Chaning Jang is the CSO of the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics and has helped lead the organization since 2013. He is responsible for strategy, and a portfolio of projects, primarily focused on research. Prior to joining Busara, Chaning worked as an English teacher in the Czech Republic and an equities trader in Los Angeles. Chaning completed a Postdoc at Princeton University in Psychology and Public Affairs, holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Hawai'i with specialization in Behavioral Economics and Development, and a bachelor's in Managerial Economics from the University of California, Davis.  He is also a CFA level II holder.

We spoke to Chaning one night (for him) from his office in Nairobi, Kenya and we focused our discussion on context and how so much of psychological research has been focused in WEIRD countries (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic). Because of this focus and how behavior can be linked to cultural and social norms, countries that are not WEIRD are often unable to successfully apply the research that was executed in WEIRD cultures. Chaning is trying to change that.

The work that the Busara Center is doing is important on many levels, the most significant is trying to eliminate poverty at the heart of where it is the worst on earth: Africa. Chaning’s work is fascinating, his ideas sparkle with intensity, and his comments are inspiring. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Chaning Jang.

We are grateful to Allison Zelkowitz from Save the Children for connecting us.



Chaning Jang, PhD:

Busara Center for Behavioral Economics:

Dan Ariely, PhD:


Johannes Haushofer, PhD:

Kahneman & Tversky:

The Linda Problem (Conjunction Fallacy):

Jeremy Shapiro, PhD:

Economic and psychological effects of health insurance and cash transfers: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Kenya:

Trier Social Stress Test:

Cold Pressor Test:

Kevin Parker:

Poverty Decreases IQ:


Musical Links

Tame Impala (Australian psych-rock):

John Lennon “Instant Karma”:

Daft Punk with Pharrell Williams “Get Lucky”:

Fleetwood Mac “The Chain”:

Joji “Your Man”:

Fleet Foxes “Can I Believe You”:

Freddie Mercury “I’m The Great Pretender”:


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Jonah Berger is a marketing professor in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the internationally best-selling author Contagious and Invisible Influence. He consults with some of the largest corporations in the world and derives great insights from his interactions with business leaders wrestling with strategic issues.

In this episode, we caught up with Jonah to discuss his most recent book called The Catalyst. His book takes a counter-intuitive view on persuasion by focusing on reducing barriers to change rather than learning just the right lines, information, or coercive measures to use. Jonah advocates for first understanding why people are doing what they’re doing before we try to get them to do something else.

He shared his REDUCE model with us - Reactance, Endowment, Distance, Uncertainty, and Corroborating Evidence – and we dove into Reactance as a major component of how we resist change. The harder you push on someone to change, the more likely they are to push back. It’s natural for us to push back and to illustrate, just try this little experiment with someone in your household (another adult).

Ask your adult counterpart to hold up their hand at shoulder level and have your palms meet. Tell them you’re going to push on their hand, then do it with some force. Do they push back to slow the advance of your hand or do they just go limp and let you push their hand as far as you can? It’s likely that they’ll push back. The same is true of any behavior change.

And that’s okay. Our natural tendencies serve us well in many situations, but not all. Jonah’s perspective on how catalysts change behavior will open your mind to new ideas. We hope you enjoy it and, this week, find your groove.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Jonah Berger, PhD:

Jonah Berger Additional Resources: 

Lee Ross, PhD:

Mark Lepper, PhD:

Kurt Lewin, PhD “Force Field Analysis”:


Musical Links

Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You”:

Queen “We Will Rock You”:

Tim Houlihan “Thinking About You”:

Dolly Parton “I Will Always Love You”:


Recently, NPR’s Planet Money penned an article about how much our time is worth based on some research that was sponsored by the rideshare company Lyft. According to the article, Lyft economists tried to determine how much people were willing to pay to save some time.

After crunching data from nine different cities, Lyft estimated the average value of time is $19.00 per hour.

In this episode, Kurt and Tim discussed Ashley Whillan’s new book, “Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life,” some of the fundamental errors humans experience with time such as temporal discounting, loads of stats you’ll probably never need.

