Sources: TED / TEDx
* = Recommended viewing
Saving money and saving lives*
Every day we make choices—about what to buy or eat, about investments, about our children’s health and education, even about the causes we champion or the planet itself. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. Nudging is a way to improve those choices. By knowing how people think, we can use sensible “choice architecture” to nudge people toward the best decisions for themselves, their families, and their society, without restricting their freedom of choice.
You aren’t at the mercy of your emotions—your brain creates them
Lisa Feldman Barrett
Can you look at someone’s face and know what they’re feeling? Does everyone experience happiness, sadness and anxiety the same way? What are emotions anyway? For the past 25 years, psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has mapped facial expressions, scanned brains and analyzed hundreds of physiology studies to understand what emotions really are. She shares the results of her exhaustive research— and explains how we may have more control over our emotions than we think.
We think we know why we do as we do. Through his research on choice blindness, Petter Johansson and his research group shows that this is not always the case. As cognitive scientist at Lund University and a Fellow at Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala, he studies choice blindness and preference change using methods ranging from questionnaires to close- up card magic.
How political biases affect your perception of science
In this talk, Nathan discusses how our political leanings affect the way we perceive scientific evidence. He explains how to examine and minimize such biases, which would in turn bring about important changes in the nature of current political discourse.
Nudge behavior for a more inclusive world
Anthropologist and Global Change Maker Tinna Nielsen shares 11 ways you can outsmart your brain and be a better leader.
The history of human emotions
Tiffany Watt Smith
The words we use to describe our emotions affect how we feel, says historian Tiffany Watt Smith, and they’ve often changed (sometimes very dramatically in response to new cultural expectations and ideas. Take nostalgia, for instance: first defined in 1688 as an illness and con- sidered deadly, today it’s seen as a much less serious affliction. In this fascinating talk about the history of emotions, learn more about how the language we use to describe how we feel continues to evolve—and pick up some new words used in different cultures to capture those fleeting feelings in words.
Acting more rational – changing our automatic behavior
Our feelings naturally determine our behavior, but learning to become aware and change our behavior for a better outcome takes emotional intelligence. How can we learn and increase emotional intellect? Ashley Zahabian teaches us two practical ways we can all biologically and actively change the way we behave for better outcomes, and how we can think more clearly and rationally towards life success.
The power of decision-making
Every day we make 20.000 decisions. Most of them with lightning speed; brain research proves that. The least of them, on the other hand, are rational and well thought through; the behav- ioral economy shows that. Benedikt Ahlfeld reveals which three decision traps you should certainly avoid and how you can utilize the findings of brain research.
In his talk, Robert Böhm explains how so-called “green nudges” can help to improve human be- haviour towards climate and environmental protection, without changing economic incentives or using any form of coercion. Moreover, he provides an insight into some of his research and the astonishing results.
The science of altruism
Is the compassion we feel for others a virtue. Or is it embedded in something deeper? Dustin Daniels looks at biology, behavioral science, and economics to explain the science of altruism, and the truth of our common humanity.
Do you really know why you do what you do?
Experimental psychologist Petter Johansson researches choice blindness— a phenomenon where we convince ourselves that we’re getting what we want, even when we’re not. In an eye-opening talk, he shares experiments (designed in collaboration with magicians! that aim to answer the question: Why do we do what we do? The findings have big implications for the nature of self-knowledge and how we react in the face of manipulation. You may not know yourself as well as you think you do.
3 design principles to help us overcome everyday bias
Can we design ourselves to be more inclusive? Thaniya Keereepart explores 3 design princi- ples to help us overcome everyday bias.
Using psychology in food menu design to influence decisions
Every menu is a carefully constructed to persuade you into making certain decisions, predom- inantly ones that will ultimately make you spend more MONEY. The psychology behind menu engineering is backed by science and countless hours of research, and covers aspects such as positioning, color theory, use of buzz words, controlled costing and more.
How to trick yourself into good behavior*
By now, we all know that people make lousy decisions and behave badly. We eat the cake, wait until the last minute to do our taxes, and generally work against our own self-interest no matter how much we want to succeed. So…what can we do to fight it? Behavioral scientist Bob Nease shares some tricks to align our good intentions with our actions.
The science of regret*
A researcher and lecturer at Tilburg University; works on economic psychology, behavioural economics, and decision research. Mr ZEELENBERG talked about the science of regret.
How to use data to make a hit TV show*
Does collecting more data lead to better decision-making? Competitive, data-savvy companies like Amazon, Google and Netflix have learned that data analysis alone doesn’t always produce optimum results. In this talk, data scientist Sebastian Wernicke breaks down what goes wrong when we make decisions based purely on data—and suggests a brainier way to use it.
