Victoria Shaffer is a researcher and professor at the University of Missouri. Victoria focuses on applying decision psychology and behavioral economics to medical decision making. In particular, she is researching judgment and decision making and how they impact the design of patient decision support tools.

Tim and Victoria met working on a field research project with Dan Ariely, PhD because of her work on non-monetary rewards with Scott Jeffrey, PhD. She was pushing back on common sense preferences, such as money is the best motivator, just as she is today with her work in the medical field.

Our conversation with Victoria began on familiar ground: the preference for cash as a reward and how it’s actually less effective than non-monetary rewards in incentive schemes. But we soon turned to the very personal journey of how she and her mother dealt with decisions surrounding her father’s diagnosis with cancer. Her personal journey became the foundation for important research to help patients, their loved ones and the caregivers communicate more effectively through stories. 

It’s a fascinating discussion and we hope you enjoy it. 



Victoria Shaffer:

Shelly Taylor on Biases and Mental Health:

Hal Arkes:

Decision Support Tools:

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande:

MD Anderson Cancer Center:

Advance Directives:

Palliative Care:

Peter Ubel – Duke:

Affective Forecasting Errors:

Columbia Records:

Dan Gilbert:


Kurt Nelson, PhD:

Tim Houlihan:



Van Halen:

Black Sabbath:

Ozzy Osbourne:


Depeche Mode:

The Cure:

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

James Taylor:

Kurt and Tim were invited to attend the Norms and Behavioral Change (NoBeC) workshop at the University of Pennsylvania on October 17 and 18, 2019, and what we experienced blew us away. We were impressed with a terrific diversity of academic fields studying social norms, the great work they are doing, and the generosity of the community (at UPenn as well as the behavioral science researchers from around the world).

This gathering was very different from industry assemblies we’ve attended, which in and of itself was not a surprise. However, there were three noteworthy differences. First, the lineup of speakers was heavily weighted toward researchers with findings on projects involving social norms. Second, academic audience members held speakers accountable for rigorous processes and the descriptions of their results. Lastly, the Q&A at the end of each presentation was filled with animated questions from economists, behavioral economists, sociologists, political scientists, philosophers, strategists, law professors, and of course, psychologists. The cross-disciplinary aspect of this group reinforced the need for more diverse thinking in the business world.

We came away with a greater appreciation of the role that social norms play in our behaviors and decision making as well as the tremendous research that’s being conducted on related topics.

We will be publishing our series of interviews with researchers from the workshop in the coming weeks, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did.



University of Pennsylvania Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences:

Paul Hebert knows incentives. He is the Vice President of Individual Performance Strategy at Creative Group, Inc. and a writer, speaker and consultant and is widely considered an expert on motivation and incentives focused on influencing behaviors that drive business results. Paul has been interviewed by the BBC and USA TODAY because of his work applying solid psychological theory to sales motivation.

Paul, Kurt and Tim recently co-authored an eBook called “The 7 Deadly Sins to Avoid in Your Next Sales Incentive.” The purpose was to help sales managers who are struggling to maximize their effort and results when they use sales incentives. In the podcast, we recap the most common sins committed by sales managers and discuss ways of avoiding them.

  1. Spread goals evenly
  2. Give a huge prize to the top performer
  3. Must be above quota to earn
  4. We’ll figure it out behind the scenes
  5. Under-quota performers can’t be winners
  6. It’s all about the Benjamins 

We hope you enjoy the discussion and recommend you download the eBook for reference.


Paul Hebert:

7 Deadly Sins Ebook:

Paul Hebert’s Blog:

Fistful of Talent Blog:


Elliot Aronson, PhD:

Zeno of Citium:

Steenburgh and Ahearne “Motivating Salespeople”:

Ariely and Heyman “A Tale of Two Markets”:

Jeffrey and Shaffer “The Effects of Tangible Rewards”:

The guy who traded a paper clip for a house:

The Price is Right:



Musical Links

“Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire:

“Timothy” by The Bouys:

“DOA” by Bloodrock:

First Avenue:

Trip Shakespeare:

Trip Shakespeare “The Slacks”

Dan Wilson:

Tragically Hip:




Trampled by Turtles:

And the Professors:

The Mighty Pines:

Ewert & the 2 Dragons:

October 9, 2019

Grooving: On Goals

Goals are often misunderstood. Goals are much more than just objectives that are handed down to subordinates. Rather, goals are self-determined in the best cases, and at the very least, are set collaboratively to get the most out of them.