We discover that better time management leads to greater happiness and combining habits and mindset is critical to wellbeing.  By the way, the US Department of Transportation’s official value of people’s time is $14.00 per hour. Go figure.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves




Planet Money (NPR): What Is Your Time Worth?:

Big Think – Life in Numbers:

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

Have you ever been caught in an avalanche or spoken to someone who survived? In this episode, you’ll hear what living through an avalanche is really like.

Audun Hetland (a psychologist) and Andrea Mannberg (an economist) are researchers at the White Heat Project in Tromsø, Norway. The project is a collaboration between The Arctic University of Norway, Montana State University, and Umeå University, in Sweden. Their international team also includes researchers in geography, snow science, and political science. They are focused on the effects of positional preferences and bounded rationality on risk-taking behavior, and more specifically, skiing in avalanche terrain.

As project leader, Andrea spoke about how this interdisciplinary team is helping backcountry skiers do a better job of managing their risk in avalanche terrain. To do so, they are studying decision-making under uncertainty and the curious way cold and hot states affect our choices.

Their work has clear implications for corporate leaders who make decisions about budgets and human resources, and in many situations, the consequences can be quite high.

In case you’re not familiar with Tromsø, Norway, it is a 2-hour flight north of the Arctic Circle.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves



Andrea Mannberg, PhD and Audun Hetland, PhD:

White Heat Project:

Bridger Bowl:

George Loewenstein & Dan Ariely’s paper on hot states vs. cold states:

Seinfeld Morning Guy vs. Night Guy:

Max Bazerman “Better, Not Perfect” Episode 196:

Common Biases & Heuristics:


Musical Links

John Coltrane “Green Dolphin Street”:

Tom Waits “Tom Traubert’s Blues”:

White Stripes “Seven Nation Army”:



The Clash “London Calling”:

Folk og Røvere:


Andrea’s “dance song”:

Isolation Years (A band from Andrea’s home town):

The Knife:

First Aid Kit:


Joel Weinberger is a Professor of Psychology at the Derner Institute at Adelphi University with Postdoctoral training in motivation at Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and of the American Psychological Association. His research has focused on unconscious processes and worked closely during his post-doc with motivation guru David McClelland.

Joel is the founder of the consulting firm Implicit Strategies, where he helps political campaigns, non-profits, and businesses discover what consumers unconsciously think and feel about their candidate, product, or brand. In addition to roughly 100 peer-reviewed articles, his political and business commentaries have appeared in various outlets, including The Huffington Post, Anderson Cooper, and Good Morning America.

In addition to writing, teaching, and consulting, Joel is a practicing clinical psychologist. We are here to talk with him about his seminal book, The Unconscious, that we came to because of a generous recommendation from Yale scholar, John Bargh, PhD.

We spoke with Joel in late June 2020 and, regrettably, we failed to publish our conversation earlier. So, you’ll hear some references to the 2020 campaign that are asynchronous to where we are today; that said, Joel successfully predicted the outcome of the US Presidential election back in June!

Predictions aside, Joel’s encyclopedic knowledge of research on the unconscious is - dare I say - thrilling. We discussed Joel’s admiration for the work of Sigmund Freud, his collaborations with David McClelland, the interplay between the conscious and the unconscious, and research he’s done with his long-time partner, Drew Westen.

We covered political campaigns, deniers of the unconscious, and the liberating voice of Sam Cooke.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Joel and happy new year! (And good riddance to 2020!)

