Archive | measurement missteps

Positive Persuasion through Peer Pressure

What would get people to reuse their towels in hotel rooms? The answer might surprise you, as it’s not saving the environment or saving money. People are more likely to reuse their hotel towels if they are told that everyone else is doing it. This variant of the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ effect seems…

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The science of subtle signals

Mark Buchanan is a theoretical physicist who writes about how physics can be used to understand biology, economics, psychology and other social sciences. His book, “The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You” is a fun read in the style of The Tipping Point and Freakonomics. In an article…

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The Myth Of Fair Value

To prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping season, I’m reading ‘Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)‘ by William Poundstone. Poundstone references a wide variety of psychology studies that show consumers are unable to accurately estimate fair prices and are “strongly influenced by the unconscious, irrational, and politically incorrect.” …

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Solving Traffic Congestion

If a stretch of highway is often congested, we should add another lane to increase capacity. Wrong. In “The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from U.S. Cities,” researchers show any increased capacity from additional roads is temporary.  Traffic increases to fill the added capacity.  The study’s startling findings include: The number of vehicle-kilometers traveled…

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