Melina Palmer is the host of The Brainy Business podcast and she has dedicated her career to seeking answers to these questions for herself and her clients. Melina uses behavioral economics to help everyone from global corporations to entrepreneurs understand the psychology of why people buy, unlocking the secrets of small changes that make a big difference via her podcast, public speaking, and column on Inc.com. The result is messaging, branding, advertisements, pricing and products that are more “brain-friendly” (meaning more leads, conversions, and revenue).

Our conversation with Melina covered the anchoring effect and what a powerful tool it can be for both sellers and buyers alike. We also chatted about her John Mayer playlist on Pandora and some of the things she’s doing to make the world a better place through the education of behavioral economics and neuroscience.

Kurt and Tim are also announcing our newest podcast, Weekly Grooves, which will be launching shortly, and we hope you’ll check it out.

Groove idea for the week: What are you doing to integrate the anchoring effect into your business or your personal life?

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves

 

Links

Brainy Business Website: https://www.thebrainybusiness.com

Melina’s INC.com articles: https://www.inc.com/author/melina-palmer

Melina’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebrainybiz/

Melina’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebrainybiz/

Melina’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/thebrainybusiness

Melina’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/thebrainybiz

Melina’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melina-palmer-36ab8712/

Melina’s John Mayer Playlist: https://pandora.app.link/UrWQ28B6l3

Anchoring Effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchoring

Decoy Effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decoy_effect

Ran Kivetz, PhD: https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/cbs-directory/detail/rk566

Katy Milkman’s Fresh Start Habit: https://magazine.wharton.upenn.edu/digital/katherine-milkmans-fresh-start-study-becomes-perennial-media-favorite/

Counterfactual Thinking: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterfactual_thinking

Seattle Mariners: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Mariners

Audacity (digital audio workstation): https://www.audacityteam.org/

George Loewenstein, PhD: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/people/faculty/george-loewenstein.html

  

Musical Links

Gene Autry “Back in the Saddle”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSqcxFGFVas

John Mayer: https://www.johnmayer.com/

Michael Bublé: https://www.michaelbuble.com/

Lady Antebellum: https://www.ladyantebellum.com/

Miranda Lambert: https://www.mirandalambert.com/

Patsy Cline: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patsy_Cline

Christina Perri: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina_Perri

US National Anthem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star-Spangled_Banner

Tom Petty: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Petty

Damien Rice: https://damienrice.com/

Red Hot Chili Peppers: https://redhotchilipeppers.com/

Ella Fitzgerald “Mac the Knife: Ella in Berlin 1960”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR1__k-BxhY

Steely Dan “Gaucho”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaucho_(album)

Beatles “Abbey Road”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbey_Road

Beatles “Sargent Pepper”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sgt._Pepper%27s_Lonely_Hearts_Club_Band

Iron & Wine: http://ironandwine.com/

Dessa: https://www.dessawander.com/

Too often, in our estimation, people make recommendations to us with the intent to improve our life but the effect on us is the opposite of that. Rather than completely engaging us, some recommendations or pieces of advice actually overpower any enthusiasm we might for following up. This is especially true when the recommendation is too big to get our heads around.

Casual comments like, “Oh, you should read that book,” or, “You should go to Malaysia,” or, “You should check out that podcast series,” are often too much for us to process. They’re all well-intended, and could be terrific recommendations, but thinking about starting a massive new book in an already jam-packed life can be the opposite of engaging: sometimes, it’s demotivating.  

 So in this Grooving Session, we use a behavioral science hack to START SMALL and we’re recommending our favorite podcast episodes (produced by other podcasters!) to our listeners. We think you’ll like these specific podcast episodes by some of our favorite hosts on some of our favorite topics. And because they’re itty-bitty single episodes, we hope you can start small and check some of them out in the links below.

Coming soon! We are launching a new podcast (a new channel in the podcaster’s vernacular) and it’s called Weekly Grooves. Weekly Grooves will be a weekly review of topical issues in the media during the week done through a behavioral science commentary. This will launch in late January 2020, and we hope you’ll check it out.

Please take 23 seconds right now to give us a rating. A review only takes 57 seconds, so you can do that, too! Reviews and 5-star ratings play a positive role in getting Behavioral Grooves promoted to new listeners when they’re out browsing for an interesting behavioral science podcast.

As always, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy lots of great episodes from other podcasters!

