Dolly Chugh is an award-winning associate professor and social psychologist at the Stern School of Business at New York University. Her research focuses on the “psychology of good people”. How and why most of us, however well-intended, are still prone to race and gender bias, as well as what she calls “bounded ethicality.”  

Dolly sits down with Kurt and Tim on this episode, to talk about the concept of “good-ish” which is a central theme to her book The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias Psychology and neuroscience have proven that our minds do things on autopilot. These shortcuts (or heuristics) are laden with unconscious biases, which are juxtaposed to our self identity as a “good” person; one that isn’t racist, sexist or homophobic. Dolly believes we should set a higher standard for ourselves by being good-ish people. By implementing a Growth Mindset, a concept pioneered by Carol Dweck, we don’t hang on too tightly to our identity. We learn to change, and to be taught and to grow.

In our conversation with Dolly we learn about her beautiful analogy of headwinds and tailwinds that describe the invisible biases and systemic issues that many people in our world face. She explains the “Hmmm Framework” that she came up with after the January 6th Attack on the Capitol. And, of course, we discuss music and how Dolly incorporates it into her teaching and her writing.

In our focused Grooving Session, Tim and Kurt extract the meaningful ways that we can apply Dolly’s work into our everyday lives. We summarize the key parts of our interview with her and how we can each challenge ourselves to find our good-ish groove!

What You Will Learn from Dolly Chugh 

(2:41) Speed round questions

(4:12) What is the difference between good and good-ish? 

(9:09) Why is a growth mindset so difficult?

(12:28) Why we should integrate psychology more into our educational and political systems

(15:48) How systemic racism and unconscious bias are related

(29:12) Hmmm Framework and thought experiments

(34:04) How do we discover our own blind spots?

(38:58) How Dolly incorporates music into her teaching and writing

(43:21) Applications from our interview with Dolly in our Grooving Session:

  1. Step back and be intentional, use “when...then…” statements.
  2. Don’t hold on so tightly to our identity and the status quo.
  3. Thought experiments to unveil our own ignorance. 
  4. The Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT).
  5. Self audit - look at our library, our magazines, our TV shows, what we talk about with friends. How are we showing up in the world? Are we being intentional with where we put our effort?

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Dolly Chugh: 

Dolly Chugh, The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias 

Carol Dweck, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success 

Episode 196: Living Happier By Making the World Better with Max Bazerman

Mahzarin Banaji 

Molly Kern 

Happy Days 

Grey’s Anatomy 

Steve Martin and Nuala Walsh, Episode 209: GAABS and Improving the Future for Every Applied Behavioral Scientist

Katy Milkman, How to Change 

Confronting the legacy of housing discrimination 

Harvard Implicit Association Test 

Alec Lacamoire 

Lake Wobegon Effect 

Episode 214: Observing the Non-Obvious: How to Spot Trends Around You with Rohit Bhargava

Musical Links

Hamilton “Alexander Hamilton” 

In the Heights “Blackout” 

Something Rotten! “A Musical” 

Bruno Mars “The Lazy Song” 

38 Special “Hold On Loosely” 

Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth” 

Talk about a unique career path! From performing at Woodstock before Jimi Hendrix, with his band Sha Na Na, to now being a Forensic Linguist, testifying for infamous court cases, one theme runs throughout the life journey of our guest Rob Leonard; his love of language. 

Rob Leonard started his unique career as a band member of Sha Na Na, one of only 32 bands who played at Woodstock in August of 1969. He played at the request of Jimi Hendrix and was the last band to go on to perform before Jimi went on to play one of his most memorable performances; the unforgettable rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

Sha Na Na shot to fame when Rob was studying for his undergraduate degree at Columbia University. Since his commitment to the band’s rehearsals and performances was so time consuming, Rob chose to study the only language that had classes available on Saturdays: East African Bantu (also known as Swahili). So after graduating, and leaving the band, he spent 7 years in East Africa carrying out socio linguistic fieldwork, and subsequently earning his PhD.

