From the Editor
Behavioural Insights, Spring 2020
AT ITS CORE, every organization is really in the same business: behaviour change. Businesses try to convince consumers to switch to their products, healthcare organizations try to get people to take their medications, and governments try to convince us to pay our taxes on time. The good news is, wherever human
behaviour is involved, there are opportunities for behavioural insights to overcome organizational challenges.
Traditional Economics assumes that people make decisions based on cold-headed logic. The ‘Econs’ it describes are great at processing data and value the future as much as the present. Behavioural Science paints a very different — and more realistic — picture: It shows that we humans are actually emotional and impulsive; that we are heavily influenced by others and by the context we find ourselves in; and that things like the status quo and loss aversion often guide our behaviour.
For organizations, understanding these dynamics can help to explain current customer behaviour — and influence future behaviour. In this issue of Rotman Management, we seek to expand your toolkit of behavioural insights and show how they can be harnessed to achieve your goals.
Do you ever feel like you’re being manipulated online? The UK’s Behavioural Insights Team is widely considered to be the global leader in the application of behavioural insights. On page 6, its Chief Executive David Halpern and Elisabeth Costa describe The Behavioural Science of Online Manipulation.
Do you wish you were better at making your good intentions a reality — and encouraging your customers to do the same? On page 32, behavioural science experts Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania), Katherine Milkman (Wharton) and David Laibson (Harvard) share some powerful approaches that can help, in Beyond Willpower: Cognitive Strategies for Self-Control. Are you passionate about your work? If so, there are repercussions — for you and for the people around you. Rotman Professor Stéphane Côté explains in The Paradox of Passion on page 50.
Elsewhere in this issue, we feature the founder of the Behavioural Economics in Action Research Centre at Rotman (BEAR), Professor Dilip Soman, in our Thought Leader Interview on page 12; Rotman Dean Tiff Macklem describes the dawning era of sustainable finance on page 26; and psychologists Amanda Tobe and Tatijana Busic share proven strategies for conquering public speaking anxiety on page 44. In our Idea Exchange, bestselling author Nir Eyal explains how to become ‘indistractable’ on page 90; former Twitter executive Bruce Daisley talks about the relentless cycle of ‘eat, sleep, work, repeat’ on page 97; Harvard’s Ashley Whillans provides a simple recipe for happiness on page 104; and Rotman faculty members Kristen Duke, Nouman Ashraf and Bing Han share their latest research and ideas.
By now, most leaders recognize that both social and psychological factors affect nearly every decision people make — and that therefore, these factors affect organizations and the economy as a whole. It follows that a more complete understanding of human behaviour provides a powerful tool for strategy and policy design. We hope this issue expands your own understanding of why people behave the way they do and helps you shape your organization — and our world — for the better.