Monthly Archives: September 2010

Please don’t say you’re sorry

Two people in separate rooms: $10 to divide between them. One person – the lucky one – is the sender, who gets to choose how the $10 should be divided up. The other person, the receiver, has no choice but … Continue reading

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My lucky number’s different in Chinese

Cultural differences in norms, behaviour and preferences have been well-documented. However, can simply speaking another language change the way someone behaves? According to this study from the Max Planck Institute of Economics, it can indeed. Some lucky bilingual university students were … Continue reading

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What?! Businesses like making profits?!

Against a background of Government spending cuts and a disgruntled public, Vince Cable, the UK business secretary, today gave a speech that was roundly condemned by UK businesses. I provide a selection of the more excitable and indignant retorts: “He’s the business … Continue reading

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How to outwit small children with decision-making science

Two year olds are highly amusing, and even better, sometimes provide interesting insights into the science of decision-making. Take, for example, a certain two-year old I know who likes biscuits (well, most foods, but I think biscuits are a favourite). … Continue reading

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War and crime

The difficulties faced by war veterans returning to civilian life has come to renewed attention over the last few years what with the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles conflicts. As well as the issue of helping them adapt to post-service life, there is … Continue reading

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Sinisterly efficient

Efficiency. How economists love it. If you have microeconomist friend (or perhaps even a macroeconomist), you’ll probably already know about how amazing efficiency is. Efficiency. Economists like efficiency so much, they have three different names to describe three different kinds of exciting … Continue reading

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Soap, bubble and shop

 Why do firms in some markets engage in apparently pointless and costly activities? And why doesn’t vigorous competition drive out inefficient practices? The other day, a friend came over for dinner, kindly offered to wash up, and was overwhelmed by the … Continue reading

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Paid to do the Maths

I posted recently about work incentives and the difficult relationship between effort and money. A lot of traditional economic models assume that increasing monetary rewards increases the effort that workers choose to put in, and therefore performance. But sometimes, paying … Continue reading

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I should be so lucky (to get a job)

Some further research today on the benefits of being an optimist, courtesy of researchers at Duke and Yale, who followed a group of MBA students searching for jobs. As if it isn’t enough to have a generally sunny disposition, these … Continue reading

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Markets where the drugs don’t work

Yesterday I found a good excuse to post a quote from Frasier in discussing how high price increases the placebo effect – because people use it as a signal of high quality in choosing particular health treatments. The problem is that price … Continue reading

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