Rob now practices as a forensic linguistics expert, analyzing the use of spoken and written language in a legal arena.  He worked on the murder case of JonBenét Ramsey by analyzing the ransom note and testifying that it had not been written by the man who falsely confessed to her murder. Not only has he worked to solve cases in the US with the FBI, but he's also worked with Canada, and UK, law enforcement agencies as well. And he's worked on big corporate cases between Microsoft and Apple by carefully analyzing the way emails were written.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Quotes From Our Conversation with Rob Leonard 

(24:41) we can sort of use another metaphor, lift up the cover of the language and see what's going on underneath. And we can infer that there are certain patterns happening here that we then test for and we find 

(26:09) “Most of the information that is transmitted in a conversation does not come from the words that a speaker says, they come from the mind of the listener.” 

Topics we Discuss with Rob Leonard

(4:48) Speed Round

(6:08) Can you determine someone’s innocence from the way they speak?

(8:40) What is forensic linguistics?

(11:57) Non-random distribution of language

(13:21) Rob’s journey into learning East African Bantu

(19:18) How Rob found the career path into linguistics

(25:55) Theory of Mind

(34:12) Rob’s stories from playing at Woodstock

(47:40) Grooving Session about Rob


Robert Leonard 

“Sha Na Na and the Woodstock Generation,” by George Leonard '67 and Robert Leonard '70 

JonBenét Ramsey 

Tammy A. Gales PhD 

Andy Warhol 

Episode 220: How Do You Become Influential? Jon Levy Reveals His Surprising Secrets

Musical Links

Sha Na Na “Teen Angel”

Jimi Hendrix “The Star Spangled Banner” 

Janis Joplin “Ball & Chain” 

Sha Na Na “Tears on my Pillow” 

The Mamas and The Papas “California Dreamin’” 

This episode is a Behavioral Grooves first: we bring you our first ever joint podcast! Mid-way through the episode the tables turn and our guest interviews us! Our guest is the amazing Kelly Leonard, host of the great podcast called “Getting to Yes, And…” presented by Second City Works and WGN in Chicago. This unique conversation with Kelly, Kurt and Tim gives us a glimpse of the people behind the podcasts. It is a light-hearted, raw conversation scattered with some really personal, touching stories about challenges each of them have faced in their lives.

For over 30 years, Kelly has worked at Second City Improv - in all capacities moving up to Executive Vice President.  He’s worked with some of the most unforgettable and influential comedians on the planet, such as Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Keegan Michael Key, Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler! His book, "Yes, And," received rave reviews in Vanity Fair and the Washington Post. 

But what we really wanted to talk to Kelly about was his work as executive director of insights and applied improvisation at Second City. He now co-leads a new partnership with Booth School at the University of Chicago that studies behavioral science through the lens of improvisation. Their mission is to use humor and empathy, interactivity and dialogue, to elevate conversations and inspire people to perform better.

Kelly talks to us about what improv actually is. He believes it’s fundamentally different from comedy and says many people tell him that improv training changed their life. He likens improv to “yoga for your social skills”! 

We discuss Kelly’s concept of “Yes, And”. So often as humans, our default setting when asked to be involved with something, is to do nothing or say no. But our regrets are almost always about the things that we didn't do. He describes saying “yes, and'' as a little nudge. And he has some innovative ways of sharing this idea through improv exercises

Kelly has discovered that real value is added to the “Yes, And” approach by adding a final step called “Thank You, Because”. Those are the words that help bridge a gap between us and someone else we fundamentally disagree with. By thanking someone for sharing information, their “fear brain” isn’t triggered, and they feel gratitude. The “Because” part forces us to find something in what they’ve said that is true for both of us. We then have some space to stay in the conversation together. 

Our conversation with Kelly then flips! And for the first time ever on Behavioral Grooves, the interviewers become the interviewees! We delve into the behavioral science work that Tim and Kurt are passionate about; negativity bias and how to overcome it, talking to our emotions and naming our fears, the 4-Drive model of Motivation, as well as how to improve really dull work meetings!

Kurt and Tim tell us the “yes, and” story of how the Behavioral Grooves podcast actually started! And Kelly shares how an office fire was the spark that ignited his podcast journey. In this unique episode you will learn what makes these 3 great podcast hosts really tick and what techniques and exercises they use to stay positive, grateful and what they’ve learnt by saying “yes, and”.

