Remember the $5 footlong? The behavioral economics behind "reference prices"

Aug 25, 2023
Our gut instincts as consumers shape our perceptions of inflation.
A man looks at posters in a Subway shop in August 2003, home of the famously referential $5 footlong.
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Have homebuyers adapted to higher interest rates?

Feb 2, 2023
Some analysts say acceptance plays a role in the recent increase of home sales.
Following mortgage rates north of 7% late last year, a 6% mortgage rate doesn't sound too shabby to some homebuyers.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Biden administration rolls out new vaccine incentives

Jun 4, 2021
About 63% of Americans have gotten at least one vaccine dose. The Biden administration wants to get to 70% by July 4.
From free donuts to lottery entries, do vaccine incentives work?
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Beer? Crawfish? Baseball tickets? Governments lure vaccine holdouts with perks

May 12, 2021
Is there a way to make a needle in the arm fun? Studies show incentives increase vaccine uptake by about 8%.
How do you make a shot in the arm seem fun?
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Worrying comes with costs

Nov 5, 2020
But worrying also comes with a few benefits.
A woman turns away in frustration after arguing with a Trump supporter at a pro-police rally in June in Torrance, California.
David McNew/Getty Image

Here's why some are too optimistic about the pandemic

Oct 15, 2020
Behavioral economics helps explains why we're prone to letting our guard down.
Optimism bias can cause some to flout safety guidelines, like mask wearing and social distancing.
Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Sep 16, 2020
To encourage a certain behavior, policymakers can choose carrots or sticks. There's evidence that the sticks are more effective.
Masks are required on a high school campus in Westfield, Indiana, in August.
Justin Casterline/Getty Images

For public good, not for profit.

No mask? Behavioral scientists on how we make pandemic decisions.

Jul 28, 2020
Public health professionals have been advocating for masks for months, yet pockets of stiff resistance remain.
People wearing face masks stroll in Charleston, South Carolina. Decision-making can be influenced by the decisions of people you identify with.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Robots use game theory to understand how we think

Apr 30, 2020
Robots are doing their part in this pandemic — and they're using behavioral economics.
Robots are helping hospital staff manage the influx of COVID-19 patients. Pictured: An Indonesian technician listens to a robot known as Amy during a simulation on assisting medical teams.
Adek Berry/AFP via Getty Images

What Orson Welles and "War of the Worlds" taught us about economic panic

Oct 31, 2018
About 80 years ago, a radio dramatization of an alien attack spread panic through the airwaves. That sense of fear can also manifest itself in the world of economics.
Orson Welles (1915 - 1985), American actor, producer, writer and director. In 1938 his radio production of H G Wells's "The War of the Worlds" caused panic.
Central Press/Getty Images