Emotions and the Choice Funnel

Behavioral economics evolved as some economists began to probe why people aren’t actually rational economic actors–why they make decisions that go against logic and their own best interests. One of the answers is that our brains operate with two systems, the hot and the cold (or, if you prefer, Systems 2 and 1). Continue reading Emotions and the Choice Funnel

Bookworm: My Top 2016 Book Recommendations

Last year I finished 180 books, according to my records on Goodreads. My reading tastes generally lean toward fiction, but include a healthy dollop of non-fiction, especially books related to behavior change, education, and design. In recent years I’ve gotten stingier with my highest ratings, reserving five stars for only the books that really leave an impression on me. In 2016, there were seven books that I gave five stars (a little fewer than 4% of my total reading). Here they are.

Continue reading Bookworm: My Top 2016 Book Recommendations

How Is a Good Insight Like a Patent?

how-is-a-good-insight-like-a-patentI got interested in genetic testing for fitness a while back, but haven’t pulled the trigger on anything yet (besides 23 and Me, a few years ago before they got their hands slapped by the FDA). There’s a part of me that imagines a dream future where a simple genetic test can unlock my ideal diet and exercise regimens and then I follow them and become a fitness model. Yeah, I know that’s not going to happen. In the meantime, I’ve explored a couple of free or low-cost options to see how close reality might be to the dream. Continue reading How Is a Good Insight Like a Patent?

Empathy: The Wrong Tool?

empathyEmpathy. Understanding. Bridging the gap. A lot of progressive conversation following the election has been around these topics, and how to have productive conversations with people who at best, determined that a candidate’s racism, sexism, and xenophobia were not sufficient grounds to vote otherwise (and at worst, co-signed them). I’ve made some overtures toward that goal myself, and have been following the dialogue around how and whether to do that. One way in which my opinion has clarified in the last few weeks:I don’t think winning hearts and minds is the only goal, and it shouldn’t necessarily be prioritized.

Continue reading Empathy: The Wrong Tool?

Three Classic Social Psychology Findings That Matter Today

three-classic-social-psychology-findings-that-matter-todayWatching current events in the United States these past few weeks, I find myself thinking often of some of the most basic Social Psychology 101 lessons. Even though we’ve gotten much more sophisticated in our research, these foundational lessons describe some of the behavior among American people quite well. Understanding these dynamics, and more importantly, understanding how we can break through them, might be helpful for all of us as we try to move forward. Continue reading Three Classic Social Psychology Findings That Matter Today

So, Does Facebook Influence Users or Not? (Yes, It Does)

so-does-facebook-influence-users-or-notTwo days after the election, Mark Zuckerberg said the following at a meeting in California:

“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.

For those of us who’ve spent any time on Facebook in the last 18 months and who’ve tried to engage in conversations with people whose political arguments include conspiracy theories, Zuckerberg’s comment was a record-scratch moment. Continue reading So, Does Facebook Influence Users or Not? (Yes, It Does)

Keep Change Alive: Three Psychology-Based Tactics

keep-change-aliveEarlier this week, a friend of mine asked me what, as a psychologist, I thought we could do to ensure that the commitment to action stirred up by the presidential election results doesn’t fall by the wayside. I answered her quickly but the question lingered on my mind. I think there are a few general strategies anyone, regardless of the issues close to their heart, can use to maintain accountability and action over time and effect change for midterm elections in 2018 and the next presidential race in 2020.

Continue reading Keep Change Alive: Three Psychology-Based Tactics

A Behavior Change Perspective on the Community First! Village in Austin

a-behavior-change-perspective-on-the-community-first-village-in-austinLast week I went to the Innovation Learning Network in Person meeting in Austin, TX. Part of the agenda was going on a mystery “innovation safari” to a local organization thinking innovatively about health and wellness. My assignment was to go to the Community First! Village, operated by Mobile Loaves & Fishes. Full disclosure: I was skeptical based on the limited information I had boarding the shuttle to go to the village. Continue reading A Behavior Change Perspective on the Community First! Village in Austin

Next Edge Summit 2016 Recap

recapEarlier this week I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel at the Next Edge Summit in Boston. The two day event’s theme was “Reimagining the Patient Journey.” Much of that re-imagination came through the lens of technology, and specifically artificial intelligence and its role in creating and delivering personalized health interventions. The focus stems from the expertise of Next IT Healthcare, which presents the summit. Continue reading Next Edge Summit 2016 Recap

Personalization: Good for Health Interventions, Maybe Not for Mattresses

amybucherphd-comI believe in personalization.

Evidence has firmly established that more personalized behavior change programs are more effective. People perceive personalized information as more relevant, are more likely to remember it, and more likely to actually make changes as a result of it. That’s the entire premise that the startup I worked for, HealthMedia, was founded against, and the validity of the approach is why Johnson & Johnson acquired us and made that personalized behavior change capability part of their enterprise offerings. Continue reading Personalization: Good for Health Interventions, Maybe Not for Mattresses

Psychology for Health and Happiness