April 17, 2022

Why Not All Nudges Work ”In The Wild” | Nina Mazar & Dilip Soman

Read Nudge and you are inspired by how behavioral science works. But how can we translate and scale behavioral science effectively into policies and organizations? Indeed, can all academic research be applied “in the wild”?


Our two guests on this episode, Nina Mazar PhD and Dilip Soman PhD have co-edited a book “Behavioral Science in the Wildthat addresses exactly this. If you’re a practitioner, wanting to apply behavioral science in corporate, non-profit, or governmental work, we think you should check this book out. It’s full of excellent ideas for how to apply behavioral science in the wild!


Nina Mazar is a professor of marketing and co-director of the Susilo Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy at the Boston University Questrom School of Business. Her work focuses on topics ranging from ethics to social & environmental impact. She sits on the board of Irrational Labs and belongs to the team of scientists of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative at Wharton.  


Dilip Soman is a Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Science and Economics. His research is in the area of behavioral science and its applications to consumer wellbeing, marketing and policy. Together Nina and Dilip established the Director of the Behavioural Economics in Action Research Centre at Rotman [BEAR], on which Dilip still serves as director.


Our discussion with Nina and Dilip explores the journey of working on their book together and why it’s vital reading for all behavioral scientists. To summarize the discussion, as always, Tim and Kurt end the show with a Grooving Session to recap what we learn about behavioral science in the wild!



(5:04) Welcome to Dilip and Nina with speed round questions.

(10:01) Why do we need a book about applying behavioral science research “in the wild”.

(14:29) Why not all academic research is destined for the practitioner world? 

(18:04) Social norms matter but the right reference group is vital.

(21:35) Background variables influence behavioral science in the wild.

(29:27) Speed of testing can be a barrier.

(31:33) Overcoming the issue of scalability. 

(35:24) How your time frame can affect output.

(38:55) What to do when you don’t get the results you expect.

(44:07) Don’t get caught shopping in the nudge store.

(45:50) Music choices of Dilip and Nina.

(51:29) Grooving session about behavioral science in the wild.

© 2022 Behavioral Grooves


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Behavioral Science in the Wild (Behaviorally Informed Organizations)”: https://amzn.to/3xxAD04 

Nina Mazar: http://ninamazar.com/ 

Dilip Soman: https://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/FacultyAndResearch/Faculty/FacultyBios/Soman 

Episode 102, Cristina Bicchieri: Social Norms are Bundles of Expectations: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/cristina-bicchieri-social-norms-are-bundles-of-expectations/ 

Episode 232, Katy Milkman: How to Make Healthy Habits that Actually Last: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/katy-milkman-habits-that-last/ 

Episode 16, Nudge-A-Thon with Dr. Christina Gravert: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/nudge-a-thon-christina-gravert/ 

Episode 202, How Chaning Jang Works Around Not Being WEIRD: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/how-chaning-jang-works-around-not-being-weird/ 

Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR): https://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/facultyandresearch/researchcentres/bear 


Musical Links


Paul Simon “Graceland”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP6a-7MP91g 

Mark Knopfler “What It Is”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGmtonlys5A 

Kishori Amonkar “Swaranjali”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-FuttzRlWE 

Dire Straits “Brothers in Arms”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhdFe3evXpk 

Supertramp “Take The Long Way Home”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLP0y-X4uYs 

Fleetwood Mac “Dreams”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3ywicffOj4

Subramaniam and Stephane Grappelli “Conversations”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFI4TzUDc-8&ab_channel=AhmadAlArabii

The 1988 Subramaniam-Bismillah Geneva: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGOp7APcuMs

The Cure “Just Like Heaven”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3nPiBai66M 

Kate Bush “Wuthering Heights”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1pMMIe4hb4 


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