“Irrationally Yours” Reader Response
Please enjoy the first of a series of reviews of my upcoming book “Irrationally Yours” that I will be posting for you.
Watch it here: https://vimeo.com/127289358
“Irrationally Yours” is based on my “Ask Ariely” advice column in the Wall Street Journal, and is illustrated by cartoonist William Haefeli (who you will surely recognize from The New Yorker).
Announcing… CAH Startup Lab
Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University
Beginning with the 2015 academic year, the Center for Advanced Hindsight (CAH) at Duke University will invite promising startups to join its behavioral lab and leverage academic research in their business models. The Center is housed within the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University and is led by Professor Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. The Center studies how and why people make counterintuitive or irrational decisions and works to translate this academic research into easily applicable lessons that are accessible to all. A key goal of the Center is to explore new research directions and to translate academic research into accessible tools for better decision-making. To further this goal, the Center is looking for entrepreneurs and startups interested in applying social science research findings to their business in order to build decision-making tools primarily in the areas of financial decisions and health decisions.
The Startup Lab at CAH
Beginning in the fall of 2015, the Center will select several for-profit and/or not-profit startup companies interested in building digital solutions that address decision behavior in the health and finance fields. During an incubation period of 6-9 months, the Center’s researchers will help participants leverage social science research to test and bring to scale innovations aimed at substantially improving decision-making in the health and finance fields.
The Startup Lab will offer:
- Technical Assistance – Participants will learn to apply a behavioral lens to the design of their products and services and will learn to rigorously test each phase of iteration using proven methods.
- Mentorship – Participants will gain access to mentors from several schools at Duke University including the Fuqua School of Business and the Pratt School of Engineering.
- Financial Assistance – Participants will be given office space/equipment and will be provided with an internal operating budget.
- Networking Opportunities – Participants will gain access to Duke-connected resources such as the Duke Angel Network connecting alumni investors with Duke-affiliated startups. They will also become part of Durham’s growing entrepreneurial community, which has already established itself as a rich environment for accelerator and incubator programs.
We will select several domestic and/or international startups, consisting of about three or four participants each. Participants must be willing to relocate to our location in Durham, North Carolina for a period of 6-9 months beginning in the fall of 2015. Participants do not have to be U.S. citizens, however, non-US citizens that have participated in a J-Visa program within the 24 months preceding the start date of our program will be ineligible to apply.
To apply, please provide a written summary of the problem you are addressing and how far along your startup currently is both in terms of development and funding. Please also describe what you hope to gain from the program and provide links to your LinkedIn profiles. Email your application to Rebecca Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application deadline is July 1, 2015, and offers will be extended in late July. The program will begin October 1, 2015 and run for 6-9 months depending upon the needs of the applicants.
Last Night's Dishonesty Debate
Last night, legendary philosopher Peter Singer, distinguished psychologist Paul Bloom, and our very own expert behavioral economist Dan Ariely had a cross-Coursera “debate” on the ins and outs of dishonesty, morality, and ethics. Watch the fun and insightful discussion below, and skim the highlights on our twitter account or under the hashtag #dishonestydebate!
A Documentary about (Dis)Honesty
It is my greatest pleasure to announce a documentary that I have been working on with Yael Melamede of Salty Features.
Today, we launch a Kickstarter campaign that will help us finish the film and build its presence in the world.
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Please visit our Kickstarter Page to learn more about (Dis)Honesty and to become part of this special project.
Then, share the project with all your family members, closest friends, acquaintances, the cashier at your local grocery store, that guy you bumped into on the way to work, the lady whose wallet you found on the street and returned…everyone!
Thank you for your support, and I look forward to working with you along the way.
P.S. Like The Dishonesty Project on Facebook!
And follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dishonestyproj
The Price of Greed
With the holiday season upon us, it’s a good time to reflect on the things we have that we truly need and the rest that is just superfluous. How greedy are you?
In line with this thought, our very own Dan Ariely and Aline Grüneisen published an article in the November/December Scientific American Mind on the price of greed.
For a juicy excerpt, read on:
Ferocious competition may occasionally lead to optimal market outcomes, but it can also have harmful side effects. Think about competition in sports. At first glance, the drive to be the best appears to propel human achievements to new heights. World records are surpassed, and yesterday’s Olympic medalists pale in comparison with today’s champions. Yet extreme dedication has costs. Athletes may not spend enough time with their friends and families, or they may sacrifice their long-term health to perform better in the short term — by overexerting their body or taking performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids.
