Kurt and Tim groove on where behavioral science shows up in popular music. Social norms, loss aversion…all at its best. The human condition is redolent in popular music and we hope you notice some of your own. Let us know what songs YOU think are great for demonstrating behavioral science principles.



Aretha Franklin, “Think”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsL9UL9qbv8

Linkin Park “Numb”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXYiU_JCYtU

Cheap Trick, “Surrender”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sAm5UCJ9vA 

Joan Jett, “Bad Reputation”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RAQXg0IdfI

George Jones, “She Thinks I Still Care”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UquXUYfHYok

Dan Hicks, “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Ever Leave Me”: https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/1136477/Original+Recordings/How+Can+I+Miss+You+When+You+Won't+Go+Away


We met up with Kathleen Vohs, PhD at our Behavioral Grooves Meetup in Minneapolis on the evening that her op-ed article appeared in the Washington Post on July 18, 2019. She had been asked by the newspaper to write a piece explaining how supporters of President Donald Trump could continue backing him in light of his, “send them back” comment in a tweet.

The tweet referred to 4 first-term congresswomen of color. All of them are US citizens and only one of them was born outside the United States: Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. Representative Omar is from Kurt and Tim’s district and we were motivated by the situation to groove on the cognitive dissonance that Dr. Vohs wrote about.

In this short grooving session, we talk about politics, politicians and cognitive dissonance. We also explore the age-old philosophical question about whether or not a piece of art can be viewed (and appreciated) without the context of the artist.


Kathleen Vohs, “The psychological phenomenon that blinds Trump supporters to his racism,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/the-psychological-phenomenon-that-blinds-trump-supporters-to-his-racism/2019/07/18/29789344-a8ac-11e9-ac16-90dd7e5716bc_story.html?utm_term=.3cd14b5c4d4b

Kathleen Vohs, PhD: https://carlsonschool.umn.edu/faculty/kathleen-vohs

Leon Festinger, PhD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Festinger

Cognitive Dissonance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

Picasso: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Picasso

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/

Check out the Behavioral Grooves website: https://behavioralgrooves.com/

In this episode, we spoke with Matt Loper, CEO and Co-Founder of Wellth, an app that helps people with chronic conditions improve their health through better adherence to their prescriptions. Matt’s company works with healthcare providers and insurers to provide rewards for patients who need small behavioral interventions to stay on track.

Wellth does this by “giving” patients money at the start of each month to take their pills. To prove they’re on track, they use the Wellth app to take a photograph of their medicines in the palm of their hand. But every day that they miss, they are penalized in the form of fee, which nets them less money at the end of the month. This loss-contract model is gaining notoriety and it should be: Wellth discovered that positive incentives accounted for adherence rates around 60% while loss-contract models account for better than 90% adherence rates.

Matt is quick to point out that the science of behavior change is not like chemistry, where all the inputs and outputs can be measured and is easily replicable. Behavioral science, Matt argues, is much more complex and requires more rigorous testing.

In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim discuss loss contracts in greater depth and the complexities of the human condition.



Matt Loper: matt@wellthapp.com

Kevin Volpp, PhD. Director, Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, Leonard Davis Institute: https://hcmg.wharton.upenn.edu/profile/volpp70/

Kevin Volpp’s group: https://chibe.upenn.edu/

Eisenberger & Camerer: https://www.deepdyve.com/lp/sage/eisenberger-r-cameron-j-1996-detrimental-effects-of-reward-reality-or-GQliEjHSH0

Teresa Amabile: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/publication%20files/12-096.pdf

Riding the Bike: http://blog.lanterngroup.com/?s=bike

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

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/

Check out the Behavioral Grooves website: https://behavioralgrooves.com/


Musical Links

Fleetwood Mac – Rumors: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumours_(album)

Stevie Nicks would be the IT girl today. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevie_Nicks

Simon & Garfunkel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_%26_Garfunkel

Richard Prior – original, foul language comic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Pryor

Glass Animals. https://www.glassanimals.com/

Alabama Shakes. https://www.alabamashakes.com/

Childish Gambino. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Glover

Kendrick Lamar. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kendrick_Lamar

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

The Doors. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doors

Black Keys. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Keys

Kid Cudi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kid_Cudi

Haim: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haim_(band)

"Loss Aversion" by Tim Houlihan & Kurt Nelson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyeRNVSWJAI&t=15s 

July 7, 2019

Grooving: On Liking

In this episode, Kurt and Tim explore Robert Cialdini’s Fifth Principles of Influence: Liking. In it, we groove on the very powerful tool for influence and persuasion and give examples of how to apply it.

In short, we like people who like us and are more willing to do things for others who we like. We can find aspects of liking and similarity on a multitude of levels, and this subconscious bias impacts much of what drives our behavior. There are three key things to keep in mind when it comes to maximizing the impact of liking: 1. Don’t give people a reason to say no, 2. Be cooperative, and 3. Be authentic in the way you present yourself.

We hope you enjoy our short grooving session on liking. If you find yourself liking this episode, please be kind enough to leave us a review. Thank you.


Robert Cialdini, PhD on Liking: https://www.influenceatwork.com/principles-of-persuasion/

Negotiation study: https://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/negotiation-training-daily/negotiate-relationships/

Attractive Bankers in Call Center study: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/002224298404800110

Halo effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect

Celebrity effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebrity_branding

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/

Check out the Behavioral Grooves website: https://behavioralgrooves.com/