 

Happiness Lab: Laurie Santos, PhD. Make ‘Em Laugh.

https://www.happinesslab.fm/season-1-episodes/make-em-laugh

Canned laugh tracks positively affect our experience even when we KNOW they’re canned!

Great production and a cool person.

 

Choiceology: Katy Milkman, PhD. Take the Deal.

https://www.schwab.com/resource-center/insights/content/choiceology-season-4-episode-4

Danny Kahneman, Colin Camerer, and Luis Green tell the tales of our flawed decision making – even when the consequences are big!

Terrific interviewer. Great production.

 

Big Brains: Paul Rand. Why Talking to Strangers Will Make You Happier.

https://news.uchicago.edu/podcasts/big-brains/why-talking-strangers-will-make-you-happier-nicholas-epley

Nick Epley, PhD discussed the importance of talking to strangers and how it will make YOU happier.

 

Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates: John Donvan. Is Social Media Good for Democracy?

https://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/social-media-good-democracy-0

Fascinating discussion about the pro’s and con’s of social media.

 

The David Gilmour Podcast: David Gilmour. The Fender Stratocaster #0001.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-3-the-fender-stratocaster-0001/id1463321559?i=1000441421346

Yes. It really does exist and David Gilmour owns it and cherishes it.

 

You Are Not So Smart: David McRaney.

Pluralistic Ignorance: The psychology behind why people don’t speak out against, and even defend, norms they secretly despise.

https://soundcloud.com/youarenotsosmart/157-pluralistic-ignorance

A terrific episode exploring how social norms are perpetuated even when the majority don’t agree with them.

 

Song Exploder: Hrishikesh Hirway. Sheryl Crow: Redemption Day.

http://songexploder.net/sheryl-crow/songexploder161-sherylcrow

How songwriters come to write and record songs is amazing to me and this is a very articulate songwriter.

 

O Behave: Ogilvy Consulting. Dollars and Sense.

https://podtail.com/en/podcast/o-behave/episode-16-dollars-and-sense-with-jeff-kreisler-an/

Jeff Kreisler (one of our favorites) and Rory Sutherland dig into Jeff’s work in behavioral finance.

 

Radio Lab: Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. Smarty Plants.

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/smarty-plants

This episode explores the amazingly brainy behaviors of brainless things: plants!

 

Happiness Lab: Laurie Santos, PhD. The Unhappy Millionaire

https://www.happinesslab.fm/season-1-episodes/the-unhappy-millionaire

This episode explores how we don’t really understand what makes us happy…with Dan Gilbert

  

The Knowledge Project: Shane Parrish. Neil Pasricha: Happy Habits

https://fs.blog/neil-pasricha/

Looks at habits that can make you happier or not

 

The Science of Success: Matt Bodner. Guest = Jonathan Haidt

https://www.successpodcast.com/show-notes/2018/9/12/three-dangerous-ideas-that-are-putting-our-society-at-risk-with-dr-jonathan-haidt

Three dangerous ideas that are putting our society at risk – Looking at the anti-fragile movement that Haidt looks at how we need to allow Coddling the American Mind.  Overprotecting kids and not letting them have failures…question feelings

 

Hustle and Flowchart Podcast: Matt Wolfe and Joe Fier. Therapy Session (153) – T&C, Podfest, Selling Shirts and Affiliate Marketing

https://evergreenprofits.com/therapy-sessions-podfest-affiliate/

Matt and Joe discuss a number of things that have been going on with them and some insights on podcasting  

 

Smart Drug Smarts: Jesse Lawler. Aphantasia with Dr. Joel Pearson

https://smartdrugsmarts.com/episodes/219-aphantasia/

Where Kurt found out about Aphantasia and realized that he had it.

 

Hidden Brain: Shanker Vedantam. Facts Aren’t Enough

https://www.npr.org/2019/07/18/743195213/facts-arent-enough-the-psychology-of-false-beliefs

A look at confirmation bias and how data doesn’t change our minds…Tali Sharot and Cailin O’Conner add insight (smallpox variolation)

 

Big Think Think Again: Jason Gotz. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie: the cognitive segregation of America

https://bigthink.com/podcast/cambridge-analytica

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves

 

Rory Sutherland is a British advertising executive who became fascinated with behavioral science. Between his TED talks, books and articles, he has become one of the field’s greatest proponents. Rory is currently the Executive Creative Director of OgilvyOne, after gigs as vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK and co-founder of the Behavioural Sciences Practice, part of the Ogilvy & Mather group of companies. He is the author of The Spectator’s The Wiki Man column and his most recent book, which we highly recommend, is Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life.

