Interesting research from the world of behavioral science and behavioral economics.

Etinosa Agbonlahor

I read a lot of behavioral economics (BE) articles. Much of the literature coming out of the public and private sectors, in terms of academic research, new theories, results of large-scale experiments or quietly implemented nudges, is quite good and interesting. I’ll be compiling a weekly (or bi-weekly, don’t let those time frames serve as anchors!) list of 3 behavioral economics/ behavioral science/ behavioral and economic science articles I read and enjoyed or found worthwhile, during the week.

1. This week, I enjoyed this
NYT piece on the behavioral science techniques employed by Uber [despite the repeated references to research-backed principles as “tricks”].

2. The FAFSA is a form American students fill out to apply for student loans. As someone who has had to fill it out in the past, I can attest to its tediousness--it has long been a standing example of how small barriers can lead to massive issues (such as the gap between students who plan to go to college during senior year of high school, and those who actually show up to begin freshman year a few months later).
This tedious application process recently became even more tedious (thanks Trum…nvm). A few years ago, ideas42 drafted BE-based approaches to fixing FAFSA. Some policymakers might want to revisit this.

3. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun nudges (“just put a picture of eyes next to a bike shed to reduce bike thefts”—cool!) but one of the reasons I am passionate about behavioral science is it’s potential to revolutionize (yes, this makes me sound like a Bernie-bro. I’m [not] sorry) the lives of people living in contexts of scarcity on a regular basis, and part of making good meaningful changes like that involves failing a few times on the way. This article on a
failed attempt to get low income earners in the Bronx to save more money is, to my mind, one worth reading by every choice architect out there.