Topics We Discuss in This Episode

(3:36) Welcome to Kelly and speed round questions

(5:00) What is improv?

(10:32) The concept of “Yes, And”

(17:15) Obstacles as gifts

(20:08) Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

(21:46) “Wish” - a resilience exercise

(23:36) Kelly talks music

(26:56) Switch! Kelly welcomes Tim and Kurt

(27:09) Negativity Bias 

(29:06) Talk to the emotions

(31:23) How writing connects with your emotions

(36:44) How Kurt started his business 

(37:03) The 4-Drive Model of Motivation 

(39:25) How Behavioral Grooves and Getting To Yes, And podcasts started

(42:18) Meetings suck! How can we improve them?

(44:29) Emotional safety at work

(52:30) Who do Kurt and Tim REALLY want as a guest on their podcast?

(59:42) Kurt and Tim’s Yes, And stories

(1:04:18) Grooving session


Kelly Leonard: 

Second City:  

“Getting to Yes, And” Podcast:

Art In An Instant: The secrets of improvisation 

The Big Short Movie 

Richard Thaler 

The Second Science Project 

Nicholas Epley “Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want 

Tim Harford “Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives 

Kurt Nelson PhD, Communicating To Your Team During A Pandemic 

Devon Price PhD “Laziness Does Not Exist 

“Getting To Yes, And...podcast with Devon Price PhD” 

Tim Houlihan “The Benefits Of Pre-industrial Revolution Life” 

David Byrne “American Utopia 

The 4-Drive Model. “Employee Motivation: A Powerful New Model 

Jane Dutton University of Michigan “Compassion at Work 

Liz Fosslien “No Hard Feelings: Emotions at Work and How They Help Us Succeed 

Episode 120: Covid-19 Crisis “Emotional Impact Of Wfh With Liz Fosslien”

Kimberlé Crenshaw “Intersectionality 

Amy Edmondson “Psychological Safety 

Adam Alter “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked 

Episode 204 “How Shellye Archambeau Flies Like an Eagle

Joann Lublin “Work-Life-Sway 

Alan Alda 

Daniel Kahneman 

Barry Schwartz 

David Byrne 

Robert MacFarlane “The Lost Words 

Tina Seelig at Stanford University 

Episode 67 “George Loewenstein: On a Functional Theory of Boredom

John Sweeney 

Katy Milkman “How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be 

Episode 220 “How Do You Become Influential? Jon Levy Reveals His Surprising Secrets 

Musical Links

Django Reinhardt “Three-Fingered Lightning 

Keith Jarrett “If I Were A Bell 

Taylor Swift “Cardigan” from Folklore album  

Taylor Swift “Willow” from Evermore album 

Lake Street Dive “Obviously” 

Switched on Pop Podcast 

Neil Young “Harvest Moon” 

David Bowie “Lazarus” 

On this episode of Behavioral Grooves we chat with the founder of the engaging new app PIQUE. Bec Weeks is a behavioral scientist turned accidental entrepreneur! By joining forces with some of the brightest minds in behavioral science, including partners Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar Shafir and Mike Norton, they have developed an amazing app that accompanies your favorite books.

Pique takes users' interests in books to a new level with their slogan: Don't just read the book. DO the book. By using insights from psychology research, the app creates three-minute adventures that change how you see yourself and others. Pique helps you DO things. They know that just reading books doesn’t lead to change. Doing leads to change. That’s where the app can help.

Pique has created curious, engaging content from some of the bestselling books from the last year:

You can check out the new app Pique here: But first, listen in to Bec's chat with us.

What You Will Learn About In This Episode

(2:38) Welcome and speed round

(5:06) What is Pique?

(12:50) Why humor is an important part of the app

(17:03) Why is the app called Pique?

(21:13) How Bec has used analytics and algorithmic techniques 

(23:05) Bec’s journey to becoming an entrepreneur

(26:49) The surprises of being an entrepreneur 

(32:43) How Bec first became interested in behavioral science

(34:37) What music would Bec take to a desert island?

(41:11) Grooving Session 

I you are a regular listener to Behavioral Grooves, we would really appreciate your support by writing us a podcast review or becoming a Behavioral Grooves Patreon Member at Thank you!