We started our discussion with Rory by asking him about his new book and some of his insights from it. His approach to advertising, marketing and product design is informed by his ability to look for the things that aren’t there. He once described a solution to improving customer satisfaction on the Chunnel Train between London and Paris by suggesting that a billion dollars would be better spent on supermodel hosts in the cars than on reducing ride time by 15 minutes. He’s a terrifically insightful thinker.

Our conversation ran amok of all sorts of rabbit holes, as expected, including ergodicity, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's “The Silver Blaze,” high-end audio and the dietary habits of the world-famous runner, Usain Bolt.

In Kurt and Tim’s Grooving Session, we discuss some of our favorite takeaways from Rory’s conversation including, “The Opposite of a Good Idea is a Good Idea” and others. And finally, Kurt teed up the Bonus Track with a final reflection and recap of the key points we discussed.

As always, we would be grateful if you would write us a quick review. It helps us get noticed by other folks who are interested in podcasts about behavioral science. It will only take 27 seconds. Thank you, and we appreciate your help. 

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves

 

Links

Rory Sutherland: https://ogilvy.co.uk/people/rorys

“Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life”: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062388414/alchemy/

“Friction”: https://www.rogerdooley.com/books/friction/

Murray Gell-Mann, PhD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Gell-Mann

Robin Williams “Scottish Golf”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx8TzR1-n4Q

Don Draper: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Draper

Ergodicity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergodicity

John James Cowperthwaite: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_James_Cowperthwaite

SatNav: https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/satnav

Daniel Kahneman, PhD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Kahneman

What You See is All There Is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

Arthur Conan-Doyle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Conan_Doyle

Sherlock Holmes “Silver Blaze”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventure_of_Silver_Blaze

Tim Houlihan’s Blog on “Silver Blaze”: https://tinyurl.com/ufumkj6

Ben Franklin T-Test: https://tinyurl.com/wocdsdk

Volkswagen Fighter: https://tinyurl.com/qpyqh87

David Ogilvy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ogilvy_(businessman)

Jock Elliot: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/dec/01/guardianobituaries.media

Battle of Leyte Gulf: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Leyte_Gulf

Croft Audio: http://www.croftacoustics.co.uk/main.html

Mu-So single speaker: https://www.naimaudio.com/mu-so

WFMT Chicago: https://www.wfmt.com/

TK Maxx: https://www.tkmaxx.com/uk/en/

Berlin Hotel with Big Lebowski: https://www.michelbergerhotel.com/en/

Shure: https://www.shure.com/en-US/products/microphones?lpf[top][types][]=microphones

Zoom: https://zoom.us/

Satisficing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satisficing

Usain Bolt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usain_Bolt

Sheena Iyengar, PhD: https://www.sheenaiyengar.com/

Jelly Jar Study: https://tinyurl.com/oo6g6eb

Big Band Music: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_band

 

Musical Links

Aretha Franklin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretha_Franklin

Southern California Community Choir: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_California_Community_Choir

Abba: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABBA

Felix Mendelssohn: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Mendelssohn

George Frideric Handel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Frideric_Handel

Johann Sebastian Bach: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Sebastian_Bach

Johann Christian Bach: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Christian_Bach

 

Jana Gallus, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Strategy and Behavioral Decision Making at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business and our discussion dissected the intersection of behavioral economics, strategy and innovation, by focusing almost exclusively on the way incentives work.

This was a terrific conversation for us because Jana revisited the foundation of incentives that is often overlooked in the corporate world: an “incentive” must include a scheme (rules) and a means (rewards). Too often, corporate clients focus on the reward and fail to consider the rules which to earn the reward by. Or vice versa. The rules become overly complicated in an effort to “be fair,” inevitably diluting the results.

She also helped us dig deeper into aspects of incentives that are rarely covered, namely these three dimensions: (1) Tangibility, sometimes referred to as the element of an award that is physical and can be re-consumed; (2) Social signal, when combined with tangibility is sometimes referred to as trophy value that we can share with family, friends and co-workers; and (3) the Self signal, which is new to our experience and impacts the effectiveness of the reward-based by how well it aligns with the self-identify of the recipient.

Finally, we laughed a lot while we discussed the role that precision plays in incentives and recognition. Frankly, it’s rare that we get to talk to researchers who bring up thought experiments that involve kissing. Jana reminded us how less precision is a key factor in keeping a reward in the realm of recognition.

