Roger Dooley is the author of Friction, his newest book that summarizes great examples of companies do good things to reduce friction for customers and some not-so-good things to increase friction. Roger is also the author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing

He is the founder of Dooley Direct, a marketing consultancy, and frequent speaker on the topics of marketing and neuroscience. Roger even has ties to Carnegie Mellon as he earned his engineering degree there then went on to complete his MBA from the University of Tennessee.

In this episode, we discuss how friction in the customer experience impacts loyalty and corporate revenues. We also talked about how corporate leaders could help employees be more engaged by reducing nonsensical friction in their daily work lives – like useless paperwork or the doubling of forms and data between separate systems.

We groove on experiences we’ve had where friction negatively impacts a positive customer experience. And we discussed how long it’s been since we bought a CD.

Let us know: when was the last time YOU bought a CD? 


Roger Dooley:

Follow Roger at @rogerdooley


William of Ockham, the Law of Least Effort:

Gartner Group:

Brian Massey at Conversion Science:

Chater, Nick and Loewenstein, George F., The Under-Appreciated Drive for Sense-Making (April 20, 2015). 

Teresa Amabile on The Progress Principle:

Four Drive Model:

Joshi Story:


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and

Check out the Behavioral Grooves website:

Alex Imas is an assistant professor of economics in the Social & Decision Sciences department at Carnegie Mellon’s Dietrich College. His research dovetails perfectly into the department’s cross-disciplinary approach by blending behavioral and experimental economics, particularly how social concerns and emotions influence decision making and preferences.

His most current research examines the effectiveness of prosocial incentive schemes and how subtle changes in social norms can have large effects on behavior.

However, our conversation started with Alex discussing his findings with Sally Sadoff, from the University of California in San Diego, and Anya Samek from USC, on the effectiveness of loss contracts. Loss or clawback contracts are similar to incentives but instead of getting paid at the end of the work – contingent of successful achievement, the clawback or loss contract gives you money up front and you are forced to give it back what you don’t achieve the appropriate levels of performance. Many people would say they’d prefer a regular bonus structure – to get paid upon successful completion of their work – but Alex, Sally and Anya’s work found something different.

The loss contract proved to be a commitment device – it helped reduce shirking – and improved performance overall. Even people with a higher sense of loss aversion tended to benefit most from loss contracts. There are even some people who ended up preferring loss contracts. 

In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim discuss their real-world experiences with clawbacks: do they work and in what circumstances are they most successful?

With that, please sit back and enjoy our conversation with Alex Imas.


Alex Imas (CMU):

Alex Imas (Personal):

Carnegie Mellon University:

CMU Social and Decision Sciences Department:

"Do People Anticipate Loss Aversion?" (with S. Sadoff and A. Samek). Management Science, 2016.

“Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives through Loss Aversion: A field experiment.” By Roland G. Fryer, Jr., Steven D. Levitt, John List, Sally Sadoff

Index funds:

Jack Bogle index funds:

 “Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle,” Thaler & Benartzi.

Abby Sussman:

Paul Smeets:

Ashley Wilhans:

Please Kill Me, Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain.



Bob Dylan:

Phoebe Bridgers:

Bright Eyes:

Boy Genius:

Conor Oberst:


Soccer Mommy:

Run the Jewels:

Cardi B:

Tom Waits, “Jockey Full of Bourbon,”

On May 3, 2019, Kurt and Tim attended an invitation-only Science Symposium featuring a track on behavioral science at the San Francisco headquarters of human and food transportation giant Uber. During the one-day assembly, we sat in on presentations delivered by academic researchers from UCLA, University of British Columbia, University of California San Diego, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia University and Stanford, among others. We also heard from practitioners of applied behavioral sciences who work at Facebook, Morningstar, TruFit, Cerego, Ipsos, Maritz, and, of course, Uber.

Kurt and Tim were exposed to a massive amount of new research data, new insights into human behavior from both academic and corporate fieldwork, as well as exciting hallway conversations with people that we wanted to share with you. We nabbed a few quick recordings during the breaks and, regrettably, there are times when the background noise is pretty high. (Our apologies.)