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Bec Weeks:  


Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much” 

Ashley Whillans “Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life” 

Wendy Wood “Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick” 

Dolly Chugh “The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias” 

Katy Milkman “How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” 

Annie Duke “How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices” 

Lidy Klotz “Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less” 

Mike Norton and Elizabeth Dunn “Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending” 

Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas “Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (And how anyone can harness it. Even you.)” 

Daniel Kahneman “Thinking Fast and Slow” 

Episode 205: The Myth of the “Relationship Spark” with Logan Ury (featuring a guest appearance by Christina Gravert, PhD)

Episode 220: How Do You Become Influential? Jon Levy Reveals His Surprising Secrets

Episode 38: Linnea Gandhi: Crushing On Statistics

Episode 224: Why Is Noise Worse Than Bias? Olivier Sibony Explains

Deese–Roediger–McDermott paradigm (DRM): 

Musical Links

Hamilton “Alexander Hamilton” 

Radiohead “No Surprises” 

Taylor Swift “Love Story” 

Dua Lipa “We’re Good” 

Wicked “Defying Gravity” 

Frozen “The Next Fight Thing” 

Moana “You’re Welcome” 

Billie Eilish “Your Power” 

Tame Impala “Let It Happen” 

Powderfinger “These Days” 

Spiderbait “Black Betty” 

The Cat Empire “Brighter Than Gold” 


The GodFather of Influence, Robert Cialdini joins us again on Behavioral Grooves to share his motivation for expanding his bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion ( which now includes a completely new Seventh Principle of Influence: Unity. This additional principle can help explain our political loyalties, vaccine hesitancy and why media headlines can be so inflammatory.

Another motivation for the revised edition to the book is to include more application to the Principles of Influence. So our conversation highlights some of Bob’s advice for start-up businesses and how they can harness the principle of Social Proof. And as general advice, Bob recounts how he recently advised a teenager to be generous to others - this in turn stimulates the Rule of Reciprocity, nurturing a relationship which is mutually beneficial.

No episode of Behavioral Grooves would be complete without discussing music, even with guests we’ve interviewed before! But the theme of unity has a special significance with music and Bob highlights how music and dance bring people together and help them feel unified. Plus we get an interesting story of an experiment in France, and how a guitar case played a crucial part in one man’s luck.

We hope you enjoy our discussion with The Godfather of Influence, Robert Cialdini. Since we generously share our great content with you, perhaps you feel influenced by the Rule of Reciprocity and will become a Behavioral Grooves Patreon Member at!

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Topics we Discuss on Unity with Robert Cialdini 

(3:55) Speed round 

(6:50) Ideal number of stars on your online review

(9:00) Why Cialdini wrote a new edition of Influence

(12:13) The new Seventh Principle: Unity

(15:10) How to harness social proof as a start-up 

(20:02) A new color of lies

(22:22) Principle of Unity with politics

(24:42) Tribalism and vaccine hesitancy 

(28:35) Why Trump getting vaccinated hasn’t influenced his voters

(30:50) How framing of media headlines influences our perception of the news

(33:24) The Petrified Forest Wood Principle 

(36:56) Where will the next generation of research go with Cialdini’s work?

(40:52) What advice would Cialdini give your teenager?

(48:23) Music and influence

(53:05) Grooving session 

Robert Cialdini's Books

Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion 

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade 


Episode 50: Robert Cialdini, PhD: Littering, Egoism and Aretha Franklin

Increase Your Influence 

Godfather 2 Movie 

Richard Thaler 

Daniel Kahneman 

Episode 222: How Delusions Can Actually Be Useful: Shankar Vedantam Reveals How

Donald Trump vaccine 

Mike Pence 

Petrified Forest Wood Principle 

Stanley Schachter 

Jerome Singer 

Episode 220: How Do You Become Influential? Jon Levy Reveals His Surprising Secrets

The psychology of misinformation: Why it’s so hard to correct: 

How to combat fake news and  misinformation: 

Teaching skills to combat fake news and misinformation: 

Episode 102: Cristina Bicchieri: Social Norms are Bundles of Expectations

Episode 214: Observing the Non-Obvious: How to Spot Trends Around You with Rohit Bhargava

