Chris Nave, PhD is the Associate Director of the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences Program at the University of Pennsylvania. We caught up with Chris at the NoBeC conference (Norms and Behavioral Change Conference) at UPenn. NoBeC brought together some of the brightest researchers in the field and we got to attend!

The Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences program is in its 3rd year with 75 students from 12 countries. The students come from jobs in restaurants, fire stations, small businesses, and global corporations and they intend to leave UPenn with an understanding of what it means to be a behavioral scientist, but not actually BE one.

We met Chris through our friend, Jeff Kreisler, and we instantly connected as members of the same tribe. But it was even cooler when Chris invited us to attend the conference and to record conversations with some of the researchers.

This episode is the cornerstone of the series we recorded at the University of Pennsylvania and we are excited to share an over of the master’s program from Chris Nave.



Chris Nave:

UPenn Masters of Behavioral Change Program:

Piyush Tantia:


Musical Links

Baby Shark:

The Cure:

Red Hot Chili Peppers “Dark Necessity”:

Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA”:


Vivaldi “Four Seasons”:

Chris Brown is in human risk management and practice is set in backcountry snow. He grew up outside of Philadelphia and after graduating with a degree in Urban Design/Architecture, he moved to Utah to pursue certification with the AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) in avalanche training. 

Chris works as a ski guide and avalanche/snow science professional, but his real job is helping skiers overcome their biases. He incorporates the work of Kahneman and Tversky, Richard Thaler and other great researchers into his classes and we found his intentionality in decision making noteworthy.

We had a great conversation with Chris and we also want to express our gratitude to friend and colleague, Ben Granlund, for connecting us with Chris. Ben attended one of Chris’ classes and found it so engaging that he referred us to Chris. Ben was also delighted that Chris relies heavily on behavioral science and reminds us that the biggest threat to your life in avalanche country is your own decision making.

After our recording stopped, we discussed Guide Services for training. If you are interested, check out AMGA ( and the American Avalanche Association:



Chris Brown Email: 

Chris Brown Instagram: 

Ian McCammon:

Phil Tetlock “Super Forecasters”:

Familiarity Bias:

Expert Halo:

System 1 / System 2:,_Fast_and_Slow


Bruce Tremper:

Bayesian Decision Making:

First Tracks:

Laurence Gonzales “Deep Survival”:

Wicked Learning Environments:

Daniel Kahneman:

The Tao of Wu:


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan


Musical Links

Hip Hop:


Classical Music:

Death Metal:

Steel Pulse:

Wu Tang Clan:


Gang Starr:

John Coltrane:

Marcus Miller:

Stanley Clarke:

Bela Fleck:

Victor Wooten:

Herbie Hancock:

Sometimes things just go better in twos and that was the case regarding our guests for this episode. Zarak Kahn is the Behavioral Innovation Director at Maritz and Erik Johnson is an independent Behavioral Science Consultant. They are the co-hosts of Action Design Radio and board members at Action Design Network. Kurt and Tim have known them as coaches and colleagues and wanted to talk to them about all of that.

We discussed how the application of behavioral science continues to grow in both the corporate and policy words. Today, there are more jobs, more workshops, more bachelor's programs, more masters programs, more PhD programs, more meetups and more bootcamps than ever before. We expressed our collective desires to make behavioral science so easy to do it will be ingrained into every job from UX to Marketing to HR, and how we’d like to see people applying a behavioral lens in all of their decision-making.

In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim emphasized the importance of expanding the community of people applying behavioral science and we are grateful to share the mantle with very bright and fine folk like Erik and Zarak.



Erik Johnson Twitter: 

Erik Johnson LinkedIn: 

Erik Johnson Website: 

Zarak Kahn LinkedIn:

Action Design Network:

Action Design Radio (podcast):

Robert Cialdini:

Dan Kahneman:

Richard Thaler:

Cass Sunstein:


Musical Links


Local Natives:

Lana Del Rey:

Carley Rae Jepson:

Wye Oak “The Louder I Call the Faster it Runs”:

Sylvan Esso:

Johnny Flynn:

Sharon Van Etten:

Gillian Welch:

M Ward:

The National:

Victoria Shaffer is a researcher and professor at the University of Missouri. Victoria focuses on applying decision psychology and behavioral economics to medical decision making. In particular, she is researching judgment and decision making and how they impact the design of patient decision support tools.

