October 24, 2021

Helping People To Assemble Better Decisions | Eric J. Johnson

How do we make decisions? What factors influence the final outcome? Do default settings change our preferences? Every decision we make; from choosing something on a menu to deciding whether to be an organ donor, is influenced by our environmental context and the default selections presented to us. 

Professor Eric J. Johnson has distilled the latest behavioral science research into his newest book, The Elements of Choice: Why the Way We Decide Matters, and we are thrilled to talk with him about it on this episode of Behavioral Grooves.

Eric is Director of the Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia Business School at Columbia University. He examines the interaction between Behavioral Decision Research, Economics and consumer decision making. The implications of his research come together in real world applications such as public policy and marketing.

Eric talks with us about how options are presented to decision-makers and how framing affects choices. Our decisions are “assembled”, as Eric likes to put it, in the moment and are not necessarily pre-determined by our preferences. Choice architects have very influential power over decision-makers but Eric highlights to us that we are all designers, and with that comes a moral responsibility. 


(3:56) How Leading Human™ can help with returning to the office.

(6:28) Welcome and speed round.

(8:00) How interference affects our decision making. 

(10:32) The controversy of organ donation defaults.

(16:32) We are all designers using the tools of choice architecture.

(19:21) How sludge impacts our decision making.

(22:42) How context influences defaults.

(26:14) What factors moderate the impact of default settings?

(29:01) Making choices in the real world vs. classic economic thinking.

(32:18) The effects of asking people how long they will live vs. what year they expect to die.

(35:04) Smart defaults: defaults set specifically for you.

(38:02) What is Query Theory?

(39:15) Choice architecture around vaccinations.

(42:44) What area does Eric want to research in the future?

(44:44) What music does Eric default to?

(52:24) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim on how to apply Eric’s research to our lives.


© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


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Leading Human™, Free Whitepaper Download: https://www.behavioralgrooves-store.com/collections/leading-human/products/human-centered-workplace-checklist

Leading Human™ Workshop on Dec 14th, 2021 (more dates to be added soon): https://www.behavioralgrooves-store.com/collections/leading-human/products/leading-human-workshop

Promo Code: GROOVERS to receive $20 off (limited time offer for listeners).

The Elements of Choice: Why the Way We Decide Matters” by Eric J. Johnson:  https://amzn.to/39yXr20

"Do Defaults Save Lives?" by Johnson, Eric, and Daniel Goldstein. Science 302 (2003): https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/researcharchive/articles/1275 

Sludge: What Stops Us from Getting Things Done and What to Do about It” by Cass Sunstein: https://amzn.to/3i1lLhD

Tim Kachuriak, Episode 221: Donating Our Money Is Irrational, So Why Do We Do It? Tim Kachuriak Explains Our Motivations: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/why-we-donate-our-money/

Time to Retire: Why Americans Claim Benefits Early and How to Encourage Them to Delay” In Behavioral Science and Policy (2015). Coauthor(s): Kirstin Appelt, Melissa Knoll, Eric Johnson, Jonathan Westfall: https://behavioralpolicy.org/articles/time-to-retire-why-americans-claim-benefits-early-how-to-encourage-delay/ 

Musical Links 

Eric Dolphy “Out to Lunch!”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ne6GCYO8pAc

Django Reinhardt “Three-Fingered Lightning”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQhTpgicdx4 

David Grisman Quartet “Dawg Funk”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P-FQ7xLiso 

Jerry Garcia “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_NOFuEb-yo&ab_channel=JerryGarcia 

Beethoven: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-fFHeTX70Q 

Caroline Shaw & Sō Percussion “Let The Soil Play a Simple Part”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cHc4n5mgNM&ab_channel=NonesuchRecords 

George E. Lewis “Mind In Flux” at the BBC Proms 2021: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSvwisQ3la4 

Bruce Springsteen “Tougher Than The Rest”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_91hNV6vuBY 

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