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Behavioral Economics

Status Credit Cards

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

In high school, credit cards were alluring.  They were a symbol of freedom and adulthood. I couldn’t register a domain name or rent a hotel room without one.  So, I convinced my parents to cosign the papers I needed to get a debit/credit card at my local credit union. The credit part of the card […]

Paradox of Choice

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

A friend of mine, an aspiring ecologist with a blog of his own, sent me a link to Barry Schwartz’s 2005 TED talk on the paradox of choice.  Schwartz, a psychologist, has written a book with the same title that I have not read.  The video is entertaining and thought-provoking. Schwartz argues that too much […]

Ethics of the Truth

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

A video circulating around the internet is disturbing.  An aspiring NFL cheerleader had a negative reaction to a season flu shot.  It activated dystonia disorder.  If you haven’t seen the video you should look it up on YouTube. Note: Video previously embedded was removed from YouTube. YouTube comments express skepticism, compassion, but most of all […]

It’s Not Always a Mask

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

When Facebook came out, I was intrigued by how people presented themselves.  Initially, membership was confined to university students.  When crafting a profile, students knew their audience well.  Pictures from last night’s party were okay.  Divulging your secret love of Hanson was not.  In the real world, people act differently around different groups of friends.  […]

Libertarian Paternalism

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

I just finished Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. These University of Chicago professors advocate “libertarian paternalism” which recognizes that people often act irrationally and recommends that governments “nudge” people to make better choices. In their own words: Libertarian paternalism is a weak, soft, and non-intrusive type of paternalism because choices are not blocked […]

How to Make an Economist Mad

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Say that economics isn’t a real science. Someone told me that over Christmas, and I have to admit that it rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t want to delve into what “science” really entails. I’d be the first to concede that economists don’t study the physical world. What bothers me is the all too […]

Selection Bias at the Carnival

Monday, April 21st, 2008

This last weekend my university campus was open to prospective students and their families. Following the spring football game, the university hosted a small carnival with amusement rides and traditional carnival games. I went with a couple friends who satisfied their inner thrill-seeker with a ride on the ferris wheel. However, I was able to […]

Skin in the Game

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

While grocery shopping with a friend of mine, she mentioned that she always buys the slightly more expensive eggs.  The higher price signals that the eggs are of higher quality.  If the pricey eggs are still on the market, someone must be buying them for a reason.  In unfamiliar markets consumers often use price to […]

Combating Bias with Bias

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

I’m reading Colin Camerer’s overview of Behavioral Economics. My mom doesn’t have an email address, so the following passage made me laugh: Microsoft had a hard time getting its programmers to take customer complaints seriously (despite statistical evidence from customer help-lines), because the programmers thought the software was easy to use and couldn’t believe that […]