The consequences of unchecked greed can also spill over into society. In his 2011 book The Darwin Economy, economist Robert H. Frank of Cornell University outlines some of the disastrous effects of allowing competition to run free. Take, for example, neighbors gunning for social status. Each tries to outdo the others, purchasing a slightly flashier car, bigger pool or more expensive grill. When Joe Jones down the block builds a home theater and Jane Smith across the street installs a 3-D amphitheater, you will no longer be satisfied with your meager widescreen television. We don’t simply try to keep up with the Joneses, we try to surpass them…
See the full article here (or buy a copy from your closest magazine retailer)!
Community Color at the Carrack Modern Art
Our very own Dan Ariely will be hosting an art auction for a local Durham Art Gallery, the Carrack Modern Art, on October 13th as a part of their first annual fundraiser.
Community Color is a weeklong series of events, a fundraiser and a celebration that will feature an exhibit of original artwork by Carrack artists with live music, food, dance and poetry. The week will culminate on Saturday, October 13th from 6-10pm with an elegant Gala and Art Auction that Dan Ariely will be hosting. At this auction, he’ll introduce guests to various types of auctions and compare them in a real auction setting.
See the full press release here.
Tickets to the Gala and Art Auction can be purchased here.
For more information, please contact:
111 West Parrish Street, Downtown Durham, NC
Just Pay a Fine and Move Along: The Amorality of Drunk Driving
Recently, the “choose-your-ride” car (pictured here) has been roaming around downtown Durham and Duke University. The car seeks to reduce drunk driving by posing a choice between a $20 taxi or $1,000 fine. At first glance, this seems like a good strategy and it may indeed do some good. However, the car seems to missing one important element and it is the topic of Dan Ariely’s new book: morality.
In “The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty,” Ariely argues that morality matters. He explains how criminal behavior is not a simple cost-benefit analysis, and the threat of punishment only seems to work well when enforcement is nearly certain and extremely severe. Given that 300,000 of the Americans arrested for drunk driving every year are re-offenders, it seems that the threat and actual experience of consequences are not working so smashingly. Overall, drunk driving is rampant in the states. There are 900,000+ arrests a year. That’s arrest alone! The number of people driving drunk is much higher.
Drunk driving is not a niche offense; it is a social phenomenon that many see as a perfectly acceptable behavior. In movie The Hangover, Zach Galifinakas captures many American’s thoughts on drunk driving when he fondly remembers the night before and laughs it off saying, “Driving drunk, classic!” Many Americans simply feel no moral outrage with drunk driving, especially if they or their friends are the drivers. And what troubles me is that attempts like the “choose-your-ride” car do nothing to address this moral hole in the American conscience. According to Dan Ariely’s research on cheating, people cheat just as long as they can see themselves as good people. It’s no wonder people keep driving drunk, because society has done nothing to convince people that it is wrong.
Here are three specific ways this car fails to appeal to morality:
It makes it a choice. Think of other moral violations such as cheating in a marriage. For many, to even contemplate the idea of marital infidelity would be morally taboo. It should be the same with drunk driving. People engage in cost-benefit analyses for many actions, but when the action is in the moral domain this happens to a far lesser degree. When something is in the moral domain, hardline rules and concerns for one’s self-concept take over.
It puts a price on the crime. It turns a moral issue into a question of whether you want to pay $1,000 or if you can outwit the cops. According to the message sent by this car, you are not a bad person if you drive drunk. Instead, you are simply a person who is willing to pay a $1,000 fine.
It removes moral feelings. In chapter 9 of “The Upside of Irrationality,” Ariely discusses how thinking of situations like a math problem (rational thinking) can lead to less morality, because moral action is often driven by feelings. Here, the only feeling the car potentially activates is fear and the mathematical nature of the appeal might reduce any potential moral feelings people might have to begin with.
So what can we do?
Like with most socio-political issues, it is easy to criticize others’ solution and hard to put forth your own. Next week, I’ll attempt to put forth my own potential solutions to transform drunk driving into a moral issue. In the meantime, what do you think? Do you know people who chronically drive drunk? Can drunk driving be turned into something that is globally seen as morally detestable? If you have any solutions, ideas or articles you think would serve the blog, leave them in the comments and I’ll try to include them in part 2.