In our Grooving Session, Kurt and Tim cover some of our own war stories and we recap the key points in the Bonus Track – both follow our recording with Jana.

© 2019 Behavioral Grooves

 

Links

Jana Gallus, PhD: http://www.janagallus.com/research

Jana Gallus, PhD:  jana.gallus@anderson.ucla.edu

Uri Gneezy, PhD: https://rady.ucsd.edu/people/faculty/gneezy/

Emma Heikensten, PhD: https://www.emmaheikensten.com/

“Effect of Rewards” paper: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/579e9f8be58c625407391080/t/5c723525f4e1fc9f85bbc327/1550988586355/Gallus%2C+Heikensten.+2019.+Shine+a+Light.pdf

Ariely & Heyman “A Tale of Two Markets”: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15482452

Allan Fisk, PhD: https://anthro.ucla.edu/faculty/alan-page-fiske

NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/

Scott Jeffrey, PhD: https://www.monmouth.edu/directory/profiles/scott-a-jeffrey/

Etymology of the word “damn”: https://www.etymonline.com/word/damnation

 

Musical Links

Baby Mozart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7lIvBnc0mo

Lang Lang:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN7XO5pYXqM

Milky Chance “Stolen Dance”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX-QaNzd-0Y

The Cure: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cure

AFI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Yzu-4kJg6g

Dan Wilson: https://danwilsonmusic.com/music/

Matt Wilson: https://www.minneapolismatt.com/

Raffi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raffi

The research that Reuben Kline, PhD is working on is focused on climate change mitigation. As an associate professor of political science and the director of the Center for Behavioral Political Economy at Stony Brook University, he is concerned about the actions we’ll take when presented with a list of options to mitigate climate change.

Reuben’s research asks which lists are more effective: Long lists (in harmony with neo-classical economic theory to offer lots of choices) or short lists (in harmony with behavioral research on the tyranny of too many options)? He’s also studying the impact of offering people lists of difficult things compared to easy things, or when there’s a mix of both. Would it help the consumer to make trade-offs if there was a variety of effort offered to them?

His work reveals some of the complications of how we think about lists of varying length and effort when it comes to climate change mitigation.

At one point, we asked Reuben about how he feels when he hears from climate deniers and he noted with a laugh, “I study climate change, so I’m always depressed.” But he was also quick to point out that he’s optimistic about how people respond to some of his research. We should be optimistic, too, with people like Reuben researching these topics.

We recorded this conversation at the NoBeC conference at the University of Pennsylvania where Reuben was presenting his findings to the students in the Masters of Norms and Behavior Change program at UPenn. In an alcove beside the main hall, we discussed the behavioral impacts of offering mitigation strategy lists to consumers. And we are grateful to Chris Nave, PhD and Eugen Dimant, PhD for hosting us at the conference.

© 2019 Behavioral Grooves

 

Links

Reuben Kline, PhD: https://www.stonybrook.edu/experts/profile/reuben-kline

Shanto Iyengar, PhD: https://politicalscience.stanford.edu/people/shanto-iyengar

Collective Risk Social Dilemma (The Disaster Game): https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332933221_Collective_Risk_Social_Dilemma_Role_of_information_availability_in_achieving_cooperation_against_climate_change

Manfred Milinski, PhD: https://www.weforum.org/people/manfred-milinski

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: https://www.ipcc.ch/

Free Rider: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free-rider_problem

Conditional Cooperation: https://scholar.harvard.edu/dtingley/publications/conditional-cooperation-international-organizations-and-climate-change

Moral Hazard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_hazard

BJ Fogg: https://www.behaviormodel.org/

James Clear: https://jamesclear.com/

Wendy Wood, PhD: https://dornsife.usc.edu/wendywood

Sheena Iyengar, PhD, Jam Study: https://www.sheenaiyengar.com/

 

Musical Links

P Funk All-Stars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxAcW7zgAD4

Parliament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjKFCYzqq-A

Rick James: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_James

Sly and the Family Stone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj6OyIh7GAI

Black Puma’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G383538qzQ

The New Mastersounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acAIQ6ZG5OI

The Bamboos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spG8E0nMLDc

Johnny Cash: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Cash

Willie Nelson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Nelson

Hank Williams: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank_Williams

Led Zeppelin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin

Rolling Stones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rolling_Stones

Fela Kuti: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fela_Kuti

Huey Lewis and the News: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_Lewis_and_the_News

Eugen Dimant, PhD is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences Department and a Senior Research Fellow at the Identity and Conflict Lab, Political Science Department – both at the University of Pennsylvania.

