Nudging for Good, Neuroprosthetics, plus more weekly links

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A selection of recent behavioral science news, articles, and resources of note:

  • When autographing his book, Nudge, Richard Thaler writes just three words: “Nudge for good.” Here’s why. (New York Times)
  • The U.S. Military is bypassing Lumosity (which is, by the way, not supported by science) and going straight to implanting electrodes in people’s brains. Nature reports the military is beginning human trials of “neuroprosthetics” to see if they can help improve the memories of soldiers who’ve experienced head trauma (as well as those who have simply gotten older). (Nature)
  • When tallying up votes at several local San Diego elections, researchers found that voters were more likely to vote no on propositions located lower on the ballot. Researchers suggest that no-voting increases towards the end of the ballot as voters become “decision fatigued” and opt to stick to the status quo rather than make an informed choice. (The Atlantic)
  • Why are you still wearing your lucky socks to game day even though you know as well as anyone they do nothing to change the scoreboard? Jane Risen and David Nussbaum have a clue. (New York Times)
  • How can we solve obesity? How about exercising democracy? Recently, the government in Victoria, Australia brought together 78 ‘everyday’ people for what’s called a Citizens’ Jury, in order to get their input and recommendations for how to solve the obesity epidemic. An inspiring process that produced these 20 suggestions. (Behavioral Insights Team, VicHealth)
  • Hands free doesn’t equal brain free, so put your phone in “Driving mode.” That’s the solution for distracted driving, according to Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris. What about newer cars that offer “heads up” displays, read you your emails and texts, and sync all the functions of your phone into the car’s computer dashboard? An illusion of safety based on the (incorrect) idea that having your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel is enough. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Diets work . . . at first. People lose about 10 percent of their starting weight with most diets, but gain nearly all of it back within 2-5 years. That’s what Traci Mann and her colleagues found after reviewing 60 years of research. With the average Weight Watchers customer re-enrolling in the program 4 separate times, Mann suggests that physiological barriers to preserving weight loss are (ironically) exactly what keep Weight Watchers in business. (New York Magazine)

 

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