advice-giving effect.

Lauren Eskreis-Winkler is a postdoctoral fellow at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. You can read her paper on the advice-giving effect here.

Angela Duckworth is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(1019-92P1)

Oct 07, 2019
Not Quite Enough: With Guests Howard Scott Warshaw, Sendhil Mullainathan & Anuj Shah
00:35:23

Think back to a situation where you’ve been really pressed for time. Chances are good that the pressure of a deadline or an appointment caused you to be (a) hyper-focused and efficient or (b) panicked and prone to errors.

Now think of a situation where you had plenty of available time. While you were probably much less stressed, it’s also likely that the superpowers of hyper-focus didn’t come so easily.

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at how not having enough time or money or other resources affects behavior and decision-making.

We begin the episode with Howard Scott Warshaw. Warshaw was a very successful game developer at Atari during the company’s heyday in the 1980s. He worked on several best-selling titles, including the hit game Yar’s Revenge. However, he is probably best known for creating E.T. the Extra Terrestrial video game. Some consider it the worst commercial video game ever released. The reason E.T. was so unsuccessful as a gaming experience and a commercial product may have more to do with Atari’s development timeline than with Warshaw’s concept or design.

Next, we test our hypothesis about resource scarcity with a simple bean-bag-toss game. Half of our players were given five bags to throw, while the other half were given only one. You may be surprised to find out which players were more accurate, on average, with their tosses.

Katy then jumps into the science of scarcity with Sendhil Mullainathan. Mullainathan explains that while scarcity taxes the mind and can lead to poor decision-making, it can also pay dividends with increased focus.

Sendhil Mullainathan is the Roman Family University Professor of Computation and Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is also the author of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.

Anuj K. Shah is a colleague and research collaborator with Sendhil Mullainathan. He joins Katy to discuss simple strategies to help offset the mental load of scarcity. He is an associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

(0919-9CPR)

Sep 23, 2019
The Lucky Loonie: With Guests Peter Jordan, Trent Evans & Don Moore
00:32:37

There’s something satisfying about the close door button in an elevator, especially when you’re in a rush. However, it turns out that most of those close door buttons aren’t actually connected to anything; they have no effect. So why are they there?

In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we explore a quirk in the way people understand their ability to influence certain events.

The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City were a watershed moment for the Canadian men’s and women’s hockey teams. The men’s team hadn’t won a gold medal in 50 years, and the women’s team had never won gold, coming up short in prior Olympic events. The Canadians were facing powerhouse American teams, so they needed every advantage they could get.

Enter Trent Evans. He was part of the Olympic ice-making team, though his allegiance was with the Canadians. During the initial ice making process, he marked the center of the rink with a small artifact in hopes that it would bring good luck to the Canadian teams. That artifact came to be seen by many as a key ingredient to success in the gold medal games.

Broadcaster Peter Jordan covered the games for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and recounts the subterfuge involved in hiding the good luck charm. Peter was the host of the CBC television series It’s A Living for seven years.

Good luck charms and superstitious beliefs are common, but generally easy to disprove. Still, this tendency to overestimate one’s influence appears regularly, even among skeptics.

As an experiment, we had several volunteers roll a pair of dice in a simple board game scenario where they were aiming to roll a certain number to win the game. In almost every iteration of the experiment, our highly skeptical volunteers displayed this overestimation of influence.

To learn more about the reasons for this behavior, we invited Don Moore to talk about his research on the phenomenon. Don is the Lorraine Tyson Mitchell Chair in Leadership and Communication at UC Berkeley Haas.

To close the episode, Katy explores some of the contexts where this bias may impact important decisions in business and in life.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Diversification and asset allocation strategies do not ensure a profit and cannot protect against losses in a declining market.