His research is rooted in economics and sits at the crossroads of experimental behavioral economics, behavioral ethics, crime, and corruption, with much of his recent work focusing on the ways “bad apples” (people will malintent) can be thwarted. This is also manifest in his research on behavioral contagion of pro- and anti-social behavior among individuals and groups. Because we met up with him presenting a paper at NoBeC, a social norms conference, we also discussed the role of social norms in pro- and anti-social behaviors.

We are inspired by Eugen’s work with social nudges and what can be done to minimize the impact of people who are out to corrupt systems and communities. And, we had a great time talking with this incredibly passionate researcher about his wide variety of interests.

We are grateful to Eugen for reaching out to us as we were planning our 100th Episode celebration in Philadelphia. He invited us to the University of Pennsylvania’s NoBeC Conference – the Norms and Behavioral Change Conference – that was happening the same days that we were recording our 100th Episode. Eugen, along with his colleague Chris Nave, PhD, helped us arrange conversations with many researchers and speakers at the conference and we are forever grateful.

Finally, we invite you to keep listening after our discussion with Eugen to hear Kurt and Tim’s Grooving Session and then the Bonus Track where we recap the key insights from the episode.

  

Links

Eugen Dimant, PhD: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/mbds/faculty/eugen-dimant

Eugen Dimant research website:https://sites.google.com/view/eugendimant/home

Paper 1 (erosion of Norm compliance):https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3355028

Paper 2 (backfiring is nudges):https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3294375

Paper 3 (nudges vs collective behavioral change):https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11127-019-00684-6

Paper 4 (how beliefs matter in behavioral change):https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3326146

NoBeC (Norms and Behavior Change Conference): https://web.sas.upenn.edu/nobec/

Cristina Bicchieri, PhD: https://upenn.academia.edu/CristinaBicchieri

Gary Bolton, PhD: https://personal.utdallas.edu/~gxb122130/

Nudge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudge_theory

Social Norms: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/social-norms/

Injunctive and Descriptive Norms: https://study.com/academy/lesson/injunctive-and-descriptive-group-norms-definitions-differences-examples.html

Pluralistic Ignorance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralistic_ignorance

Peer Effects: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/peer-effects

Coleman’s Boat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGaz0xKG060

Chris Nave, PhD: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/mbds/contact/christopher-nave

Bobo Doll Effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobo_doll_experiment

Robert Cialdini, PhD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini

Kiki and Bouba: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouba/kiki_effect

Pollstar: https://www.pollstar.com/ 

 

Musical Links

Drake: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_(musician)

Bushido: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushido_(rapper)

U2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U2

Ed Sheeran: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Sheeran

Eagles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagles_(band)

Rolling Stones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rolling_Stones

Fleetwood Mac: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetwood_Mac

December 11, 2019

Grooving: Kiki and Bouba Minds

Imagine that the two drawings below are called Kiki and Bouba in some alien language.  If you had to guess which one was Kiki and which one was Bouba - without any other information, which one would be Kiki, and which one would be Bouba?  

If you are like most people, the sharp angular shape (on the left) would be named Kiki while the curvier rounded shape (on the right) would be named Bouba.

 This effect is called the Bouba/Kiki effect which highlights how we map sounds to visual shapes and was first observed by Wolfgang Kohler in the late 1920s and then refined in the early 2000s by Vilayanure Ramachandran and Edward Hubbard.   In experiments, over 95% of respondents selected the curvy shape as Bouba and the jagged one as Kiki.  The effect shows that words that have softer, rounded sounds (i.e., oo’s and ah’s) are associated with rounder shapes, while sounds that have more angular, sharp sounds (i.e., k’s and I’s) are associated with more pointed shapes. 

While this effect focused on speech and visuals, my colleague and co-host of Behavioral Grooves, Tim Houlihan and I have started to use it as a way to describe how we think. 

Some of us think with a “Kiki” like a brain.  Others of us think with a “Bouba” like a brain. 

While not perfect, it does help in understanding the differences in how our brains process, retain, and regurgitate information.  For instance, a “Kiki brain” is precise and sharp and can remember specific names, dates, and titles.  While a more “Bouba brain” retains information about the general concepts and impacts but is less precise and more holistic in the combination of ideas and thoughts.  

