February 4, 2019

Rodd Wagner: This Episode Could Save Your Life

The safety insights from our guest could save your life

Rodd Wagner is The New York Times bestselling author of the book "Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees as If They're Real People." A contributor to Forbes, he is one of the foremost authorities on employee engagement and collaboration. Wagner's books, speeches, and thought leadership focus on how human nature affects business strategy. He and his aerospace engineer son, Rodd Parks Wagner, are currently completing work on a book on the psychology of safety.

We talked with Rodd about a wide variety of topics from writing books to the impact sleep has on behavior, the impact of checklists, and Zen Buddhism.  But what really excited us was our discussion of hedonic adaptation and how it applies to safety…and to so much more.

We also discussed the moral code of self-driving cars and who will program (and what decisions they’ll make when programming) the robots to act. We talked about the famous Trolley Car Study (1967) and how self-driving cars will need to be taught to make tough moral decisions. 

Our discussion with Rodd was followed by our grooving session, which focused on both hedonic adaptation and the morality of machines.  

By listening to Behavioral Grooves, you are part of a community of people interested in behavioral science – a community that we are trying to build.  We would be grateful if you can help expand that community by recommending this episode, or another Behavioral Grooves episode, to a friend. https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

Also, Kurt and Tim help companies apply positive and ethical behavioral insights to their organizations. If you’re interested in starting a conversation, you can reach us at Kurt@lanterngroup.com or Tim@behavioralchemy.com. We’d love to help your organization improve your bottom line with a behavioral lens.



You can reach Rodd Wagner at rocksolidstrategy@gmail.com.

Rodd’s Forbes columns can be found here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/roddwagner/.

Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees as if They’re Real People, by Rodd Wagner, McGraw-Hill (2015). https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/the-12-new-rules-for-managing-your-employees-like-real-people.html


Books We Discussed

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Phillip Dick (1996). Kurt referenced this book by Phillip Dick when Tim mistakenly thought he was speaking of Isaac Asimov’s classic I Robothttps://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/40617/do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-by-philip-k-dick/9780345404473/

I Robot, by Isaac Asimov (1950). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I,_Robot

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande, Picador (2011). http://atulgawande.com/book/the-checklist-manifesto/

Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, Simon & Schuster (2018). https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Why-We-Sleep/Matthew-Walker/9781501144325

Why Buddhism is True, by Robert Wright, Simon & Schuster (2018). https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Why-Buddhism-is-True/Robert-Wright/9781439195468


Papers & Studies We Discussed

Ariely, Dan. On Why Religion Makes You Behave Better, Slate. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_wright_show/2012/07/05/why_religion_makes_you_behave_better.html

Brickman & Campbell, The Hedonic Treadmill (1971). http://faculty.som.yale.edu/ShaneFrederick/HedonicTreadmill.pdf?subject=Please+mail+a+hard+copy+of  …and… https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/hedonic-treadmill/ 

Hyman, Ira E., Jr., et. al. “Did You See the Unicycling Clown? Inattentional Blindness while Walking and Talking on a Cell Phone.” Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24: 597–607 (2010) 

Loewenstein, George. On bereavement and hedonic adaptation: https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/sds/docs/loewenstein/HedonicAdaptation.pdf from Kahneman, Diener & Schwarz, Wellbeing: the foundations of hedonic psychology, Sage Foundation, 1999. 

Lyubomirsky, Sonja. On the key elements of happiness: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonja_Lyubomirsky

Eye Tracking Experiment: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160006052.pdf

Trolley Car Study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOpf6KcWYyw

MIT Moral Machine: https://www.media.mit.edu/projects/moral-machine/overview/


Music We Discussed

Angus & Julia Stone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0feNWRd3FE

Pat Metheny, “One Quiet Night.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eY4qcaiWs8

Damien Rice

Nine Inch Nails


Lynyrd Skynyrd "Freebird" 

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