Blog

Category: Behavioral Economics

Hot off the press: Our report on tax-time interventions at VITA sites

We ran four experiments with two tax sites in New York City to try to get people to: Cut down on their tax preparation costs and get their taxes done for free at VITA sites Save part of their tax refund. Interested to learn what we found? Check out our report. Applying Behavioral Economics in…

How to Increase Retirement Savings

How to Increase Retirement Savings: Key Insights from Behavioral Economics -By Brad Swain, Common Cents Lab Duke University The United States is currently under ongoing shift from predictable benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans. Unlike predictable, often mandatory, pension plans, defined contribution plans are often complicated to set up, vary substantially in their design, and must be opted…

Investment Jaws

I have recently gotten hooked on ABC’s Shark Tank (based on the original Dragon’s Den), a reality show in which rookie entrepreneurs seek investments from wealthy self-made investors. These investors are the titular “Sharks,” who receive investment proposals ranging from a folding guitar company to a business in cat toilet-training kits. Once a sales pitch…

Are Wii U Prices Manipulating Shoppers' Psychology?

The pricing structure of Nintendo’s Wii U could manipulate shopper psychology via the decoy effect (see here and here for more on the effect). The Wii U is mainly available in two forms: a $350 Deluxe version and a $300 Basic, and without a doubt the $350 deluxe is a much better deal for most shoppers..…

Just Pay a Fine and Move Along: The Amorality of Drunk Driving

Recently, the “choose-your-ride” car (pictured here) has been roaming around downtown Durham and Duke University. The car seeks to reduce drunk driving by posing a choice between a $20 taxi or $1,000 fine. At first glance, this seems like a good strategy and it may indeed do some good. However, the car seems to missing…

Please Don’t Steal the Charmin

A Chinese tourist destination decided to experiment with offering free toilet paper, the Wall Street Journal reports. Rather than the usual procedure in China, where people bring their own toilet paper, in Qingdao they now encounter a toilet paper dispenser when they enter the public restroom (and, naturally, pass it again on the way out).…

iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3?

My 2-year cell phone contract was up last month, and even before the date when I could opt for an upgrade, I began to experience the pain of indecision: which was it going to be – a Samsung Galaxy S3 or an iPhone 5? I was one of the only Android (HTC Evo) users in…

Saving By Spending

This week, I visited a camera store to order two enlarged prints as a gift.  I don’t order photo prints very often; in fact, I’m not sure that I have ever ordered prints aside from graduation photos.  As I was making my purchase, the friendly, middle-aged woman who had been helping me asked whether I…

Can I Buy You a Cup of Coffee?

At a coffee shop in Bluffton, South Carolina, people have been spontaneously paying forfuture customers’ drinks on a fairly consistent basis. Sometimes, those who are not even looking to buy coffee for themselves will come in and donate money for future (anonymous) customers. While certainly unique, this may not be too surprising when viewed under…