So while Tim can typically recall the name of a behavioral science study, the year it was published, and the author(s) (very much a Kiki brain), Kurt can usually only recall the concept that the study explored, how that concept can be applied, and how it interacts with other behavioral science concepts (more of a Bouba brain).   

Often times during the podcast, my Bouba mind will be at a loss for the name of a study or a particular researcher, however, Tim’s Kiki brain will have those names readily available.  On the other side of the coin, Tim will be reciting a specific study and my Bouba brain will instantly go to the nuances of the application of how this works and implications for the people involved. 

Of course, like most other ways of describing ourselves, this is not an either/or situation.  I would argue that we all have aspects of Kiki thinking AND Bouba thinking depending on the topic, situation, and other factors (i.e., how much sleep we had the night before).  And no brain is just Kiki or Bouba – we shift between the two on a regular basis.  Like personalities, these descriptions are just the tendencies for the way we think.  For instance, I’m not always at a loss for remembering a study name or researcher nor do I not understand the subtleties or connections from those studies that I do remember. 

We fluctuate on a continuum and we often move easily between the thinking styles. 

In general, my notion is that Kiki brains are more admired.  Those are the people that I don’t like getting into debates with, because they will bring in facts and figures and names at lightning speed and I’m just trying to stay up and connect the dots.   I need to be on my phone looking up references and facts, while they are seemingly pulling them out of the air.  People with KikI brains come across as smarter and more informed – because they can recall these details whereas people with Bouba brains are left talking about the general proposition. 

Kiki brains are not fumbling to remember people’s names, the exact figure for the organization’s budget or the year that the Challenger exploded. 

At this point, there is no research that is on this or supports this crazy theory.  However, by naming these types of thinking styles, I think we can better interact with each other and contribute to our work.  The power of this is in helping us understand how we communicate with others and understanding how we process and remember information.    

 

Notes

Image:  Monochrome version 1 June 2007 by Bendž Vectorized with Inkscape 

Maurer, Pathman, and Modloch (2006), The shape of Boubas: sound-shape correspondences in toddlers and adults.  Developmental Science.

Ramachandran, V.S. & Hubbard, E.M. (2001). "Synaesthesia: A window into perception, thought and language" (PDF). Journal of Consciousness Studies.

 

© 2019 Behavioral Grooves

Cristina Bicchieri, PhD is the S. J. Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics, a Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, a Professor of Legal Studies at the Wharton School, the Head of the Behavioral Ethics Lab, the Director of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program, and is the Faculty Director of the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She’s one busy woman! We met up with her at the NoBeC (Norms and Behavioral Change) conference that her program sponsored in the Kislak Center at UPenn.

Cristina’s program is in its 3rd year and hosts 75 students from 12 different countries. The unique program emphasizes practical applications of behavioral science and cross-disciplinary work. Students come from celebrity restaurants, tech businesses, NGOs, non-profits and global corporations and find the program engaging because of its diversity. If you’re interested, we encourage you to check it out – there are links in the episode notes for how to reach them.

We had some recording issues when we were talking to Christina. Some edits were made to accommodate our gaffs and we hope you won’t mind. And, because we recorded it on the sidelines of a conference, you might hear some background noise occasionally. 

© 2019 Behavioral Grooves

 

Links

Cristina Bicchieri, PhD: https://philosophy.sas.upenn.edu/people/cristina-bicchieri

The Grammar of Society: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/grammar-of-society/2B063E9C9621C2340DEFB2BE15B3AEA5

Norms in the Wild: https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/norms-in-the-wild-how-to-diagnose-measure-and-change-social-norms/

Master in a Behavioral Decision Science at UPenn: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/mbds

Decision Theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_theory

Game Theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_theory

Epistemic Foundations of Game Theory: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemic-game/

Multiple Equilibria: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/multiple-equilibria

David Kreps, PhD: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/faculty/david-m-kreps

Social Norms: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/social-norms/

Conditional Preference: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~cb36/files/2010_norm.pdf

UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/

Gates Foundation: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/

Reference Network: http://www.iit.comillas.edu/technology-offer/rnm

Soap Opera: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soap_opera

Well Told Story: https://www.welltoldstory.com/

 

Musical Links

Giuseppe Verdi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3UAd3d8I6k

Wolfgang Mozart: https://www.biography.com/musician/wolfgang-mozart

Bruce Springsteen: https://brucespringsteen.net/

U2: https://www.u2.com/index/home

Chicago: https://chicagotheband.com/

The Band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjCw3-YTffo

Styx: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XcKBmdfpWs

Journey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMSFsZFFUzo

Fleetwood Mac: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBYHwH1Vb-c

 