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves



Joel Weinberger, PhD:

“Unconscious: Theory, Research and Clinical Implications”:

Mickey Mantle:

David McClelland, PhD:

David McClelland and Joel Weinberger on Implicit vs. Self Attributed:

Sigmund Freud “The Interpretation of Dreams”:

Sigmund Freud “The Unconscious”:

Drew Westen, “The Political Brain”:

Weinberger & Westen “RATS, We Should Have Used Clinton: Subliminal Priming in Political Campaigns”:

Heddy Lamarr:

Blues music:

AJ Jacobs “The Year of Living Biblically”:

Kwame Christian on Compassionate Curiosity – Episode 178:


Musical Links

“Yesterday” by the Beatles:

Sam Cooke “Bring it on Home to Me” (Harlem Version):

Tedeschi Trucks Band - "Bring It On Home To Me":

Leadbelly “Goodnight, Irene”:

BB King “The Thrill is Gone”:

If you’re like the rest of us, your new year’s resolutions don’t last beyond St. Valentine’s Day. That’s okay – it’s normal. The trouble is it’s not what you want.

If you WANT success with your resolutions – to accomplish your goals – then listen to this podcast. We’ve broken down the best behavioral science advice into 4 easy-to-follow tips that will help you achieve what it is you’re passionately committed to at the start of the year.

We’ve incorporated research from some of the best work in the field is combined with the real-life experiences of our hosts, Kurt Nelson, PhD, and Tim Houlihan. Enjoy and please join us in saying “So long!” to 2020 with our last episode of the year.

If you like our work, please give us a super quick rating or take a luxurious minute while you’re waiting for the oven to heat up for your holiday bake and give us a short review. Thank you and we look forward to a better year ahead.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves


Max Bazerman is the Jesse Isidor Strauss Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and is the author of “Better, Not Perfect.” It is the latest in a string of 21 books Max has authored and stands on the platform of hundreds of peer-reviewed papers on decision-making, negotiations, and ethics.

Max began by discussing the Myth of the Fixed Pie problem, which is quite common in negotiations. The Myth of the Fixed Pie indicates that we tend to rely on the way a problem is initially framed rather than thinking beyond it. We also talked about the importance of using our time wisely by being conscious of the things and experiences we focus on.

Max’s worldview seems to be stitched together with the thread of human kindness. We found him, and our conversation with him, to be incredibly inspiring. Even though we caught up with Max early in the Fall, we felt so much joy and optimism in our conversation, that we decided to conclude 2020 with Max’s take on how much better humanity – not just everyone, but you and I individually, too – can be, if we just pay attention to our decisions

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Max and if you liked it, please give us a quick rating or a review. Thanks for a good year, Groovers, and now on to 2021

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves



Max Bazerman:

Bazerman “Better, Not Perfect”:

Bazerman “The Power of Noticing”:

Silver Oak Cabernet – Alexander Valley:

Sam Smith chocolate stout:

David Messick:

Ann Tenbrunsel:

Mazarin Bhanaji:

Dolly Chugh:

Chugh “The Person You Want to Be”:

Jeremy Bentham:

John Stuart Mill:

Peter Singer:

Josh Greene:

Greene “Moral Tribes”:


Mort Seligman Learned Helplessness Lab:

Robert McCollum, Department of Justice:

Matt Meyers:

Kahneman & Tversky:

Thaler & Sunstein:

Effective Altruism:

David Ricardo – Comparative Advantage:


Musical Links

Aoife O'Donovan“Oh, Mama”:

Tracy Grammar “If I Needed You”:

Simon & Garfunkel “Sound of Silence”:

Simon & Garfunkel with Andy Williams “Scarborough Fair”:

Scarborough Fair / Canticle - Jadyn Rylee, Sina and Charlotte Zone:

Joan Baez “Blowin in the Wind”:

Tom Rush “No Regrets”:

Carole King “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman”:

Crooked Still “Little Sadie”:

This is THE episode to listen to if you have missed the last 90 episodes.

We can all agree that 2020 has been one hell of a year. Many people have been severely impacted by the pandemic, by financial uncertainty, with civil unrest, and the general malaise that the year seemed to have. Many are excited to say, “Good riddance!” The same goes for us, but Kurt and Tim have also used 2020 to surpass several milestones that we’d like to share with you.

