Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1st Talk: Dr. Dan Ariely - Self Control - The Problem and How to Get Over It

The first TEDxNCSU talk is Dr. Dan Ariely who is a professor of behavioral economics at Duke. I'm going to try to update this as he speaks. Hopefully, it'll go well. I may or may not do this for the other speakers depending on how this goes.

He's starting with an anecdote about advice he received in the hospital about avoiding hospitals. He's going further into his participation in a drug trial that caused certain immediate ill effects, but provided a long-term uncertain disease risk reduction. He linked this then to the Fall and texting while driving and the present-bias focus. This is then linked into our time preferences of costs and benefits with a twist that is new to me. He asked about chocolate now vs 1.5 times as much chocolate in a week and then changed it by adding a year. Nearly everyone would wait 53 weeks for more chocolate instead of 52 weeks for less.

He was also apparently the only person would adequately and regularly administered his medication during the study. He did this with reward substitution, where he'd watch a movie when he injected the medication.

Awesome quote:
"If you tried to create a problem that people won't care about, you'd have global warming."

He's trying to link people's ego to their energy decisions, such as how driving a Prius strokes environmentalist egos.

After reward substitution, he moved to self-control contracts, such as how Ulysses tied himself to the mast, while passing the sirens. He's moved to animal studies with immediate vs. delayed rewards and apparently some studies have shown rats and pigeons are able to remove their own temptation by pressing a third button. He's bringing up an alarm clock that gives money from your bank account to a charity you hate and another one that runs away from you.

He brought up stickk.com which is a web site that enforces goals otherwise you owe people money. Another website tells people when you watch porn or uninstall the software.

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