Tim and Victoria met working on a field research project with Dan Ariely, PhD because of her work on non-monetary rewards with Scott Jeffrey, PhD. She was pushing back on common sense preferences, such as money is the best motivator, just as she is today with her work in the medical field.

Our conversation with Victoria began on familiar ground: the preference for cash as a reward and how it’s actually less effective than non-monetary rewards in incentive schemes. But we soon turned to the very personal journey of how she and her mother dealt with decisions surrounding her father’s diagnosis with cancer. Her personal journey became the foundation for important research to help patients, their loved ones and the caregivers communicate more effectively through stories. 

It’s a fascinating discussion and we hope you enjoy it. 



Victoria Shaffer:

Shelly Taylor on Biases and Mental Health:

Hal Arkes:

Decision Support Tools:

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande:

MD Anderson Cancer Center:

Advance Directives:

Palliative Care:

Peter Ubel – Duke:

Affective Forecasting Errors:

Columbia Records:

Dan Gilbert:


Kurt Nelson, PhD:

Tim Houlihan:



Van Halen:

Black Sabbath:

Ozzy Osbourne:


Depeche Mode:

The Cure:

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

James Taylor:

Kurt and Tim were invited to attend the Norms and Behavioral Change (NoBeC) workshop at the University of Pennsylvania on October 17 and 18, 2019, and what we experienced blew us away. We were impressed with a terrific diversity of academic fields studying social norms, the great work they are doing, and the generosity of the community (at UPenn as well as the behavioral science researchers from around the world).

This gathering was very different from industry assemblies we’ve attended, which in and of itself was not a surprise. However, there were three noteworthy differences. First, the lineup of speakers was heavily weighted toward researchers with findings on projects involving social norms. Second, academic audience members held speakers accountable for rigorous processes and the descriptions of their results. Lastly, the Q&A at the end of each presentation was filled with animated questions from economists, behavioral economists, sociologists, political scientists, philosophers, strategists, law professors, and of course, psychologists. The cross-disciplinary aspect of this group reinforced the need for more diverse thinking in the business world.

We came away with a greater appreciation of the role that social norms play in our behaviors and decision making as well as the tremendous research that’s being conducted on related topics.

We will be publishing our series of interviews with researchers from the workshop in the coming weeks, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did.



University of Pennsylvania Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences:

Paul Hebert knows incentives. He is the Vice President of Individual Performance Strategy at Creative Group, Inc. and a writer, speaker and consultant and is widely considered an expert on motivation and incentives focused on influencing behaviors that drive business results. Paul has been interviewed by the BBC and USA TODAY because of his work applying solid psychological theory to sales motivation.

Paul, Kurt and Tim recently co-authored an eBook called “The 7 Deadly Sins to Avoid in Your Next Sales Incentive.” The purpose was to help sales managers who are struggling to maximize their effort and results when they use sales incentives. In the podcast, we recap the most common sins committed by sales managers and discuss ways of avoiding them.

  1. Spread goals evenly
  2. Give a huge prize to the top performer
  3. Must be above quota to earn
  4. We’ll figure it out behind the scenes
  5. Under-quota performers can’t be winners
  6. It’s all about the Benjamins 

We hope you enjoy the discussion and recommend you download the eBook for reference.


Paul Hebert:

7 Deadly Sins Ebook:

Paul Hebert’s Blog:

Fistful of Talent Blog:


Elliot Aronson, PhD:

Zeno of Citium:

Steenburgh and Ahearne “Motivating Salespeople”:

Ariely and Heyman “A Tale of Two Markets”:

Jeffrey and Shaffer “The Effects of Tangible Rewards”:

The guy who traded a paper clip for a house:

The Price is Right:



Musical Links

“Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire:

“Timothy” by The Bouys:

“DOA” by Bloodrock:

First Avenue:

Trip Shakespeare:

Trip Shakespeare “The Slacks”

Dan Wilson:

Tragically Hip:




Trampled by Turtles:

And the Professors:

The Mighty Pines:

Ewert & the 2 Dragons:

October 9, 2019

Grooving: On Goals

Goals are often misunderstood. Goals are much more than just objectives that are handed down to subordinates. Rather, goals are self-determined in the best cases, and at the very least, are set collaboratively to get the most out of them.