The Schwab Center for Financial Research is a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

(0919-9AR2)

Sep 09, 2019
Best-Laid Plans: With Guests Ken Bowersox, Robert Godwin & Bradley Staats
00:37:21
If you’ve ever been through a home renovation, you know that it often takes more time or more money (or both!) than the contractor’s original estimate. But why is that? Experienced contractors renovate homes all the time. And yet they still regularly face delays and cost overruns. In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we explore a tendency people have to be overly optimistic about what they can accomplish in a set period of time—starting with a story of the phenomenon playing out on a massive scale. The International Space Station (ISS) is a marvel of human ingenuity. It’s the largest manned object ever put into space. It orbits the earth every 90 minutes. It contains 8 miles of wire and is the third brightest object in the night sky. At a cost of well over $100 billion, it is also the most expensive object ever built. At the beginning of the project, however, it was expected to cost only a small fraction of that amount. Robert Godwin has written extensively about the ISS. He explains the tumultuous history of the project, which started as a relatively modest American plan to succeed the Skylab station and eventually becoming a massive international collaboration hampered by political and technical challenges. Godwin is the co-author of the book Outpost in Orbit: A Pictorial & Verbal History of the International Space Station. Astronaut Ken Bowersox was aboard the ISS during one of the most difficult periods of the project. He recounts the harrowing details of an emergency return trip to Earth after tragedy struck the American shuttle program. In hindsight, it’s easy to see how a project that involves international cooperation and cutting-edge technology could run into delays and cost overruns. However, this tendency toward over-optimism manifests itself even in simple projects back on Earth. As an experiment, we had several volunteers sit down, separately, with a child’s engineering toy. We asked them to estimate how long it would take to build a simple machine, using the included step-by-step instructions. The difference between their estimates and reality is telling. And this is a toy designed for 8-year-olds! Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School joins Katy to discuss the mechanics of this bias and to give examples of a number of different domains where this tendency can cause problems. He also introduces some simple strategies to help reduce forecasting errors. Finally, Katy expands on some of those strategies in order to help you make better estimates around the time, effort and expense required to meet your goals.
May 27, 2019
Boxed In: With Guests Sophie Morgan, Modupe Akinola & Dolly Chugh
00:33:07
Assuming you live in the northern hemisphere, which would you say is colder: a day in March or a Day in April? On average, of course, March is colder than April, but there’s probably not a big difference in temperature between March 31 and April 1. If you’re like most people, though, you put March days in the colder March category and April days in the warmer April category. It’s a useful shortcut, but it doesn’t always give you the best information about the temperature on individual days. This tendency to quickly categorize time, objects and people helps us to simplify a complex world, but it can also lead to important errors. In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at the ways our snap judgments work for us and against us. First, Katy brings you a profile of Sophie Morgan, tracing her career path from relative unknown to reality TV model to lead presenter at one of the largest sporting events in the world. And you’ll find out what makes Sophie unique in her field. Next, we hit the street with a quick questionnaire to see how people make judgments when faced with uncertainty or incomplete information. You can try these questions yourself, before you listen: Question 1: William is an opera fan who enjoys touring art museums when he goes on vacation. He enjoys playing chess with his friends. Which is more likely? A: William is a professional violinist for a major symphony orchestra. B: William is a farmer. Question 2: Amy is 29 years old. She’s single, outspoken and very bright. As a student, she majored in English literature and was deeply interested in theater. Which is more probable? A: Amy is a bank teller. B: Amy is a bank teller and writes an arts review for her local newspaper. After revealing the answers to our questionnaire, Katy is joined by Modupe Akinola, of Columbia Business School and Dolly Chugh of New York University’s Stern School of Business to explore the functions and flaws of these types of judgments and the mental architecture behind them. Dolly Chugh is the author of The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias. Finally, Katy gives you some simple strategies to counteract some of the negative impacts of snap judgments and implicit attitudes.
May 13, 2019
Knew It All Along: With Guests Kathleen Vohs, Douglas Porch & Julian Jackson
00:32:32