We discuss Goal Setting Theory (GST), results from research that Tim conducted, and we address the three key elements that must be included to maximize the effect of the goals: 1. The goals must be perceived as achievable. Without perceived achievability, the goal is not accepted and, therefore, not a goal. 2. There must be some involvement with those who are executing the goals. If the goal is handed down from on high without meaningful participation from the person who’s going to act on it, it’s not a goal. 3. There must be a positive relationship between the goal and the reward (including a perceived assessment of risk). As the risk of achievability increases, so must the perceived value of the reward.

This short grooving session also delves into some myths and how to deal with them. Ultimately, we want listeners to come away with a clear understanding of the powerful results than can be obtained with practical and effective use of self-selected goals.



Zig Ziglar:

Goal-Setting Theory:

Edward Locke:

Gary Latham:

Howard Klein:

Ran Kivetz:

George Loewenstein:

Saurabh Bhargava:

Raghuram Bommaraju:

Raghuram Bommaraju & Sebastian Hohenberg on self-selected goals:


Kurt Nelson, PhD:

Tim Houlihan:


Brad Shuck, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation, and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville.  He is also recognized as one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts on employee engagement and is a sought-after speaker from around the world. 

Brad’s work is recognized as some of the most influential research in the field of employee engagement and his insights are invaluable. On top of that, Brad is a drummer, a lover of all sorts of music and our discussion traversed topics from the social determinants of health to having parents that were patient enough to allow him to learn drums as a child.

In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim dive deeper into creating a work culture of meaning and we ask the musical question: how does moving from town to town as a child impact your musical tastes?

And don’t forget to join us for our 100th Episode Celebration on October 17, 2019 in Philadelphia! Eventbrite link:



Brad Shuck email: 

Brad Shuck web page: 

Brad Shuck Google Connection: @drbshuck

Teresa Amabile:


Brad’s Research

  • Shuck, B., Alagaraja, M., Immekus, J., Honeycutt, M., & Cumberland, D. (2019). Does compassion matter for leadership: a two-stage sequential equal status mixed method exploratory study of compassionate leader behavior and connections to performance in human resource development. Human Resource Development Quarterly, X, XX-XX. doi: 10.1002/hrdq.21369 
  • Shuck, B., Peyton-Roberts, T., Zigarmi, D. (2018). Employee perceptions of the work environment, motivational outlooks, and employee work intentions: An HR practitioner’s dream or nightmare? Advances in Developing Human Resources, 20, 197-213. doi: 10.1177/1523422318757209
  • Shuck, B., #Osam, K., Zigarmi, D., & Nimon, K. (2017). Definitional and conceptual muddling: Identifying the positionality of employee engagement and defining the construct. Human Resource Development Review, 16, 263-293. doi: 0.1177/1534484317720622
  • Shuck, B., Nimon, K., & Zigarmi, D. (2017). Untangling the predictive nomological validity of employee engagement: Decomposing variance in employee engagement using job attitude measures. Group and Organizational Management42, 79-112. doi: 10.1177/1059601116642364 
  • Shuck, B., Alagaraja, M., Rose, K., Owen, J., #Osam, K., & Bergman, M. (2017). The health-related upside of employee engagement: Exploratory evidence and implications for theory and practice. Performance Improvement Quarterly30, 165-178. doi: 10.1002/piq.21246   
  • Shuck, B., Adelson, J., & Reio, T. (2017). The employee engagement scale: Initial evidence for construct validity and implications for theory and practice. Human Resource Management56, 953-977. doi: 10.1002/hrm.21811 
  • Rose, K., Shuck, B., #Twyford, D., & Bergman, M. (2015)Skunked: An integrative review exploring the consequences of dysfunctional leaders and implications for the employees who work for them. Human Resource Development Review14, 64-90. doi: 10.1177/1534484314552437


Musical Links

Folk Music:

A Lion Named Roar:

Mumford & Sons:

For King and Country:

John Coltrane:

Rodd Stewart:

Kenny G:

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