Everybody’s doing it, so why can’t we?
Time Magazine just recently carried a story on how Obama is using the science of change to transform the country and change attitudes to influence behaviour.
Obama is relying on behavioural sciences and betting his presidency on our ability to change our behaviour. As the article goes on to say…
His top priorities — the economy, health care and energy — all depend on it. We need to spend more money now to avert a short-term depression, then save more money later to secure our long-term economic future. We need to consume less energy in order to reduce our oil imports and carbon emissions as well as our household expenses. We need to quit smoking, lay off the Twinkies and avoid other risky behaviors that both damage our personal health and boost the costs of care that are ravaging the nation’s fiscal health. Basically, we need to make better choices — about mortgages and credit cards, insurance and retirement plans — so we won’t need bailouts down the road.
All of this change in thinking is the result of a behavioural advisory team made up of the most brilliant minds in behavioural economics – Dan Ariely of MIT (Predictably Irrational), Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago (Nudge), as well as Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton.
Latest thinking from this dream team is suggesting that we are capable of changing. Behavioural science, especially behavioural economics has been popularized by Freakonomics, The Wisdom of Crowds, Predictably Irrational, Nudge and Animal Spirits, and is already shaping dozens of Administration policies. All of this applies to the big areas that America needs to change. No wonder, after reading Nudge, Obama was inspired to pick his friend Cass Sunstein to run the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Behavioural economics is changing the way we view the world around us, and quite a few things can be explained by this science. Just recently, we had an article appear in the Mint, Wall Street Journal about how some of the most obvious behaviours are deep rooted in neurological origins. Instead of looking at the current financial crisis as an economic aberration, it can be better explained if we treat it as a behavioural problem.
This Time article is only further vindication of how we need to shift the focus from building more awareness to action orientation.
Because, ultimately, it’s all in the mind…