Think about a time when something happened that just seemed meant to be. Maybe you had a feeling that your child would get into a certain college. Perhaps you just knew that your partner would forget to pack something important for your vacation. The question is, did you really know it along? In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we explore a tendency to be overconfident in our predictions about events that have already come to pass. We begin with the story of the fall of France. In the early days of World War II, the French surrendered a mere six weeks after the German invasion. How did one of the great European powers fall so quickly? Shortly after the end of hostilities in France, historians began to construct a narrative to explain this rapid defeat. That narrative focused on unflattering perceptions of French society and culture at the time. Historian Julian Jackson of Queen Mary University of London explains the origins of this line of thinking. Then we hear from military historian and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Douglas Porch of the Naval Postgraduate School about the Mechelen Incident—an event leading up to the German invasion that could have easily altered the trajectory of the war. Next, we conduct an audio experiment to demonstrate this tendency to revise our own predictions. Along with our participants, you’ll hear a distorted audio clip and then the undistorted version. As you listen to the experiment, try to remember what it was like to be naive about the content of the clip. It’s not easy! Kathleen Vohs of the Carlson School of Management at The University of Minnesota joins Katy to discuss the broader implications of this bias on how we make important decisions. Finally, Katy provides some simple strategies to help you avoid falling prey to this bias.
Apr 29, 2019
No Harm, No Foul? With Guests Francesca Gino & Dr. Byers “Bud” Shaw
00:35:38
It makes some intuitive sense to judge a decision based on its results. But is it always true that a good decision leads to a good outcome, and vice versa? In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at a bias that can lead to errors in the way we judge our decision-making processes. Katy brings you a story about the challenging early days of organ transplant surgery. Dr. Byers “Bud” Shaw arrived in Pittsburgh in 1981 to work under transplant pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl. At the time, liver transplants were often unsuccessful, and some of the hospital staff were even petitioning to ban the procedure outright. You’ll hear about one particular operation that had Dr. Shaw questioning the viability of liver transplants and his ability as a surgeon. His decision to carry on would have major implications for medical progress. Bud Shaw is the author of Last Night in the OR: A Transplant Surgeon’s Odyssey. Next, we place you courtside at a basketball game for a quick experiment. We run two plays that are identical in strategy, but you’ll hear them be judged very differently by the players who execute them. Then, Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School joins Katy to discuss the ways that people tend to overvalue the outcome of a decision and undervalue the process that led to the decision. She demonstrates how this bias can lead to flawed and even unethical decision making. Francesca Gino is the author of Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life. Finally, Katy provides insight on how to better evaluate both the process and the outcome of your decisions, so that you can make better choices in the future.
Apr 15, 2019
Hitting Your Number: With Guests Jason Beck & Devin Pope
00:33:24
Have you ever noticed that there’s something satisfying about seeing a car’s odometer roll over from 99,999 to 100,000 miles? Or maybe more likely, looking at a clock right when it hits 12:00 on the nose? What’s so special about these moments? In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at quirk of human behavior that can lead, in some cases, to superhuman achievement. Katy brings you the story of Roger Bannister’s quest to break the four-minute mile—a centuries-old psychological barrier—and the great leaps in athletic achievement that followed his feat. You’ll hear the history of the four-minute mile from Jason Beck, author of The Miracle Mile: Stories of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, and a curator at the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame. You’ll also hear documentary interviews from Roger Bannister and John Landy about their famous race. You can see a photo of the stopwatch used in the Miracle Mile race here. The watch is permanently stopped at Roger Bannister’s sub-four-minute time. Next, we visit the rather more humble setting of a gas station to demonstrate how a preference for round dollar amounts is common, even when cash is not involved. Then, Devin Pope of The University of Chicago Booth School of Business joins Katy to discuss the psychological costs and benefits of goals and how round numbers can affect your motivation in different contexts. Finally, Katy provides some actionable intelligence on how you can use round-number goals to improve outcomes, whether that’s getting into college, saving for retirement or running a faster marathon.
Apr 01, 2019
Out of Focus: With Guests Dolly Chugh, Max Bazerman & Mark Pendergrast
00:39:49
If you’ve ever watched a TV crime drama, you’ve probably heard that eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. A person commits a crime literally right in front of someone, but the witness can’t identify key characteristics of the perpetrator—or worse, gets the details wrong and implicates an innocent person. Why does this happen? In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at the limitations of attention and perception. The episode begins with the description of a surprising experiment involving two teams passing basketballs. You can try the experiment here, even if you’ve already listened to the episode. Katy follows with the story of one of the most famous marketing blunders of all time: the introduction of New Coke by the Coca Cola Company. Mark Pendergrast, author of For God, Country & Coca Cola, recounts the history of the brand and takes you inside the company to explain how their executives came to a disastrous decision. Robert Teszka then demonstrates how magicians harness the limitations of an audience’s attention in order to surprise and entertain. Next, we hear from Dolly Chugh of New York University’s Stern School of Business and Max Bazerman of the Harvard Business School. They explain how this tendency to miss important information is systematic and predictable, and how it can negatively affect decisions in business and life. Dolly Chugh is the author of The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias. Max Bazerman is the author of The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See. Finally, Katy offers simple strategies to help you expand your awareness and make better-informed decisions.
