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Behavioral Economics: “Got Quant?”

A continuing topic of interest to this blog are time saving ideas. Last post we discussed a way to cut down on your time spent reading, by aging magazines like a fine wine.

The example we used was focused on The Economist magazine. While we managed to gain the upper hand over their Editorial staff, it was the Marketing department that one-upped us. Namely they managed to get us to buy a subscription we really didn’t need with some clever psychology.

It wasn’t until I read Dan Ariely’s book “Predictably Irrational” a year later that I understood their ploy. For a great introduction to Behavioral Economics click on the picture below for a 17 minute video of Dan at the 2008 TED Conference. He describes what The Economist did 12:30 minutes into his fascinating talk.

Link to Dan Ariely Video at TED Conference

Dan Ariely at the 2008 TED Conference

If you don’t want to watch the entire video, after it loads in your browser just click the progress bar to get to 12:30 minutes.

By the way, the title “Got Quant?” is my shorthand for the concept that Behavorial Economics explains some Madison Avenue marketing techniques by using quantitative analysis.



6 thoughts on “Behavioral Economics: “Got Quant?”

  1. Enjoyed the vid. You might also be interested in Jonah Lehrer’s book, “How We Decide.” The tome provides many more examples of just this sort of cognitive(?) functioning along with the other elements of emotion and gut-reactions that influence frontal cortex processes. Recommended.

    Lehrer’s Blog:

    At this moment, Lehrer’s June 4th, 2009 blog-post pairs nicely with Ariely’s video/lecture.

    Posted by Heather | June 5, 2009, 12:26 am
  2. Great blog Heather, thanks for the link. I particularly liked Lehrer’s post on memory reconsolidations.

    “Look, for instance, at memory reconsolidation. Although we tend to imagine our memories as immutable impressions, like a data file stored on a computer hard drive, our memories are actually part of a ceaseless process. Every time we remember anything, the neuronal structure of the memory is delicately transformed, a process called reconsolidation.”

    I have my own example to support Lehrer: A few years ago I found some cassette tapes from the early ’70’s that contained ‘voice letters’ I had recorded to send to a friend; they described a number of events going on at the time. Needless to say, I felt like they were describing someone else’s life as I had come to remember things quite differently.

    Posted by Bob Gelber | June 5, 2009, 6:33 am
  3. I’m so glad you have that first-hand experience! It’s powerful, and beats all amounts of trying to describe it or theorize around it.

    Posted by Heather | June 7, 2009, 6:27 pm


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