Behavioral Grooves Patreon

Linnea Gandhi is one of our favorite people to talk with and we had the pleasure of welcoming Linnea back to Behavioral Grooves recently. We last spoke to her in 2018 when she confessed to having a crush on statistics (a crush she clearly still harbors!) Since that time though, she has made a significant contribution to the infamous new book Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein ( Linnea served as the chief of staff; project managing, researching and editing the groundbreaking work on the book. When we interviewed Olivier Sibony about Linnea’s contribution, he was glowing with compliments about her:

it took someone as miraculously organized, helpful and smart, always positive and in a consistently cheerful, good mood. And I can't imagine anyone else on the planet who could have pulled this off, but Linnea did. So she's amazing.

Linnea is a researcher, teacher, and practitioner of behavioral science in business settings. And she’s obsessed with error. Studying it, fixing it, and even embracing it – to enable better decisions by individuals and organizations.

Linnea is passionate about bridging the gap between behavioral science in academia and its application in the real world. She teaches decision science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, studies it as part of her PhD at the Wharton School of Business, and consults on it through her company, BehavioralSight ( This foothold in both worlds, has given Linnea the expertise for her current project which sees her teaching the topic of noise in an “edu-tainment” online video course. 

The tremendous new course (we got a sneak’s fantastic) is called Beyond Bias: How Noise May Be Drowning Out Your Decision Making Accuracy which is due to be published in June 2021. The course is purposefully designed for busy professionals who want to understand noise and how to mitigate it in organizations. Linnea and her team have meticulously planned the course videos so that they are short yet informative and entertaining. She is well aware that they are competing with Netflix for people’s attention!

Our conversation weaves in some endearing anecdotes about her personal experience of working with Kahneman, Sunstein and Sibony on the book. As well as some of the hurdles of working (and recording) from home that many of us can identify with from the last year. But Linnea’s passion for her work on noise and her enthusiasm for statistics is contagious. So much so that it has almost convinced Kurt to start reading about statistics in his spare time (almost!)

We hope you enjoy listening to Linnea’s work in behavioral science. At Behavioral Grooves, we are passionate about bringing you cutting edge interviews with the world’s best behavioral science practitioners, researchers and authors. If you would like to help support our work, please consider becoming a Behavioral Grooves Patreon at, we really appreciate the support.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Topics We Discuss With Linnea

(3:07) Speed Round

(6:39) About Linnea’s new course on NOISE

(16:45) Why humans don’t see easily see randomness

(19:58) Working behind the scenes on NOISE

(22:48) How did the authors first collaborate on NOISE

(26:53) What finally convinced Linnea to get a PhD 

(36:12) Decision Hygiene and Linnea’s favorite technique

(41:20) Music

(43:20) Grooving Session


Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment” by Kahneman, Sibony and Sunstein, 2021

Statistics As Principled Argument 

Linnea’s Video Course on Noise (coming in June 2021) “Beyond Bias: How Noise May Be Drowning Out Your Decision Making Accuracy 

Episode 224: Why Is Noise Worse Than Bias? Olivier Sibony Explains

Episode 38: Linnea Gandhi: Crushing On Statistics

Daniel Kahneman 

Cass Sunstein 

Olivier Sibony  

Noise: How to Overcome the High, Hidden Cost of Inconsistent Decision Making 

Episode 176: Annie Duke on How to Decide

Tania Lombrozo (Explanations) 

Mona Lisa 

A Structured Approach to Strategic Decisions 

Duncan Watts 

Angela Duckworth 

Episode 99: Katy Milkman: Behavior Change for Good

Barbara Mellers 

Maurice Schweitzer 

Richard E. Nisbett “Thinking: A Memoir 


Musical Links

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis “Thrift Shop”  

White Noise 

NOISE is set to be the next behavioral science bestseller. Daniel Kahneman, Cass Sunstein and Olivier Sibony describe noise as the unwanted variabilities in our judgments. In our exclusive interview with co-author Olivier Sibony ( we delve into the fundamentals of noise. What different types of noise are there? Where do we find noise? Why does bias get more attention than noise? And finally, Olivier’s favorite topic; how we can mitigate noise by using decision hygiene and actively open minded thinking.

