Category Archives: Psychology

Making Choices Meaningful: At the Intersection of Competence and Autonomy

What constitutes a meaningful choice for one person may not be meaningful to another. When I presented with Raphaela O’Day at SXSW a few weeks ago, we talked a lot about packaging decisions in a way that made sense to the person making them. This is where competence and autonomy intersect; a choice can’t be meaningful if a person doesn’t have the knowledge or expertise to make it well. Continue reading Making Choices Meaningful: At the Intersection of Competence and Autonomy

What’s Different About Designing For Health?

A question I’ve been thinking about more recently is, what makes health behavior change so special? And surprisingly enough for someone who’s spent over a decade focusing on health behavior change, I think the answer is: It’s not. The more I explore other behavior change challenges, the more I see that designing for health isn’t  really different from other types of behavior change interventions. Continue reading What’s Different About Designing For Health?

Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change

The big thing on my mind right now is preparing for my presentation at SXSW next Saturday. My J&J colleague and pal Raphaela O’Day and I are going to be discussing “Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change,” and how we grapple with them as psychologists who design and create interventions to improve health and healthcare.
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Where You Are Is Who You Are: Personality By Geography

I came across this sort of goofy article about how people’s personalities shift depending on where they live. Why do I call it goofy? Because insofar as “personality” refers to stable characteristics of an individual, it shouldn’t be especially mutable based on location. But what the article does capture is that the environment we live in goes a long way toward determining how we express those personality traits through behavior. Continue reading Where You Are Is Who You Are: Personality By Geography

When The Medical Is Personal

At the 2014 TEDxJNJ event I attended, Bennett Levitan of Janssen R&D talked about work he was doing to incorporate patient preference and risk tolerance into pharmaceutical treatment (a review of his research is here). The idea is that from a purely medical and scientific standpoint, we’ve established risk points beyond which we consider a treatment unsafe. More than x% risk of a serious side effect? That treatment will not be offered to patients. And most of the time, that’s the right decision.

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The Behavioral Economics of Airline Loyalty Programs

As a frequent flyer, I know how easy it can be to get caught up in a loyalty program. You could blame it on the occasional first class upgrades, the free checked baggage, or the special elite hotline many airlines offer their most valued members . . .  or you could chalk it up to a brilliant application of behavioral economics and psychology.

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A Slightly Less Than Motivating Year In Review: Delta Airlines

Companies that do “year in review” features for their customers can often spark continued engagement by supporting the key psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. By reviewing all of the customer’s activity, showing how it adds up to bigger outcomes, and how the customer is part of a larger community, the reviews can make people feel like their consumer habits were meaningful. I’ve received these sorts of round-ups in past years from Map My Run and Blue Apron and found them engaging. Continue reading A Slightly Less Than Motivating Year In Review: Delta Airlines

Why Do We Sometimes Compete When We Should Collaborate?

About a year ago I participated in a work training around collaboration and culture. We were asked to play a game which involved getting into a pair with someone else around the same height, clasping hands, and attempting to make contact with the partner’s shoulder. The objectives of the game were described  as “to win” by “getting more points.” It was not clear exactly who needed to earn those points; that’s where the trouble started.
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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?