Character  &  Context

Psychology News Round-Up (April 25th)

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By Dave Nussbaum

“Goals can be useful when they motivate us to perform better, but they’re harmful when focusing on arbitrary targets leads to arbitrary decisions. My advice: Treat your economic life like a marathon, not a sprint, but focus on the goals that really matter — economic security for your family — rather than on arbitrary round numbers.”

“So my rule is that if you have someone or something that gets 70 percent approval, you just do it. ‘Cause here’s what happens. The fact that other options go away immediately brings your choice to 80. Because the pain of deciding is over.”

  • Cass Sunstein (@CassSunsteindefends nudges against criticism that they limit people’s freedom, and from the other end of the spectrum, that they are insufficient and should be replaced with outright bans. Psychology research has laid the foundation for understanding what sorts of nudges are likely to be effective, as well as what leads people to resist being told how to behave.

“The beauty of nudges is that when they are well chosen, they make people’s lives better while maintaining freedom of choice. Moreover, they usually don’t cost a lot, and they tend to have big effects. In an economically challenging time, it is no wonder that governments all over the world, including in the US and UK, have been showing a keen interest in nudging.”

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