38 episodes

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.

Choiceology with Katy Milkman Charles Schwab

    • Social Sciences
    • 4.4, 27 Ratings

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.

    A Spoonful of Sugar: With Guests Ayelet Fishbach, Dan Ariely, Lynne Gauthier & Nancy Strahl

    A Spoonful of Sugar: With Guests Ayelet Fishbach, Dan Ariely, Lynne Gauthier & Nancy Strahl

    “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.

    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).

    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.

    • 43 min
    Bidder Beware: With Guests Max Bazerman & Glenye Cain Oakford

    Bidder Beware: With Guests Max Bazerman & Glenye Cain Oakford

    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.

    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.

    • 34 min
    A Choice Apart: With Guests Max Bazerman & Vivienne Wagner

    A Choice Apart: With Guests Max Bazerman & Vivienne Wagner

    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.

    • 28 min
    So Close to the Prize: With Guests Oleg Urminsky & Brian Zinn

    So Close to the Prize: With Guests Oleg Urminsky & Brian Zinn

    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.

    • 36 min
    Coping Amid the Crisis: With Guest Laurie Santos

    Coping Amid the Crisis: With Guest Laurie Santos

    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. 

    • 39 min
    The Simple Choice: With Guests Shlomo Benartzi & Eric Sink

    The Simple Choice: With Guests Shlomo Benartzi & Eric Sink

    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.

    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.

    • 35 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
27 Ratings

27 Ratings

Annette2157 ,

Great concepts for health professionals

I always find a concept of interest for allied health clinicians. I look forward to each episosde

LSS2016 ,

Love this podcast

Interesting stories set a real life context for applying lessons from research.

peaslovingpods ,

Used to be good

Pretty disappointed in the way this show has gone. The quality of stories, anecdotes and general teachings were strongest in the first season. Lately the stories haven’t been fitting with the subject matter and it feels like a waste of time. One of the latest episodes started with a gladiator “story” and it was hardly related to begin with and it was never touched on again. 🤷🏼‍♂️

Season one had a good formula that has since disappeared: start with an interesting story and create suspense, give two more examples on a more relatable scale, come back to the main story having just learned about the principle/phenomenon with a greater understanding and appreciation.

Plus the constant cross company advertising is painful.

Top Podcasts In Social Sciences

Listeners Also Subscribed To

More by Charles Schwab