  • #1 Best Behavioral Science Podcast as voted by listeners of Habit Weekly (which was very, very cool – thank you to everyone who voted for us – we are humbled!)
  • Global Top 20 Behavioral Science Podcast by Chartable
  • 90 episodes this year (started with Rory at 107, will end with New Year’s Resolutions at 197)
  • 72 unique guests
  • 120 countries download Behavioral Grooves
  • 3rd year in a row of fantastic growth (110% growth this year over last year)
  • 30 episodes dedicated to putting a behavioral science lens on the coronavirus pandemic

This episode is a rear-view mirror glance at some of our favorite conversations from 2020. We’ve included great quotes from terrific guests – in their own voices – so you can get a quick feel for what Behavioral Grooves is all about.

And we are pushing full steam ahead into 2021 with plans for more remarkable insights from amazing guests, more grooving sessions on topical issues from Kurt and Tim, and a couple of new series that will bring applied behavioral science to you in ways that will enrich your personal and professional life.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves



Kurt Nelson, PhD: @motivationguru

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan

Behavioral Grooves:

Nudge.It North Conference:

Habit Weekly:

Annie Duke – Episode 176:

Max Bazerman – Episode not yet published:

Gary Latham – Episode 147:

Ryan McShane – Episode 191:

Chiara Varazzani – Episode 118:

Roy Baumeister – Episode 171:

Eric Oliver – Episode 172:

Bill von Hippel – Episode 187:

Amy Bucher – Episode 192:

Jessica Mayhew – Episode 179:

Eli Finkel – Episode 174:

Steve Martin & Joe Marks – Episode 110:

John Bargh – Episode 155:

Kwame Christian – Episode 178:

Rory Sutherland – Episode 107:


© 2020 Behavioral Grooves

Pretty much everyone around the world agrees that 2020 was a challenging year and we’re glad it’s all but over. However, 2020 was a year we upped the number of guests (to 90), upped our reading habits (20+ books for the show), and had more authors as guests than in any previous year.

In short, Kurt and Tim read a lot of new books. And because we read bunches of them, we’re here to save you time by offering you our view of the top 10 books – 5 from Kurt and 5 from Tim – on behavioral science from 2020. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did – and as always, let us know what you think!

For quick reference, here’s our list with links for your enjoyment. And here’s to happy reading in 2021!

Top Book List from Kurt

  1. “Behave,” by Robert Sapolsky:
  2. “Good Habits, Bad Habits,” by Wendy Wood:
  3. “Scarcity,” by Eldar Shafir and Sendhil Mullainathan:
  4. “Think Like a Rocket Scientist,” Ozan Varol:
  5. “Before You Know It,” by John Bargh:

Top Book List from Tim

  1. “How to Decide,” by Annie Duke:
  2. “Behavioral Insights,” by Michael Hallsworth and Elspeth Kirkman:
  3. “Alchemy,” by Rory Sutherland:
  4. “Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why,” by Steve Martin & Joe Marks:
  5. Unleash Your Primal Brain,” by Tim Ash:


Honorable Mentions

  • “Elevate,” by Robert Glazer
  • “Designing for Behavior Change,” by Steve Wendel
  • “Invisible Influences,” by Jonah Berger
  • “White Fragility,” Robin DeAngelo
  • “The All-Or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work,” by Eli Finkel
  • The Power of Bad,” by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney
  • “Better, Not Perfect,” by Max Bazerman
  • “Time Smart,” by Ashley Whillans
  • “Blindsight: the mostly hidden ways marketing shapes our brains,” by Prince Ghuman and Matt Johnson

Thanks for listening and we hope you find your groove with these books!

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves

Are the new COVID-19 vaccines are safe? It will probably take time to know for sure; however, this week Kurt and Tim discuss the behavioral aspects of the transition. Kurt was engaged by an article in Bloomberg called “Vaccines May Have Social Side Effects,” by Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University.

Professor Cowen raised the idea that the mere presence of vaccines may give people an unwarranted boost in confidence and lead to less mask-wearing and social distancing.

In this 8-and-a-half-minute grooving session, we discuss some of the behavioral aspects of the transition.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves



“Vaccines May Have social Side Effects”:

How a Covid-19 Vaccine Could End Up Helping the Virus Spread:


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