Kurt Nelson: kurt@lantergroup.com

Tim Houlihan: tim@behavioralchemy.com

December 5, 2019

Grooving: 2019 Reading List

Kurt and Tim like to read about behavioral science and a variety of related fields. To help those interested in the subject, but unsure how to pick good books to either get started or advance their learning, our 2019 Top 10 Reading List should help. Our Top 10 list is really a Top 9, since both Kurt and Tim already had one of the books on both of their lists. But we also go beyond that list with some honorable mentions (that could have easily been swapped for some of our top choices), as well as a shortlist of fiction and poetry for your review.

We hope you enjoy this year’s list and encourage you to let us know your thoughts about it. Did we nail the top picks? Did we miss some? What’s on your reading list for 2020? Who do you think should be a guest on Behavioral Grooves in 2020? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Do you need some Christmas or Birthday gifts?  Or maybe you just want to treat yourself?   Here are links to the books we mentioned in the episode!  

Kurt’s Best Non-Fiction Books

John Bargh, “Before You Know It" https://amzn.to/33PdYJR 

Yuval Noah Harari, “Sapiens” https://amzn.to/34YWlZO 

Michael Mauboussin, “Think Twice” https://amzn.to/2qtfS5y 

Wendy Wood, “Good Habits, Bad Habits” https://amzn.to/2RlCjoc 

  

Tim’s Best Non-Fiction Books

Rory Sutherland, “Alchemy” https://amzn.to/2OUfG8J 

Franz de Waal, “Mama’s Last Hug” https://amzn.to/2ORrEjg 

Francesca Gino, “Rebel Talent” https://amzn.to/36alEIb 

Roger Dooley, “Friction” (on Kurt’s AND Tim’s lists) https://amzn.to/2r86Gnx 

Alan B. Krueger, “Rockonomics” https://amzn.to/38bMQYU 

 

Honorable Mentions

Honorable mentions for really great books that you should be aware of. Virtually any of these could have made our Top 10 list. 

Nir Eyal, “Indistractable" https://amzn.to/368qiX8 

Daniel Pink, “When” https://amzn.to/33QMrbg       https://www.danpink.com/

Daniel Levitin, “The Organized Mind” https://amzn.to/2qnL7Pf http://www.daniellevitin.com

Liliana Mason, “Uncivil Agreement” https://amzn.to/2RtIA1j 

Tali Sharot, “The Influential Mind” https://amzn.to/33S8wpN 

 

And since we have had great guests with great books in 2019 (we love them and their work), we want to refer you to these authors and titles:

Brian Ahearn, “Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical” https://amzn.to/38bc8q8 

Ori Brafman, “The Spider and the Starfish" https://amzn.to/2OUdLAQ 

Liz Fosslein, “No Hard Feelings” https://amzn.to/2LpVR6S 

Will Leach, “Marketing to Mindstates”  https://amzn.to/34UMwvB    https://www.will-leach.com/book

Stephen Martin & Joseph Marks, “Messengers”  https://amzn.to/2PfKU99 

Amit Sood, “Guide to Stress-Free Living” https://marketplace.mayoclinic.com/shop/healthy-lifestyle/book/mayo-clinic-guide-to-stress-free-living_294600

 

Tim’s Non-Fiction List

We didn’t speak to these on the podcast, because we were most interested in addressing behavioral science books. However, Tim is also an avid reader of fiction and poetry. Tim wanted to mention some books he’s read (or re-read) this year that were particularly rewarding.

Madeline Miller, “Circe” http://madelinemiller.com/circe/

John Updike, “Rabbit is Rich” https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/181928/rabbit-is-rich-by-john-updike/ 

David Whyte, “Everything is Waiting for You” https://www.davidwhyte.com/english-poetry

 

Thank you!  

 

© 2019 Behavioral Grooves.  Note that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our suggestions, thoughts or ideas. All recommendations are made by Kurt and Tim based on what they believe.

This is Behavioral Grooves’ 100th episode!

Who would have thought when we started out two years ago without a clue about HOW to produce and publish a podcast that we’d reach this milestone?  Our first podcast recording began with a very willing Dr. James Heyman, a computer with some recording software, and a dinky little microphone before a meetup we were doing that night. But the conversation was terrific, and we launched it with excitement. Today, we are more thoughtful, have better equipment, and continue to have great guests.