A simple way to break a bad habit
Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer stud-ies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction—from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us. Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving.
Everything you know about addiction is wrong
What really causes addiction— to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do—and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.
The surprisingly logical minds of babies
How do babies learn so much from so little so quickly? In a fun, experiment-filled talk, cognitive scientist Laura Schulz shows how our young ones make decisions with a surprisingly strong sense of logic, well before they can talk.
Phishing for phools*
A behavioral economist, Robert Shiller talks about deception and his upcoming book, “Phishing for Phools”.
10 myths about psychology, debunked
How much of what you think about your brain is actually wrong? In this whistlestop tour of disproved science, Ben Ambridge walks through 10 popular ideas about psychology that have been proven wrong — and uncovers a few surprising truths about how our brains really work.
Can prejudice ever be a good thing?
We often think of bias and prejudice as rooted in ignorance. But as psychologist Paul Bloom seeks to show, prejudice is often natural, rational … even moral. The key, says Bloom, is to understand how our own biases work—so we can take control when they go wrong.
How to make hard choices
Here’s a talk that could literally change your life. Which career should I pursue? Should I break up—or get married?! Where should I live? Big decisions like these can be agonizingly difficult. But that’s because we think about them the wrong way, says philosopher Ruth Chang. She offers a powerful new framework for shaping who we truly are.
Minds and markets
Paul Craven is a coach, consultant and public speaker in the area of Behavioural Economics. His talk on “The Mind, Markets and Magic” reveals why human beings have hardwired biases and often make ‘mental shortcuts’ – whether in the field of finance, more broadly in life or even when watching a magician. With 27 years investment experience at Schroders, PIMCO and most recently Goldman Sachs, and as a lover of history, Paul’s talk highlights some of the key biases shown by investors, as seen, for example, in stockmarket bubbles. As a member of the exclusive Magic Circle, Paul appreciates how the mind can play tricks, and delivers a talk that is highly interactive with the audience. He concludes by offering practical advice on how firms and individuals can use behavioural economics for their competitive advantage.
The psychology of your future self
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time. Hint: that’s not the case.
An economist walks into a bar
Litan’s talk explores the surprising role economists have played in the development of the internet economy—and quite possibly your love life.
Applying behavioral economics to real-world challenges
BE BRIGHT: “Overcome your fear of making a mistake. Take a bold stance, an active role in big life situations. Calculate the risk, and take control!”
The decline of consumer irrationality
Stanford professor Itamar Simonson spent much of his career showing that consumers tend to act irrationally and their preferences are highly malleable. But a few years ago he started having second thoughts in light of the Internet and the changing consumer environment. In this talk he will discuss the rise in consumer rationality and the decline of current marketing mantras about branding and loyalty. Contrary to the now prevalent belief that consumers usually make irrational decisions and can be easily influenced (which he helped establish), Simonson will show how everything changes when consumers base their decisions on reviews from other users, easily accessed expert opinions, price comparison apps, and other emerging technologies. Instead of relying on often unreliable proxies such as brand names, prior experience and loyalty, or price, consumers can make decisions based on the products’ “Absolute Value.” Based on his new book Absolute Value (with Emanuel Rosen) Simonson will present the far reaching implications of the changes in consumer decision making for marketing and management, including positioning, persuasion, market research, and influence more generally.
Can emotions influence our economic decision making
She completed her Ph.D. in Economics and her field of research is behavioral economics. Ágnes spent two semesters at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, as a visiting Ph.D. student. She investigates the psychological influences on economic decision making: why do people make their economic decisions the way they do it.
She creates her own mathematical model, which is a simulation of the interaction between rational objectivity and emotional subjectivity in economic decision making. During her research, Ágnes tested in practice the idea behind the model on a sample of decision makers, and she also conducted an economic laboratory experiment to study the effects of mood on investment decision making.
When you’re making a deal, what’s going on in your brain?*
When two people are trying to make a deal— whether they’re competing or cooperating— what’s really going on inside their brains? Behavioral economist Colin Camerer shows research that reveals how badly we predict what others are thinking. Bonus: He presents an unexpected study that shows chimpanzees might just be better at it.
The strategizing brain
Colin Camerer is the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics at Caltech. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1981 and worked at Northwestern, Penn, and Chicago before Caltech. He has published more than 150 articles worked on four books, most notably Behavioral Game Theory (2003). Colin’s research group is interested in the psychological and neural basis of choice, strategizing in games, and trading in markets. His group uses many methods, including eye tracking, SCR, fMRI, EEG, TMS, field experiments, and analysis of field data on taxicabs, sports performance, and movie revenues. Colin has been the past president of the Economic Science (experimental economics), the Society for Neuroeconomics, and was elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society.