Olivier Sibony is a professor, writer and advisor specializing in the quality of strategic thinking and the design of decision processes. Olivier teaches Strategy, Decision Making and Problem Solving at HEC Paris. He is also an Associate Fellow of Saïd Business School in Oxford University. Olivier’s research centers on improving the quality of decision making by reducing the impact of behavioral biases. He is the author of numerous articles in academic and popular publications, including Before You Make That Big Decision, co-authored with Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.

Our interview with Olivier is, as I’m sure you will agree. absolutely mesmerizing. Learning about the extent of noise in our lives from Olivier and from the new book, is truly enlightening. As their cleverly crafted catchphrase says "wherever there is judgment, there is noise, and more of it than you think."

Thankfully, the brilliant team of authors have included lots of ways to combat the noise around us. And we know that our discussion with Olivier is just the first of many that we will have around this groundbreaking topic.

Behavioral Grooves strives to bring you insight and research from world-leading experts in behavioral science, like Olivier. And we do this without the use of paid advertising. If you would like to support our continued ad-free work, please consider becoming a Behavioral Grooves patreon by visiting thank you.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Topics We Discuss

  • (4:38) Welcome to Olivier Sibony and speed round questions
  • (7:51) The difference between bias and noise
  • (11:32) Why has bias received more attention than noise?
  • (14:15) Where noise can be found?
  • (22:32) What is Decision Hygiene?
  • (26:35) How to implement mitigation techniques against noise?
  • (29:32) Actively Open Minded Thinking and what it means for leadership and education
  • (38:45) What are the different types of noise?
  • (44:18) The role of moral philosophical foundations and noise
  • (49:28) Music 
  • (54:06) Grooving Session and Bonus Track

Olivier Sibony’s Books

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Kahneman, Sibony and Sunstein, 2021

You're About to Make a Terrible Mistake: How Biases Distort Decision-Making and What You Can Do to Fight Them 


Olivier Sibony 

Languedoc wine 

Rhones Valley wine 

Dr Itiel Dror 

Apgar Checklist 

John Maynard Keynes 

Max Bazerman “Better, Not Perfect: A Realist's Guide to Maximum Sustainable Goodness” 

Bentham's Utilitarianism 

Kant's Deontological Approach 

Noise: How to Overcome the High, Hidden Cost of Inconsistent Decision Making 

Behavioral Grooves Patreon

Musical Links 

Yo-Yo Ma cellist “Bach Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major” 

Billy Evans “My Foolish Heart” 

Keith Garrett “I Grew Up Today” 

Oscar Peterson “C Jam Blues” 

More Great Episodes Of Behavioral Grooves 

Episode 220: How Do You Become Influential? Jon Levy Reveals His Surprising Secrets

Episode 211: A Thousand Thanks: A Lifetime of Experiments and Gratitude with AJ Jacobs

Episode 204: How Shellye Archambeau Flies Like an Eagle

Episode 176: Annie Duke on How to Decide

Episode 147: Gary Latham, PhD: Goal Setting, Prompts, Priming, and Skepticism

Episode 38: Linnea Gandhi: Crushing On Statistics


Allison Zelkowitz seized the opportunity to use behavioral science at Save The Children to make a big impact on global projects. By building a world-first “nudge unit” within the organization, her story is an inspiring example of how application of behavioral science principles can make a real difference in the world. 

Allison Zelkowitz is the Founder and ‎Director of the Center for Utilizing Behavioral Insights for Children (CUBIC), part of the international nonprofit organization Save the Children. CUBIC is the first behavioural insights initiative or "nudge unit" in the world to focus on the most marginalised children’s rights and welfare. At CUBIC, they focus on nudging the behaviours and actions of decision-makers, educators, families and communities, so more children get the best possible start in life. 

Ultimately, Allison is well aware that changing behavior isn’t about telling people what to do, it’s about facilitating ways for them to change: understanding the barriers and effectively removing them. The projects of CUBIC are not just inspiring, they are also life-saving. Projects such as 

  • Nudging children in Thailand to wear bicycle helmets, 
  • Encouraging breastfeeding in Laos, and 
  • Increasing playful teaching methods to enhance children’s learning in Bangladesh. 