For our 100th Episode, we traveled to Philadelphia to host Annie Duke, Jeff Kreisler and Dr. Michael Hallsworth in front of a live audience at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. A little about each of them…

This episode covers decision making in an uncertain world with these three renowned experts. We talk about biases and hacks to deal with those biases. And we dove into the role that context plays in our decision making.

After the live event, Kurt and Tim groove on some of the highlights of the discussion. Following that, Tim shares a recap in the Bonus Track portion of the episode.

 

Guests

Michael Hallsworth, PhD is the Managing Director of the Behavioural Insights Team in North America, based in Brooklyn, New York. He has also worked on health and taxes in the Cabinet Office of the UK government and has authored behavior change frameworks including MINDSPACE and EAST.

Annie Duke is the author of Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts, which quickly became a national bestseller. At one point in her career, she was a professional card player, where she won millions in tournament poker. And she is the co-founder of The Alliance for Decision Education, a non-profit whose mission is to improve lives by empowering students through decision skills education.

Jeff Kreisler is a Princeton-educated lawyer who became a comedian, then an author, and then a total advocate for behavioral science. With his co-author, Dan Ariely, they wrote Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend it Smarter.

 

Sponsors and Recognition

It is important to note our sponsors. Podbean, who has been hosting us since the very first episode, supported our endeavor and helped us live stream our event to listeners all over the world.

We are very grateful to PeopleScience, an organization that supports the application of behavioral sciences with special emphasis on the world of rewards and recognition. PeopleScience is a terrific resource for job postings and original authorship. And, most importantly, PeopleScience is doing something that we love: they are bringing more science to the world of work.

Special thanks go to a few of our peeps, too. Ben Granlund and Raya Parks helped us prepare for and execute the event. Chris Nave and Eugen Dimant at UPenn sent their masters students to the hall after a very long day of lectures. And Trey Altemose managed all of the people and technical issues as our stage manager. Your best friend at any live event is your stage manager and Trey guided us at every turn. 

© 2019 Behavioral Grooves

  

Links

Annie Duke: https://www.annieduke.com/

Jeff Kreisler: http://jeffkreisler.com/

Michael Hallsworth, PhD: https://www.bi.team/people/dr-michael-hallsworth/

PeopleScience: https://peoplescience.maritz.com/

Podbean: https://www.podbean.com/about-us

100-Year-Old Scotch: http://www.oldest.org/food/scotch/

Overconfidence bias: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overconfidence_effect

Imposter Syndrome: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome

Motivated Reasoning: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivated_reasoning

Blind Spot Bias (The Bias Bias): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias_blind_spot

Base Rates: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0109

Illusion of Control: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusion_of_control

Human Operating Systems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40QCCMVZDO8

Choice Architecture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choice_architecture

Tribalism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribalism

Paternalism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paternalism

Backfire Effect: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Backfire_effect

Jay Van Bavel: http://as.nyu.edu/content/nyu-as/as/faculty/jay-van-bavel.html

Chris Nave, PhD: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/mbds/contact/christopher-nave

Eugen Dimant, PhD: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/mbds/faculty/eugen-dimant

Cristina Bicchieri, PhD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cristina_Bicchieri

Jim Guszcza, PhD: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/profiles/jguszcza.html

Alex Blau: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-blau-2271788/

Alex Imas, PhD: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/people/faculty/alex-imas.html

Koen Smets: https://www.linkedin.com/in/koensmets/

Motown Records: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motown

Soul Train: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul_Train

 

 

Musical Links:

The Five Stairsteps, “Ooh, Child, Things Are Gonna Get Easier”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DHRGrIqmb0

Big Thief: https://bigthief.net/

Yo La Tengo: https://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2014/12/the-20-best-yo-la-tengo-songs.html

Bon Iver: https://boniver.org/

Joni Mitchell: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joni_Mitchell

Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsl3gBVO2k4

Violent Femmes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violent_Femmes

White Stripes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Stripes

Cake, “I Will Survive”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KJjVMqNIgA

Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OaEnA4diCI

Eagles, “Hotel California”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_California

Berry Gordy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berry_Gordy

Supremes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Supremes

Temptations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Temptations

O’Jays, “Love Train”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv0f4hd3UHo

Masonboro Sound, “Love Train”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjMthJZT3rA

The Spinners: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spinners_(American_R%26B_group)

Hall & Oats: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hall_%26_Oates

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