How to make a behavior addictive
Zoë professes at Yale School of Management, researching decision making and social welfare, and helping students make their dreams come true. Her work has been covered in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Financial Times, and Discover. Before getting her doctorate from Harvard, she marketed a $200 million segment of Barbie toys for Mattel. Now, she collaborates with academic and industry colleagues to use behavioral economics to help people avoid temptation and make decisions that will benefit them in the long run. And she’ll be talking about a new type of toy that might do just that—if it doesn’t drive you crazy first.
How your “working memory” makes sense of the world
“Life comes at us very quickly, and what we need to do is take that amorphous flow of experience and somehow extract meaning from it.” In this funny, enlightening talk, educational psychologist Peter Doolittle details the importance— and limitations— of your “working memory,” that part of the brain that allows us to make sense of what’s happening right now.
Changing behaviour by design
Edward is an exceptional behavioural scientist who is currently leading the UK’s first Behavioural Design Lab, applying insights and methods of behavioural science to the design of new products. He has also applied his innovative theories to complex social issues such as obesity, binge drinking and climate change.
The psychology of self-motivation
Scott Geller is Alumni Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech and Director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the Department of Psychology. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the World Academy
of Productivity and Quality. He has written numerous articles and books, including When No One’s Watching: Living and Leading Self-motivation. Scott will examine how we can become self-motivated in “The Psychology of Self-Motivation.”
Design to nudge and change behaviour
Today human behaviour is the biggest threat to mankind. We keep overeating, even though we know it´s bad for us. We keep using to much energy, even though we know the planet can’t keep up with our consumption. We keep driving too fast, even though we know it kills us. But this doesn’t mean that we have no intentions to change. We do. But changing actual human behaviour calls for good design solutions that take basic human instincts, flaws and habits into consideration. That is design to nudge.
How behavioral science can lower your energy bill*
What’s a proven way to lower your energy costs? Would you believe: learning what your neighbor pays. Alex Laskey shows how a quirk of human behavior can make us all better, wiser energy users, with lower bills to prove it.
How reliable is your memory?
Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn’t happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It’s more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics—and raises some important ethical questions.
Does money make you mean?*
It’s amazing what a rigged game of Monopoly can reveal. In this entertaining but sobering talk, social psychologist Paul Piff shares his research into how people behave when they feel wealthy. (Hint: badly.) But while the problem of inequality is a complex and daunting challenge, there’s good news too.
Predictably Irrational – Basic human motivations
Best selling author and behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely delves into the essence of human motivation. His clever yet brilliantly simple experiments uncover universal truths about human irrationality and increasing motivation.
What makes us feel good about our work?*
What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t just money. But it’s not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work.
Could your language affect your ability to save money?*
What can economists learn from linguists? Behavioral economist Keith Chen introduces a fascinating pattern from his research: that languages without a concept for the future—“It rain tomorrow,” instead of “It will rain tomorrow”—correlate strongly with high savings rates.
What we’re learning from 5,000 brains
Mice, bugs and hamsters are no longer the only way to study the brain. Functional MRI (fMRI) allows scientists to map brain activity in living, breathing, decision-making human beings. Read Montague gives an overview of how this technology is helping us understand the complicated ways in which we interact with each other.
The optimism bias*
Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side—and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial.
Sometimes it’s good to give up the driver’s seat
Over the years, research has shown a counterintuitive fact about human nature: Sometimes, having too much choice makes us less happy. This may even be true when it comes to medical treatment. Baba Shiv shares a fascinating study that measures why choice opens the door to doubt, and suggests that ceding control—especially on life-or-death decisions—may be the best thing for us.
Saving for tomorrow, tomorrow*
It’s easy to imagine saving money next week, but how about right now? Generally, we want to spend it. Economist Shlomo Benartzi says this is one of the biggest obstacles to saving enough for retirement, and asks: How do we turn this behavioral challenge into a behavioral solution?
The battle between your present and future self*
Every day, we make decisions that have good or bad consequences for our future selves. (Can I skip flossing just this one time?) Daniel Goldstein makes tools that help us imagine ourselves over time, so that we make smart choices for Future Us.
How to make choosing easier
We all want customized experiences and products— but when faced with 700 options, consumers freeze up. With fascinating new research, Sheena Iyengar demonstrates how businesses (and others can improve the experience of choosing.