We discuss Goal Setting Theory (GST), results from research that Tim conducted, and we address the three key elements that must be included to maximize the effect of the goals: 1. The goals must be perceived as achievable. Without perceived achievability, the goal is not accepted and, therefore, not a goal. 2. There must be some involvement with those who are executing the goals. If the goal is handed down from on high without meaningful participation from the person who’s going to act on it, it’s not a goal. 3. There must be a positive relationship between the goal and the reward (including a perceived assessment of risk). As the risk of achievability increases, so must the perceived value of the reward.

This short grooving session also delves into some myths and how to deal with them. Ultimately, we want listeners to come away with a clear understanding of the powerful results than can be obtained with practical and effective use of self-selected goals.



Zig Ziglar:

Goal-Setting Theory:

Edward Locke:

Gary Latham:

Howard Klein:

Ran Kivetz:

George Loewenstein:

Saurabh Bhargava:

Raghuram Bommaraju:

Raghuram Bommaraju & Sebastian Hohenberg on self-selected goals:


Kurt Nelson, PhD:

Tim Houlihan:


Brad Shuck, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation, and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville.  He is also recognized as one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts on employee engagement and is a sought-after speaker from around the world. 

Brad’s work is recognized as some of the most influential research in the field of employee engagement and his insights are invaluable. On top of that, Brad is a drummer, a lover of all sorts of music and our discussion traversed topics from the social determinants of health to having parents that were patient enough to allow him to learn drums as a child.

In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim dive deeper into creating a work culture of meaning and we ask the musical question: how does moving from town to town as a child impact your musical tastes?

And don’t forget to join us for our 100th Episode Celebration on October 17, 2019 in Philadelphia! Eventbrite link:



Brad Shuck email: 

Brad Shuck web page: 

Brad Shuck Google Connection: @drbshuck

Teresa Amabile:


Brad’s Research

  • Shuck, B., Alagaraja, M., Immekus, J., Honeycutt, M., & Cumberland, D. (2019). Does compassion matter for leadership: a two-stage sequential equal status mixed method exploratory study of compassionate leader behavior and connections to performance in human resource development. Human Resource Development Quarterly, X, XX-XX. doi: 10.1002/hrdq.21369 
  • Shuck, B., Peyton-Roberts, T., Zigarmi, D. (2018). Employee perceptions of the work environment, motivational outlooks, and employee work intentions: An HR practitioner’s dream or nightmare? Advances in Developing Human Resources, 20, 197-213. doi: 10.1177/1523422318757209
  • Shuck, B., #Osam, K., Zigarmi, D., & Nimon, K. (2017). Definitional and conceptual muddling: Identifying the positionality of employee engagement and defining the construct. Human Resource Development Review, 16, 263-293. doi: 0.1177/1534484317720622
  • Shuck, B., Nimon, K., & Zigarmi, D. (2017). Untangling the predictive nomological validity of employee engagement: Decomposing variance in employee engagement using job attitude measures. Group and Organizational Management42, 79-112. doi: 10.1177/1059601116642364 
  • Shuck, B., Alagaraja, M., Rose, K., Owen, J., #Osam, K., & Bergman, M. (2017). The health-related upside of employee engagement: Exploratory evidence and implications for theory and practice. Performance Improvement Quarterly30, 165-178. doi: 10.1002/piq.21246   
  • Shuck, B., Adelson, J., & Reio, T. (2017). The employee engagement scale: Initial evidence for construct validity and implications for theory and practice. Human Resource Management56, 953-977. doi: 10.1002/hrm.21811 
  • Rose, K., Shuck, B., #Twyford, D., & Bergman, M. (2015)Skunked: An integrative review exploring the consequences of dysfunctional leaders and implications for the employees who work for them. Human Resource Development Review14, 64-90. doi: 10.1177/1534484314552437


Musical Links

Folk Music:

A Lion Named Roar:

Mumford & Sons:

For King and Country:

John Coltrane:

Rodd Stewart:

Kenny G:

Jim Guszcza is the chief data scientist at Deloitte Analytics. His title paints a picture that he’s a total numbers geek. And that would be a fair, but single-dimensional assessment. What it doesn’t speak to is Jim’s passion for behavioral science and, more importantly, the collaboration of data science and behavioral science.

