It’s easy for financial experts to say what people should do to achieve financial well-being. We can rattle off rules of thumb like: contribute enough to your 401k to achieve the full employer match; set aside enough savings to cover three months of expenses in an emergency; and leverage health savings accounts and other tools to offset the costs of care. These tips can work, but they ignore the reality that many people can’t or won’t follow them. In our panel on Designing for Financial Behavior at the 2018 Financial Experience Design (FxD) conference, we discussed how we can design tools to help improve people’s financial well-being while balancing what people should do with what they can and will do.
I suppose this post is politically motivated, although I’ll try to leave the actual politics out so as to not obscure my point by putting off people with beliefs different than mine. I’ve noticed two general behavior patterns that disturb me with respect to politics and positions. The first is when a politician is called out for past behaviors or viewpoints in a way that implies he or she will never be fit for future service, regardless of current behaviors or viewpoints. The second is people who declare a change of heart and are told that it’s too little too late. The philosophy here is essentially that if someone has made mistakes in the past, then there is no room for them in the future. And as much as I sometimes also bristle at the things on someone’s resume, I just don’t believe that’s true. I can’t do the work I do and believe that’s true. Continue reading Believing In Behavior Change Means Believing People Can 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.
Continue reading Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change
Two 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)
I recently read the book The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael D. Watkins. It was recommended to me as a good guide to starting a new position, and while I admired the structured analytical eye the author takes to understand work challenges, I felt it was lacking in an understanding of human behavior. One key area where the advice particularly seemed to deal with people (in this case, the people reporting to a new manager) as theoretical versus human entities was compensation for performance. Continue reading How Much Can We Personalize Job Rewards Without Being Unfair?
I had big plans this week. I was going to log some major running miles, get ahead of my blog posting, run all manner of errands, and possibly try my hand at a cake NPR warned was a “pain in the butt” to make (a glance at the recipe suggests no one at NPR has ever baked before). None of this happened.
Instead of carrying out these grand plans, I picked up an unpleasant cold. My most impressive accomplishment this week was a four hour nap (it was glorious). I didn’t get my Monday long run in. By today, Wednesday, I’d decided to just focus on feeling better and altered my to-do list accordingly. Continue reading Knocked to the Bottom of the Pyramid
Given my former line of business working on digital wellness programs for employees and health plan members, I’ve tended to have a positive spin on the trend of including these types of programs in the benefits package. While I am not a big fan of financial incentives for health behaviors because they might re-wire motivation, I didn’t necessarily see them as morally ambiguous. That is, I didn’t necessarily see them as morally ambiguous until I read an article that helped me draw a parallel between rewarding wellness programs and research ethics. Continue reading When Is a Reward Coercion? The Case of Workplace Wellness Programs
Three months after inciting the ire of researchers and users with their stealth emotional manipulation study, Facebook has announced a revised research policy. The new policy addresses four key areas:
- Clearer guidelines for researchers
- An additional layer of review
- Enhanced training for new Facebook employees around research
- Increased transparency via a page compiling all Facebook research
You’ve undoubtedly heard by now about Facebook’s large scale emotion manipulation study, conducted on their site users. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, found that when Facebook users saw a greater concentration of negative posts in their newsfeed, they were more likely to post negative statuses themselves; the same pattern emerged for positive status updates. [This research probably also partially explains Facebook’s insistence on pushing the Top Stories sort on users regardless of their preference; it’s the manipulation in a massive social science study. Which doesn’t make it any less of a violation of users’ sense of autonomy, and thus a poor motivational experience.]
The study has its problems, which I’ll get into, but the thing that really makes me angry about it is the cavalier attitude it reveals toward informed consent. Informed consent is a requirement of human subjects research. What is means is that if a person is being manipulated in any way, they must give explicit permission to the researcher to be a part of the study. The informed piece is important: Continue reading Facebook’s Informed Consent Problem