Mar 18, 2019
Love the Mug You’re With: With Guests Joel Platt, Sally Sadoff & Richard Thaler
00:36:57
“For most things are differently valued by those who have them and by those who wish to get them; what belongs to us, and what we give away, always seems very precious to us.” –Aristotle In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at the peculiar ways people tend to value the things they own. The episode begins with a tour of the Sports Immortals Museum. Owner and proprietor Joel Platt claims it’s the largest and most diverse assortment of sports mementos in the world. You’ll hear Joel tell some amazing stories behind a few of his most prized pieces—stories about Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Honus Wagner, Jim Thorpe and Jack Dempsey. Joel spent decades collecting memorabilia, much of which he believes is priceless. But it turns out there’s a disconnect between Joel’s valuation and those of independent appraisers and potential buyers. Katy explores this disconnect with Nobel Prize–winning economist Richard Thaler, who describes his inspiration to identify and measure the bias that can cause people to overvalue things they own. Richard Thaler is the co-author of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Sally Sadoff of the Rady School of Management at UCSD joins Katy to discuss her research on performance bonuses for teachers. She explains how the effectiveness of these incentives can change dramatically depending on whether teachers are given the bonuses at the beginning of the school year or at the end. And it all has to do with how teachers perceive ownership of these bonuses. Finally, Katy harkens back to the first episode of the season to explain some simple strategies to reduce the negative aspects of this bias.
Feb 18, 2019
Data for the Win: With Guests Michael Kist & Cade Massey
00:30:56
Netflix recommendations, Amazon suggestions, Google searches, airline ticket prices, your social media feed. All of these things are driven by algorithms—computer models that crunch massive amounts of data to generate useful results. These types of online algorithms are commonplace and so, generally speaking, we’re used to them. But what about the algorithms behind self-driving cars or airplane autopilots? What about algorithms used to predict crimes or to diagnose medical conditions? These are domains in which it often feels uncomfortable to let a computer model make what could be life-or-death decisions. In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we’re exploring the places where algorithms and computer models bump up against resistance from their human users. Seeing as it’s Super Bowl season, it seemed like a good time to revisit last year’s contest as a case study in decision making. The 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles played incredibly well against the formidable New England Patriots. The game could have gone either way, but the Eagles had a secret weapon that gave them an advantage. We speak with Michael Kist from Bleeding Green Nation on the Eagles’ integration of computer models for decision making both on and off the field. You’ll hear the story of how those models were temporarily abandoned and the team struggled before re-embracing them. Next, we explore the way self-driving cars make split-second decisions on the road, with results that can make their human passengers squirm. We test whether or not giving people a small amount of control over how a self-driving car behaves gives those people a bit more confidence about the technology. Then Katy speaks with her Wharton School of Business colleague Cade Massey, who explains some of the fascinating ways that algorithms have improved decision making and looks at some of the scenarios where algorithms face an uphill battle for acceptance. Cade Massey is a partner in Massey-Peabody Analytics. Finally, Katy recaps the ways that people designing—or simply using—algorithms can work to overcome our human tendency toward machine mistrust.
Feb 04, 2019
The Mystery of Chance: With Guests Andy Marocco & Tom Gilovich
00:27:24
Have you ever seen a cloud overhead that looks very much like, say, a rabbit? Or maybe you’ve found a potato chip that had an uncanny resemblance to Elvis, or a cornflake that was almost exactly the shape of the state of Texas. What are the chances? In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we explore curious events and mysterious patterns in order to reveal the human habit of ascribing meaning to randomness. Andy Marocco of the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum joins Katy to revisit some of the most famous and enduring unsolved air and naval mysteries that have occurred inside the “treacherous” Bermuda Triangle. You’ll hear about several famous disappearances, with a focus on the harrowing tale of Flight 19 in which several planes and airmen vanished without a trace. Next, we conduct a simple experiment--or is it a magic trick?--involving a series of coin tosses. Our game master will attempt to identify a truly random list from a pile of imposter lists, using nothing but mental prowess. (If you’re still skeptical about how “lumpy” randomness is, just notice how many possible outcomes of four coin flips include either three heads or three tails in a row: HHHH, HHHT, HHTH, HHTT, HTHH, HTHT, HTTH, HTTT, THHH, THHT, THTH, THTT, TTHH, TTHT, TTTH, TTTT.) Then we hear from Cornell University psychology professor Tom Gilovich about randomness as it pertains to iPods, jellybeans, faces, and canals on Mars. Finally, Katy Milkman offers tips on how basic statistical analysis can help you make better decisions.