He makes a case for the application of behavioral science simply with this analogy: if we need help to see, we get eyeglasses. In so doing, we are using science and technology to help correct our faulty vision. But when it comes to correcting for our biases, we don’t turn to science and technology and that might improve our decision making. But we could. That’s where the collaboration between data science (or Big Data) and behavioral science come together: applying science and technology to decision making. And THAT was fascinating. 

In our discussion about music, we talked about Jim’s equal interest in a Dvorak string quartet as much as he is the in the soundtrack to “Wonder Boys” or a great jazz piano performance. He shared he has a penchant for small venues and small bands.

He then shared some tips about how to apply behavioral science to your job and your life. He focused on reading books and listening to podcasts as ways to become more educated on the topic and to help you apply behavioral science principles.

NOTE: Behavioral Grooves is celebrating our 100th episode in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 17, 2019 with authors Annie Duke and Jeff Kreisler. Our sponsors for the event include PeopleScience and Podbean and we want to thank them for helping us make this possible. If you’re unable to join us in person, we’ll be live streaming the event and we hope you’ll log in there! 


Jim Guszcza:

“Moneyball” Michael Lewis:

“Clinical Versus Statistical Prediction” Paul Miele:

Richard Thaler:

Cass Sunstein:

Daniel Kahneman:

Imposter syndrome:

Bounded Rationality:

Bounded Self-Control:

Craig Fox, UCLA:

Intention Action Gap:

Mike Green, Deloitte:

Cathy Neil:

Robert Cialdini, ASU:

“The Design of Everyday Things” Don Norman:

Tom Malone, MIT:

“Rockonomics” Alan Krueger:

“The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” Shoshana Zuboff:

“Deep Medicine” Eric Topol:

Stanford Human Centered AI:

Carnegie Mellon Social & Decision Sciences:

Behavioral Scientist Ethical Checklist:

 “Quiet” Susan Cain:

“Thinking in Bets” Annie Duke:

Herbert Simon:


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru

Tim Houlihan: @thoulihan

100th Episode Event at Meetup:

100th Episode Event at Eventbrite:

Behavioral Grooves:




Musical Links

Bob Dylan:

Van Morrison:

Leonard Cohen:

David MacDonald:

Arthur Schoenberg:

Wigmore Hall:

Dvorak String Quartet:

Schumann String Quartet:

Vijay Iyer:

Wonder Boys:

Angus & Julia Stone:

Flora Cash:

Echo and the Bunnymen:

The Cure:


Gina Merchant, PhD is a behavioral scientist who wound her way through academia and into the corporate world for the purpose of improving the health of communities, not just individuals. Her work examines how online and offline social networks influence our health behaviors and healthcare decision-making.

Gina shared her insights through research she’s been conducting with promotores, the women who govern how information flows through Hispanic communities in Southern California. The research explores how the work these women do impacts the health and wellbeing of their communities.

Our discussion also included Gina’s thoughts on misinformation, especially with respect to the myths that people have come to believe about vaccinations. This topic came to light as a source of passion in her work. We also talked about the role that a behavioral scientist can play in a corporate setting. She shared how business leaders can experience positive results by including a behavioral scientist in communication and design discussions.  

We also want to remind everyone that we’re celebrating our 100th episode in Philadelphia. It’s an evening event and it will be live streamed. If you’re interested in attending or listening live, check out the Behavioral Grooves website at


Gina Merchant:

Truthful Illusion Effect:

ANOVA Framework:

“Willful Blindness,” by Margaret Heffernan:

Inoculation Theory:

Confidence Project, by Heidi Larson:

The Filter Bubble:

The Looking Glass Self:

Kate Starbird:


Topanga Canyon:,_California


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru 

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan

Check out the Behavioral Grooves website:





Lil’ Kim:

Biggie Smalls:

Jack Johnson:

Tribe Called Quest:

Ben Harper:

Ivan Schultz, “Firetruck,”:

Swan Lake, by Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky:

Nova Mob:


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