In our chat with Allison, she reveals the vast personal dedication that it took to enable CUBIC to be formed. We love that Allison first carved her interest in behavioral science by listening to podcasts in her spare time (Allison has since become a Behavioral Grooves Patreon  - thank you for your support!) But within the space of 14 months, her idea had grown into an international collaboration with other leading behavioral scientists, a huge fundraising effort, and eventually to the global launch of CUBIC in April 2020.

In this episode you will learn:

  • (11:05) What inspired Allison to start CUBIC at Save The Children International.
  • (15:03) Why just giving people good information doesn't change their behavior.
  • (19:45) An overview of setting up a Nudge unit.
  • (23:55) The steps Allison took to build CUBIC in 14 months.
  • (30:18) About the current project in the Philippines texting parents to encourage them to positively engage with their children.
  • (41:54) Upcoming project on increasing vaccination uptake in the global south.
  • (43:59) Music Allison enjoys.
  • (48:58) Grooving Session and Bonus Track.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


CUBIC - Save The Children International:

Save The Children: 

CUBIC: Save The Children initiative: 

Eliud Kipchoge: 

United States Parachute Association: 

Allison's Blog on Skydiving with Behavioral Science: 

Behavioral Grooves Patreon: 

Fadi Makki, Founder of Nudge Lebannon: 

The Busara Center for Behavioral Economics: 

Faisal Naru, OECD: 

Josh Martin, Ideas 42: 

The Behavioral Insights Team:  

Dr Susanna Loeb, The Annenberg Institute, Brown University: 

The Lantern Group:

Behavioral Alchemy:  

Musical Links 

Hamilton Soundtrack: 

Journey “Don’t Stop Believing”: 

Video for Allison’s wedding: 

Other Episodes You Will Enjoy

Episode 202: How Chaning Jang Works Around Not Being WEIRD

Episode 209: GAABS and Improving the Future for Every Applied Behavioral Scientist

Episode 190: Cornelia Walther on POZE: Pause, Observe, Zoom in, and Experience

Episode 168: The Stages of Grief, Pandemics and the Psychology of Protests with Nicole Fisher

Episode 165: Shlomi Ron: Visual Storying Telling In a Time of Crisis

Episode 146: Covid-19 Crisis: Mariel Beasley on Increasing Short Term Savings During the Crisis

Episode 139: Iris Tzafrir: A Kind Word

Episode 73: Terry Esau: Carbon Fiber Therapist

Episode 19: The Teaspoon Hustle – Part 1 with Rob Burnet

Episode 20: The Teaspoon Hustle – Part 2 with Rob Burnet

Episode 221: Donating Our Money Is Irrational, So Why Do We Do It? Tim Kachuriak Explains Our Motivations

Episode 1: Behavioral Grooves 1: James Heyman, Phd

Episode 222: How Delusions Can Actually Be Useful: Shankar Vedantam Reveals How


In this episode, we are delighted to welcome Shankar Vedantam, host of the wildly popular podcast, Hidden Brain and esteemed author of the new book Useful Delusions (

Before reading Shankar’s book and interviewing him for this podcast we were, as Shankar describes himself, card-carrying rationalists. We were firmly in the camp of believing rational, scientific findings and believing that lies and deception are harmful to ourselves and to our communities. However, Shankar walks us through a compelling argument, that paradoxically, self-deception actually plays a pivotal role in our happiness and well-being.

In our discussion with Shankar we cover:

  • (6:38) Speed round questions.
  • (11:04) The difference between self delusions being useful and being harmful.
  • (16:23) How nations are a delusional construct.
  • (23:00) Awareness of self-delusions and how daily gratitudes can shift our perspective of the world. 
  • (25:56) Shankar’s personal story of delusional thinking. 
  • (29:58) The role emotions play in our mood and delusions.
  • (35:23) How avoidance of delusional thinking is a sign of privilege.
  • (37:30) Why our perceptions play an important role in understanding delusions.
  • (44:36) Shankar’s unique approach to conspiracy theories.
  • (52:28) What music Shankar has been listening to during COVID.
  • (52:15) Grooving Session and Bonus Track with Kurt and Tim.