Jan 21, 2019
A Clean Slate: With Guests John Beshears, Richard Thaler & Ray Zahab
00:32:49
For many people, the start of a new year is an occasion to re-examine their lives, to set new goals and to give up old habits. Making New Year’s resolutions is something of a social ritual, but we see similar behaviors around other significant dates, as well--such as birthdays and anniversaries and the changing of seasons. And while it can be argued that all of these dates are arbitrary, studies show that they can still give you a head start in achieving your goals. In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we examine the common but not always rational phenomenon whereby people divide their lives into chapters. We look at ways to leverage this phenomenon to make better choices. The episode begins on a riverbank, with an age-old ritual of personal renewal. Many religious traditions have codified this tendency to divide life into distinct segments. Next, we hear about Ray Zahab’s life changing New Year’s resolution. What began as a simple plan to live a healthier lifestyle, ended up taking him on incredible adventures all around the world. Ray is the author of the book Running For My Life. From Ray’s story of personal transformation around an auspicious date, we pivot to a related tendency for people to separate their money into mental accounts. Money, like time, is fungible--one dollar is as useful as any other dollar--and yet people often divide their money into different categories. Why? Nobel laureate and best-selling author Richard Thaler explains the value of this cognitive bias, and explores some of the peculiar behaviors people exhibit when they earmark their money for different purposes. And John Beshears of the Harvard Business School describes a study that exposes this bias in the way people perceive the value of grocery store coupons. Finally, Katy Milkman offers additional tips on leveraging these temporal landmarks and personal budgets to help you stick with your resolutions.
Jan 07, 2019
Happy Holidays from Choiceology
00:01:31
Choiceology with Katy Milkman returns after the holidays, starting with a special New Year’s episode on January 7. In the meantime, you can listen to all of our past episodes online or in your podcast app of choice. Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.
Dec 21, 2018
Happiness: With Guests Scott Harrison & Mike Norton
00:29:49
In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we examine an old insight about happiness and giving. It’s an insight that is now backed up by behavioral science. The episode begins with a scene from the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. From there we hear from the founder and CEO of Charity: Water, Scott Harrison. When Scott turned 18, he moved to New York City and got a job as a nightclub promoter. He lived a hedonistic lifestyle that included private jets and exotic parties. He should have been on top of the world, but he was miserable. It wasn’t until Scott moved to one of the poorest countries in the world that he started to find fulfillment. You can learn more about Scott’s story and his incredible transformation in his new book Thirst. Next Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton explores the topic of happiness and spending. He’s the co-author of a study on the subject of happiness and spending, and the book Happy Money: The New Science of Smarter Spending. Finally, we hit the streets to conduct an experiment. We gave out five dollar bills to random people and asked them to spend it on themselves or give it away. Which group do you think will experience a greater level of happiness?
Dec 10, 2018
Everybody’s Doing It: With Guests Tyler Hamilton & Todd Rogers
00:27:49
You’re an independent-minded person. You make choices for yourself based on the best information available. You own your decisions, right or wrong. Right? No so fast. You are, in fact, a social animal. You take many visible and invisible cues on how to behave from the people around you—family, co-workers, friends, social media, even the folks in the elevator or on the bus. So your decisions and behaviors aren’t always as independent as you might think. In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at a phenomenon that may have you running with the crowd, even when it’s not in your best interest. The episode begins with an experiment. A benign but peculiar behavior appears during an otherwise normal orchestra rehearsal. It starts with a few members but spreads rapidly through the orchestra. What’s causing this behavior, and why is it so contagious? From there we move to a much more consequential behavior in the world of professional cycling. We examine a high-stakes decision by cyclist Tyler Hamilton in his quest for Tour de France glory and Olympic gold. It’s a story of peer pressure, deep secrets, subterfuge and, ultimately, redemption. Behavioral scientist Todd Rogers of the Harvard Kennedy School explores the myriad ways we’re influenced by those around us. He speaks with Katy about some of the ways that businesses and institutions can harness our social nature for the greater good. Finally, Katy Milkman looks back at some of the early research on how individuals can be manipulated by social groups. She offers tips to help you avoid falling victim to mob mentality.
