I do research in behavioral economics and try to describe it in plain language. These findings have enriched my life, and my hope is that they will do the same for you.
My immersive introduction to irrationality took place many years ago while I was overcoming injuries sustained in an explosion. The range of treatments in the burn department, and particularly the daily “bath” made me face a variety of irrational behaviors that were immensely painful and persistent. Upon leaving the hospital, I wanted to understand how to better deliver painful and unavoidable treatments to patients, so I began conducting research in this area.
I became engrossed with the idea that we repeatedly and predictably make the wrong decisions in many aspects of our lives and that research could help change some of these patterns.
A few years later, as I was learning more and more about decision making and behavioral economics, I realized that this knowledge is relevant to many aspects of our life, from financial decision making, to health, to better habits, and even to better personal life. Once I realized that understanding decision-making can help me live in a better way, I started working on how to get all of us to use the same basic knowledge to improve our daily life.
I have very few pictures from my time in hospital but they are too difficult to share this way. But here is a picture of my most recent surgery that took place just a few years ago. In this picture, you can see a plastic Z, which is a way to take a scar and break it so that the skin is a bit more flexible. From all the surgeries I had, it is probably the least complex and the least painful one, but it shows in my mind some of the challenges that come with scars and the brutal beauty that comes with medicine.
Irrationally Yours, Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, the movie Dishonesty and the card game Irrational Game are my attempt to take my research findings and describe them in non academic terms, so that more people will learn about this type of research, discover the excitement of behavioral economics, and possibly use some of the insights to enrich their own lives.
In terms of official positions, I am a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight.
My free time is spent working on a guide to the kitchen and life—Dining Without Crumbs: The Art of Eating Over the Kitchen Sink—and of course, studying the irrational ways we all behave.
Thank you for your interest in me and my work.
Due to work overload, my interest in too many things, my inability to take into account the opportunity costs of my time, and my general inability to say no — combined with my particular physical limitations — I am unable to respond to every inquiry I receive.
I need to focus on the projects that I have already committed to and cut down on the time I spend responding to emails.
With this in mind, please consider the following:
For anything else, please use the form below and I will try to answer emails as they come but please know that if you don’t receive a response from me, it’s just a matter of too many emails and too little time.
Thanks for your help understanding.