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Stephen J. DUBNER: There’s something Peter Tufano wants to know about you: “If you had to, could you come up with $2000 in 30 days?” That’s the question he asked a whole bunch of people in 13 countries, including the U.S. Peter TUFANO: Why $2000? Because an auto transmission is about fifteen hundred. Most estimates […] Read More »
1. Adam Davidson on high-end nannies.
2. Nathaniel Penn with a snapshot of a recent class of college grads (depressing).
3. Alicia Tugend with a fascinating piece about how we remember and process criticism/bad events more forcefully than praise/good events. It’s a psychological take on loss aversion, with good examples from Clifford Nass, Roy Baumeister, and Teresa Amabile.
New research suggests that people “cyberloaf” (i.e. websurf instead of working) more when they are tired. Some people may find this surprising. (We do not.) If nothing else, this is another argument against Daylight Savings Time. As the BPS Research Digest explains:
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The investigators recognised an event that affects everyone’s sleep: when the clocks go forward for Daylight Saving Time. Prior evidence suggests we lose on average 40 minutes of sleep per night following the switch, as our body rhythms struggle to adjust.
We’ve blogged before about the limits of willpower, the idea that “willpower itself is inherently limited.” A new essay by Sendhil Mullainathan and Saugato Datta speculates on the role of parents’ willpower limitations, particularly with respect to low-income parents:
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Good parenting requires psychic resources. Complex decisions must be made. Sacrifices must be made in the moment. This is hard for anyone, whatever their income: we all have limited reserves of self-control, and attention and other psychic resources. …
A commitment device is a sort of mind trick to help you accomplish a goal that you don’t quite have the willpower to achieve on your own. Sometimes we need a contract with ourselves, or a little financial stake for motivation. This goal can be exercising, studying, quitting smoking, or anything really.
So we want to ask: have you tried one? What was it? And, most important, how did it turn out? Read More »
HED: Save Me From MyselfDEK: A commitment device forces you to be the person you really want to be. What could possibly go wrong? ——————————————————————————————————————— Tony BALANDRAN: Well, it was in late August of ’09. I went to a Harrah’s Casino and played pai gow. And I was doing fairly well. I couldn’t believe the luck I […] Read More »
Our latest podcast is called “Save Me From Myself,” and it’s about the use of commitment devices. (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)
This is a topic we’ve addressed quite a bit over the years, including in a Times column. (Weirdly enough, the Wikipedia entry on commitment devices leads with our definition. I don’t know whether to feel proud or, a la Groucho Marx*, even more nervous about Wikipedia. FWIW, Wikipedia has gotten so, so much better than when I lodged this complaint years ago.)
A commitment device is essentially a clever means to help you commit to a course of action that you know will be hard. For an individual, this might mean losing weight, quitting smoking, or anything else involving willpower. Read More »
Stephen J. DUBNER: In the mid-nineteenth century, Vienna General Hospital was considered a world-class research center. But the hospital’s maternity ward didn’t have such a good reputation. Sherwin NULAND: Because it became known throughout the city of Vienna that if you went onto the doctor’s division or the doctor’s clinic, you were much more likely to die. […] Read More »