We are grateful to Candace Hogan, a leader of applied behavioral science at Uber, for inviting us and we appreciate the effort that Uber is expending to integrate behavioral sciences with their business model and to share them with us.

Guests (in order of appearance)

Melanie Brucks, PhD student at Stanford University:

Elizabeth Kim, first behavioral scientist at Spotify:

Charlotte Blank, chief behavioral officer at Maritz:

Ingrid Paulin, senior behavioral scientist at Rally Health:

Shirin Oreizy, founder and president at Next Step:

Scott Drummond, brand builder at Next Step:

Joseph Reiff, PhD student at UCLA:



Wendy De La Rosa, principal at Irrational Labs:

Hal Hershfield, PhD, professor at UCLA:

Brad Voytek, PhD, professor at UCSD:

Russell Golman is an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Economics and Decision Sciences in the Social & Decision Sciences Department at CMU.  His pioneering, interdisciplinary work has been published in a wide range of academic journals, including Science AdvancesDecision, the RAND Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic Theorythe Journal of Economic Perspectives, and the Journal of Economic Literature

In 2017 Professor Golman organized the Belief-Based Utility Conference at Carnegie Mellon with generous funding from the Russell Sloan Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Professor Golman was trained as a game theorist with a Mathematics Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.  But whereas game theorists usually assume that people making strategic decisions are hyper-rational, Russell wanted to acknowledge that real people are influenced by each other and sometimes make mistakes. They often care deeply about their beliefs, not just about material outcomes. And they rarely settle into an equilibrium in which everybody is static and content. 

Russell’s research interests expanded into behavioral economics and behavioral decision research as well as complex adaptive systems and social dynamics.  He took a postdoc in Social and Decision Sciences at CMU, where Herb Simon first conceived of the concept of bounded rationality 50 years earlier.  Professor Golman joined the faculty here in 2012.

We talked to Russell about information avoidance and curiosity and to what lengths people will strive for both. In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim discuss information avoidance from a corporate perspective and wonder, “what impact does a manager have when he or she avoids a difficult conversation?” We also talked about ways to reduce information avoidance in the working world and how incentives may help managers through tough situations.

We hope you enjoy this episode in our Carnegie Mellon series with Russell Golman.


Russell Golman:

CMU Social and Decision Sciences Department:

Carnegie Mellon University:


Golman, Russell, David Hagmann, and George Loewenstein.  “Information Avoidance.” Journal of Economic Literature, 2017, 55: 96-135.
Featured on The Academic Minute


Golman, Russell and George Loewenstein.  “Information Gaps: A Theory of Preferences Regarding the Presence and Absence of Information”  Decision, 2016, forthcoming.


Golman, Russell, George Loewenstein, Karl Ove Moene and Luca Zarri. “The Preference for Belief Consonance.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 2016, 30: 165-187.


GI Joe Fallacy:

Herb Simon:


Bluegrass music:

Great Blue Heron Music Festival:

Donna the Buffalo:

Jam bands:

The Pines:

The Cactus Blossoms:


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and

Check out the Behavioral Grooves website:

Todd Fonseca is an executive in clinical research and communication for Medtronic and holds an interesting array of certifications including Certified Body Language Trainer. He is also the founder of the Anti-Networking Network Meetup and likes to ask meetup guests "What would be your superpower for an hour?" Needless to say, the interview brought interesting concepts to the floor and we had fun doing it.

The interview with Todd included short discussions on the placebo effectsituational awareness, and a lengthy discussion of Paul Ekman PhD's work on microexpressions. The seven key microexpressions (Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Contempt, Fear and Surprise) are foundational to human communication and found to be universal - in other words, they exist among people everywhere on the planet. Our conversation delved deep into the identification and application of them. 

We grooved on the themes of the importance of having these microexpressions in our communication toolbox and talked about music from the Oh, Hello's and Robert Finley, an artist recently produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. 

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