How to buy happiness
At TEDxCambridge, Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can indeed buy happiness—when you don’t spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and (of course) other people.
Living under scarcity
Eldar Shafir is the William Stewart Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs in the Department of Psychology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. His research focuses on decision-making, and on issues related to behavioral economics, with an emphasis on empirical studies of how people make decisions in situations of conflict and uncertainty.
Social experiments to fight poverty
Alleviating poverty is more guesswork than science, and lack of data on aid’s impact raises questions about how to provide it. But Clark Medal-winner Esther Duflo says it’s possible to know which development efforts help and which hurt—by testing solutions with randomized trials.
The art of choosing*
Sheena Iyengar studies how we make choices—and how we feel about the choices we make. At TEDGlobal, she talks about both trivial choices (Coke v. Pepsi) and profound ones, and shares her groundbreaking research that has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions.
The riddle of experience vs. memory*
Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy—and our own self-awareness.
The Happy Planet Index
Statistician Nic Marks asks why we measure a nation’s success by its productivity—instead of by the happiness and well-being of its people. He introduces the Happy Planet Index, which tracks national well-being against resource use (because a happy life doesn’t have to cost the earth. Which countries rank highest in the HPI? You might be surprised.
A monkey economy as irrational as ours*
Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in “monkeynomics” shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.
Sweat the small stuff*
It may seem that big problems require big solutions, but ad man Rory Sutherland says many flashy, expensive fixes are just obscuring better, simpler answers. To illustrate, he uses behavioral economics and hilarious examples.
Our buggy moral code*
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it’s OK to cheat or steal (sometimes). Clever studies help make his point that we’re predictably irrational—and can be influenced in ways we can’t grasp.
Teach statistics before calculus!
Someone always asks the math teacher, “Am I going to use calculus in real life?” And for most of us, says Arthur Benjamin, the answer is no. He offers a bold proposal on how to make math education relevant in the digital age.
Solving social problems with a nudge*
MacArthur winner Sendhil Mullainathan uses the lens of behavioral economics to study a tricky set of social problems—those we know how to solve, but don’t. We know how to reduce child deaths due to diarrhea, how to prevent diabetes-related blindness and how to implement solar-cell technology … yet somehow, we don’t or can’t. Why?
The puzzle of motivation
Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories—and maybe, a way forward.
Don’t eat the marshmallow!*
Joachim de Posada
In this short talk from TED U, Joachim de Posada shares a landmark experiment on delayed gratification—and how it can predict future success. With priceless video of kids trying their hardest not to eat the marshmallow.
Life lessons from an ad man*
Advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception, rather than the product itself. Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value—and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.
The psychology of time
Psychologist Philip Zimbardo says happiness and success are rooted in a trait most of us disregard: the way we orient toward the past, present and future. He suggests we calibrate our outlook on time as a first step to improving our lives.
Are we in control of our own decisions?*
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we’re not as rational as we think when we make decisions.
The psychology of evil
Philip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for nice people to turn bad. In this talk, he shares insights and graphic unseen photos from the Abu Ghraib trials. Then he talks about the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero, and how we can rise to the challenge.
Why aren’t we more compassionate?
Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence,” asks why we aren’t more compassionate more of the time.
Why people believe weird things
Why do people see the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich or hear demonic lyrics in “Stairway to Heaven”? Using video and music, skeptic Michael Shermer shows how we convince ourselves to believe—and overlook the facts.
How juries are fooled by statistics
Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly reveals the common mistakes humans make in interpreting statistics—and the devastating impact these errors can have on the outcome of criminal trials.
Why we make bad decisions
Dan Gilbert presents research and data from his exploration of happiness—sharing some surprising tests and experiments that you can also try on yourself. Watch through to the end for a sparkling Q&A with some familiar TED faces.
The paradox of choice*
Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.
Happiness and its surprises
Cognitive researcher Nancy Etcoff looks at happiness—the ways we try to achieve and increase it, the way it’s untethered to our real circumstances, and its surprising effect on our bodies.
The surprising science of happiness*
Dan Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.
Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce
“Tipping Point” author Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce—and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.
The freakonomics of crack dealing
“Freakonomics” author Steven Levitt presents new data on the finances of drug dealing. Contrary to popular myth, he says, being a street-corner crack dealer isn’t lucrative: It pays below minimum wage. And your boss can kill you.
Human nature and the blank slate
Steven Pinker’s book The Blank Slate argues that all humans are born with some innate traits. Here, Pinker talks about his thesis, and why some people found it incredibly upsetting.