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Season 5, Episode 1
In part one (When Willpower Isn’t Enough), the Penn professor Katherine Milkman tells us about “temptation bundling,” which means pairing something you don’t want to do (but need to do) with something you love to do (but perhaps shouldn’t do). For instance: allowing yourself to watch your favorite TV show only while working out at the gym. Or eating a cheeseburger only when you go to visit your least-favorite relative. In part two (The Maddest Men of All), the iconoclastic vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather in the U.K., Rory Sutherland, tells us how marketers use behavioral economics to get us all to buy now and think later. Read More »
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “When Willpower Isn’t Enough”. [MUSIC: Seks Bomba, “It Takes Two to Tango” (from Somewhere In This Town)] Stephen J. DUBNER: Hey, podcast listeners. You are about to hear the 200th original episode of Freakonomics Radio. Have you missed any? What about No. 19: “Waiter, There’s a […] Read More »
Last week, we solicited your questions for John Tierney and Roy Baumeister, authors of the new book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength . You responded with a variety of interesting questions, and now Tierney and Baumeister return with some in-depth answers.
Thanks to everyone for participating.
Q. Is willpower a single commodity (so to speak), or is there, as I suspect, a one type of willpower for, say, dieting, another one for academic study, another for this, another for that? –AaronS
A. No, there’s just one single resource (or commodity). There’s one source of mental energy for resisting temptation and performing other acts of self-control, and this willpower is also depleted by making decisions. What you experience may reflect the fact that willpower is limited and so people have to allocate it: they use it at the office to work effectively and diligently, but have messy homes and are short-tempered in the evening. Or people who show wonderful self-control at dealing with personal relationships but can’t seem to meet their deadlines. Read More »
What’s the most coveted human virtue — empathy? honesty? courage?
Or how about … self-control?
That’s the assertion of the new book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength*, by Roy Baumeister, a research psychologist at Florida State, and John Tierney**, a New York Times science writer. The book builds off Baumeister’s research on the physical aspect of willpower, which he and his research collaborators found behaves like a muscle: it can be strengthened through exercise but it becomes fatigued from overuse. Willpower is generated in large part by sleep and diet, and feeds off of the glucose in our bloodstream.
Baumeister and Tierney argue that our ability (or inability) to exercise self-control is most often the key between success and failure. And it’s hard not to see their point: I type these words on the very day that a special election is being held in New York to replace the disgraced (and aptonymic) Congressman Anthony Weiner. Read More »
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “Should We Really Behave Like Economists Say We Do?” [MUSIC: Milan Grajetzki, “A Fistful of Soul” (from Good Life)] Stephen J. DUBNER: Alright, let’s start with your name. Greg ROSALSKY: My name is Greg Rosalsky. DUBNER: And to people who listen to this program, especially if they […] Read More »
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “Hacking the World Bank” [MUSIC: The Diplomats of Solid Sound, “Soul Slaw” (from Instrumental, Action, Soul)] Stephen J. DUBNER: Back in 2012, Jim Yong Kim was minding his own business, carrying out his duties as president of Dartmouth College. He was in his third year there. Then […] Read More »
Since its inception in 1944, the World Bank, a multilateral organization charged with financing the development of poor nations, has been led by macroeconomists, bankers, and government insiders. The White House’s 2012 nomination of President Jim Yong Kim — a physician, anthropologist, and academic who used to advocate dismantling the Bank — broke the mold. He is the focus of our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “Hacking the World Bank.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
In less than three years, Kim has overhauled the Bank and laid out ambitious goals — including a 2030 deadline to rescue the more than 1 billion people who live in extreme poverty. Kim is also — along with the Bank’s chief economist Kaushik Basu — eager to apply the insights of behavioral economics to development policy. That is the focus of Kim’s conversation today with Stephen Dubner. Read More »