The Decision Corner connects you with cutting-edge insights from the world's best applied behavioral scientists to bring wisdom to your daily and professional life.
Rather than talking about nudges and trying to codify science into design principles, TDC goes deep and finds out just how the world's brightest minds solve complex real-world problems using the social sciences.
Nudging kids into school with Emily Bailard and Steven Masnajak
Brooke speaks to Emily Bailard and Steven Masnajak from Everyday Labs, an organization that applies behavioral science to improve student outcomes. They discuss the growing issue of chronic absenteeism in schools across the United States and how nudges and other behavioral interventions can be used to keep kids in school and engage with their families. Some of the things covered include:
- What leads to chronic absenteeism and the barriers to effective school participation.
- Its impact on student success, grade levels, and the likelihood of progression to college.
- How COVID exacerbated some of the underlying factors that lead to chronic absenteeism.
- The role of nudges in engaging family members and communicating the importance of school participation.
- Practical steps that teachers and education officials can take to make their student engagement policies more behaviorally informed and ultimately, more effective.
Disgusting decision-making with Yoel Inbar
In this episode of the Decision Corner, Brooke speaks with Yoel Inbar - professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and expert in how the feeling of disgust influences human judgment and decision-making. Together they define what it really means to feel a sense of disgust and its evolutionary purpose as a means of preventing risk or harm (like stopping us from eating rotten food!). On the flip-side, we hear about the negative consequences of disgust and why it can lead to biased or flawed judgements.
Some of the things discussed include:
- What is disgust and what purpose does it serve from a biological or evolutionary perspective?
- Why justifying our disgust with moral reasoning, i.e. “It disgusts me so it must be wrong!” can be troublesome.
- Descriptive versus normative beliefs, and how disgust affects both in different ways.
- Does disgust affect people differently, and do some people get more ‘grossed out’ by things than others?
- Strategies to acknowledge our disgust, and allow us to question whether it’s serving us effectively or not.
Designing blueprints for behavior change with Ruth Schmidt
In this week’s episode, Brooke speaks to Ruth Schmidt, Associate Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design, and expert in all things related to behavioral design and its application to organizational strategy. Their conversation looks at the evolution of choice architecture to a deeply human-centered evaluation of organizational systems and processes, and how it’s impacting behavioral change strategies, and ultimately, organizational success. Some of the things discussed include:
- How insights from behavioral science and behavioral design can be used to complement each other in addressing organizational challenges, despite their differences in approach.
- Balancing evidence of something working in the past, with evidence that something else may work in the future.
- How behavioral design can improve strategy - moving from choice architecture to choice infrastructure.
- Behavioral design and innovation. Having a true understanding of why you’re trying to innovate and aligning your systems, culture, and incentives with that ambition.
- The role of leadership, and why behavioral interventions need to be driven both from the top-down and the bottom-up.
From feeling to knowing with Antonio Damasio
In this episode of the Decision Corner, Brooke speaks with Antonio Damasio - David Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California and author of Feeling and Knowing: Making Minds Conscious.
Some of the topics discussed include:
- Why feelings are integral to our understanding of consciousness.
- The evolutionary origins of our nervous systems and eventually, our ability to have and regulate our feelings.
- How feelings have been overlooked in scientific explanations of consciousness, and why a paradigm shift is important.
- Challenges and opportunities around A.I. - how can we make robots have feelings?
- The importance of understanding the unique way human consciousness developed, and what it can teach us about our future selves, as well as our technological developments.
Why your HR practices might not be as inclusive as you think with Sonia Kang
In this episode of the podcast, Brooke speaks to Sonia Kang, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, Chief Scientist at the Behavioural Economics in Action Research Center at Rotman School of Management, and Canada Research Chair in Identity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Their conversation addresses some of the major diversity and inclusion pain points that job candidates, employees, and employers encounter throughout the HR cycle, from recruitment to onboarding and training. Sonia shares fascinating insights from her research, and offers practical advice for organizations seeking to improve the processes they use to attract talent, and ensure their employees feel as though they belong and are valued in their workplace.
Some of the things discussed include:
Recruitment barriers, from gender stereotypes to biased application systems.
Zooming out to the wider picture when searching for the right candidates, and how hiring in sets can help identify the best people for your existing teams.
Making employees feel like they belong through onboarding co-creation.
The use of defaults to encourage promotion competition.
Practical steps organizations can immediately take to address gaps in their inclusion and diversity strategies.
Bringing Behavioral Science into the Real World with Dilip Soman
In this episode of the Decision Corner, Brooke speaks with Dilip Soman, Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Science & Economics, University of Toronto Professor and Director of the Behavioural Economics in Action Research (BEAR) Centre at Rotman School of Management. Together they explore the translation of behavioral science theory into practice, common intervention pitfalls, and the types of strategies organizations and individuals can implement to make their interventions more robust and ultimately, more successful. Some of the topics discussed include:
- Why ‘shopping at the nudge store’ doesn’t always lead to the best outcomes, and how practitioners should consider the unique ‘seemingly irrelevant factors’ that exist in their particular context.
- The ladder of evidence - adopting a variety of approaches to intervention testing, that isn’t just another randomized controlled trial.
- Moving beyond statistical averages and considering the larger picture.
- Why a house listed for $1 will likely get a much higher sale price than the predetermined asking price.
- Organizational and psychological barriers to intervention testing and experimentation.
- How individuals can catalyse change in their organizations, and overcome some of the human biases that impede on the ‘discipline of testing’.
High quality podcast on the topic of behavioural science applied in various industries. I’ve been following only since a few months but had listened to most of the episodes and always awaiting new ones. Great thanks to the host!