Cost and Benefit: Calorie Counts

Soon everyone will know that a Starbucks venti Double Chocolaty Chip Frappucino Blended Creme has 670 calories (200 calories more than turkey on whole wheat with mustard). Announcing that all of its company owned stores would post calorie counts on…

Behavioral Economics: Menu Incentives

In economics, sometimes psychology comes in handy… If you were creating a wine list for a restaurant, which order would you select: Alphabetize everything. By price, start with the cheapest bottles. By price, start with the most expensive bottles. Group…

Behavioral Economics: Better than a Psychiatrist

After reading Murder at the Margin, some of my students suggested in essays that we do not need a psychiatrist to explain human behavior. Instead, just ask a behavioral economist. Let’s give it a try… Defaulting: In life, we tend…

Behavioral Economics: When Do We Minimize Risk?

With Election Economics having concluded, for the next 4 weeks, Monday posts will focus on topics that relate to behavioral economics. Let’s start with Hurricane Sandy and my own NJ neighborhood. Really though, we will be looking at how many of…

Amazon Prime and Delayed Gratification

Would you rather pay $79.00 or $95.88 for the same service? Amazon just figured out how to get the $95.88 from some people. People who sign up for Amazon Prime get “free” (but we know there is no such thing as…

California Consumers and Gas Prices

How might California be responding to $5.00 gas? Let’s start with bread machines. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely explains that when one of the first sellers of bread machines placed it on the shelf, few people were interested because they could…

Blame, Bias and Belief

Having just begun The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, I wanted to share a wonderful excerpt. While this student is commenting on the origins of the First World War, his comments take us far beyond. “Indeed, isn’t the whole…

Bogeys, Birdies and the Eurozone

Analyzing more than 1.6 million putts, including Tiger Woods, 2 University of Pennsylvania economists concluded that professional golfers putt better when avoiding a bogey (a stroke over par) than when trying for a birdie (a stroke under par). The reason?…

Are You A Good Investor?

Good investing takes us to our emotions. But not quite how you might expect. Our brains don’t like random events. Instead, we prefer patterns, especially pleasing patterns. For basketball, that means streaks. According to one statistical study of the 76ers…

Altitude and Attitude

A recent article in Scientific American cited a correlation between altitude and attitude. Describing four different experiments, researchers concluded that physical elevation seemed to connect to generosity, kindness, and cooperation. This is what they found: 1. At a mall, shoppers…