Nov 26, 2018
The Temptation of Now: With Guests Richard Thaler & Angela Duckworth
00:24:47
Most of us would like to think we make decisions for our own good. Presented with the imaginary choice between a bag of salty, greasy potato chips and a healthy salad, you might opt, in principle, for the salad. But what happens when that bag of chips is freshly opened, sitting there right in front of you? Do you change your mind? In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at a bias that has an outsized influence on decisions you make in the here and now. The show begins with an experiment that reveals how difficult it is to avoid the temptation of junk food—and how the power of that temptation is affected by time. Then, you’ll hear the story of a man who spent his childhood in relative poverty but found himself wealthy beyond his dreams by the time he was a teenager. This unexpected windfall changed his life in an instant. But it ultimately became a painful lesson on the dangers of living only for the present. You’ll hear from two heavyweights in the world of psychology and economics. Richard Thaler is a Nobel Prize–winning economist and co-author of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Thaler tells the story of how he came to discover and research this bias. Renowned psychologist Angela Duckworth explores some of the ways you can combat temptation and make better decisions for your future. She’s the author of the bestseller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Finally, Katy Milkman offers additional tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of this bias: with behavioral tools such as temptation bundling and commitment devices.
Nov 12, 2018
Losses Loom Large: With Guests Hank Haney, Dolly Chugh & Maurice Schweitzer
00:34:10
Winning feels good. Whether it’s nailing a tricky golf shot or landing a big client for your firm, it’s nice to come out on top. But is it the thrill of victory that pushes you to sink that 10-foot putt or compels you to put in a few extra hours at work? Or is it the fear of losing that motivates you more? In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we examine a bias that affects the irrational way people often react to gains and losses. The episode begins with the heartbreaking story of Robbie Powell. A missed medical diagnosis and an elaborate cover up expose the lengths to which some people are willing to go in order to avoid a hit to their reputations. You’ll hear from professor Dolly Chugh from New York University’s Stern School. Dolly and collaborator Molly Kern have done some great research demonstrating how people behave differently when making ethical choices in the face of a potential loss versus a potential gain. You can learn more about this phenomenon in her book How Good People Fight Bias: The Person You Mean to Be. Then renowned golf coach Hank Haney describes how Tiger Woods and other golf pros seem to work harder to avoid bogeys on the putting green than they do to make birdies. According to Wharton School professor Maurice Schweitzer, professional golfers may be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in winnings because of this tendency. And he’s got research to prove it. Finally, Katy will leave you with practical tips on how to limit the influence of this bias in your own decisions. Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. If you enjoy the show, please leave a rating or review on Apple Podcasts.
Oct 29, 2018
Introducing Season 2 of Choiceology
00:04:13
Season 2 of Choiceology is coming soon! Dan Heath hands the reins over to new host Katy Milkman for this season. Katy brings an incredible depth of knowledge to the show through her work as a professor of Operations, Information & Decisions at The Wharton School. You’ll hear from sports stars, Nobel laureates and everyday people making life-altering choices, and Katy will share useful tools and strategies to improve decision making in your own life. Subscribe for free today on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or wherever you listen. Season 2 launches October 29.
Oct 15, 2018
How Tomorrow Feels Today
00:33:22
Imagine you’ve just been through a major life event: The birth of a child. A major award. The loss of a job. A divorce. Now picture yourself 10 years in the future and try to imagine how that event affected your overall well-being. Research shows that—more often than not—your predictions will miss the mark. Why is that? On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we examine a bias that influences the way you believe you’ll feel in the future. The show begins with a quick survey based on the work of psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson. The survey demonstrates—in a surprising way—our tendency to misjudge the importance of future events. From there we raise the stakes with two very dramatic stories from the opposite ends of human emotional experience. Diann Roffe describes the elation she felt after a stunning athletic achievement, and Scott Fedor shares the harrowing story of a life-altering injury. And while these events were totally different, you may be surprised to learn how they affected Scott and Diann’s lives over the long run. Boston University professor Carey Morewedge explains how this bias works and offers suggestions to help you re-examine your greatest hopes and fears.
May 14, 2018
A Number in Mind
00:28:01
