Action Design Radio explores a variety of topics through the lens of behavioral science and psychology. Hosts Erik Johnson and Zarak Khan interview experts and practitioners to learn about cutting edge behavioral research, and how to practically apply it to fields like public policy and consumer products. The podcast is supported by the Action Design Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2012 to promote the use of behavioral economics and psychology with over 10,000 members across the US and Canada.
Allison White - Behavior Mapping
Zarak and Erik chat with Allison White, a senior behavioral researcher at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight. Allison primarily advises FinTech companies on how to improve the design of their products to improve financial wellbeing for their users. Previously she was a senior UX design strategist at Deloitte’s InsightStudio, and is also a regular guest speaker at U Penn’s Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences program. Allison recently published with Habit Weekly a case study on her specialty of behavior mapping: https://www.habitweekly.com/behavioral-mapping-pro
Today Allison joins the podcast to dive into the various aspects of behavior mapping, including its nuances from journey mapping. Other topics include structural vs. psychological barriers, the importance of focusing on pain points, and what applied behavioral scientists can learn from the methodologies in other fields of human-centered design. According to Allison, one of the main advantages of behavior mapping is it forces you to incorporate a deeper level of specificity in your desired outcome, as well as the subsequent behaviors needed to reach that outcome.
Kristen Berman - The Behavioral Product Manager (Reprise)
Episode Description: Today's guest is Kristen Berman, co-founder of Duke University's Common Cents Lab, as well as co-founder (with Dan Ariely) of Irrational Labs. Kristen was on the founding team for the behavioral economics group at Google and has spoken at Facebook, Fidelity, Equifax, Stanford, and many more. Erik and Zarak chat with Kristen about her philosophy of incorporating behavioral science into the Product Manager's domain, creating what she dubs the Behavioral Product Manager. Kristen outlines how behavioral science gives us the missing pieces of the Product Manager's toolkit.
Producer’s Note: This interview with our guest Kristen Berman and our hosts Zarak Kahn and Erik Johnson originally took place in 2018. In 2021, Kristen wrote a chapter for the book “Building Behavioral Science in an Organization,” which was edited by Zarak Khan and Laurel Newman, and published through Action Design Press with assistance from U Penn’s Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences program. Kristen’s chapter in that book centers around the same topic as this interview: How behavioral science could and should be applied to Product Management. With the book release last year, we felt it was a great opportunity to reprise this fascinating interview, and generate some further discussion about this topic.
Namika Sagara - Behavioral Science in Consumer and Market Research
Happy 2022, Action Designers! In our first episode of the year, Zarak and Erik are joined by Namika Sagara to discuss her journey from academia to behavioral science practitioner, and how she applies BeSci to the field of consumer and market research.
Namika has a Ph.D. in Consumer Behavior and Judgment and Decision Making, founded the Behavioral Science Center for Ipsos in North America, and is currently the Chief Behavioral Officer for Syntoniq Inc., a behavioral insights consultancy and research firm. She is a prolific speaker and writer, including a chapter on Consumer and Market Research for the book “Building Behavioral Science in an Organization,” which was edited by Laurel Newman and our very own Zarak Khan, and published by Action Design Press with support from the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences program.
Dive into this first episode of 2022 to hear Namika’s expertise on topics like focusing on how consumers actually think and behave in the real world, as well as the struggles and techniques to simulate real-life behavior in a market research and development environment. She also has tips for aspiring BeSci practitioners on the importance of support from organizational leadership.
Linnea Gandhi - Reducing Noise in Organizations
It is our pleasure to welcome back Linnea Gandhi to the podcast! Linnea manages the boutique consulting firm BehavioralSight; develops and teaches applied behavioral science courses at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business; is pursuing her Ph.D. at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; and lately has been keeping busy with helping to edit and organize the newly published book, “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment,” written by renowned behavioral economists Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass Sunstein. She also loves her puppies, and your puppies too.
In today’s episode, Erik and Zarak explore with Linnea the differences between bias and noise, as well as the difficulty in designing behavioral interventions that are easy, relatable, and impactful. A lack of psychological safety in corporate culture makes it difficult to even find error and failure in companies, let alone try to improve them. The reason is because professionals (and people in general) are programmed to provide solutions. We’re rewarded for fixing things, or making them better – not so much for pointing out glaring errors that no one has noticed if we don’t have a ready-made answer for how to solve them.
How to address this gap, you ask? Well, you might start with a “noise audit.” Tune in and find out how to get started! Or sign up for her new online class on the subject at https://www.behavioralsight.com/online-learning.
Jon Levy - The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence
Jon Levy is a behavioral scientist best known for his work in influence, human connection, and decision making. He specializes in applying the latest research to transform the way companies (from Fortune 500 brands to startups) approach marketing, sales, consumer engagement, and culture.
Jon joins Zarak and Erik to discuss his most recent book published just last week, “You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence.” In their interview they cover the origins of The Influencers Dinner, a secret dining experience Jon founded over a decade ago that brings together industry leaders from Nobel laureates, Olympians, celebrities, executives, and overall “interesting people.” Jon was able to apply his understanding of the mechanics of human behavior (such as how people hate networking, but love making friends) to cultivate experiences rooted in emotional concepts like generosity and novelty. The results are events that are more remarkable and meaningful to those involved.
Other topics include the contagiousness of the behaviors of people we surround ourselves with, the connection between social integration and long life, and how to harness the IKEA effect to create a sense of belonging for people without spending big bucks.
Laurel Newman - Behavioral Science in Employee Culture and Human Resources
As applied behavior science has become more widespread, a need has emerged for guidance on how to build and integrate behavioral science functions within an organization. To help fill this need, our very own Zarak Khan – along with psychology professor turned applied behavioral scientist Laurel Newman – edited a book that was published in March that draws on the collective wisdom of applied behavioral scientists with cross-industry experience.
Download a free copy of “Building Behavioral Science in an Organization” at http://www.action-design.org/buildingbehavioralscienceorgs. Or you can purchase a Kindle or paperback copy on Amazon, at cost.
In today’s episode, Laurel Newman joins Erik and Zarak to discuss the applications of behavioral science to HR. While there’s usually an organizational focus on leadership, Laurel makes the case for more focus on role clarity and role fit. She says that there’s often an opportunity to focus more on putting employees in positions where they feel like there’s a great match between what they’re good at and what the role means for them. Research shows that companies with more intrinsically motivated employees also have happier customers; so employee satisfaction and wellbeing directly benefit a company’s bottom line. Laurel recommends that HR departments – and organizations in general – ask more questions such as:
When we teach people information, how do we make it relevant and useful enough for them to have the necessary impact and result in the desired behavior change? How can we avoid silos, and be more honest about investigating and identifying problems? Are we focusing on behavior (dependent variable), or just assuming that the independent variable (such as training) will have the desired impact?