We really hope you find Shankar’s unique insight on how delusions are useful as compelling as we did. If you’re a regular Behavioral Grooves listener, please consider supporting us through Patreon ( Thank you! 

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves



  • The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives


Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Kahneman, Sibony and Sunstein, 2021 

Richard Dawkins 


Lake Wobegon Effect 


Other Episodes We Talk About

The Myth of the “Relationship Spark” with Logan Ury (featuring a guest appearance by Christina Gravert, PhD):

Robert Cialdini, PhD: Littering, Egoism and Aretha Franklin: 

Self Control, Belonging, and Why Your Most Dedicated Employees Are the Ones To Watch Out For with Roy Baumeister:

George Loewenstein: On a Functional Theory of Boredom:

Gary Latham, PhD: Goal Setting, Prompts, Priming, and Skepticism:

John Bargh: Dante, Coffee and the Unconscious Mind:

Linda Thunstrom: Are Thoughts and Prayers Empty Gestures to Suffering Disaster Victims? 

Tim Kachuriak is the founder and Chief Innovation and Optimization Officer for NextAfter (, a fundraising research lab and consulting firm that works with businesses, nonprofits, and NGOs to help them grow their resource capacity.

By his own admission, Tim is not a behavioral scientist, but what we love about Tim’s work is that he is using knowledge and research from the world of behavioral science and applying it to improve the efficiency of gift giving for nonprofit organizations. And not only does he use behavioral science techniques, he tests the theories in the nonprofit sector and generously publishes the findings on the NextAfter website ( 

In our conversation with Tim, he underscores the need for thinking about value proposition, a term widely used in the digital marketing world, but rarely thought of in terms of nonprofit organizations. He argues that potential donors are constantly weighing up the perceived value vs. the perceived cost of donating their money.

Tim also brings up the idea of reducing friction for donors: how can the giving experience be improved to make donating money a more seamless transaction. And we couldn’t help but see the parallels with the infamous new behavioral science book NOISE coming out later this month (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment ( by Kahneman, Sibony and Sunstein, 2021).

There are many reasons why we donate to nonprofits; emotional reward, belonging, anger, guilt (or as Tim positively reframes it - gratitude!). Understanding these motivations is a huge part of Tim’s work and why, as behavioral scientists, we are fascinated to understand the research he has conducted around donations. 


Hey groovers, just wanted to let you know that somehow, at 29:28 mins of the podcast we ended up cutting Tim’s response to the Susan G Komen question and can’t find it on the cutting room floor…sorry about that.

What he answered was that it is important to look at the scale that these organizations work at and that sometimes spending 50% on marketing to raise a $100 million is more effective and can drive a larger change than only spending 10% on marketing, but only raising $10 million.  We then went in and asked about how the pandemic has impacted giving.*

We hope you enjoy our discussion with Tim Kachuriak and if you are a regular Behavioral Grooves listener, perhaps you feel motivated to donate to our work by becoming a Behavioral Grooves Patreon Member (

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


(0:06) Introduction to our guest, Tim Kachuriak

(3:50) Speed Round Questions

(5:57) Why do People Give?

(9:41) The Principle of Reciprocity

(12:10) Effective Messaging and Value Proposition 

(22:25) Reducing Friction

(34:48) Music

(40:27) Grooving Session

(58:44) Bonus Track


NextAfter (

NextAfter Research To Grow Generosity (

Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy ( 

Roger Dooley: Friction and Engagement (

Susan G. Komen (

Dan Pallotta, TED - The Way We Think About Charity Is Dead Wrong ( 

John Hopkins University, Coronavirus Resource Centre ( 

Rotary Club ( 

Salvation Army ( 

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment ( by Kahneman, Sibony and Sunstein, 2021 

Phish, Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City on 10.30.2010 ( 

Behavioral Grooves Patreon (

Musical Links

Billy Joel “Scenes from An Italian Restaurant” ( 

Phish “Whole lotta love” ( 

Other Episodes We Talk About

Robert Cialdini, PhD: Littering, Egoism and Aretha Franklin ( 

Linda Thunstrom: Are Thoughts and Prayers Empty Gestures to Suffering Disaster Victims? (

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