When you set out to buy something—a car, for example, or a laptop or some small gadget for your kitchen—you analyze the features and the style and the utility of the thing, and then you make a choice. But it turns out that there’s a psychological force that can influence what you’re willing to pay. On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we examine a bias that affects how you perceive gains and losses, how you negotiate deals and the way you think about value. The episode begins with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg. He describes his dramatic first attempt at negotiating a high-stakes contract for a client joining the National Football League. You’ll hear an experiment based on Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky ’s early studies that demonstrate the bias in real time. And lawyer, mediator and conflict resolution expert John Curtis explains how everyone—from people selling their homes to police informants going into witness protection—can fall prey to this psychological trap.
Apr 23, 2018
Swimming with Sharks
00:29:03
Sometimes it seems as if danger lurks around every corner. News reports of events like plane crashes and shark attacks make grave risk to life and limb feel real and imminent. And while there’s no doubt that risk is a part of life, are these the types of events we should really be concerned about? On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we examine a bias that affects the way you perceive both risk and reward. We trace how this bias may have helped your ancestors avoid lions lurking in the tall grass—but may also negatively affect your decisions around things like vacations and lotteries. The episode begins with Ranie Pearce and her harrowing tale of adventure in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Then you’ll hear an experiment involving sharks—and something even more dangerous—at the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia. Finally, author Dan Gardner explains the psychological roots of our common misperceptions about risk and reward.
Apr 09, 2018
The Devil's Advocate
00:27:20
In a world awash in data, you’d think it would be relatively easy to make informed, objective decisions. But there’s a problem that gets in your way, even with all of this information at your fingertips: You see what you want to see. On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we look at the tendency to favor information that confirms pre-existing beliefs. The episode begins in Europe in the 16th century, with a secret debate about sainthood, and then moves to a harrowing story of crime and punishment in contemporary America.
Mar 26, 2018
Summit Fever
00:29:38
Imagine that you’ve put in effort toward a goal, but things haven’t quite worked out the way you hoped. Maybe your goal was more expensive than you expected; maybe it’s taking longer to reach than you thought. So the question is, do you double down and continue to work toward that increasingly difficult goal, or do you move on to something new? Do you fish or cut bait? On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we look at how past effort, time or expense can influence the way we make decisions moving forward—even when they shouldn’t. The episode begins on an auction house floor but quickly climbs to the top of the highest peak in the world. Along the way, you’ll see how common is the lure to continue no matter what, and how it affects all kinds of decisions, big and small. Professor Michael Roberto explains how to identify this bias in your day-to-day life. You’ll also find out how to fight back against the influence of this trap in a story about Intel CEO Andy Grove—one of the most successful business leaders of the 20th century. (0318-8VJ8)
Mar 12, 2018
The Big Impact of Small Changes
00:27:27
You don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Context matters, perhaps more than you think. On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we explore the subtle, sometimes hidden structures that influence your decisions. You’ll see how small changes in the way choices are presented can have a huge impact on everything from vandalism to traffic congestion to retirement savings. Tara Austin of Ogilvy Change tells the dramatic story of how she and her team worked to reduce street crime in a London neighborhood after a devastating riot. It was a surprisingly simple project that had a measurable impact. You can see images from the project in this BBC News article. You’ll also hear about an experiment we ran on a busy intersection in an attempt to reduce collisions between bicycles and pedestrians—using nothing but a roll of duct tape. And behavioral design expert Sille Krukow explains how choice architecture can channel our inherent laziness to help us make better decisions. After listening, you can read our bonus article "Nudge Yourself" to learn even more about how to turn smart decisions into easier ones. Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.
Feb 26, 2018
It's Hard To Be Humble
00:25:12
The Battle of Midway. Saltine crackers. Carnival games. What do these seemingly unrelated things have in common? Well, they’re connected by a common psychological trap—one that affects the way we all make decisions. In this first episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we reveal this bias and explain how it affects decisions, big and small. Jonathan Parshall tells the dramatic story of how it influenced the course of history during a World War II battle. A ridiculous cracker-eating contest demonstrates the pitfalls of this bias in real time. And Professor Don A. Moore explains the history and psychology behind the bias and offers advice on how to minimize its effects. (0218-8W73)
Feb 12, 2018
Introducing Choiceology with Dan Heath
00:02:28
You’re not as rational as you think. In this new podcast, bestselling author Dan Heath performs forensic analysis on decision making. You’ll hear real stories, learn from top experts, and witness informal experiments that demonstrate the mistakes we too often make. Subscribe for free today to get the first episode automatically when it launches February 12.
Jan 19, 2018