Katy MilkmanOpen Access

Katy Milkman

at The University of Pennsylvania

From not saving enough, to exercising too little, to eating too much, Katy’s award-winning research uses big data to expose both the ways people suffer from failures in self-control and how such decisions can be improved.

What you need to know about ‘Katy’

The study

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Setup

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Results

Results

Study graph
np_read_2490885_000000

What you need to know about ‘Katy’

• Katy did some great work on inter-temporal choice (how we choose is greatly dictated by when it's for). She looked at online grocery ordering and found that we tend to make healthier "should" food choices the further we plan into the future, and less healthy "want" choices to satisfy our immediate needs. Ultimately, we have a Present Bias that gives more weight to immediacy, impacting our self-control and ability to stay healthy.

• Her study on flu jabs got people to make a written pre-Commitment to have their jab at a specific date and time. Doing so increased vaccinations by 4.2% (Milkman, Beshears, Choi, Laibson and Madrian, 2011)

“Thanks to the progress of behavioral science, we now have a new set of tools that can help — and produce big returns on small investments.”

• In understanding how to help break old habits and start new ones, Katy looked at the Fresh Start Effect, finding that we're more likely to stick to commitments made at the start of a new time period (e.g. a new week, month or year).

• She co-authored research on motivation and Temptation Bundling, finding that people can be made to do the hard 'should' tasks (e.g. going to the gym) by bundling them with pleasant 'want' experiences (listening to an audiobook). Gym attendance was boosted by 51% next to the no-bundle group.

• In 2018, found Reciprocity Decay showing that our desire to return an act of kindness wanes rapidly over time, impacting acts of goodwill from companies or the effectiveness of charities in raising donations.

Key Takeaways

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Katy Milkman

Katy Milkman

at The University of Pennsylvania

From not saving enough, to exercising too little, to eating too much, Katy’s award-winning research uses big data to expose both the ways people suffer from failures in self-control and how such decisions can be improved.

The study

Setup

Nuggademic people academic

Results

study graph
np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

• Katy did some great work on inter-temporal choice (how we choose is greatly dictated by when it's for). She looked at online grocery ordering and found that we tend to make healthier "should" food choices the further we plan into the future, and less healthy "want" choices to satisfy our immediate needs. Ultimately, we have a Present Bias that gives more weight to immediacy, impacting our self-control and ability to stay healthy.

• Her study on flu jabs got people to make a written pre-Commitment to have their jab at a specific date and time. Doing so increased vaccinations by 4.2% (Milkman, Beshears, Choi, Laibson and Madrian, 2011)

“Thanks to the progress of behavioral science, we now have a new set of tools that can help — and produce big returns on small investments.”

• In understanding how to help break old habits and start new ones, Katy looked at the Fresh Start Effect, finding that we're more likely to stick to commitments made at the start of a new time period (e.g. a new week, month or year).

• She co-authored research on motivation and Temptation Bundling, finding that people can be made to do the hard 'should' tasks (e.g. going to the gym) by bundling them with pleasant 'want' experiences (listening to an audiobook). Gym attendance was boosted by 51% next to the no-bundle group.

• In 2018, found Reciprocity Decay showing that our desire to return an act of kindness wanes rapidly over time, impacting acts of goodwill from companies or the effectiveness of charities in raising donations.

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Open access, foundational Nuggets

Scarcity

Scarcity

We value things more when they’re in limited supply

Social Proof

Social Proof

We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

Prospect Theory

Prospect Theory

A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

Reciprocity

Reciprocity

We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

Framing

We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion

We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

Default Effect

Default Effect

We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

Anchoring

What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

Fast & Slow Thinking

We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Dynamic Norms

Dynamic Norms

We’re more likely to change if we can see a new behavior developing

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

Connected to

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Certainty Effect
We crave clarity over chance and make costly sacrifices to get it

Like it or not, we're all hard-wired to seek out information that helps us reduce uncertainty over the future. We'll explore:

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Certainty Effect
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