… Health

What drives us to make healthy decisions? And how can we design environments to produce better health outcomes?

Many people know what they should do to stay healthy: eat well, exercise, take their medication as prescribed, and make well-informed medical decisions. However, despite this knowledge and having the best of intentions, many of us behave in ways that are suboptimal in the short term and harmful in the long run. The Center for Advanced Hindsight’s work in the area of health explores why we make mistakes when it comes to our health and how we can overcome this. Our research identifies important psychological mechanisms that lead to optimal behaviors, and we design interventions that result in better health outcomes.


The role of technology in delivering healthcare and improving health behaviours is growing rapidly. Technology offers enormous potential to impact hard-to-reach populations and supplement less frequent in-person care. In particular, we’re interested in the potential of artificial intelligence and conversational interfaces to supplement coaching programs, increase disclosure of information about sensitive health behaviours, and create feelings of accountability through more overt monitoring. We design mobile technologies to deliver interventions and conduct research to understand the characteristics of human-computer interaction that result in the greatest degree of positive behaviour change.


How do beliefs and pain impact behaviours like exercise and medication adherence? What is the role of disgust in choices for surgery, vaccination, and diet adherence?

What are the “naive models” that individuals create to explain causal relationships between their behaviour and their bodies, especially during a time in which individuals have access to an unprecedented amount of information about themselves?


Health Management

Health Management

The rise inchronic diseases presents a newset of behavioral challenges around medication adherence and reducing disease symptoms through diet and exercise. Our researchfocuses on how to promote habit formation around behaviors that have a long-term payoff (improved health) with short-term costs (side-effects). We’re interested in how to prompt regular behaviors that aren’t habits but instead are in response to symptoms or biometrics (like blood glucose)and the role of providing biometric feedback to patients on thesebehaviors. Finally, we’re interested in the attributions individuals make around the origins of diseases, depending on whether the disease is viewed as resulting from lifestyle and/or genetic causes.

Saving for Healthcare

Saving for Healthcare

Healthcare expenses are very difficult to predict, so people have a hard time setting aside money for future events that remain uncertain in nature and size until they occur (at which point it is too late to start accumulating savings). Our research focuses on how people in the emerging world can be encouraged to save for the inevitable but unpredictable healthcare expenses that they may accrue later in life.

Medical decision-making

Medical decision-making

Nearly everyone will face a medical decision in their lifetime, and most people will face many medical decisions. As medicine is growing increasingly personalized and complex, patients are faced with more choice than ever before. Due to uneven access, unaligned incentives across the healthcare system, and fundamental behavioral biases, certain areas of healthcare are overutilized (like antibiotics or some forms of surgery) while other areas of healthcare are underutilized (like vaccines). Our research focuses on factors that impact medical decisions in the domains of over-and underutilization, in an effort to better understand the psychologicalmechanisms contributing to utilization decisions andto improve the context in which decisions are made -for bothproviders and patients.



Maintaining weight over time is hard, losing weight is even harder, and keeping weight off after weight loss is nearly impossible. We’re interested in the ‘naive models’ that individuals create around eating and weight, andhow these naive models contribute to poor food choices, diet lapses, and under-compensationafter overconsumption. Our research explores these models and tests alternative methods of providing information back to people to help them update their naive models or take a desired actionin spite of their naive models.



Our research on exercise is simple: How can we help people enjoy exercise more? We explore the factors related to exercise that impact pain and pleasure during and after physical activity, as well as the impact of different affective experiences on future exercise behaviors. We test interventions that restructure exercise activities to optimize for pleasure and help people learn to focus on pleasure rather than other salient features of an exercise activity.


Does Nature Nurture? How Nature (Micro-)Breaks Influence Mood and Snack Food Cravings

Taking microbreaks (breaks lasting fewer than 10 min) is an important aspect…

Simple Requests Help Desk-Based Workers Stand Up More: A Meta-Analytic Summary

In a series of eight studies, spanning laboratory and field experiments, we…

Does Real Age Feedback Really Motivate Us to Change our Lifestyle? Results from an Online Experiment

We set out to research the causal impact of Real Age feedback,…

Behavioral Interventions to Improve Home‑Based Office‑Workers’ Health

Many organizations have traditionally supported their employees’ physical and mental health through…

Customizability in conversational agents and their impact on health engagement

Conversational agents (CAs) are effective tools for health behavior change, yet little…

Impact of Disgust on Intentions to Undergo Colorectal Surgery

Surgeons present patients with complex information at the perioperative appointment. Emotions likely…

Naïve models of dietary splurges: Beliefs about caloric compensation and weight change following non-habitual overconsumption

The mechanisms that lead to overeating and the consumption of tempting, unhealthy…

Comparison of affect-regulated, self-regulated, and heart-rate regulated exercise prescriptions: Protocol for a randomized controlled trial.

Zenko, Z., O’Brien, J., Berman, C. J., & Ariely, D. (2017). Comparison…

The choice architecture of privacy decision-making

‘Choice architects’ are responsible for designing environments that guide decision-making, and thus…

Can you have your vigorous exercise and enjoy it too? Ramping intensity down increases postexercise, remembered, and forecasted pleasure

There is a paucity of methods for improving the affective experience of…

Vice-virtue bundles

We introduce a simple solution to help consumers manage choices between healthy…

Troy Campbell ALUMNUS


Dan Ariely


Jonathan Cloughesy


Nina Bartmann


Panos Mitkidis