Choiceology with Dan Heath
Summary: What happens when intuition fails us? Listen in as Dan Heath shares stories of irrational decision making--from historical blunders to the kinds of everyday errors that could affect your future. Choiceology, an original podcast from Charles Schwab, explores the lessons of behavioral economics, exposing the psychological traps that lead to expensive mistakes. Podcasts are for informational purposes only. This channel is not monitored by Charles Schwab. Please visit schwab.com/contactus for contact options.
Imagine you’ve just been through a major life event: The birth of a child. A major award. The loss of a job. A divorce. Now picture yourself 10 years in the future and try to imagine how that event affected your overall well-being. Research shows that—more often than not—your predictions will miss the mark. Why is that? On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we examine a bias that influences the way you believe you’ll feel in the future. The show begins with a quick survey based on the work of psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson. The survey demonstrates—in a surprising way—our tendency to misjudge the importance of future events. From there we raise the stakes with two very dramatic stories from the opposite ends of human emotional experience. Diann Roffe describes the elation she felt after a stunning athletic achievement, and Scott Fedor shares the harrowing story of a life-altering injury. And while these events were totally different, you may be surprised to learn how they affected Scott and Diann’s lives over the long run. Boston University professor Carey Morewedge explains how this bias works and offers suggestions to help you re-examine your greatest hopes and fears.
When you set out to buy something—a car, for example, or a laptop or some small gadget for your kitchen—you analyze the features and the style and the utility of the thing, and then you make a choice. But it turns out that there’s a psychological force that can influence what you’re willing to pay. On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we examine a bias that affects how you perceive gains and losses, how you negotiate deals and the way you think about value. The episode begins with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg. He describes his dramatic first attempt at negotiating a high-stakes contract for a client joining the National Football League. You’ll hear an experiment based on Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky ’s early studies that demonstrate the bias in real time. And lawyer, mediator and conflict resolution expert John Curtis explains how everyone—from people selling their homes to police informants going into witness protection—can fall prey to this psychological trap.
Sometimes it seems as if danger lurks around every corner. News reports of events like plane crashes and shark attacks make grave risk to life and limb feel real and imminent. And while there’s no doubt that risk is a part of life, are these the types of events we should really be concerned about? On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we examine a bias that affects the way you perceive both risk and reward. We trace how this bias may have helped your ancestors avoid lions lurking in the tall grass—but may also negatively affect your decisions around things like vacations and lotteries. The episode begins with Ranie Pearce and her harrowing tale of adventure in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Then you’ll hear an experiment involving sharks—and something even more dangerous—at the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia. Finally, author Dan Gardner explains the psychological roots of our common misperceptions about risk and reward.
In a world awash in data, you’d think it would be relatively easy to make informed, objective decisions. But there’s a problem that gets in your way, even with all of this information at your fingertips: You see what you want to see. On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we look at the tendency to favor information that confirms pre-existing beliefs. The episode begins in Europe in the 16th century, with a secret debate about sainthood, and then moves to a harrowing story of crime and punishment in contemporary America.
Imagine that you’ve put in effort toward a goal, but things haven’t quite worked out the way you hoped. Maybe your goal was more expensive than you expected; maybe it’s taking longer to reach than you thought. So the question is, do you double down and continue to work toward that increasingly difficult goal, or do you move on to something new? Do you fish or cut bait? On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we look at how past effort, time or expense can influence the way we make decisions moving forward—even when they shouldn’t. The episode begins on an auction house floor but quickly climbs to the top of the highest peak in the world. Along the way, you’ll see how common is the lure to continue no matter what, and how it affects all kinds of decisions, big and small. Professor Michael Roberto explains how to identify this bias in your day-to-day life. You’ll also find out how to fight back against the influence of this trap in a story about Intel CEO Andy Grove—one of the most successful business leaders of the 20th century. (0318-8VJ8)
You don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Context matters, perhaps more than you think. On this episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we explore the subtle, sometimes hidden structures that influence your decisions. You’ll see how small changes in the way choices are presented can have a huge impact on everything from vandalism to traffic congestion to retirement savings. Tara Austin of Ogilvy Change tells the dramatic story of how she and her team worked to reduce street crime in a London neighborhood after a devastating riot. It was a surprisingly simple project that had a measurable impact. You can see images from the project in this BBC News article. You’ll also hear about an experiment we ran on a busy intersection in an attempt to reduce collisions between bicycles and pedestrians—using nothing but a roll of duct tape. And behavioral design expert Sille Krukow explains how choice architecture can channel our inherent laziness to help us make better decisions. After listening, you can read our bonus article "Nudge Yourself" to learn even more about how to turn smart decisions into easier ones. Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit schwab.com/podcast.
The Battle of Midway. Saltine crackers. Carnival games. What do these seemingly unrelated things have in common? Well, they’re connected by a common psychological trap—one that affects the way we all make decisions. In this first episode of Choiceology with Dan Heath, we reveal this bias and explain how it affects decisions, big and small. Jonathan Parshall tells the dramatic story of how it influenced the course of history during a World War II battle. A ridiculous cracker-eating contest demonstrates the pitfalls of this bias in real time. And Professor Don A. Moore explains the history and psychology behind the bias and offers advice on how to minimize its effects. (0218-8W73)
You’re not as rational as you think. In this new podcast, bestselling author Dan Heath performs forensic analysis on decision making. You’ll hear real stories, learn from top experts, and witness informal experiments that demonstrate the mistakes we too often make. Subscribe for free today to get the first episode automatically when it launches February 12.