Hacking Human Nature for Good
A practical guide to changing human behavior

Dan Ariely, Jason Hreha and co-authored 10 workbooks that help startups apply the lessons of behavioral science. They are comprehensive of the literature but broken down into easy to apply concepts. How does behavioral economics fit into the product development process? How is the current approach to marketing misguided? What are practical examples of applying these principles to real problems? Check them out. 


Decreasing Debt

We sent emails to people with mortgages and asked them to pay more than their minimum payment. In some cases we asked them to "overpay" and in some cases, we asked them to "round up" their payment.  Across both conditions, about 10% of people who read our email indicated that they wanted to increase their payment. Comparing the two conditions, the “round up” framing increased the number of people who opted in by 3.1% over the “over pay” condition. Using these numbers to approximate, we estimate that we saved the average EarnUp user about $8,000 over the life of their loan. That is approximately $1,300,000 in interest saved for users who opted to round up or overpay in our experiment.



Increasing financial well-being

We partnered with Retiremap, a fin-tech financial coaching startup, to develop a scalable and efective “robo-advisor.” We created a prototype that helps users achieve their financial goals by harnessing behavioral insights around accountability, goal creation and progress, confidence and mental accounting. By matching users with a financial coach, we were able to maintain the human element of financial coaching, while using behavioral economics in the many automated, personalized email, SMS and in-app communications. This combination of behavioral economics and automated technology is what enabled Retiremap to deliver a scalable financial coaching program at an afordable price. This will increase access to one-on-one coaching for the populations that need it the most.


Increasing long term savings

We used a simple A/B email to test if displaying the contractor income in annual terms, instead of “per job,” would increase a contractor’s likelihood of signing up for a retirement account. These users were split into two conditions: a control group where income was framed in the usual “per job” amount, and an annual income framing condition. This intervention used both income framing to encourage a long-term mindset, and anchoring (when displaying savings percentages) to encourage customers to save more for retirement.  Our annual intervention increased the number of people who clicked through to start saving for retirement with a third-party by 14.5%. The bulk of these 1099-workers indicated that they wanted to save 12% to 20% of their income.


Increasing retention and engagement 
In my 2+ years at Google, I consulted with over 20 teams to train teams on behavioral science and run experiments that drove engagement and product definition.  The teams included self-driving cars, Google apps, Gmail and Adwords Express. Results included increasing conversion, defining pricing models and creating product features.  For example, in one program our team worked on we increased retention rates by 14%. In another we increased page over page conversion by 40%. 


Driving global internet adoption 
I ran a full day workshop for, a Facebook team responsible for bringing the internet to less developed countries. The day was comprised of sessions on behavioral concepts like incentive design, social proof and friction. We then took those concepts and transitioned into solution design. While quotes are always helpful to describe the day, the best proof was that people were not checking their phones or email during the full day AND they immediately transitioned the energy  of new ideas into action.
Worldwide conference on behaviroal science 
StartupOnomics - cofounded by myself and Dan Ariely -  brings together companies doing good in the world and worldwide experts in behavioral science. In this  immersive weekend we learn key behavioral principles, assess our current work, design solutions and plan implementation. This conference has been held in San Francisco, Isreal and Ireland. 




And in a past life...
Before I was a cult member of the behavioral science tribe, I was a product manager at Quicken and  Quickbooks Online. I was a product manager at Lytro, a revolutionary camera startup. I started a small IT company in Madison Wisconsin called Netnerds. 

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